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General Questions

Is the BubbleBead tested technology?

Do I use the BubbleBead by itself or do I need other equipment?

How long does the filter take to start working?

How long does routine BubbleBead filter cleaning take?

What other maintenance is necessary?

My pond is XXXX gallons. What BubbleBead model should I use and what size pump should I use?

Should I use the XS Manual Valve or Hydraulic or Automatic Valve Model?

Are sealed chamber filters vulnerable to becoming anaerobic?

How are the filters made?

 

Siting the Filter

My pond is raised out of the ground.
Can I sit the BubbleBead on the ground beside it?

Can I sit my filter in a shed 30 metres from the pond?

There is no nearby drain for the waste water?

Can I bury the BubbleBead filter?

How do BubbleBeads differ from other brands?

 

Installation Questions

Can I just swap my existing pump-fed 'box' filter with a new BubbleBead Filter?

I have a chamber filter beside the pond at present that is not really coping very well. Should I replace it with a BubbleBead or keep it and run the BubbleBead as well?

Can I use any sort of pump to power the BubbleBead?

Should I use one large filter or two smaller ones on my large pond?

Can I fit a UV or pool heater on the filter return?

 

Using the Filter and TroubleShooting Questions

(most common questions are answered in the downloadable user's guide)

Will infrequent backwashes give clearer water?

My filter is not working as it should?

 

Other Questions

If we haven't answered your question here, see the help sheet in our download area.

If your query relates to a troubleshooting issue, please specify more detailed information...

 

General Questions & Answers

Is the BubbleBead tested technology?

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BubbleBeads are based on the patented hour-glass design, in use in thousands of sites since the 1980’s. A great deal of research has been carried out that shows their high efficiency in aquacultural and ornamental situations.

 

Do I use the BubbleBead by itself or do I need other equipment?

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BubbleBead filters must be used with an appropriate pump with some form of strainer or pre-filtration to remove coarse particles over 2mm. Options for pumps with coarse strainers include additional strainer baskets, or proprietary straining devices (‘EstroSieve’, ‘UltraSieve’), or vortex/brush units. A UV unit will assist in the control of green water algae. BubbleBead Filters can also be used alongside other filter equipment if desired, see the User’s Guide.

 

How long does the filter take to start working?

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All new filters take time to mature. BubbleBeads start to remove solids mechanically from day one. Biological filtration takes longer to establish, especially in colder water. In existing systems, it is best to run any old filter alongside your new filter for at least eight to ten weeks. In new systems use maturing agents and build stocks gradually.

 

How long does routine BubbleBead filter cleaning take?

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On manual valve models:
- Turn off the pump, turn one valve. Wait a couple of minutes for the BubbleWash to take place. Turn the valve back and turn on your pump. Done!

On automatic valve models:
- If you are operating the pump manually - turn off the pump switch, and turn it back on again a few minutes later (after the BubbleWash has taken place).
- If you use a timer to control this, you do not even have to be present for cleaning to take place.

On manual valve XS models 1,2 & 4:
- Turn one valve. Wait a couple of minutes for the bubblewash to take place. Turn the valve back. Done!

 

What other maintenance is necessary?

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- We recommend that the backwash is monitored for correct operation at least once every few weeks - just listen to the filter as it backwashes, and check that dirty water flows freely to waste.

On filters fitted with a shuttle-valve (pre-2003) this should be examined about once a month and cleaned if necessary - this might take five minutes and can be done immediately following a backwash. The other valves should also be checked, but at less frequent intervals.

On Models fitted with a sediment additional drain:
- This should be flushed for a few seconds about once a month whilst the filter is in the normal running mode and full of water.

For all models:
- Once a month the backwash process should be carried out three to five times in a row. This dislodges any more persistent wastes that may have collected in the filter.
- Remember that your main pump strainer will need checked periodically, and the pond topped-up from time to time if an auto top-up is not fitted.

 

My pond is XXXX gallons. What BubbleBead model should I use and what size pump should I use?

