adding water, plants and fish to a pond

Discussion in 'Newbies to Garden Ponds' started by qclabrat, Dec 28, 2016.

  1. qclabrat

    qclabrat

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    I'll be starting my first pond this spring.
    a few basic questions below, but definitely adding to these faqs

    - how much lead time will I need to establish water in a new pond before adding fish

    - should feeder goldfish be added to the pond before adding the "nicer" fish

    - should plants go in before the fish

    - how often do the ponds need to be topped off with water

    - do you always treat water being added
     
    qclabrat, Dec 28, 2016
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  2. qclabrat

    Lisak1

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    You are going to get some mixed responses here, but I'll start.

    First the easy one - if your water is chlorinated, you generally need to add de-chlor when adding water. If I'm only adding a small amount though I don't worry about it. And "small" depends on the size of your pond - 100 gallons in a 5000 gallon pond is different than in a 500 gallon pond. You can never go wrong by adding de-chlor though.

    As for lead time, if you do fill your pond and let the water stand before adding fish, you don't need to worry about chlorine - it dissipates from the water naturally. However, if you have chloramines though that's not the case - you will need de-chlor. Ask your local water authority for a report on your water supply if you have any questions about that. But again - you can't go wrong by adding de-cholor.

    Next - ponds need to be topped off whenever they need to be topped off. There is no formula or pattern to that one. We sometimes top off twice in one week - sometimes not for a month at a time. Last summer we added water twice all season - plenty of rain at just the right time was a big help. Is it hot? Windy? Rainy? Dry? Cool? Is your pond shady? Full sun? Do you have a lot of splash from your waterfall? Lots of exposed area in a stream? All of these contribute to evaporation and water loss, which will determine how often you need to refill. Some people build in an autofill so anytime the water level drops, the pond gets water. Other people have a timer that runs water for a few minutes a day to keep the level up. We simply fill when we see the level dropping or hear the pump - the way our pond is designed, if we can hear the pump we know the water is low.

    Plants first or fish first? We found our plants struggled until we had a good sized fish load. So I would say add them at the same time but plan to feed your plants until your fish get established.

    You do need ammonia to get your pond cycling - introducing fish is one way to go. Using "sacrificial" fish is a controversial subject. I think @MitchM has discussed using ammonia instead of fish to achieve the initial cycle. Consider the size of your pond when you decide how many fish you can handle... and then purchase less. Less is always better than more when it comes to fish load.

    Hope that's somewhat helpful! Your questions are all good ones!
     
    Lisak1, Dec 28, 2016
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  3. qclabrat

    EricV

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    Let me tell you my story that relates to two of those questions:

    I top off my water with a constant trickle of new water that comes out an overflow. I put about 40 gallons a day into a 2500 gallon pond. I don't treat it for the chloramines that are in my water. I only treated the initial fill.

    I completely avoided adding any fish I didn't want in the pond AND completely avoided ever seeing a bit of ammonia in the pond. How? I took a couple of sponges from an established container pond and placed them in the new filter's biological filter area. Then I added three 4-5" fish to that pond. Every week I added 3-5 more fish like that for 4-5 weeks. Like I said, I never had a bit of ammonia or nitrite in the water.

    The two answers may be related, though. Treating for the chloramines put about 0.5 ppm of ammonia into the pond water. I waited until that went away before adding any fish. That took about a week.

    So I took it slow. Today I have about 30 4-6" fish in the pond. They are still not near the support capacity of the pond, but as they grow in the next couple of years, they might be.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
    EricV, Dec 28, 2016
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  4. qclabrat

    Tula

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    I'm curious...if one had a pond, with no fish, but over time the bio film developed, would that assist with the nitrogen cycle if one added fish at a later date? Just curious :)
     
    Tula, Dec 28, 2016
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  5. qclabrat

    MitchM

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    My input -
    Plan on about 4 weeks for a new pond to fully cycle, maybe sooner depending on how you manage it.
    Have everything running - water circulation, filters and plants.
    Do not use fish to cycle the pond, fish are fish, they will still get burned gills from excess levels of ammonia.
    Use the fishless cycling ammonia calculator down in my signature and follow the directions.
    Maintain an ammonia level of 3 - 4 ppm until the ammonia that you add disappears within 24 hours.
    Check ammonia levels daily.
     
    MitchM, Dec 28, 2016
    #5
  6. qclabrat

    Meyer Jordan Tadpole

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    Simple answer....not really.
     
