Bacteria recommendations

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I have a 3000 gallon pond that fluctuates between 2820 and the full 3000 depending on how hot and dry it is. I didn't know to get a water counter for the hose. I measured with salinity. It's back down to 0.04%. Tap is 0.01%, so that is the lowest it will really ever go.

I jumped into this really fast. A less than forthcoming supplier I no longer used made it seem super simple.

Here I am a year later (almost). I have a few questions and found this forum which seems to actually be very active. My post would be a mile long, so I will make them specific. This question is regarding bacteria and my situation.

I have been using aquascape dry beneficial bacteria concentrate weekly. I have started adding API pondzyme as well. It's working OK.

I inherited this pond in terrible condition when buying this house. I almost filled it in and then I started to see how thoughtful the original owners were! It's brilliant. I could not tear it down. So I learned how to patch epdm liner. Fix a pump. Cleaned out a foot of sludge and debris and trash and toys. Cleaned a ton of dead plant matter from the bog. Got it running and found some things I missed.

First, the bog actually had about 3-4" of mud from the years of decomposition. Got 85% of that manually meticulously. Still working on the rest, but can't keep it off for long periods due to outside temps now.

I also found out the rocks along the edge had decomposing and fresh dirt between them and have removed 95% during water changes with a vacuum.

This has brought algae closer under control.

Then I got flukes from birds or critters. I'm near freshwater, so I think birds. Treated and fish seemed great. Went back to my koi seller who gave me awful advice I stead of the truth and popped a couple new fish in, they died. My pond killed them. One from fungus, so to protect the rest, I used microbe lift broad spectrum. It killed off the little algae.

Now I am seeing the limits of the bacteria & enzymes I am using. In reading maybe too much, microbe lift products seem to have a wider variety of bacteria strains.

I want to use Microbe-Lift PL + Microbe-Lift Nite Out II.

Is there actually any difference though?

Also, will the strains that turn nitrogen into gas to get it out of the pond hurt my bog plants ability to thrive? I understand that plants actually prefer the ammonia. This is where I get information overload and stop being able to make the decision. I am am experience learning brain. Research gets me on the right path, but I need to see for myself. I've never had a garden either. I once had a betta fish that I just kept with water changes.

My Ammonia-0 Nitrite-0 Nitrate-0-5
Ph is 8.2-8.8 (correcting with cracked corn because the plants take more CO2 than relased by decomp or plants yet). Tap is 7.8-8.
Kh 22 drops
Gh 7 drops (using crushed coral to bring this up, the clay is not enough)

My levels are OK, but I don't think they will stay that way unless I get a wider variety of good bacteria. I also don't want to go so far that my plants starve. My fish are too small to produce enough waste which is why I left a little of the nutrient rich dirt in the bog around the roots of the plants. Also why I need to add a few grams of cracked corn because it decomposes rapidly and naturally helps balance the ph slowly over time.

I have 1 new chocolate snowflake in the pond and 1 feathery mares tail now. Floating water lettuce and water hyacinths which are barely growing this year.

Bog is full of canna Lilly I think, water irises, marsh marigold, and two that started coming back on their own this year. I do not know the names, but have seen them at the pond plant nursery as fish safe plants. I forgot to write the names down while there last!

Also, the last homeowner planted bittersweet nightshade and I just found out what that was and removed all of it. It had a massive root networking going into the pond and probably why the mud was not causing as much of an issue. Also how I found out about the hidden mud. In removing most of the dirt, the bog water level is better/visible above the pea gravel and lava rocks, and flowing steadily now, the bog plants are actually growing faster than last year.

Will switching to that bacteria combo help bring a more manageable balance?

Somehow this posted before finishing! Sorry, user error!!
 
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What are you using the bacteria for? Your pond already has all the bacteria it needs. There is no need to add more.

Do you have a specific question or problem you want help with?
 
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What are you using the bacteria for? Your pond already has all the bacteria it needs. There is no need to add more.

Do you have a specific question or problem you want help with?
I somehow published before finishing with the events recently. I have saved the updated post which might still need approval before showing! I can't shake that I need a better bacteria blend for what's to come and to process what's there. Spawning has also started. I forgot to add that. It just seems something is off because of how often I am having to clean despite there being no leaves, etc...

