Making a Bee Hive of Bacteria
You are making a bacteria farm like a hive of bees in your
These figures above are general in nature to prove a point.
Your figures will vary.
The big picture on pond cycling is that you are going
to put your water through a break in period where the levels go up, come down, go up again, come
down and then stabilize. Once it stabilizes you are done. You can cut weeks off of this by seeding
the pond filter with the best bacteria available. Here is the link to
pond bacteria. It is from the leading company in the
1. Understand the Basic
Nitrogen Cycle before starting to cycle a new pond. Hopefully your pond has
healthy pond plants to help absorb excess nutrients. Plants help control algae outbreaks by
consuming nitrates. The backbone of the plants are floating
2. Have water
Test Kits on hand that will register pH,
ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. You will also need a large bottle of
chlorine detox on hand for when you perform partial
water changes. This product removes chlorine instantly from the new water added.
The Bottom Line on Readings
pH between 6.8 - 7.4
Ammonia - Normal levels are zero to 1 ppm.
Nitrites - Less than 5ppm is critical.
3. Once your pond has been filled with
water, add chlorine detox to remove chlorine and detox
any heavy metals that may be present. We suggest you get the whole package of detox, ph up and pH
down to have on hand.
4. Salt - Perhaps the best thing you can do to
insure Koi health. Simply add dissolved salt to your pond until you get a salinity reading of 0.18%.
Ideally you should dissolve the salt in a bucket of water to keep from burning the gills of your
fish and shocking plants. If you do not have a
salinity meter just dissolve pure salt with water and add it slowly to your pond skimmer or
filter for fast distribution. The correct mix is 1 pound of salt per 100 gallons of water in your
pond. So if your pond holds approximately 500 gallons, you would need to dissolve 5 pounds of salt
and add it slowly to your pond in some area where it will get moved around fast. I know it seems
like a lot of salt, but it is not. The safest way to do this is to dissolve 1 pound of salt in a 5
gallon bucket of pond water at a time and add it slowly.
5. After a few days of running your new pond,
add several (4 is a good number depending on pond size) 6"-8" simple goldfish. Understand that these
fish are expendable. If you feel confident that you understand the Basic
Nitrogen Cycle you can add 2 Koi of about 8" or larger. Speaking from our personal experience do
not buy fish smaller than 6"-8" for your pond because they will hide in the rocks, thus making them
hard for you to enjoy. They may even be afraid to come out and eat and will die and rot in the
cracks of the rocks. The smallest fish we recommend are between 6"-8" giving you instant enjoyment.
6. Beware of the #1 predator of valuable small
koi, the Great Blue Heron. Many pond owners have looked out their windows and have seen one of these
beautiful birds standing in their pond. At first glance it is a awesome sight and the perfect
addition to your pond. But after the sight is digested you have to ask yourself, "Why is he here?"
He didn't come to your pond just to relax and enjoy. He came to eat your fish! It is important to
build a shelf at the pond bottom that will protect your fish from this aggressive bird. They are
very bold and will come down in a crowded subdivision for a free lunch. Make sure the shelf is big
enough to keep the Heron from getting your fish. Personally, I have pulled into a friends driveway
within 25' of a Heron standing in a pond and he never moved until I opened the car door. When I
checked my friends pond, all of his fish were gone!
7. Monitor the ammonia level. Test a minimum of
twice a week. You will not see any ammonia content for the first few days, and it may take as long
as 2 weeks for your first ammonia to become visible with a test kit.
8. If you are not reading any ammonia levels
after 2 weeks, add another Koi or goldfish. The fish load is not based on the gallons of water in
your pond, but is based on the capacity of your filtration system. In a large pond (above 11' x 16')
you may never see the ammonia spike at all.
Do not add any more fish at this point. Wait one month to allow your pond to cycle totally testing
weekly. Do not clean your filters during the break in period. This can kill all the good bacteria,
causing an ammonia spike that could kill your fish.
Always remember our formula
for pond success:
Minimal Fish + Lots of Plants + Good Filtration = A Healthy Pond