can I use a pool's sand filter for a pond? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-15-2017, 10:39 PM Thread Starter
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can I use a pool's sand filter for a pond?

can I use a pool's sand filter for a pond?

I can buy a small one used for those above ground blow up pools. I am wondering if this will work?

I saw some guy on youtube who said the pool filter is too good and will clog on a pond. I am wondering if I can use larger like play ground sand or something which filters worse for a pool but maybe ok for a pond?

Thanks.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-17-2017, 03:34 AM
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You could DIY or find used pond equipment for cheaper that would probably do a better job to be honest. How big is the pond, what are you planning on keeping, and what are your filtration goals?
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-29-2018, 04:39 AM
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They can but it comes at a cost. Sand filters have four main problems that cannot be overcome when used in a pond.
1- Ponds create a lot of detritus and suspended algae that causes the sand to compact and form channels through the sand, the result is the unfiltered water is returned back to the pond and this greatly increases the cleaning cycles.
2- Anaerobic bacteria thrive in sand filters with a high biomass.
3- The valve plumbing is too restrictive for low pressure/high volume pond pumps and the pump is placed before the filter. In a pond the pump should be after the main filter to avoid pureeing the waste.
4- To overcome the restrictions of the filter and help overcome the issues with sand a high pressure swimming pool pump is recommended that will use two - four times the energy as a quality pond pump. There are pond filters that look like pool filters but have larger inlet/outlets and less restrictive valves, these also use specific filter media such as Kaldness K9 and are installed after a skimmer and pre-filter so no detritus fouls thee media.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-29-2018, 08:51 AM
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I won't contradict what has been said above (because it all sounds reasonable and I have no experience with ponds and pool filters that use sand), but I have used a swimming pool filter for a small koi pond, but the filter I used had what appeared to be plastic mesh panels that filtered the water. I don't recall the brand, but instead of the large plastic or fiberglass one-piece body, this filter had a rim around the "shoulder" of the filter's body where the top and bottom halves were bolted together. This gave access to the larger internal parts that were not accessible through the valve body neck. Other than that, it operated just like most pool filters, and was easily back-flushed to clean it. It filtered very well, and what came out of it during back-flushing... let's just say that the flowers loved it! I ran it with a 450 gal/hr submersible pump before the filter with no problem.

Like I said, though, this was not a sand type filter, so you can't go by how that worked, but if you could possibly find a swimming pool filter like that one, it would work. It was originally on an older, large above-ground swimming pool, so it might be hard to find one like it. But if you did, it would work very well, I can say from experience.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-30-2018, 04:57 PM
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What type of pond do you have? Fish only, planted only or a combination? The size of your pond, type and what you wish to accomplish through filtration will determine the type of filtration that is best suited to your needs. There are many DIY solutions for pond filtration and the short answer for using a pool filter is that their are better alternatives available. The issue with pool filters revolves around that they are designed to be used in a sterile environment and do nothing to offset bio loads and treat the water column. There are ways to adapt them but they are not the most optimum choice or exactly budget friendly in the DIY realm.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-30-2018, 05:14 PM
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I won't contradict what has been said above (because it all sounds reasonable and I have no experience with ponds and pool filters that use sand), but I have used a swimming pool filter for a small koi pond, but the filter I used had what appeared to be plastic mesh panels that filtered the water. I don't recall the brand, but instead of the large plastic or fiberglass one-piece body, this filter had a rim around the "shoulder" of the filter's body where the top and bottom halves were bolted together. This gave access to the larger internal parts that were not accessible through the valve body neck. Other than that, it operated just like most pool filters, and was easily back-flushed to clean it. It filtered very well, and what came out of it during back-flushing... let's just say that the flowers loved it! I ran it with a 450 gal/hr submersible pump before the filter with no problem.

Like I said, though, this was not a sand type filter, so you can't go by how that worked, but if you could possibly find a swimming pool filter like that one, it would work. It was originally on an older, large above-ground swimming pool, so it might be hard to find one like it. But if you did, it would work very well, I can say from experience.

Olskule
I suspect what you had was a cartridge filter minus the pleated cartridge. It sounds like the plastic mesh screen you describe was the pre-filter. Perhaps the reason it worked well for you was due to the low flow rate of your pump in relation to the size of the filter. These are still used, mainly on hot tubs. A key aspect to a pond filters design is maintaining a long enough dwell time to allow gravity and/or the filter medium to hold onto the detritus without turbulence or high water pressure stripping it away and returning it back to the pond. I have used swimming pool cartridge filters in the past on small koi tanks where I installed a combination of poret foam and Japanese mat as the filter media. Operating the filter in a gravity feed design where the pump was after the filter was key to removing the most amount of particles from the water column as was the low flow rate.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-30-2018, 07:37 PM
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I won't contradict what has been said above (because it all sounds reasonable and I have no experience with ponds and pool filters that use sand), but I have used a swimming pool filter for a small koi pond, but the filter I used had what appeared to be plastic mesh panels that filtered the water. I don't recall the brand, but instead of the large plastic or fiberglass one-piece body, this filter had a rim around the "shoulder" of the filter's body where the top and bottom halves were bolted together. This gave access to the larger internal parts that were not accessible through the valve body neck. Other than that, it operated just like most pool filters, and was easily back-flushed to clean it. It filtered very well, and what came out of it during back-flushing... let's just say that the flowers loved it! I ran it with a 450 gal/hr submersible pump before the filter with no problem.

