Technology doesn't actually sprint past me, but I tend to be looking the other way as its gentle jog leaves me behind. Nothing too retro, just putting up with inconveniences because I hadn't realised that things could be different. So it is that over the past decade I have found maintaining my 2000 gallon fish pond gradually more time consuming as well as expensive. Sitting grandly surrounded by raised beds and in front of a trellis - formerly hiding "the works" - it contains my precious fish. A couple of these are more than 30 years old and another five not far behind.
Until recently the works consisted of a giant black plastic tank on bricks containing another smaller tank, within which a filter medium cleaned the water flowing back to the pond via a large UV unit beside it. Once or twice a year I needed to empty this reservoir sized monstrosity before cleaning it of the nasties which had accumulated since the last time. Added to this was the fact that something drastic was about to happen. My helpful fortnightly gardener didn't have to point out the bulging sides of the tank, but his prognosis made it clear that something should be done fast if I were not to be the cause of a flood of Noah-like dimensions cascading into next door's garden. In any case, my system was clearly no longer doing its job as I battled weed and algae.
I had already discovered that Hozelock had brought things up to date when replacing my submerged pump and separate UV unit, so made straight for their shelf in my local pond and aquarium centre. I was looking for a suitable tank with the appropriate 2" holes already cut for the pipe work and hoping that the boot of my small car would be large enough to carry it home.
The Hozelock Bioforce 8000 which was to be my choice is 270mmx270mmx456mm (10.6"x 10.6"x 18" in old money). The hose needed would be only 1" internal diameter. Something had to be missing and I asked for help from an assistant. He assured me that this was the complete job and when installed would only show a few inches above the ground. What is more it contained an integral UV bulb and dispensed with the need for the final bulky piece of equipment. Oh Joy! I happily left the store hugging the box and telephoned my obliging gardener.
The Bioforce consists of a neat round head with a white tube hanging beneath which contains a UV lamp. For the uninitiated, water passes over the lamp and causes that awful algae to clump and so not green the water. Sunk into the ground, backfilled with sand and close to my pond is now a neat container holding three doughnut - shaped biomedia foam pads one on top of the other. The pads being this shape offer a central hole in which the tube beneath the head slots when it is lowered, before being fastened with 7 clips. All that remains is to connect hoses from the submerged pump and back out towards the pond. In my garden the outlet hose leads to a little rill which pours as a waterfall into the pond. A generous length of cable leads to the electric point. What is left for the eye is a few inches of grey plastic head from which 2 neat hoses enter and leave.
To summarise; I began with a vast ugly tank needing many yards of hose and accessed behind a fence and now have a small device behind my pond, easily hidden by plants and needing a very few feet of pipe. So a good start, but how efficient is this little machine and how high maintenance?
I already knew that it would take a while for the water to clear and, sure enough, I found myself daily removing thick floating algae from the surface of the pond. At least this meant that the UV lamp was working. It took a few weeks before I noticed that the water was becoming less murky. Then one morning all was clear and clean and it has remained so, even on sunny algae - forming days, during the past few months of early spring and summer. The water which gurgles into the pond is clear and I can see my precious fish.
Coldwater fish, especially those the size of mine, need a regularly maintained environment. This has become a pleasant pastime once a week instead of a daily unproductive chore. I rinse away water- slowing solids from the submerged pump weekly. However, the Bioforce has needed hardly any attention. In fact it has proved to be a formality which I have attempted only twice since installing it.
I unclip the part of the filter exposed above the shingle behind the pond. Lifting the head I lay it carefully to one side (after all it contains that UV lamp) and reach down for the filter foam rings. A quick rinse out in the bowl I have taken with me and they are replaced and the head tightened into place. I would stress that all the clips must be securely back in place. Switching the electricity back on (don't forget to switch off first) I hear the welcome gurgle of water flowing once again through the Bioforce and out into the pond.
A UV bulb should be replaced every 6 months, the instructions for doing so are not complicated and my trusty gardener will do this for me. The violet glow can be clearly seen from above the head of the filter to show that all is well; however, it is not advisable to look actually into the light. The foam medium is replaceable, but I can't see me needing to do this for a long, long time.
The cost of this little wonder varies a lot. I paid £130 from Swallow Aquatics, yet have seen it at Amazon for £114 and much less on other sites. Do I think it worth the cost? Absolutely. I am delighted with the space I have reclaimed where once there was an untidy tank and "works" as well as the clear water, weed free pond and lack of attention needed.
Note: The instruction booklet states that the device does not have to be buried.
There are other sizes available to deal with higher or lower volumes of water than the 8000 provides.