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It is essential to find out what your fish stocking and feeding levels will be as BubbleBeads are not merely sized by the pond gallonage. (see the sizing table on the downloads page)
e.g. if your pond was 2,400 gallons the following alternatives might apply:

A) A 2,400 gallon pond with a few golden orfe; maximum feeding rate in mid-summer of 60 grams of food in any one day.
- Look at the table under 'Max.Feed Rate per day'. This falls within the 230 gram limit for the BBF XS-1.
- The pond is lightly stocked so look in the 'Light Stock' column for Maximum Pond Volume. The gallonage falls within the 2,400 gallon limit for the BBF-1.

So in case A) a BBF XS-1 would cope. Run with a pump giving 800 gph (resulting in a turnover of once every three hours in this lightly stocked pond) and a 30 watt UV unit.

B) A 2,400 gallon pond with a reasonable number of koi; the maximum feed rate in mid-summer is 200 grams of food in any one day.
- Look at the table under 'Max.Feed Rate per day'. This falls within the 230 gram limit for the BBF XS-1, however....
- The pond is more than lightly stocked, so look in the 'Standard Stock' column for Maximum Pond Volume. The gallonage of 2,400 is above the 1,600 gallon limit for the BBF-1 but within the 3,000 gallon limit for the BBF-2.

So in case B) a BBF-2 would cope. Run with a pump giving 1,200 to 1,500 gph (resulting in a turnover of at least once every two hours in this typically stocked pond). A 30 watt UV should be adequate.

C) A 2,400 gallon pond quite heavily stocked with koi; the maximum feed rate in mid-summer is 500 grams of food in any one day.
- Look at the table under 'Max.Feed Rate per day'. This falls within the 650 gram limit for the BBF-3.
- The pond is more than lightly stocked, so look in the 'Standard Stock' column for Maximum Pond Volume. The gallonage of 2,400 is within the 5,000 gallon limit for the BBF-3.

So in case C) a BBF-3 would cope. Run with a pump giving 1,200 to 2,500 gph (resulting in a turnover of once every one to two hours for this quite heavily stocked pond). A 55 watt UV should be more than adequate.

From these scenarios it can be seen that a BBF-1, BBF-2, or BBF-3 may be required for this 2,400 gallon pond in these three different cases. It depends entirely on the level of stock and the feeding rate. If stocks are likely to increase in future, it obviously makes sense to fit the larger model straight away.

See our suggested pump list - available from the downloads section on this site. Many lower wattage models are suitable but it is important to ensure that they are of sufficient head. Low head pumps (e.g. under 4.0 metres on the smaller filters) do not always give as good results.

Should I use a Manual Valve or Automatic Valve Model?

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The manual valve models are especially popular for use alongside quarantine facilities, zoo tanks and, retail and wholesale facilities where fishkeepers/staff will be regularly attending to fish and water quality within their normal routine. This allows backwashes to be carried out at the same time as other duties, and the backwash can be visually monitored to see how much waste has been produced by the fish since the previous wash. (Manual valve models can often be upgraded at a later date by adding an electrically actuated valve). XS models are also very compact if headroom is likely to be an issue.

Where filters are to be mounted below the level of water in the pond/tank, manual units are best suited. Hydraulic Valve models cannot be used in these low situations.

Automatic Valve models are popular with koi keepers who may be away from their pond from time to time, and with heavily loaded and aquaculture facilities where more frequent backwashes are often desirable. In both cases the automatic backwash can be timed to take place when fishkeepers/staff cannot be present. For reduced maintenance, such systems should be fitted with an automatic top-up facility.

Are sealed chamber filters vulnerable to becoming anaerobic?

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This is rarely a problem with BubbleBead filters:

- The regular backwash removes anaerobic causing wastes from the system and keeps the bead media free from build-ups of excess biofilm which can cause anaerobic conditions in more static types of filter.
The backwash also vigorously introduces air into the filter chamber creating conditions unsuited to the survival of anaerobic bacteria.
- As the BubbleBeads regularly remove solid wastes, oxygen use and deoxygenation are reduced following a power cut compared to static systems where collected solids build up over time.
- Hydraulic valve units automatically drain following a powercut, leaving the beads in a moist yet oxygen rich atmosphere. Biofilm may be safely maintained for a number of days in such conditions. Properly maintained manual valve units can typically maintain biofilms for twelve hours or more following a power cut. Biofilm survival will be reduced in any filter system that is not kept free of solid organic wastes, and in high temperature situations.