Microbe-lift advertises these two together reduce maintenance.

PL + Nite Out II

Is it ok to switch? Would I still add the enzymes?

I am not trying to have a pond I can ignore, but I don't think I should be messing with it every 3-4 days just to keep the water clear. Also, if I wait until the end of the week, I think I see a slight change in ammonia test. Not quite the .25, but not perfect yellow 0 either. I am using API liquid tests.

Thank you!
 
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As I said before, you don't need any more bacteria in your pond. It sounds like what you need is more filtration. Your fish have grown and are spawning and they are producing more waste. So you need more filtration to deal with that. Increase the filtration and you should have a lot less maintanence.
 
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All of the bacteria products say to dose regularly. The dry is weekly. The microbe lift PL + night out II are monthly after the initial boost. Same with the cold weather one. That's what lead me down the road of looking for a better beneficial bacteria mix.

Mine is lined and has no natural water feed. So no source of beneficial bacteria without adding it in. City chlorinated water to start from (dechlorinated for fish).
 
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Sorry, but your information is not correct. There is absolutely no need to add any bacteria to your pond. My pond is 8 years old and I have never added any type of bacteria to it. Never. I would say that is true for most everyone here as well as pond owners on other websites. And yes,my pond is a liner pond with no constant source of fresh water.

As long as there is a source of ammonia, like fish, the beneficial bacteria will grow, and if it has the proper temperature, air, food (ammonia), and a place to grow. It's already there and waiting for the right conditions. The bacteria is everywhere. There is no need to add it.

The bacteria that you buy in a bottle is not the type needed for the nitrogen cycle. The bacteria you need will not survive being bottled or dried and put on a shelf. It won't have those conditions I listed above to keep it alive.

There are a couple of places that sell the right type of bacteria. It has to be fresh so it has to be shipped overnight and cool and wet, but not frozen. It won't live long without air. Those things make it very expensive so most people don't use it. Most of us just wait for the bacteria that is already there to get established.

I'm afraid you have fallen for the great job of advertising and hype created by the people who sell those products. Of course they all say they need to be used every week. If they thought they could convince you that you need to use it every day, they would say that. They will gladly sell you all they possibly can, but there is absolutely no reason that your pond needs that to be healthy.

Also, there is very little beneficial bacteria in the water itself. It grows on hard surfaces in your filter and pond. So having no source of fresh water makes no difference where the bacteria is concerned. The bacteria will grow to the amount required for the amount of ammonia that is being produced by the fish. They will grow to the amount needed to do the job, but no more.

If there is not enough ammonia to feed more bacteria, it will die. So even if you were using the right type of bacteria, if you have enough to process the ammonia level produced by the fish, those "extra" bacteria would just die off from lack.of food.

As far as converting the nitrogen to gas, that is called denitrification and requires denitrifying bacteria. That type of bacteria is found in soil, not water, so that process does not normally happen in our backyard fish ponds. At least that is what I understand. In a pond, the nitrate is used by plants or is reduced with water changes.

Do some reading on the nitrogen cycle in a pond and you will get a better understanding of how it works.
 
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I am glad you have a climate where the "green pond" method is sustainable.

I do not. All my warm water bacteria dies off and visa versa. So I have to reintroduce it when it gets warm enough/cold enough. I guess I could wait for it naturally, but I am not taking risks like that with my fish.

As far as buying dormant bacteria, yes it can be very strong healthy bacteria. Bacteria itself produces hydrogen sulfide to go dormant (mostly you have to look up medical articles regarding antibiotic resistance to get more information). I did check on the claim by microbe lift. Once added to water, the small amount of hydrogen sulfide rapidly evaporates and you have hungry bacteria waking up, ready to colonize. You do have to be mindful about expiration dates and how it was stored. It can't get too cold. I am leery of buying bacteria cultivated in someone else's pond because what if they have zoospores and because it's suddenly introduced, my fish get sick? I'd rather have the lab send me some isolated sleeping bacteria.

