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I would like to use an Intex pool as a Natural Swimming Pool

Posts: 8
Location: Israel
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I would really like to build a pool for the kids to swim in, and I want it to be chlorine-free. I have How to Build a Natural Swimming Pool by Wolfram Kircher and Andreas Thon, so I'm familiar with some of the theory.
Unfortunately, for a wide variety of reasons (permits, not knowing what I'm doing, seven species of venomous snakes that I don't want near my pool, etc) it appears that I am constrained to installing an above-ground pool (Intex, Bestway, etc).
I would like to apply natural swimming pool principles to this project, but I can't seem to find anything on Google (or Permies) where this was done with a prefab above-ground pool. I hope I'm not the first person to come up with this,
and that there are people here who can provide some tips.

1. I would like to use a BSF (Biofilm Accumulating Substrate) filter, which is basically a container filled with substrate (gravel, zeolites, etc) on which beneficial bacteria can form a biofilm. The water needs to flow rapidly and evenly through the container. Benefits:
  • Efficient at destroying harmful bacteria
  • Efficiently removes phosphorus from the water, which limits the ability of algae to thrive
  • Reduces or eliminates the need for plants, which is useful given my constraints
  • Not having plants allows me to keep the pool covered when not in use, greatly reducing water loss to evaporation (useful with the hot dry summers we have)

  • I haven't found any practical advice on how to build one outside of the book, and the book didn't go into a lot of detail.

    2. I was thinking of putting in a UV filter somewhere along the flow. I know this contradicts the "Natural Pool philosophy" (the book explicitly states this) but I am not the purist I was when I was twenty.
    It's important that the water be sanitary. A UV filter does not affect the microbial environment in the BSF nor does it hurt my kids. Any thoughts? I can be convinced that they are unnecessary...

    3. Google, YouTube, Pinterest, etc are filled with multiple examples of home-made pond filters using a five-gallon bucket filled with gravel/bioballs/old sponges etc. Amazon also has multiple "biofilters" for sale - I can only assume that they work using similar
    principles to the BSF - a substrate for beneficial bacteria to grow on and do their magic, with the occasional back-washing to prevent an old and dying biofilm from releasing nutrients into the water. These filters appear to be intended for fish ponds and not human use,
    but from what I can gather from the videos, the water appears to be quite clear, so the filters are presumably managing to remove the nutrients that the fish deposit. I also see videos where people swim in their koi ponds - can a simple five-gallon bucket filter manage
    to keep a pool clean enough for human use? The recommendations in the book are that a BSF should be 10-25% of the total area (10% only if installed by a professional), so am I missing something here? Some of the filters on Amazon appear to use some sort of sponge-like media,
    and a lot of the homemade filters use old dish sponges - are these media so much more efficient than gravel that they can manage the nutrient load with such a small filter? I would love to just build a few filters using five-gallon buckets.
    Even if the filter needed back-washing on a weekly basis, it would be much simpler and cheaper to switch out buckets than to build a much larger BSF.

    If anyone has any experience with a project like this I would greatly appreciate any advice I can get.


    Posts: 3197
    Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
    forest garden trees urban
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    You have asked the questions I want answers to myself.
    I am looking at similar project.
    For me, it's a very , very small pool,  but the principle remains the same.
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