How do I safely remove iron from a brand new pond (no fish yet)


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hello all,
I am new to this forum. I've had a fish pond for about 5 years now. Surprisingly, my fish seem to come back every year and thrive. I have 2 large (about a foot long) koi and a bunch of gold fish. Aside from cleaning out the filter, more often during hot summer dont do much as far as maintenance. I made my own bio filter and it seemed to work...
Now I just completed a much larger pond. previous was I would like to say 5 x 3 feet and maybe 3 feet deep. New pond is 12 by 10 kidney shaped and 4 1/2 feet deep. I have a shelf 2 1/2 feet deep around perimeter that extends about a foot into the diameter of the pond shape. I guesstimate about 3200 to 3500 gallons. I also have a fairly large waterfall. As far as filtration, I installed an atlantic 3900 skimmer. has coarse media pad and a skimmer net. I am using a 4000 gph pump in the skimmer that shoots up to a waterfall filter that I have filled with lave rock. I also am using a laguna pressure flo 3200 I picked up at a yardsale last year in preparation for this pond. this is run by a smaller pump that cam ewith it...not sure of the GPH... the filter has a UV built in that I dont think is working. I am waiting for shipment of a new UV inline I just ordered on Amazon. and I migh eventually buy a new bulb for the pressure flo when I get a chance.
That all said. This pond is completely new and I just filled it 2 days ago. Water was clear and then in a day turned green. The reason I am sure is not algea but iron. My only water source is our well which unfortunately has high iron. I know this because when filling the pool the same thing happens. For the pool I use a product called revive which does wonders by binding the iron and it sinks and I vacuum it up. I cant do this for the pond, as there will eventually be my fishies in it and cant use these chemicals. I of course have no plans of introducing fish until water is completely balanced, and then from there I will get them used to the new water. I have the advantage of old pond still there while new pond gets ready.
So, I have a test kit and my ph is way too high. I tried using vinegar but still haven't gotten it to go down. Its in the blue color, or 9's I think. I also tested the pond that the fish are in and the ph is also a bit high there too, which got me worried. I added a little vinegar but not as aggressive as I was with the new pond without fish. ...my next topic I suppose. From there, as I know iron is main issue, my local pool supply was nice enough to test the iron, which was .6 I guess parts per million? From what I read, .5 is lethal. I dont have a way to test for iron myself (is there a home test kit?) again, this refers to the new large pond. Ive been reading that the iron once exposed to air will oxidize and eventually be filtered out. I also got an api product that is supposed to remove chlorine and heavy metals. chlorine and heavy metal neutralizer. I added this as well.
Is there any way to speed up the process or from what I have stated so far, am I doin right or wrong?
My old pond I never thought much about the water and whenever I had to add water i use the hose from house (high iron well). So far nothing died and the fish seem to move around good and eat good etc. But this new pond I wanna do it right, so PLEASE feel free to go into detail about the chemistry and physics of it. I not only wanna learn how to do the right thing but also why it is the right thing to do. Also, any good resources for new pond owners? Like I said, I am not completely new, but I get the feeling it would benefit me far more if I were to start as if I were, and unlearn any bad habits.
 
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addy1

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Welcome to our forum!

@MitchM is one of our resident water experts, maybe he will chime in.

Our well has acidic water which I battle, but with time, plants etc the pond has balanced out to a nice 7.6-7.8
 
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thanks. Im looking forward to hearing what advice I get. Im still trying the vinegar at present. I'll test the water later on today to see if PH goes down any. And also gonna research the iron and how to remove it. If I learn anything new Ill post to see what anyone has to say. thanks again.
 

addy1

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Once I added plants, kitty litter, got my bog running the water stablized, ph and hardness. I had to add crushed oyster shells to make the water harder. We are acidic and very soft.
 
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Welcome @cberr ! I'm glad to hear you're building a bigger pond - at 300 gallons, your pond is too small for your koi.

