Cycling my fish pond


Meg

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Hello everyone I’ve been doing my research a lot recently and I’m going to be setting up a big pond for sturgeon and koi.
It’s going to be dug out in the next few weeks and set up ready to cycle for a few months.
My questions are:

Do I need my filter to cycle it?

My filter will be attached to a 90cm long waterfall, will that be okay through the cycle as it’ll aerate the water?

How long do I cycle for before I can add my fish?

I have well water through my pipes and taps so should I add something to get rid of the chlorine and all that or does it settle on its own?

When can I start adding plants. At the beginning of the cycle or after it’s ready for fish?

Any tips or knowledge I need to know?

Thanks everyone!
 
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addy1

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Welcome to the forum!

With well water you most likely, do not have chlorine unless you add it. Check the ph, ours is very acidic and I killed off the first fish I put in. Our well is a ph of 5.3.

Run you filter and waterfall, add plants all will help cycle the waters.
 

addy1

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Cycling, some add a few fish with a week or so, some wait weeks, some wait months. The main thing to do is add slowly, check the water parameters.
 

Meg

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Welcome to the forum!

With well water you most likely, do not have chlorine unless you add it. Check the ph, ours is very acidic and I killed off the first fish I put in. Our well is a ph of 5.3.

Run you filter and waterfall, add plants all will help cycle the waters.
What would you say would be a good stable ph for the fish with the well water? And thank you so much. Would you say I need a bottom drain. I’m quite happy to clean it a lot with the algae and stuff so I didn’t know if I nEeded a bottom drain as that’ll be quite tricky
 
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addy1

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What would you say would be a good stable ph for the fish with the well water?
I had to buffer mine up using chicken grip (crushed oyster shells) and time. Mine sits around 7.6 and the fish do fine.
 

j.w

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@Meg
 

brokensword

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What would you say would be a good stable ph for the fish with the well water? And thank you so much. Would you say I need a bottom drain. I’m quite happy to clean it a lot with the algae and stuff so I didn’t know if I nEeded a bottom drain as that’ll be quite tricky

you're not aiming for a particular pH; what you want is STABLE pH. The fish can adapt, unless you have extremes, like the Boss did with acidic pH of 5! You'll want at least over pH of 7. You should get an API test kit; you'll need it for testing and figuring out your water source. Your test should have; ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, KH (a VERY important one) and maybe phosphorus.

KH will measure the carbonates in your water; if not enough, you WILL have issues with pH crashes, which is bad for your fish. The ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are all for later, as you're cycling or if you suspect your water params are off.

IMO, you don't need a bottom drain; others think different. A bottom drain usually entails a lot more 'gear' re filtration and some further cost re installation. If you don't plan on doing much manual debris removal, then a bottom drain CAN help but still not necessary. A lot will depend on how much fish load you have, how much gallonage, your feeding habits, how many plants.

Re cycling; you can do it a couple of ways; either with adding some fish (small amount) and letting them start it, or an ammonia start in which you actually add ammonia to your pond and then, let the bacteria build up and start your process. Cycles can take weeks to months, but imo, you should be good to go in 2-4 weeks, depending again on fish/feeding, plants, etc. You'll probably get green water initially, but that's a sign you've got the cycle started as the free floating algae is there because you've got ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. Once established (the bacteria), they'll then reproduce and take up the bad elements and turn them into nitrates, which your plants will then absorb for you.
 

Meg

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How long after starting it shall I add the feeder fish to start the cycle?
 
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brokensword

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Sorry not feeder fish I meant a small amount of maybe like gold fish to start the cycle?
yes, you can get any type of fish, including the ones you want permanently; just don't put in a lot at first and don't overfeed. As algae grows on the sides of your pond, they'll graze on that and as they poop, they start the nitrogen cycle.
 

Meg

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yes, you can get any type of fish, including the ones you want permanently; just don't put in a lot at first and don't overfeed. As algae grows on the sides of your pond, they'll graze on that and as they poop, they start the nitrogen cycle.
Awesome thank you so much. Shall I add them like 24hours after the water is in or the same day?
 

brokensword

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Awesome thank you so much. Shall I add them like 24hours after the water is in or the same day?
were it mine, I'd add the water, add some plants, wait a couple days, do a couple water tests (to be sure your'e not an extreme ala pH) and then add. WHEN you do, do it VERY VERY slowly, like an hour or more. What I do is float the bag, opening it and adding a small amount of MY water to the bag. Then every 15 minutes/30 minutes, add more. You want to acclimate them by temperature, pH, general hardness, etc. Slowly allows them to adjust. Now, IF you're doing this with really cold temps, I'd hold off until the water is at least 50F. I've seen/heard of issues/loss of fish when lower temps are tried.