Like I said, though, this was not a sand type filter, so you can't go by how that worked, but if you could possibly find a swimming pool filter like that one, it would work. It was originally on an older, large above-ground swimming pool, so it might be hard to find one like it. But if you did, it would work very well, I can say from experience.

Olskule
I suspect what you had was a cartridge filter minus the pleated cartridge. It sounds like the plastic mesh screen you describe was the pre-filter. Perhaps the reason it worked well for you was due to the low flow rate of your pump in relation to the size of the filter. These are still used, mainly on hot tubs. A key aspect to a pond filters design is maintaining a long enough dwell time to allow gravity and/or the filter medium to hold onto the detritus without turbulence or high water pressure stripping it away and returning it back to the pond. I have used swimming pool cartridge filters in the past on small koi tanks where I installed a combination of poret foam and Japanese mat as the filter media. Operating the filter in a gravity feed design where the pump was after the filter was key to removing the most amount of particles from the water column as was the low flow rate.
No, I'm familiar with the cartridge type filters, and this was not one of those. It was around 30" tall and in design, it was more akin to the old Vortex diatom filters, except the filter material wasn't the same and the vertical filter panels radiated from a central pipe that led to the outlet in the filtering position. I actually still have that filter, and another one of the same design, stored away for future use. As for bio-filtration, I'm sure this filter by itself lacked the properties to furnish that in any significant amount, but the small pond was well planted with marginal, floating plants and lilies. However, I must admit that, with the eventual growth of the several koi and their offspring, the pond did eventually become overstocked, but remained balanced enough that there were no problems. And you are correct regarding the reduced flow rate, because the filter was designed to be used with a 1 hp pool pump, with 2" plumbing, which, of course, had to be stepped down to the much smaller diameter of the 450 gph pump and fountain tubing. It was a makeshift arrangement of opportunity, but did function well at a time when I wasn't in the financial position to afford a more conventional system for the pond I really wanted.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-30-2018, 09:21 PM
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I have a vague recollection of seeing a filter similar to your description, it had a domed top portion that was bolted to the main body through a flange, this one was yellowish in color and built out of fiberglass. The manufactures name escapes me and I had never seen the filter media that it used as it was not present. I always assumed that it was an older DE filter. I have attempted to use modified pool filters in the past as stand alone filters but found them to be quite restrictive to utilize without other filters in the same system. I do admit to keeping my ponds over stocked. I breed shubunkin goldfish in a lilly/lotus pond (all in containers), my breeders are all nearly a foot long so produce a lot of waste, I do use two repurposed, top flanged pool filters in the system. The water leaves the pond through two outlets, one a bottom drain and another a mid level drain. Both pass through strainer baskets and then into a 300lb sand filter that is packed with hanks of polypropylene bailing twine that serve as a pre-filter. I modified the filter with two 2" inlets and a 3" outlet, discarding the original valve. The water then passes out to a 100 gallon rectangular tank that has six layers of Japanese mat with the return pump submerged below. The water then passes out to be split into two pipes, one to a waterfall weir and the second to a modified 100lb sand filter that is filled with Kaldness and serves as a moving bed bio filter. The pond receives full sun for about 3/4 of the day so keeping the bio load low to prevent algae and the fish healthy is key.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 01:41 AM
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I have a vague recollection of seeing a filter similar to your description, it had a domed top portion that was bolted to the main body through a flange, this one was yellowish in color and built out of fiberglass. The manufactures name escapes me and I had never seen the filter media that it used as it was not present. I always assumed that it was an older DE filter. I have attempted to use modified pool filters in the past as stand alone filters but found them to be quite restrictive to utilize without other filters in the same system. I do admit to keeping my ponds over stocked. I breed shubunkin goldfish in a lilly/lotus pond (all in containers), my breeders are all nearly a foot long so produce a lot of waste, I do use two repurposed, top flanged pool filters in the system. The water leaves the pond through two outlets, one a bottom drain and another a mid level drain. Both pass through strainer baskets and then into a 300lb sand filter that is packed with hanks of polypropylene bailing twine that serve as a pre-filter. I modified the filter with two 2" inlets and a 3" outlet, discarding the original valve. The water then passes out to a 100 gallon rectangular tank that has six layers of Japanese mat with the return pump submerged below. The water then passes out to be split into two pipes, one to a waterfall weir and the second to a modified 100lb sand filter that is filled with Kaldness and serves as a moving bed bio filter. The pond receives full sun for about 3/4 of the day so keeping the bio load low to prevent algae and the fish healthy is key.
Yes, your description sounds like the filter I used, and it's possible that it was meant to be used with diatomaceous earth, but I never saw the need to "polish" pond water to that extent, so I never used DE with it.

