Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Pond Maintenance - Q & A about an Algae Bloom and How-To make an inexpensive Filter system

Also visit my fish related Blog - GoldLenny - On Keeping Aquarium Fish - Goldfish & Tropicals where I will be moving all of my fish related articles and updating them as needed.

Date: Sun, 15 May 2005 14:15:29 EDT
From: cfit421@
Subject: gross water


A friend of mine has a small pond. I'd say it's about 200 gallons. It is stocked with 12 (I think) Wal-mart goldfish, there's only a trickle of water falling from a rock to aerate the water, and the filter and pump are at the bottom of the pond. The water is disgusting. It's FULL of stringy and blanket type algae and there's a rusty color to the water. She said she got a hold on it just a few weeks ago, then it rains, and it gets all gross again. She said if there's any expense involved in making it right, it won't be able to happen. So, is there anything she can do to fix the water, even if it involves a LITTLE work and a LITTLE money? Thanks!


The algae bloom is usually caused by several factors. Too high of Nitrates and Phosphates in the water and too much Sunlight are the main two reasons for algae. The high nitrates are caused by over-feeding and poor water maintenance.

Too much sunlight is a little tougher to handle but can be helped a little by water lilies and hyacinths in a wide open pond. You should let them grow till they cover over 50% of your pond. I don't know what the layout of the pond is and if there are any trees providing shade, etc.

Test the water for Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates and also pH if a test kit is available. The Ammonia and Nitrites are usually more of a worry when a pond is new or too much of a bio-filter change has been done. Some people "clean" their ponds and disrupt the bio-filter too much when they do this.

The high Nitrates can be lowered by partial water changes... no more than 25% at a time unless it's an emergency such as an illness... just pump some of the pond water into the gardens and replace it with properly conditioned tap water but be careful about using the garden hose unless the hose has been running for a while to get any plastifiers out of it first. I just read about this recently after someone had a pond fish kill. I have a 30 gallon clean garbage can that I only use for the pond water. Then I add the conditioner and then pour the water into the pond. Set up the garbage can near the edge of the pond first so after it is full and conditioned, you can just slowly pour it into the pond.

The other reason for high Nitrates is OVER-FEEDING of the Goldfish. Goldfish are great actors and act like they are starving all of the time. Any time you walk near the pond, they will come to the surface and beg for food. Resist the temptation and ONLY feed them once or twice a day per the instructions on the food. Some times, it is good to skip a day just to let them scavenge around for any food that sank to the bottom and to give the bio-filter a chance to catch up with the goldfish waste. Many website articles recommend this. Some even say you can leave for a 3-day weekend without worrying about the Goldfish eating. They eat just about anything and if they are really "starving", they would munch on the greens in the pond but they won't really be starving... just acting! I take this back in advance if you come home from your 3-day weekend and all of your pond plants have disappeared. At least the Goldfish ate well! :P

Neither of the above items cost you anything.

Now, another low-cost or free long term solution.

I'll assume they have a pump that is pumping the water up to the rock and presuming that the pump is OK, then the pump and/or lines are just clogged up with algae growth. Take the tubing off from the Pump to the Rock and clean it out. I used the garden hose to force water through it. Take the tubing all the way out of the pond when you do this and let the junk and water that comes out of the tubing flow into a garden. It will be great for that purpose. Prepare to get a little messy during this job.

Next, make a pre-filter for the pump (assuming it's a small 3-4 inch cube type) to keep all of the junk out of it and the lines. I can't find the link now but I found a diagram on a website years ago where you take a 12" plastic basket, like the kind used for pond plants (get it at the local home improvement or pond store). Buy some "natural" filter material (it was a blue color and used for furnaces and was inorganic and will not harm the water and lasts forever). Buy enough so that you can cut it up to fit all four sides, the bottom and top of the plastic basket between the four side pieces. Put the bottom piece in and then put the four sides in. Put some pea gravel in as weight and for the pump to sit on top of. Then put the top piece on after cutting small slits for the tubing and electrical wiring. All of the pieces should be cut to fit snuggly inside of the basket and the top piece should fit snuggly on top. Optional - put a few bunches of weighted anacharis plants on top of the basket to finish off the system or you can tuck the ends of individual strands between the seams of the blue filter material.

Here is a link to a website http://www.mvwgs.org/filter.htm that shows a similar, but larger DIY pre-filter so depending on the size of your pond, you could use the one I describe with 12" plant basket or the larger one using a milk crate.

