How Long After Adding Fish Does Ammonia-Nitrate Cycle Begin?

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Hi Folks,

Put in 2800 gal. pond @ 6wk ago & added plants. 2wk later added 6 little fish...2 comets, 2 shubunkins (sp), 2 very small koi...total @ 20-22".

3 wk later added 3 koi, additional 18" of fish for a total of @40-44" of fish.

No sign of ammonia cycle beginning. How long after adding 44" of fish to 2800 gal pond will cycle begin? ...Do I have any 'good' bacteria growing? Can good bacteria grow without an ammonia spike and subsequent cycle?

Thanks...Sharon
 

koiguy1969

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thats not many fish for that many gals...add some beneficial bacteria to get the ball rolling. youve got enough pond for more fish. your not supplying the filter with alot of bioload..so it will take longer to cycle
 
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As soon as the fish went into the pond and took their first breath the ammonia cycle started. You do not need to see an ammonia spike to know that the cycle has started. Most people say that the ammonia cycle takes 4 to 8 weeks to become fully established.
 

koiguy1969

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true the nitrification cycle has begun.. just such a light load will slow the filters establishing a large bacterial colony.
 
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Thank you for the rapid responses.

I actually have a container of beneficial bacteria I can add...just didn't know when to add it to 'get the most bang for the buck'.

Knowing (hoping/assuming) the 5 koi will grow, I am concerned that I may cause an eventual overload if I put in too many koi now.

I only have a 100 gal modified Skippy filter w/ 2400 mag pump, a 30 gal skippy filter w/500 mag pump, a pondmaster filter/pump for ponds up to 1250 gal w/700 mag pump.

Is my concern that if I add more fish, I will need to add more filtration valid?

Once again I thank you....Sharon
 

koiguy1969

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you have more than enough filtration for a nicely stocked pond... i have a 70 gallon skippy on a 1100gallon pond with 16 koi over 10" and about 10 goldies
 
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Thank you for replying.

So far so good -- ..am hoping that since all koi are about the same size, as the fish grow the filters/bacteria will grow accordingly.

Cheers...Sharon
 

koiguy1969

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you are showing all that filtration a light bio load you have no worries as far as that goes.. you have over 150 gals of filter, right? you could safely add a couple more fish. anyways, enjoy your pond and its inhabitants... i had adozen more fish in mine until a heron came to dinner...twice!!
 
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Actually, based on your response of several days ago, I have 3 more coming - 6" range...think this will be it until the heron/egret finds the pond:>).

thank you for your replies...really helps!

Cheers...Sharon
 
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I kept Aquarium Fish Magazine's from late 80's and early 90's. When I discovered a four part series on ponds. I went back and re-read them all as I started my first pond this year.

If you really want to calcualte ammonia production you can try to find the April 1990 issue of AFM.

Here is an example from the article. 1200 gallon pond, 42 koi 10 inches, each one is 190 grams (the artical has a koi inches to gram table to lookup the weight of koi). Each koi produces 47.5 milligrams of ammonia per day totalling 1995 milligrams per day. Dissoveled in 1200 gallons of water creates 0.44 ppm of ammonia each day.

The articele says do divide your pond size in gallons buy 125. The result is the required filter medium volume in cubic feet to have sufficient surface area to remove 100% of the ammonia produced. It also stated that 1 pond turn over per day is requried to use these calcuations but had a graph of pond volume buy surface area in cubic feet by pond turn over to help. if you turn over 1/2 the pond per day then you need more cubic feet of media.

It was a very detailed article on how to calculate ammonia production, volume of media, flow rate and disscussed filter designs.


Of course you could just wait and measure ammonia too and forget the math :D
 
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To make this simple, you may have far to few fish and therefore ammonia production per day for the volume of water meaning the concentration of ammonia may never get to the level where it's dangerous for the fish since it's so diluted. Bacteria will easily be able to convert it and even if it can't intially the bacteria will catchup in product long before the concentration ever gets to leathly levels for fish.

I put 4 x 2.5" shubkins in 530G of water and 4 weeks later no signs of ammonia and I don't think I will see any ammonia at all with this level of load.
 

koiguy1969

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you should circulate your pond at a turn over rate of once every 2 hours every hour is better. surface area for bacterial colonization and time spent in filtration is what keeps the water within proper parameters. if your turning over a ponds volume at a rate of 1/2 the volume a day...you better keep the fish numbers way down.....this doesnt necessarily apply to mud ponds because the clay allows for some nutrient exchange, but for liner ponds...
 
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Hi Sharon,

I'm Sharon too. The lack of ammonia shows that you are doing it right -- adding the fish a few at a time so the nitrifying microbes are able to gobble up all the ammonia before you see it.

Please don't waste your money on "bacterial products." The only thing they accomplish is enriching the manufacturers and retailers. Any microbes that will grow well in your pond are present in the environment and are already growing. Even if you assume there are live bacteria in those bottles (which is pretty unlikely), they would be adapted to growing in vats in a factory and would be quickly replaced by natives.

I was going to advise to to stop adding koi, but I see you have already decided to do that. Very smart. If you add all the fish your pond should hold, you will be disappointed later when you find a fish you just have to get but you have no room in the pond. Is this your first pond? If so, you have been doing your homework!
 

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