Indirectly, you answered my question. My biolfilter isn't growing fast enough because there isn't enough to sustain it. This pond, while new to me, held 17 koi for 20 years. So I know the physical filtration is adequate as is available surface area for bacteria. I'm just not using it right and I think it was sub par warm weather bacteria introduction + not enough to feed it. Which is also causing my ph to rise and why I am adding cracked corn to my skimmer to produce CO2 to counter the plants using it up. I don't want to use a CO2 injector because that is too high risk for me. Decomposition will balance ph and keep a larger colony of bacteria alive. As the fish grow to make enough waste, I can scale back the cracked corn.

I will look up if there is a source for the overnight stuff you mentioned that can get to me. Otherwise I will get the brand that I used for winter with great success. The dry concentrate is what the fish guy said to get and it was cheap which should have been a red flag.

We all have different climates and I am still warming up and went from winter to early summer temps, back to winter, and now have normal temps for this time of year. Plus the malachite green + formalin kicked my pond's system back. So between the weather and that, something sent sideways and I need to reintroduce enough bacteria to get to work faster. And some food until my fish make enough waste because there isn't any debris or sludge or anything in the pond. The bog has a small amount of dirt I still need to get rid of this fall. Nothing decomposing really at all.
 
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Where are you located? This has definitely been an unusual spring here with lots of temperature swings.

I don't understand what you are trying to improve with your pond. Your water parameters are fine. Your pH is not too high and does not need to be lowered.

If you have koi or goldfish they will be fine in a pH of as high as 10. The people who breed the best koi in the world keep their ponds pH at 8.3 as do many of us here.

You obviously have enough beneficial bacteria in your system. If you didn't, your ammonia readings would not be zero. Why do you feel you need to add more? It is doing a great job for the number and size of your fish. What are you looking to improve? It's already ideal.

Your pond is not too clean. It's doing its job just as it should be and the bacteria is perfectly adequate to accomplish that. You don't need more. Why are you trying to create more when it isn't even needed? When the fish produce more waste the bacteria you have will grow to the amount needed to take care of it. Bacteria can double every 20 minutes in the right conditions when it needs to do so. Once again, there is no need to add more or try to create conditions that will grow more.

I have no idea what you mean by a green water pond.

Maybe the folks at koiphen.com could be of more help.
 
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@Fan_of_Fish you are making this way harder than it needs to be. So many things in your post that would just exhaust most pond keepers if they had to worry about them. Like dirt between the rocks along the edge... so what? Dirt won't hurt anything. Adding clay, coral, corn... what the heck? Where are you finding this information?

By "green water pond" do you mean an ecosystem pond? Yes a liner pond is different than a natural pond, but the eco-pond system is based on the same principles observed in nature.

I live in northern IL - zone 6, colder than you. I haven't worried about adding bacteria to my pond in more than a decade. There's just no need. Spring comes, the pond wakes up, the plants start to grow, the fish start to eat and all the things we can't see happening - like bacteria - start doing their thing. Mother nature at her finest. If I had to treat my pond like a chemistry project, I'd give up.
 
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I'm also in zone 6, so I would think it would be colder here than most areas of Washington state.

If keeping a pond were as difficult as the OP is trying to make it, no one would have one.

How did people ever have garden ponds in years past, some for generations, and the Chinese for centuries without bottled bacteria? Evidently, it was simply impossible!
 

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I live in Washington state and never added any bacteria to my pond. We have had temps in winter that freeze the top of the pond and come Spring all is good. Started my pond many years ago w/12 feeder goldfish. They did all the work! I don't add anything to my pond.
 
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Have you ever done a malachite green + formalin treatment for fungus? I think that's when everything went haywire. It definitely cured all the fish, but within 7 days, ammonia is starting to show just slightly and the fish flash here and there so I know it's bugging them. So I change out some water and it's OK for a week. It's just a vicious circle now! It's like no biological filter is reestablishing. I think my plants are the only thing using up the ammonia. I think even though it says it doesn't, it wiped out my entire biological filter. It also wipes out the algae. There's like a fine water dust from it and it's not decaying. It required massive water changes 3 days in a row too. 70%, 30%, 25%. Minimum of 50, 20, 20, but I had a floating and suspended algae bloom at the time and I had to make sure to decrease the organic load to make sure it was able to kill off the fungus. I wasn't comfortable using malachite green directly. The treatment had a margin of error of 20%. Using it directly does not. Using the weaker version is why such large water changes.
 