EDIT added 07/27/05 - Someone recently found the original website for my pre-filter in the wayback web archives... at this link - http://web.archive.org/web/20001210043100/theplantplace.com/ourfilter.htm

Now you have a pre-filter for the pump and a GREAT bio-filter as well. Around $10.00... and maybe even free if you have these materials around your home already. The Blue filter material will turn greenish soon as it filters out the junk and will blend in with the bottom of the pond or you can put it behind a plant or something which is probably where the pump was at in the first place. I also saw someone do this with a plastic milk crate but it required more of the filter material which most people do not have handy. Do not use Fiberglass filter material. I wish I could find the website that explained the exact material but it was the only Blue filter material that you could buy at Home Depot. It is about 1" thick and sturdy... like the material in a kitchen or floor scrub pad... but inexpensive and came in a 24" x 36" piece in one package. It was enough for one filter kit.

The gravel and filter material will become a phenomenal bio-filter after a couple of weeks. When cleaning, if necessary, never clean more than one or two pieces of the filter material at a time and never clean the gravel or bottom piece. When you take the assembly out of the pond, put it in a tub of pond water so you do not kill the good bacteria in the bio-filter. The best thing to do if the filter material is getting clogged up is to just swish it around in the tub of pond water to remove the big debris without removing all of the bio-filter bacteria. Put the piece of filter material back into the basket and use that water in the tub for watering your plants or garden. It's packed with nutrients!

Run this new pre-filter assembly for a week and then do another 25% water change and clean two of the pre-filter panels and repeat until your pond is crystal clear.

When you do maintenance on your pre-filter, always unplug the pump first and any other electrical items in the pond and then put a larger bucket in the pond and put the pre-filter in the bucket (with water) so the pre-filter stays submerged when you remove it and do your filter and pump maintenance.

Continue this until the pond is crystal clear... which will happen as long as the over-feeding is cut out and partial water changes are made. Eventually, the partial water changes can be cut back on once the natural bio-filter is doing its job and the algae does not have all of the extra food/nitrates to feed on.

Hope this helps.

Lenny Vasbinder
Neighborhood Home Services
Cell - 504-621-1870
eFax - 413-318-0742

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

How To Soundproof Bass Music From A Noisy Neighbor

After trying to help someone in one of my Yahoo! Groups deal with this problem and Googling this subject and reviewing dozens of pages, here is my final analysis of how to deal with this very common problem... at least according to the hundreds of thousands of hits on Google.

It starts with the original request for help and some of the other replies with my research and conclusions at the end.

Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2005 03:14:50 -0000
From: hello314314
Subject: Soundproofing noisy neighbor's base music with fencing

Hello everyone -

We're hoping for some advice on how to soundproof approx. 100' along the north side of our home in order to block out the 'base' level of music from a noisy neighbor. The problem is not the volume, but the traveling sound waves of the base (bass).

We're interested in utilizing materials such as wood fencing or plants.

Our home is a single level 60 yr.+ rambler with the bedroom, living room and office parallel to this neighbors driveway. This north side of our house has an overhanging eve with vinyl siding, two large corner picture windows and three sash windows -- all facing the neighbors driveway, which is approx. 25' away.

We're considering installing a fence along this north side of our home, and beyond (the perimeter, if possible). Fencing can be installed approx. 6-8 feet high (need to double check w/ the county on the height restrictions). We're wondering if storage cabinetry built in to this same fencing along the most egregious area would be any help. The neighborhood is otherwise a generally quiet residential.

We're also wondering if there are any special types of glass for windows that are to be recommended for muffling these sound waves. Fully soundproofing glass does not seem preferable.

Thank you for any and all advice on how to dampen the 'base' (bass) noise.

Also, any advised fence building companies in the Northern Virginia area would also be greatly appreciated.

Note: FYI, Our requests to the neighbor to turn off the music has only managed the volume be turned down, but the base, even at a low volume, is still jolting. The neighbor has car music cranked up as he pulls into the driveway. The damage is then already done (waking us up, or baby) even for those few minutes. Also, music is played with friends that hang around outside. Our complaints to the police say that they have to hear the noise as it is going on. No other neighbors seem to complain -- but none other have their bedroom 20' away from car music.

Thanks for your help.

