Many Hats of Me

Thursday, February 20, 2014

DIY Kaldnes Media Aquarium Filter - A Step-By-Step Guide

What is Kaldnes Media?

Background History of Kaldnes Media

Kaldnes media was designed and developed in Norway by the combined efforts of education, government and private sectors: the Norwegian University of Science (NTNU), the Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research (SINTEF), and Kaldnes, a Norwegian industrial company. 

In the early 1980's, NTNU and SINTEF were developing sewage treatment technologies involving moving media. By the end of the 80's, the partnership had successfully developed a new method of treating wastewater called "the moving bed biofilm process". By this time, Kaldnes was getting involved, and plans to produce and market the technology were begun, with a newly formed company Kaldnes Miljøteknologi AS.

This new sewage treatment was intended only for municipal use, but other industries, such as aquaculture, quickly adopted the media and the process, now called the Kaldnes Moving Bed (KMB).

How Does Kaldnes Work?


Kaldnes media are small pellets made of polyethylene that look like wagon wheels. The media come in different sizes, but aquarists primarily use the K1, the smallest size measuring 1cm in diameter. As you can see, the plastic media have a lot of ridges and surface area for nitrifying bacteria to grow.



K1 Kaldness Media
K1 Kaldnes Media


Kaldnes vs. Traditional Ceramic Media

Ceramic media are the most common bio filter media used by aquarists. It looks similar to porous gravel or small pieces of lava rock. Kaldnes media is superior in a couple of important ways.

Kaldnes Media is:

  • Light with a density slightly lower than water so that it is buoyant. Ceramic media is heavy and dense by comparison.
  • A moving bed filter whereas ceramic media does not move once placed in a filter. 
  • Self-cleaning. Ceramic media needs to be cleaned regularly (although most aquarists don't).

Kaldnes media is used in a reactor which provides aeration and agitation. This mechanical movement of the media is the key to it's superior nitrifying ability (to break down ammonia to nitrite and then finally to nitrate). As the media moves in the reactor, it bumps into the reactor walls and other media, sloughing off excess biofilm, keeping the media clean so that nitrifying bacteria work at it's peak efficiency. Since ceramic does not move, the biofilm that covers the media gets clogged by "sludge" which is dead nitrifying bacteria and fish waste. Also, the tank water does not flow easily throughout ceramic media thus is far less efficient than Kaldnes media.

Constructing A Kaldnes Reactor


Step One: Materials and Tools 


Materials:

Tools
  • Power drill or a very sharp awl
  • Pencil or chopstick



Materials and tools to make Kaldness Media Filter
Materials and tools to make Kaldnes Media Filter

Check valve prevents floods during power failures
Check valve prevents floods during power failures

Side-drilled suction cup
Side-drilled suction cup


Making openings in the water bottle

Use the drill to make starter holes in the water bottle lid and on the top and bottom of the bottle. Please refer to the video at the end of this blog. Use the pencil or chopstick to gently increase the size of the holes, careful not to damage the bottle.


Make a hole in the water bottle lid
Make a hole in the water bottle lid

Insert airline tubing into bottle lid hole
Insert airline tubing into bottle lid hole

Airstone attached to airline tubing
Airstone attached to airline tubing

Air stone inserted into bottle
Air stone inserted into bottle


Finished Kaldness Media Filter
Finished Kaldnes Media Filter,
just after installation.

Finished Kaldness Media Filter - 3 hours later
Finished Kaldnes Media Filter - 3 hours later




Kaldnes Media Filter in Action, 24 hours later


Full Video Instructions


The video below is a tutorial that provides real-time instructions on building the Kaldnes media filter. 





More Reading:



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Exploring Downtown Victoria BC: Empress Hotel and the Soda Shoppe

A Family Trip to Victoria


Last summer during my visit to Vancouver, my family took a trip to Victoria, British Columbia by ferry boat. Our ship left Vancouver at 9 AM and we arrived at the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal at 10:30 AM. From there, the drive to Victoria is about 1/2 an hour.  

Parking Options Downtown Victoria


There are two options to park in downtown Victoria: metered parking and indoor parkades. Metered parking allows you to park from 1/2 an hour to 90 minutes during the week. Weekends and statutory holidays are free.

We parked at the Victoria Central Public Library parking lot located next to the library at 735 Broughton Street. The map below is the address of the central library. Parkade parking allows you to park for a longer period of time at a central location.

This particular parking lot is FREE on the weekend too. Just make sure you press the button for a ticket to release the parking gate. When we tried parking on a Sunday, it took 10 minutes to figure out how to open the parking gate without paying with our credit card. More information about Victoria parking is located at the cities' parking website.




View Larger Map


Empress Hotel, Victoria, BC



Downtown Victoria inner harbor with the Empress Hotel in the background
Downtown Victoria inner harbor with the Empress Hotel in the background


It's hard to imagine that before the Empress Hotel was built, this entire inner harbor was a mudflat filled with garbage. Since the land was soggy mud, no buildings or proper streets could be built in the area. Over time, the locals began to dump their garbage in the harbor. It was stinky and ugly and by the late 1800's, a health hazard. The city decided to fill in the mud flats and asked the Canadian Pacific Railroad Company to built their hotel there instead of another location in Victoria. In 1908, the Empress Hotel was opened to the public and has been a Victoria landmark ever since. 