(and yeah, I know; others will say NEVER add the bag water to your pond; I like to live dangerously, I guess; never had an issue that way in decades of fish keeping).

So, make sure your water is okay THEN add the fish. Just a couple. Though, in a pond your size, you could easily add 6 fish under 10" no sweat.
 

Meg

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were it mine, I'd add the water, add some plants, wait a couple days, do a couple water tests (to be sure your'e not an extreme ala pH) and then add. WHEN you do, do it VERY VERY slowly, like an hour or more. What I do is float the bag, opening it and adding a small amount of MY water to the bag. Then every 15 minutes/30 minutes, add more. You want to acclimate them by temperature, pH, general hardness, etc. Slowly allows them to adjust. Now, IF you're doing this with really cold temps, I'd hold off until the water is at least 50F. I've seen/heard of issues/loss of fish when lower temps are tried.

(and yeah, I know; others will say NEVER add the bag water to your pond; I like to live dangerously, I guess; never had an issue that way in decades of fish keeping).

So, make sure your water is okay THEN add the fish. Just a couple. Though, in a pond your size, you could easily add 6 fish under 10" no sweat.
Awesome thank you so so much!
 
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The brutal answer to all your questions is There in no ONE answer. The water differs all across the world. If your setting up your pond in the dead of winter bacteria will grow very slowly. Start in the dead of summer and depending where you are the bacteria can thrive or it may even be too hot a cook it in waters that are too warm.

My filter will be attached to a 90cm long waterfall, will that be okay through the cycle as it’ll aerate the water? If i threw 500 gallons per hour over a fall it doesn't do a lot for a big pond. Throw 10,000 gph over the same fall and you will add lots of air exchange to your pond both in and out.

How long do I cycle for before I can add my fish? Are you talking about 2 gold fish or two 30 inch koi. i saw your thinking full monty with sturgeon. but again how big is the pond how many gallons. you better be talking 10000 if doing multiple sturgeon and koi and a heck of a filter you have not made one reference as to a bog nexus or bead sand filter....

I have well water through my pipes and taps so should I add something to get rid of the chlorine and all that or does it settle on its own? As mentioned there is no chlorine in well water unless you added it with a softening system

When can I start adding plants. At the beginning of the cycle or after it’s ready for fish? You can add plants right away but some do better then others as the waste builds up in the water and gravel the more the plants will thrive.

Any tips or knowledge I need to know? Don't make the biggest mistake and design your pond and system without putting it to paper and post it here. most of the time we get i built this and it's not working what am i doing wrong and usually the list is extensive
 

teckpham

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Here is my experience as I added fishes to the new pond last month:

I did have a little bit of rain water in it at the start (5%), but once I filled it up, some fished went right way. I think our water supply is really good already.

When I added the first group of fishes, ammonia was introduced into the system. I had planktonic algae bloomed (pea soup/green water) pretty much the next day. It stayed for about 2 weeks until the bacteria in my bog started to catch up and out compete the planktonic algae. The water cleared up again.

At this stage, my floating plant is starving for nutrients (turning yellow). I added another big group of fishes to it. The planktonic algae bloomed again and it took another 2 weeks for the water to cleared up again.

I think that I am still low on the BIO load, as I don't have much algae growing on the liner yet and my plant have only improved by a bit.
 
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All good advice above. Just remember to take things slow. A brand new pond takes a long time to cycle. I didn’t see if you had filter media to hold beneficial bacteria. That’s an important component if you want to properly cycle a pond. If your filter is only mechanical it won’t have a place to store the beneficial bacteria that needs to break down harmful fish waste.
 
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addy1

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The fish can adapt, unless you have extremes, like the Boss did with acidic pH of 5!
Our well water is also so soft it barely reads on the tests. Between the ph and softness the fish did not have a chance.

I did not test before adding the 10 tiny fish to my big pond. Within a hour all were floating I felt horrible, then had to figure out why this drinkable well water would kill fish.
 

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