Backwashed the Triton II

Oscarmatic(CA z10/23)November 12, 2013

Next in the continuing pond rehabilitation project...

With some trepidation, we took a weekend to research the pond pump and filter and do the first backwash in years. Of course nothing is labelled, but the piping nicely matched the diagrams in the manuals I found online for the Triton II and the backwash valve. And luckily, none of the valves were stuck.

With the state of the pond -- clear water, heavy organic build-up, and huge algae growth -- I was expecting sludge and grosser from the backwash drain. To my mild disappointment, the water ran nearly clear, with some suspended green and brown bits. We ran the backwash for a minute, until I had the feeling we were just wasting water as it flowed downhill (toward the citrus trees, at least).

While the pump was off, we took the opportunity to check out the condition of the filter medium. Happily, we discovered the old Triton II pool filter is not using sand, as it would in a swimming pool installation. The filter media appear to be 1/2" (or so) ceramic or stone spheres. (I wish I had remembered to take a photo of it, when we drew some up, but we were just focused on the job.)

With no gunky outflow, and no apparent filter media disasters, I suspected the backwash had been a bust. Until I checked out the pond and waterfall with everything flowing again. Water flow is up 300%! By that measure, it was a success.

The placid pool at the top where I was sheltering feeder goldfish had become a swift rapid, which took at least one goldfish over the falls before I could hastily rig up a higher, wider gravel barrier. The waterfall was splashing wider, and the overall pond water level was higher. A parent observed: "Oh, right, *that's* how it used to look." In each pool, the faster water flow carved a path in the sediment on the bottom, stirring up great clouds of muck and turning the water dark and cloudy. (Sadly, this left the feeder fish gasping for air. By the time I had read enough of GW archives to understand what was happening and why, it was too late for them.)

Following the recommendation in the manual, we were very careful to use the air bleeder valve to get all the air out of the system when we restarted the pump. The pressure gauge on top of the filter dropped from 30 PSI pre-backwash to just under 20 PSI immediately after. One week later, the PSI is creeping back up to 27 or so. I suspect we would have to backwash regularly to maintain clarity, flow, and low pressure -- but we've now decided to temporarily drain the pond for other reasons, so I'll post about that in a separate thread.

Below is a side-by-side photo comparison of the flow over the water fall before and after the backwash. On the bottom, you can see the difference in the height of the gravel/lava rock barrier at the top of the waterfall.

Here is a link that might be useful: About the project

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Oscarmatic(CA z10/23)

An additional note about the pump and intake...
Most of the labelling is peeling off the pump, but I can just make out that the pump is RS ("Replacement Series") 750 by Hayward, model RS750CA, 0.75 HP, 1.32 SF, 0.99 THP. (To save another newbie the same search I just did, that's: horse power x service factor = total horse power.)

The intake from the pond's lower pool is equally difficult to see, but for different reasons. Here's a photo I was able to take after the water settled somewhat. The intake is approx 8" off the bottom.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 4:06PM
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Hey it sounds like your getting things moving. Is the pools done with liner or concrete? It is a relief that there was not sand media in the filter. I'm thinking that was some sort of bead filter. I'm all about filtration, I still believe you may need to add something. Filter mats will polish the water. You will need to keep an eye on the bottom pond since you don't have a skimmer. I can see that intake valve getting clogged quickly. I was wondering if you could wrap a filter matt around the intake. The only thing is I would be worried about burning up your pump. It would have to be something that you could get off easy to clean it. If you don't want to do a DIY filter, and you have the room. Look into Osaka filters. You would be able to hook it up just before the Triton. They are kind of bulky though.
About the fish, kinda funny, remember if you add koi. They are naturally a river fish. No matter what pool you put them in, they will find their way to the bottom.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 4:53AM
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Oscarmatic(CA z10/23)

Hi, Craig. The pond is fully concrete lined. There was a leak several years ago and the pond was drained and patched then. I've found a few cracks with plant roots creeping in, which is one of the reasons we've decided to drain the pond. None of the cracks are big enough to leak, but why wait until they are?

I agree the skimmer is an issue, particularly with the landscaping. Another of the big projects while the pond is dry will be to cut back or remove much of the most problematic plants. But that's a temporary solution. Can you recommend a floating skimmer, or a skimmer type that can be added on? (Option two is to ask the swimming pool guy to add the pond to his weekly skim.)

I had the same thought about that intake as you. In fact, I couldn't believe it wasn't already clogged when I saw the vast amount of mulm and string algae in the pond before I started cleaning. (I should have taken better "before" pictures, but we can summarize with: gross.) Given the long running with little maintenance, I speculate the inside of the T is filled with media to act as a primary filter on the system. When the pond is dry, I'll check it out. (Side note: The white haze in the photo of the intake in the post above is sunlight reflecting off the water surface. The pond water is a crystal-clear view into the brown mucky bottom.)

Here's a question for the experienced ponders: Despite the neglect, this pond has had clear water (when the mulm isn't disturbed and settles out), which leads me to believe there's some wonderfully beneficial bacteria/microbes/good guys living somewhere in the filter system. When I drain this pond for rehab, it will be dry for approximately two weeks. Should I try to save good-guy-infested media somehow, to re-seed the pond? Is there any effective way to do that?


Here is a link that might be useful: More details about the whole pond and the project

    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 12:31PM
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Hey Oscar
I have seen floating skimmers, however I've never used them. You can try one to help, but I don't believe it will work as well as one designed into the pond. As far as bacteria, first I think you water is so clear because of your bog filtration, plant root systems does wonders. I would think that you have a good colonization in the Triton of bacteria. Shutting the pond down for a while wont hurt. In fact I save my media all winter to jump start my pond in the spring.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 4:02PM
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