Like @addy1 said @MitchM knows a great deal about water chemistry, so hopefully he will see this thread and chime in.

I've honestly never heard of anyone dealing with high iron in a pond before or even heard it was a concern. When you say .5 is said to be lethal, do you mean to fish? Do you drink the water? I know people on wells do have filters on their system to remove the iron as it causes lots of issues inside the house. Could you get a filter to use on the outside water? There are chlorine filters you can install on hoses - maybe they make a similar thing for iron.

As for pH it's important to remember that STABLE pH is way more important to fish than the actual number. Obviously extremes aren't good, but fish can adapt to water that's considered high or low as long as it stays stable. I'd be more concerned that the water in the new pond matches the old when you are ready to move the fish than I would be with the actual number. And I'd stop adding vinegar - you'll pickle your fish. haha! But in general less is more when it comes to pond additives. Work to get your pond to balance itself and you'll have a more enjoyable pond experience.
 
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thanks for the replies. to answer some questions. I read on some site that with iron, anything over .2 is bad and over .5 lethal. not too much info on the topic. I did read that aerating helps oxidize the iron and it will eventually get filtered out? but the iron could be fine enough to remain in water. as far as human consumption, not bad for you. just annoying. we have a softener but after filling this pond, it exceeded the capability of the iron removing ability of the softener. I'm guessing my fish are tolerant of it as this has always been the issue with the water. I am gonna try some plants as well, as mentioned. never heard of kitty litter? is that for pH? any suggestions for plants?
 
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Many people use kitty litter as a planting media for pond plants. Just the plain old unscented, non- clumping variety. It's 100% bentonite clay, which has other benefits to your pond (and humans for that matter). For example, it absorbs toxins. It's said to enhance color in your fish and provide them with some necessary minerals for health. You can buy koi clay to add to the pond - bentonite pretty much the same thing.
 

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@cberr
Sorry I cannot help on the iron but I did read that algae loves it so prolly why your pond is so green so fast. Maybe lots of plants will help suck it up? I also use the kitty litter (100% clay w/no other additives) for my plant pots in the pond. I get mine from Walmart, called Special Kitty in about a 25 lb bag, cheap. You can find other kinds of the 100% clay in other places. Wonder if you run your water through some kind of a fines filter while it runs from the hose into the new pond if it would help get the iron out. I have used quilt batting in a big pot to clear really fine gunk particles from my pond and it works. Might be that iron particles or so small they would go right through tho. Hope you can get this all fixed right so you can move your fish to the new pond.
 
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Yep, a lot of people use the pure clay kitty litter instead of soil for their plants in the pond. The clay is also good for your water quality.
I would also guess or hope that additional plants might help with your problem. Put it this way, in my opinion, the more plants...the better.
Hopefully the chemistry experts here can give you a better, more knowledgeable solution to the iron content.
Keep us posted.
 
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Thanks everyone so far for the info. I am definitely gonna put plants in. Also wanna apologize for the wording of my post title...Sounds like a post on Showing how to remove iron as opposed to asking how. Anyway, I’m currently down to .2 ppm. My local pool store was nice enough to test my pond water for free. My ph is high but the pond the fish are in now is high. I’m guessing it’s probably better to keep the levels similar regardless of level and then gradually get the level down once fish are in new pond? Sound Right?
So, it would seem that if you do have a high iron problem, aeration is probably the best way to lower it. Once mixed with oxygen, the iron chelates, I believe this is the correct term, and gets filtered out. I also used an API chlorine and heavy metal netraulizer.
I still wish to get the rest of the iron out but from .6 to .2. Is a good start. My overall opinion is that there are mixed opinions about the effects of iron on koi and other fish. It seems to affect the gills primarily. I also read that an indirect consequence is that iron creates a great environment for bad bacteria and studies have shown that it can actually promote disease in fish. I will try to add links to the articles I’m getting this info from. interesting reading.
 
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