The high level of beneficial bacteria present inside mature BubbleBead units do consume oxygen from the water as it passes through, and for this reason we do recommend that the return flow to the pond is aerated by e.g. passing down a cascade. Hydraulic Valve models (2002+) include a venturi device built in to the top outlet which can be used to aerate returning water in certain circumstances (see the User’s Guide).

Airstones can be used in the pond to supplement aeration. This is particularly useful in warm summer conditions, and in heavily loaded ponds. It also provides a back-up should the pump fail. Do not allow bubbles from airstones to be drawn into the BubbleBead filter as this can reduce its clarification capabilities.
Use of a pre-strainer such as the ‘EstroSieve’ will also beneficially oxygenate water before it enters the filter.

How are the filters made?

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BubbleBead filters are rotationally moulded. This involves injecting plastic granulate into a hot rotating mould. The plastic melts onto the inside of the mould and when it has cooled the mould is split to remove the filter. This method of manufacture results in a good even coverage of plastic over both the filter body and the threaded socket fittings, giving great inherent strength. The resulting strength is far superior to blown plastic products, and plastic tanks cut and fitted with tank connectors. The plastic thickness is greater than many injection moulded products. The line on the outside of the filter is a result of the moulding mark left by the two-part exterior mould, the filter body itself is one uniform piece of strong plastic.

 

Siting the Filter Questions & Answers

My pond is raised out of the ground.
Can I sit the BubbleBead on the ground beside it?

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If the inlet to the BubbleBead filter has to be below the surface level of the adjacent pond you should use models from the Manual Valve ranges.

 

Can I sit my filter in a shed 30 metres from the pond?

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Yes. It is possible to fit the filter some distance from the pond. You may need to use a more powerful pump and it is important to use large bore pipework. Make sure that the filter has access to a nearby drain. Leave space around the filter for maintenance access. Mounting in a shed hides the filter and reduces chilling of the water in winter.

 

There is no nearby drain for the waste water?

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Pipework from the waste outlet can run a long distance if necessary, as long as the pipe runs slightly downhill and is of a large bore. In lower sites you can drain into a sunken tank and use an automatic sump pump to remove waste water to wherever it can be safely disposed.

 

Can I bury the BubbleBead filter?

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No, you cannot bury the filter in soil. You will need access to the inlet pipework from time to time. If a below-ground site is required you should build a chamber that allows access to the filter plumbing and use manual valve or XS models.

 

How do BubbleBeads differ from other brands?

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BubbleBead filters developed from the earliest University research into bead filtration in the 1970s and incorporate many features that are not found in other brands.

- The unique necked design ensures that the beads are thoroughly shaken during the backwash process, and any clumps broken up.
- The system of one-way valves draws in a powerful stream of airbubbles during the backwash and directs these bubbles through the washing ‘throat’ for maximum contact with the beads. This gives a highly effective bead wash with no need for a separate air blower, and without the risk of over cleaning the beads.
- Waste naturally collects at the bottom of the filter during the backwash, and BubbleBeads draw this dirty water directly through the waste outlet fitted in the base of the filter, rather than trying to suck it up from mid or top mounted outlets. This screened base outlet also makes it easy to drain the filter whilst medicating the pool - the filter organisms will survive well in the moist air-filled atmosphere. The hydraulic valve models also drain automatically during a power cut, protecting the filter organisms from anaerobic conditions.
- Even if a second partial backwash is used to rinse the beads, BubbleBeads still lose less backwash water than some other brands.
- The hydraulic valve models carry out an automatic backwash without the need for expensive solenoid valves.

 

Installation Questions & Answers

Can I just swap my existing pump-fed 'box' filter with a new BubbleBead Filter?

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Water being pumped into the BubbleBead filter must first be prefiltered to remove larger solids, otherwise the internal screen will block prematurely.

So yes, this is OK if you are powering the filter using a pond pump with a strainer that removes particles smaller than 2 mm and with a head of at least 4.0 metres. Remember to clean the strainer periodically.

But no, if you are using a 'solids-handling' pump (that can pump particles larger than 2 mm). In these cases you will have to fit some form of prefilter to the pump. See the accessories page.

