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Bakki Showers and BHM in Cambridgeshire…..



Before purchasing a Bakki shower system I had experienced a ph crash in the autumn of 2009 and wanted to ensure that this did not happen again. I looked into the reasons it had happened and also ways to increase the water quality significantly so I could not only retain my current stocking rates but to also increase them over time as the koi grow further. I had limited space around my current setup - a 6,000 gallon pond currently with a 4ft wide, 6ft deep custom made vortex and two separate fibreglass filter bays - one via the bottom drain and the other via a surface skimmer. I toyed with sand filters/bead filters/trickle towers etc, but never felt 100% happy that they were the answer for my pond.


With the beauty of the web and chats on forums to people who had Bakki showers up and running, I also thought about the issue of not only improving water quality and stocking rates but also that I wanted to grow more koi to jumbo (in my book that's over 80cm). I also was intrigued to see the growth rates that Momotaro achieve with their huge indoor ponds which had Bakki showers running. After some saving up and keeping my ear to the ground, I purchased a second hand 4-tier Bakki shower system with a bottom weir back in Feb 2010 with 50kg of the latest BHM (Bacteria House Media) from Darren at A4 koi. Before picking it up I also did plenty of searching on the optimum flow rates. What with the Bakki shower working better the more flow you have going over it, I decided on a Lifetech 30,000 litre (6,500 gallons) per hour pump. Again, A4 koi was the provider and I drove home that day itching to put it together as soon as the weather warmed up a bit!!


Once set up, I found that by pumping straight up from 4 inch pipework up to a spray bar with 160 14mm holes, including the existing filter, the water in my pond was now being circulated more than once an hour. I thought the koi would initially be spooked by the noise and the extra flow of the returning water, but they were not, and they surprised me by wanting to be around the exit weir. Over the next few days I noticed two things - the water was smelling sweeter (if that makes any sense) and I had a lot more bubbles on the surface. The bubbles disappeared slowly over the next few weeks as the protein levels came down. Water clarity never became crystal clear, but I wanted water quality and not clarity anyway!! Other noticeable changes were deeper sumi on almost all my koi as well as more lustre to the skin quality, particularly on the shiroji (white) areas. The biggest change was to two of my shiro usuri's and darker robing to my goromo and goshiki's.


With a massively increased turnover of water, I invested in another 20kgs of the BHM. What amazed me was how quickly this second set of media cultured. It went from pristine white to a light brown within three weeks. What I have found best is that the water doesn't crash too much as the lifetech pump delivers the volume of water but not under huge pressure. With better water quality I have nearly doubled my feed rates this summer and since adding the shower system most koi have put on over 6-8cm from April to November. The biggest growth was  a male chagoi - already 62cms and 4 years old, I thought it would grow well, but at the Cambridgeshire koi show it measured 76cm and its body shape had also improved significantly that many people thought it was a female!! Overall, I am very happy with what the showers have achieved. The fish look happy, and I'm happy with my hobby.  


I was initially concerned that the noise would not be appreciated by my neighbours. It actually turned out to be the opposite as they commented that it sounded like a natural rushing stream....With more media added, it actually became quieter too.


If I started a new pond from scratch what would I do next time? 10,000 gallons minimum, 3 bottom drains and 3 sets of Bakki showers. Oh, and the only media to use has to be BHM. It works wonders and doesn't clog. There are plenty of gadgets and new ideas in every hobby. Some are there to make a difference and some are to make money. I can honesty say that the Bakki showers and BHM may not be the cheapest filters out there, but this has been the best decision I have made in 15 years of koi keeping.


Now I can't wait for the winter to be over, get the covers off and get them feeding again.


Geoff Winn

Nov 2010