REPLY Message: 1
Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2005 07:49:18 -0400
From: Eldred P
Subject: Re: Soundproofing noisy neighbor's base music with fencing

From my past reading about music studio design(soundproofing to keepexternal sound OUT), the only thing that will really stoplow-frequency waves is mass. Mass would be something like a concrete wall or heavy insulation. Unfortunately, that's not real practical ina residential setting. You might check with some builders in your area - maybe someone has experience in studio design who can offersuggestions. Good luck.


REPLY Message: 2
Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2005 12:25:24 -0000
From: "twestbrook_77530"
Subject: Re: Soundproofing noisy neighbor's base music with fencing

One cost effective measure used locally is to build a fence employing Hardiplank as the field material with the posts on 4' centers. Some local communities use this as a sound barrier next to a freeway.

REPLY Message: 3
Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2005 06:43:45 -0700 (PDT)
From: Tim R
Subject: Re: Soundproofing noisy neighbor's base music with fencing

Hello "Hello":

Simple answer: No, you cannot effectively stop this low frequency noise. The offending frequencies (100-500 Hz, or cycles per second) have such a long wavelength that your fence/walls would have to be several feet thick, made of a dense material such as concrete, and extend upwards for meters, to begin to attenuate them. Not practical or feasible. Your only remedy is likely legal, a civil action against the neighbor as a Private Nuisance. Sorry for your situation. If you can afford it, I'd think of moving...OTOH, if the cause is the high school kid of the neighbor, perhaps you can weather it out for the next couple years until he/she moves out.


REPLY Message: 4
Date: Mon, 02 May 2005 01:59:59 -0000
From: "bluestardaddy"
Subject: Re: Soundproofing noisy neighbor's base music with fencing

I don't know the size of your land, but if you can manage to raise at least a portion of the land, as in a thin burm, and plant trees and shrubs of varying heights , it tends to break up noise better than a heqdge row of single height. I used to manage a landscape crew and we installed raised burms frequently. If you can plant plants in front of each other to increase the thickness it helps, as in double rows, better than a single row of plants. Of course ytou must chose the right plant/trees for such a project. Consult your nursery or a landscape company first.

REPLY Message: 5
Date: Mon, 02 May 2005 15:09:33 -0000
From: "joeyfun2003"
Subject: Re: Soundproofing noisy neighbor's base music with fencing

There is an article on this very subject in April 2005 THIS OLD HOUSE magazine.


I did a http://www.google.com/ search on: This Old House April 2005 Soundproofing

You might want to do the same search and look over the information.

This link was near the top. This page also contains many other links.


(These people also make a Memory Foam Mattress similar to Tempur-Pedic but at a fraction of the cost, according to one of the articles I looked at.)

Here is their solution to Soundproofing A Wall. They do have an "Econobarrier" that you might be able to put up on your proposed fence or on the inside or outside of your bedroom wall. Read down this link and look it over. It might be a solution but it seems like it would be better on the outside and/or inside of your wall rather than the entire fence as 135 sq ft is $283.00 but that seems like it would cover the wall of your bedroom facing the noisy neighbor with extra for a double dose to make a removable covering for your window. 90 sq ft is $189.00.

This site also has many other possibly helpful links.


I did a second Google search on: Soundproofing Bass Music from Noisy Neighbor

I got 534 hits on that search.

Here's a series of posts about your topic from 2002. It seems this problem has many people caught up in the "boom" of hip-hop and other bass heavy music.


This page has questions and answers for virtually every type of "noise" so maybe this page will help other people with "noise" problems.


And if you look over their suggestions, it does not look good for people with Bass Music problems because it's not just something you "hear" but you "feel" it as well.

Here is another site and they also make the soundproofing fences that are put up next to Interstates, etc. so maybe they have a residential fence product that is affordable and might work in your situation.


Here is another site called SoundProofingAmerica and it has a page for soundproofing a room appropriately titled Soundproofing Your Teenager's Bedroom so maybe this will work in reverse for you.


Here is an organization (possibly non-profit) that might help also.


They even have a page called "Boom Cars" with links concerning your exact problem and a downloadable PDF book that may offer you some more help.


IN CONCLUSION: The high density foam or other high density solutions seem to be the only thing that will stop Bass Music waves.

Hope this helps.

Lenny Vasbinder
Home/Office - 504-888-3391
Cell - 504-621-1870
eFax - 413-318-0742
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