 

I have a chamber filter beside the pond at present that is not really coping very well. Should I replace it with a BubbleBead or keep it and run the BubbleBead as well?

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The BubbleBead is capable of replacing existing chamber filters.
However you could consider keeping your existing filter. The BubbleBead, once matured, will cope with the excess biological load that your filter could not handle.

For pump-fed filters:
Pump from the pond to the BubbleBead using a pump with a strainer.
Feed the outflow from the BubbleBead to the chamber filter. Ensure that there is sufficient aeration in the chamber filter.
- The BubbleBead will remove the solids so the chamber filter will require much less cleaning.

For gravity-fed filters:
Pump from the chamber filter's central or final chambers into the BubbleBead. Ensure that there is sufficient aeration in the chamber filter. This arrangement does still require the first few chambers to be cleaned on a regular basis to remove excess solids from the system.
(See the Appendix in the BubbleBead User's Guide for more details.)
- The chamber filter will act as a good prefilter for your BubbleBead.
- The BubbleBead will greatly improve water clarity and reduce the amount of dirt within the pond.

 

Can I use any sort of pump to power the BubbleBead?

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Most appropriately sized pumps can be used. A suggested list is available in our Downloads section.
- The head and flow rate of the pump should be within the range recommended. Low head pumps (e.g. under 4.0 metres on the smaller filters) do not always give as good results.
- Solids handling pumps should only be used with an additional form of straining.
- Very high pressure pumps are not necessary or desirable (they are often less economical to run). If the maximum pressure exceeds the table ratings, a pressure-relief bypass must be fitted. Pumps with heads exceeding 12m (10m on XS) must not be used, even if a bypass is fitted. See the Appendix in the User’s Guide
- Surface pumps should be installed so that the pump remains primed at all times, e.g. sited lower than the pool surface and not used with additional footvalves.
- The pump is essential for the welfare of your fish, use a reliable model and have secondary facilities ready (e.g. spare pump; separate airpump) should your pump fail.

Should I use one large filter or two smaller ones on my large pond?

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On a pond suited to the use of one large unit e.g. BBF-7/9, it may still be worth considering the use of two smaller units e.g. 2x BBF-3/5 as an alternative. This gives better circulation in the pond and an extra level of safety should one of the filter pumps fail. It also allows one of the filters to be stopped for longer term maintenance, re-plumbing or relocation, whilst still providing a level of filtration to the pond.

Can I fit a UV or pool heater on the filter return?

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UVs can be fitted into the return pipework from the filter to the pond, provided that the unit(s) can handle the flow without causing backpressure. It is safe for most UVs to run dry for the couple of minutes or so required for the backwash to take place, see the User’s Guide for further information. Most heating units are not designed to run dry and it would be better to run them in a separate loop of pipework that is constantly full of water.

 

Using the Filter and TroubleShooting Questions

Will infrequent backwashes give clearer water?

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No! Some hobbyists have suggested that only backwashing every one or two weeks will give better solids removal – we strongly discourage this practice. Infrequent backwashing gives only a slight, and temporary, improvement in removal of fine solids. However, it greatly increases the risk of the beads clumping together and eventually reduces both filtration efficiency and water clarity.

Mature filters should always be backwashed at the frequencies recommended in the User’s Guide. Automatic models should be set to backwash daily. On aquaculture systems backwashes every few hours are often appropriate. You cannot backwash a BubbleBead too often. If in doubt … backwash!

My filter is not working as it should?

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In the vast majority of cases, poor operation is due to one of the following:
- Underpressure in the filter:
Resulting from undersized pumps, or from clogged pump strainers.
- Insufficient frequency of backwashes:
Easily solved by increasing the frequency of backwashing.
Carry out the additional series of 3 to 5 backwashes in a row at least once a month (once a week on high stock/aquaculture systems).
Also make use of the sediment drain where fitted.
- Insufficient strength of backwash:
Resulting from a restricted waste outlet pipe or a poor siphon-head drop to the drain.
- Insufficient pre-straining:
Ensure that water pumped to the filter has solids over 2mm removed.

These problems are extremely rare on correctly installed filters.
Your User’s Guide has helpful guidance on correct installation and on Troubleshooting.

 
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