    Meyer Jordan, Dec 28, 2016
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  7. qclabrat

    JBtheExplorer Native Gardener

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    That's exactly what I did when I started my pond. It very much mirrors nature. The habitat must be created and established before animals can live successfully in it.

    As for topping it off with water, much like @Lisak1 said, it depends on many different things. Temperature, wind, rain, etc. There have been times during very hot summer days where I've lost quite a bit of water in a single day, and there are times on cool Autumn days where it doesn't lose nearly that much in over a week. It also depends on how low you'll let it go before filling. For me, the liner starts showing just below the surface, so if I lose even a little bit of water, the liner shows, so I probably tend to fill it more frequently than those whose liner doesn't show until the water level drops significantly.
     
    JBtheExplorer, Dec 28, 2016
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  8. qclabrat

    Tula

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    Thank you :)
     
    Tula, Dec 28, 2016
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  9. qclabrat

    Mmathis TurtleMommy

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    All good answers so far! And you're on the right track! I joined and started asking questions a full 2 to 3 seasons before I started digging!

    Just an FYI as you prepare for your pond, you're going to notice that you'll get varied and sometimes opposite responses. This is your cue to continue reading and doing as much research as possible. Find out the scientific reasons why something does or does not work -- but don't dismiss the opinions -- all ponds are different. And don't hesitate to ask questions.
    _______________________

    I wouldn't add "feeder fish" necessarily. Go ahead and get a couple of nice fish to start out. 1) "feeder fish" have a rep for not being as healthy, so why take the chance, and 2) when one says "feeder fish," the assumption, IMHO, is that he/she is EXPECTING those fish to be expendable -- they don't have to be.

    Add fish slowly, and.......
    No matter what you end up doing, be sure to have a test kit and check your water frequently, esp during those first few months. Monitor the ammonia levels, etc. No real "lead time" is necessary if you start slowly. And if your ammonia does rise early on, water changes will take care of that.

    Go ahead and plant your pond [assuming you're not having koi]! The plants might not do great until the pond is cycled, but they'll make the pond look nice in the meantime, as well as provide shade and shelter for the fish.
    _____________________

    How big will your pond be and what kind of fish will you have? What kind of filtration will you use? The basic guidelines won't change, but the size of your pond, type and amt of filtration, and type/number of fish will dictate certain aspects of your care regimen.
     
    Mmathis, Dec 29, 2016
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  10. qclabrat

    Faebinder

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    If you want to do this in a very lazy way and your pond is 500+ gallons....

    Set the plants, filter and pond up...
    After 4 weeks add 1 fish every week till you reached your fish goal capacity.

    Using feeder fish imo is a mistake... they do multiply and are hard to catch and they are a living thing that you will need to kill later to make way for the nice fish.
     
    Faebinder, Dec 29, 2016
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  11. qclabrat

    qclabrat

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    I wrote a few threads on this, so a quick summary for those new to my situation

    I dont have a pond yet, but adopted 10 goldfish a few weeks back and currently over wintering in the garage in a 6b climate. The fish range from 4-9 inches. Pond is going to be between 1000 to 1500 gallons, filtration type tbd.

    more questions:
    - what are good starter plant for goldfish and koi?

    - at what air temps should I start cycling the pond?

    - what water temps to start intro of fish, assuming ready?
     
    qclabrat, Dec 29, 2016
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  12. qclabrat

    Meyer Jordan Tadpole

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    Last edited: Dec 29, 2016
    Meyer Jordan, Dec 29, 2016
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  13. qclabrat

    qclabrat

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    thanks Meyer

    when do you start feeding fish again? Is it ok to feed them while in the garage then move then move them to the pond when it is ready? Seems this would be when they are gaining strength and less vulnerable to illness
     
    qclabrat, Dec 30, 2016
    #13
  14. qclabrat

    Meyer Jordan Tadpole

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    If they are hungry, feed them. Just closely monitor the amount of food that you give them as they will not eat as much as in warmer temperatures.
     
    Meyer Jordan, Dec 31, 2016
    #14
  15. qclabrat

    qclabrat

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    this sounds like a silly question, but how do you know when they are hungry?
     
    qclabrat, Jan 1, 2017
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  16. qclabrat

    Meyer Jordan Tadpole

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    The best way is to toss only a couple or three food pellets in the pond and watch what happens. If a battle ensues as to who gets the pellets then the fish are hungry.
     
    Meyer Jordan, Jan 1, 2017
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