Hi, I’m Don Chamberlain the owner of GreatWave Engineering. I’ve only been involved with koi since 2004, so I’m no great sensai, but have picked up a trick or two since then.
In 2003 I had finally scrounged together enough money to remodel my 60 year old Spanish style bungalow in Willow Glen, San Jose, CA. In the 80’s I’d spent nearly 9 years in Japan working as a Liasion Engineer for a computer company with their Japanese partners. I had fallen in love with the Japanese style and Japanese gardens so I rebuilt my house in a Japanese style and when the dust cleared began to surround it with a Japanese style garden, I call Koten-En.
The koi pond was intended to be an element of the garden. Like almost everyone else I’ve ever met, I loved to watch koi, but had no idea how addicting they would prove to be. I read the advice to join the local koi club and seek out the advice of those who had gone before, but that’s not the red-blooded American male way. How hard could this be. We’ve got the Internet.
I fell for the Aquascape story hook, line and sinker. A simple, low maintenance, natural appearing pond. I located a local installer that also sold koi and away we went. It did look pretty nice and didn’t require too much maintenance for the first few months until the gunk built up and I lost my favorite kohaku to a bacterial infection and it required weekly potassium permangenate treatments to keep the others alive.
My education had begun. Better water, better filters were clearly required. The members of koi club I had finally joined were right. Rocks on the bottom of the pond were not good, a bottom drain was essential.
Never one to take the easy way out, this time I was determined to apply my vast knowledge and build the pond myself. Out came thousands of pounds of volcanic rock, sand and gravel. In went new liners, a bottom drain and a bead filter. Nearly a year later after hundreds of hours of hard labor and no small amount of money it was filled with RO water and the pump was switched on for the first time.
The new pond was clearly a leap forward in terms of water quality. No signs of bacterial infections, a touch of fungus one Spring on one fish. The pink granite walls are attractive, but the koi weren’t as tough as I imagined and the granite was unforgiving during spawning season. After a couple of years of operation, it’s faults are clear to see. If you’re interested you can see the pond’s progress or lack thereof in my Pond/Garden Log.
In the summer of 2011, I began to have problems with my filters clogging. This led me to begin researching better filtration and led me to Peter Waddington’s ERIC Filters.
The more I read, the more sense his statements made to me. I finally worked up enough nerve to ask Peter if there was any chance I could license his design for manufacture in the US. To my surprise he replied almost immediately from Japan were he was traveling that it might be possible and so after a quick visit to Manchester and a tour of several of his customer’s ponds I became the US manufacturer of ERIC filters.
In early 2012 the first shipment of ERIC filters arrived from the UK. Most of them were destined for the new pond at Koten-En. The new pond was intended to be a test and demonstration pond for our filters.
I went into this venture expecting that I could easily find local fabricators to make the polypropylene filter boxes. There are a number of high quality fabricators in Northern California, but I hadn’t reckoned on the high costs. It turned out to be impossible to produce the filters at any sort of reasonable cost using an outside vendor.
This fact and building my new pond set back my plans dramatically. For some time I considered giving up the idea entirely, but in the end decided to make the investment in tools and education to fabricate the filters in house.
By the end of 2013, I’d sold two whole filters. Not exactly setting the World on fire, but slowly building my skills and confidence. Near the end of 2012 Peter developed the ERIC One, a miniature version of his filter. I was initially sceptical, but testing by several UK enthusiasts proved the little filter to be surprisingly effective.
This was exciting as the smaller filter would suit many more users and the cost would be more manageable for more people. During the testing I became aware of Michael Toft of Aqua-Bio UK. Michael had suggested that Peter try his sintered glass media in his ERIC filters.
Peter wasn’t interested, but I was. Michael’s claims sounded interesting and I wanted to find out for myself if there was anything to them. This led to the design of the ER 1 Prototype for use on my nearly 600 gal quarantine tank.
The ER 1 Prototype was based on Peter’s ERIC One design. It was a bit smaller. Where Peter used three EMat Modules, I only used two BioMotion Moving Bed Modules that were about the same size as the EMat Modules.
I was very pleased with the results of our testing. The fish load was about three times more than wanted. I was initially concerned that the filter might not be able to handle the load, but was pleased to achieve 0 ppm ammonia in 10 days and 0 ppm nitrite in 28 days.
Based on these results I reached agreement with Michael to distribute his Biohome media in the US and Canada and will use his BioMotion media in all Endless River Koi Pond Filters going forward. An entirely new line of filters has now been designed. The first examples will be replacing the ERICs at Koten-En just as soon as I can turn them out.
If your interested, you can read the entire report on the testing that led me to this decision here: [sc:view-report]
I intend to spend the rest of my days providing the best possible service to anyone else that believes the Endless River Koi Pond Filter are the best koi pond filters available. I’m hoping that one of them might be you.
If you like what you see, or better yet what you’ve bought, I hope you’ll share your results with your friends or leave a comment so we know how we’re doing. If you’ve got any pictures you’d like to share, we’d love to see them.
Happy Koi Keeping,