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I have used it a few times, but never had it affect the filter bacteria. Could you have overdosed the amount?

Even if your bacteria was set back, it should recover very quickly.

If you have measurable ammonia, you can use Prime to bind the ammonia and nitrite. (Safe is the same thing, just in a powdered form instead of liquid. It's less expensive for ponds than using Prime.)

It will keep your fish safe, but it will still show up on the water parameters tests, so don't be concerned if your tests still show ammonia. Used in that way, it has to be dosed every 48 hours. It will save you from all those water changes.

Actually, if you keep removing the ammonia through water changes, there will be nothing to feed the new bacteria that is starting to develop. By doing that, you are preventing the bacteria from getting established.

So stop all the water changes and use Prime or Safe every 48 hours and give your bacteria some time to recover.
 
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I have used it a few times, but never had it affect the filter bacteria. Could you have overdosed the amount?

...

My water conditioner for the tap does treat ammonia too. I'll try that way. I don't think it overdosed because the fish would probably have died with everything else. I was scared to use it at all because of how many times I've seen people post about all their fish panicking or gasping at the surface or just dead when they came out to check. It did wipe out all of the algae. Turned it to water dust. That's not even growing again yet.

I'm just left with a massive ph swing from day to night. Not a crash because kh is about the only thing that's good right now. But I'm ph swinging .6-.7 today. And every 6 or so days, it's going up .1 even at first thing in the morning. So the ph is just steadily rising.

This article helped me understand how they manage large acreage ponds. So I did the calculations and am going to do the same for my pond to make better conditions for the fish to heal and stay so healthy hopefully no more parasites nor fungal outbreaks occur going forward. In learning about koi and goldfish, they can coexist with the natural bad bacteria, fungus, and even parasites when they're healthy. Apparently, mine are not which means the water is not healthy. They're doing better, but still not acting normal for this temperature. They were more active at 50 than nearing 70. They are still often. And the ph swing is too big. The stability is just gone.

 
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OK. I'm not a chemist. Just a simple girl with a pond. But some things I do know:

1. pH fluctuates from morning to evening. A swing of .7 - that's not "massive". That's pretty normal. At least has been in my pond over the years
2. Chemicals have consequences. You're living the truth of that. I know it's too late for this advice now, but in general the recommendation is to treat the fish, not the pond. Removing fish isn't always easy I know, but it keeps this from happening. I don't know the full health picture of your fish, but sometimes a simple salt dip can do a world of good
3. Quarantine is important. Adding new fish to an established pond can create havoc. Either the old fish infect the new fish or vice versa. A good koi supplier will have quarantined new fish, but it's still risky anytime you add new fish to the mix.
4. Water testing is good when you're having issues, but the goal is to get away from this being a constant stress. Your pond should be a relaxing hobby, not a chemistry challenge. That cracked corn business... that was a new one on most of us here I am sure. Totally unnecessary.
5. That "less than forthcoming seller" who made this seem "super simple" - that guy was right. It really should be. Somehow you got yourself down the path of numbers and chemicals and parasites and whatnot - we have to get you back to a bench by the pond with a cold beverage of your choice. This shouldn't feel like a job.


A few questions -
Pond is roughly 3000 gallons. Is the bog the only filtration? How many fish do you currently have? Is the pond planted? Were all the fish new to the pond at the same time? How do you know you had flukes and fungus? How big and what kind of fish are they?

Something you did that could have affected your fish or pond negatively - no judgement, just information - all that cleaning of the bog and rocks may have stirred up some stuff, or removed good stuff that was actually helpful. The goal isn't a swimming pool here. Dirt is OK. In fact it's great - it's a home to lots of bacteria. You don't want tons, but you do want some. If the dirt or muck gets too deep it can be trapping gasses that are released when you start digging into it - that can be harmful to fish. You want to proceed slowly with a pond that's been neglected over time. All the algae that you killed off with the chemicals - that was helping your pond achieve that balance you're looking for.

We are here to help - we've all been through "stuff" with our ponds. Hang with us, be willing to listen and learn and you'll soon be enjoying just watching those fish live their fishy life!
 

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