The pool filter with polypropylene bailing twine as the filter medium is a novel innovation, but I think I would have kept the swimming pool valve system because it makes backwashing the filter such a breeze. But you probably had your reason for removing it, since the rest of your system seems well planned; the pool filter converted to a moving bed bio-filter was a good idea, as well. Plus, with an overstocked pond being in the sun 3/4 of the day without having an algae problem, you're obviously doing something right.

Which brings the topic back to the OP and the use of a pool filter for a pond. Perhaps the OP should consider using a pool filter with a filter medium other than sand. Personally, I find the aforementioned pool filter valve very convenient, with its simple backwashing feature, so with a more appropriate medium, it could turn out to be be the ideal pool filter, especially if you can pick one up cheap.

Just a thought.

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 02:12 AM
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Yes, your description sounds like the filter I used, and it's possible that it was meant to be used with diatomaceous earth, but I never saw the need to "polish" pond water to that extent, so I never used DE with it.

The pool filter with polypropylene bailing twine as the filter medium is a novel innovation, but I think I would have kept the swimming pool valve system because it makes backwashing the filter such a breeze. But you probably had your reason for removing it, since the rest of your system seems well planned; the pool filter converted to a moving bed bio-filter was a good idea, as well. Plus, with an overstocked pond being in the sun 3/4 of the day without having an algae problem, you're obviously doing something right.

Which brings the topic back to the OP and the use of a pool filter for a pond. Perhaps the OP should consider using a pool filter with a filter medium other than sand. Personally, I find the aforementioned pool filter valve very convenient, with its simple backwashing feature, so with a more appropriate medium, it could turn out to be be the ideal pool filter, especially if you can pick one up cheap.

Just a thought.

Olskule
I did fail to mention in my first post to him some options for modifying a swimming pool filter and to tell him to scout out his local swimming pool dealers or craigs list for old tanks to save money and to get the largest one he could. Hopefully he will respond.
One of the reasons I chose not to use the valve is because this portion of the filtration is gravity fed so I have to use larger dia. pipes to achieve the flow rate I require (3,500 gph). I do have a piping setup that allows me to reverse the flow from the downstream pump and isolate the inlets for backwashing. The poly cord does a great job of capturing debris and reduces the cleaning frequency of my mat filter box. I have kept koi for many years and prefer that the water be "Gin clear" for best viewing and the health of the koi. I should note that this set up is on a temporary pond and is not my choice for a permanent installation where I would use vortex settling chambers in lieu of the 300 lb filter. I am forced to use the poly cord as the water passes through the tank so quickly that the solids cannot precipitate out via gravity and vortex principals.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-31-2018, 05:13 AM
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I did fail to mention in my first post to him some options for modifying a swimming pool filter and to tell him to scout out his local swimming pool dealers or craigs list for old tanks to save money and to get the largest one he could. Hopefully he will respond.
One of the reasons I chose not to use the valve is because this portion of the filtration is gravity fed so I have to use larger dia. pipes to achieve the flow rate I require (3,500 gph). I do have a piping setup that allows me to reverse the flow from the downstream pump and isolate the inlets for backwashing. The poly cord does a great job of capturing debris and reduces the cleaning frequency of my mat filter box. I have kept koi for many years and prefer that the water be "Gin clear" for best viewing and the health of the koi. I should note that this set up is on a temporary pond and is not my choice for a permanent installation where I would use vortex settling chambers in lieu of the 300 lb filter. I am forced to use the poly cord as the water passes through the tank so quickly that the solids cannot precipitate out via gravity and vortex principals.
Yes, vortex chambers seem to be the way to go for first stage filtration, if you can get one large enough or possibly split the flow equally between several set up in a parallel configuration; "filtering" without having to deal with messy filtration medium sounds great–just open the valve and almost instantly flush the center collector as needed, close it up again and you're done. Nice. Maybe I'll have one, one day, but up to this point in time, every pond I've had has been more or less temporary. I'm at a point now where I can soon construct a permanent pond the way I really want it. I have one planned at the end of a long, constructed stream that will traverse my "botanical garden" (for lack of a better term), beginning with a natural-looking waterfall source that wells up from a rock formation. Since there is a gradual grade to the site, I'll have the options of small waterfalls every so often–possibly holding back small pools–and/or rapids. One feature I have planned is a very shallow ford-like area of the stream, fast flowing and just a few inches deep, that my toddler granddaughter can safely play in and explore, with decorative stones and some of those colorful, marble-sized glass "blobs" used in flower pots and such, scattered in among the gravel like jewels for her to find. (I'm pretty sure the glass "jewels" will be safe and not get broken among the sand and small gravel without great, deliberate effort.) Of course, the water will have to be very clear so she'll be able to find them, so good filtration is a must. I will keep in mind and may steal some of your filtration ideas, if you don't mind; they're good ones.

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