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

 
Posts: 11
Location: Israel
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Hi,

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.

    Thanks!


     
    gardener
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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.
     
    Posts: 158
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    Did you ever get answers to these questions?
     
    gardener
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    I have many thoughts on this topic  ...former Intex owner, lots of aquarium (very small pond!) experience, filters, etc.  If there is current interest I'll take the time to answer...
     
    Annie Hope
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    I am interested.  I also just posted this question:  https://permies.com/t/154921/Small-Cheap-Indoor-Natural-Pool

     
    Daniel Granovsky
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    Location: Israel
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    I built my biofilter shortly after this post. I wrote up a post about it here:
    https://permies.com/t/122194/Intex-natural-swimming-pool-build

    It has been working on and off for two summers, although maintenance is exorbitantly time intensive. Cleaning the biofilter is extremely difficult and I'm still not sure that I've managed to do it correctly judging from the amounts of biofilm still attached to the substrate.
    Last summer I had an entire month where the pool water was green and nasty and I kept running the pump anyway mostly because I was too busy with work to stop it and think of a solution, and sure enough a month later the water cleared up on its own. Summer has pretty much
    arrived where I live, so I'm currently working on filter version 2.0 which will hopefully be my magnum opus. This filter will be a fluidized bed reactor based on k1 media. These filters are often used in koi pond filtration but from what I can gather it uses the same principal as the Biofilm Substrate Filter described
    by Wolfram Kircher and Andreas Thon. Kircher and Thon explicitly state that phosphorus removal is proportional to flow rate through the media. A fluidized bed reactor uses plastic beads that are roughly as buoyant as water, making it extremely easy to agitate them (i.e. increasing the effective flow rate of nutrients past the
    biofilm). The pieces of plastic are constantly crashing into each other, causing weaker bits of biofilm to fall off, which will hopefully make it infinitely easier to clean. I'm waiting for the filter media to arrive from Amazon, so hopefully I'll have a working filter within two weeks. I will update on Permies as soon as I have something.
     
    Posts: 95
    Location: Landers, CA
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    I just have a salt filter system with a UV light.  Works great here in the desert.
     
    Posts: 2
    Location: Portugal
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    Hello I am very interested in this topic. do you mind  to post your insights ? Thanks
     
    Posts: 86
    Location: SW Alabama zone 8a & 8b
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    Would it be possible to tie it into an aquaponics system?   Pee-ponics for ornamentals?  We will be installing an above ground pool this summer and my skin cannot tolerate the pool chemicals (and I do not want them), so we have to find an alternative.  We will eventually build a greenhouse for aquaponics and had thought about building it around the pool so we could swim year round.
     
    Joao Carreira
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    Hi Daniel, thanks for the great description. Do you have a diagram by any chance ? I am trying to understand if the water in the BSF flows up or down and whether that is relevant but I can't find an answer anywhere.
     
    Posts: 167
    Location: Southern New Hampshire (Zone 5)
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    Purity Lopez wrote:I just have a salt filter system with a UV light.  Works great here in the desert.



    The OP wants to eliminate chlorine, but saltwater pools still use chlorine; they simply use electrolysis to produce it, rather than adding chlorine directly:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_water_chlorination

    "Health concerns
    Research has shown that because saltwater pools still use chlorine sanitization, they generate the same disinfection byproducts (DBPs) that are present in traditional pools.[6] Of highest concern are haloketones and trihalomethanes (THMs) of those the predominant form being bromoform.[6] Very high levels of bromoform - up to 1.3 mg / liter or 13 times the guideline values of World Health Organization - have been found in some public saltwater swimming pools.[6][7]"
     
    Davis Tyler
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    don't know what your budget is for this, but looks like there are UV santizers available in the $500 range
    https://www.familypoolfun.com/shop/alternative-sanitizers-66/solaxx-nuvo-uv-pool-sterilization-system/cin-uv1500a

    You could get a big honkin' pump to go with it so water recirculates fast enough to make chlorine unnecessary
     
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    Location: China
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    If expense of disinfection for you is not a question for you, you can choose one set of ozone machie or ozone water disinfection system for your swimming pool.

    You need to offer size of your swimming pool so that I can know what ozone machine or ozone mixing sytem for you. BTW, ozone is the most convenient to operate system and the most expensive as well.

    If you still need it, maybe I can help you about how to have ozone for disinfection of swimming pool water
     
    pollinator
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    "Bury" the Intex pool tuning it into a inground pool. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwD6p8KxbYk
    Alot of pool have decking around it. Just make a  4ft wetland "decking" around it.

     
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