Boats are moored in the inner harbor, downtown Victoria, BC
Boats are moored in the inner harbor, downtown Victoria, BC
BC Legislative building is in the background

Wide stone boardwalk hugs the inner harbor, Victoria, BC
Wide stone boardwalk hugs the inner harbor, Victoria, BC


Walkway to the Empress Hotel
Walkway to the Empress Hotel 


hydrangeas at the empress hotel
Pink, purple and blue hydrangea bushes decorate the Empress Hotel's grounds.

Afternoon Tea at the Empress Hotel


The Tea Lobby at the Empress Hotel has been serving it's famous afternoon tea since the hotel's doors opened. In fact, the hotel serves and average of 130,000 guests afternoon tea every year! 



Empress Hotel Afternoon Tea Menu
Empress Hotel Afternoon Tea Menu



The Tea Room serves a variety of pastries and sandwiches that are prepared in-house. The restaurant also serves a variety of loose leaf teas, including its own blend, the Empress Tea.



Empress Hotel Tea Lobby interior
Empress Hotel Tea Lobby interior




Empress Hotel Tea Lobby rich furnishings
Empress Hotel Tea Lobby rich furnishings
Sadly, the Tea Lobby was already closed for the day, so we were unable to experience the Afternoon Tea at the Empress.

The Empress Afternoon Tea starts at 12 PM and ends at 2:45 PM. It costs $50/adult and $25/child. Seniors receive a $20 discount during the year except Spring and Summer. 


The Soda Shoppe


Since we missed tea, we walked across the street to the 1950's styled diner, the Soda Shoppe, located at  801 Government Street. One half of the restaurant serves hotdogs, sundaes, floats, and coffees; the other half is an ice cream parlor. Although the flavors offered were a bit mundane, the locally sourced ice cream pleased both grandma and children alike.


Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC street view
Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC

Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC, interior
Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC, interior

Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC menu board
Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC menu board

Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC chili cheese dog
Soda Shoppe chili cheese dog
Soda Shoppe ice cream parlor
Soda Shoppe Ice Cream Parlor

Soda Shoppe Victoria BC waffle cones
Grandma and grandson enjoying enjoying a waffle cone



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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Taking the Ferry from Vancouver to Victoria, BC

BC Ferries runs a passenger ship from Vancouver to Vancouver Island from the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal. The ships runs hourly starting from 7AM. Please check the schedule before planning your trip. I suggest you arrive at least 45 minutes before the sailing time to ensure that you don't miss the boat (literally).




View Larger Map


Fares


The fares vary depending on how you will be traveling on the boat. You can take your motorcycle, car, bus, or bike onto the ferry. Of course, you can also walk onto the ferry when you are dropped off by local transit. There are also discounts for groups of 16 or more people, and seniors. Please check the following page, BC Ferry Tsawwassen schedule of fares (current from February 14, 2014). You can also visit the BC Ferry website.



BC Ferry top deck on a sunny day.
Outdoor top deck on a sunny day, BC Ferry





Video of the ferry ride to Victoria


Onboard the BC Ferry


Once we park our car on board the ferry, we try not to dawdle and make our way directly upstairs to stake out a nice seating area for our large group. There is WIFI throughout the ship, but it is weak at best. 



Computer work area, BC Ferries
Computer work area, BC Ferries

Shopping on Ferry


There is a small shop onboard the ferry that sells locally inspired giftware, food, and personal items that you may have forgotten to bring on your trip. 



Gift store, BC Ferries
Gift store, BC Ferries

BC Ferries Serves Starbucks Coffee


I was relieved to learn that the ferry serves Starbucks coffee, lattes, and cappuccinos, especially since I was on the road since 6 AM.


Coffee Shop, BC Ferries
Coffee Shop, BC Ferries

Seawest Lounge, BC Ferries


Seawest Lounge is the VIP section on the Ferry. It costs an additional $12.00 per person and includes coffee, tea,  fruit and other light snacks. It decor is more upscale and roomier than the rest of the ship and it's very quiet. The best part of the lounge is the strong WIFI signal. 



Seawest VIP Loung, BC Ferries
Seawest VIP Loung, BC Ferries


Fruit and light snacks at the Seawest Lounge, BC Ferries
Fruit and light snacks at the Seawest Lounge, BC Ferries



Coffee and Tea are free in the Seawest Lounge, BC Ferries

Pacific Buffet, BC Ferries


Some of the ferries include an all-inclusive buffet restaurant called the Pacific Buffet. It serves a variety of food, including seafood, salads, Chinese, and desserts. Price for the buffet is $17.40/adult and $9.50/child.



Seafood and pasta is served in the Pacific Buffet, BC Ferries
Seafood and pasta is served in the Pacific Buffet, BC Ferries

Chicken fingers, veggies and rice, Pacific Buffent, BC Ferries
Chicken fingers, veggies and rice, Pacific Buffent, BC Ferries

Salad bar, Pacific Buffet, BC Ferries
Salad bar, Pacific Buffet, BC Ferries

Cheapest Eats on BC Ferries


The self-serve restaurant on board the ferry is the Coastal Cafe. It serves a variety of basic food, such as sandwiches, burgers and salads, which will cost around $12-$15/person. My brother found the most economical meal onboard the Ferry: the Pirate Pak. It includes a small burger, drink and a dessert for under $10. 


Pirate Pak meal, BC Ferries
Pirate Pak meal, BC Ferries

Before You Disembark…


Double check to see if you have everything you brought on board the ship, such as phone chargers, cameras, extra bags, hats and sunglasses. Also, make a visit to the washroom if your destination is Victoria, which is a 1/2 hour drive from the Swartz Bay Terminal.

Have a great ferry trip to Vancouver Island! 


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