On adding ammonia & beneficial bacteria to a new pond


MoonShadows

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So, I won't even be getting my new pond via UPS for another two weeks or so, and it will only be mid February, but I am reading so much about cycling a new pond.

I keep reading about starting the process by adding ammonia to the new water. I went to the calculator in @MitchM's signature and determined that I need 50.8ml for a 425 gallon pond. Is that to dose the entire pond, and do I just dose it once to get the cycle going?

I see you are supposed to use 9.5% in solution. Is that the common ammonia (non sudsy) you get in the local stores?

What about adding beneficial bacteria like Microbe-Lift. Does this really help, and is it added before, after or at the same time as the ammonia.?
 
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sissy

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I add the microbe-lift only when i rebuilt .I also saved lots of rain water in garbage cans and what ever would hold water
 

sissy

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Not so much for cycling but since you may be worried about the well water and rain water PH most time is really good and it is free .Last time I tested our rain water a week ago it was 7 and time before it was 6 but that was a really heavy rain .I wondered if the amount of rain that comes down at one time changes it .I asked the weather channel and sent them pics but have not heard back yet
 

MoonShadows

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Oh, OK... that was another thread. I am interested in ammonia and beneficial bacteria here in this thread. Thanks.
 
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So, I won't even be getting my new pond via UPS for another two weeks or so, and it will only be mid February, but I am reading so much about cycling a new pond.

I keep reading about starting the process by adding ammonia to the new water. I went to the calculator in @MitchM's signature and determined that I need 50.8ml for a 425 gallon pond. Is that to dose the entire pond, and do I just dose it once to get the cycle going?

I see you are supposed to use 9.5% in solution. Is that the common ammonia (non sudsy) you get in the local stores?

What about adding beneficial bacteria like Microbe-Lift. Does this really help, and is it added before, after or at the same time as the ammonia.?

1 dose of ammonia initially and bring up the ammonia reading to about 3 ppm. I'm assuming you're using a standard hobby test kit that measures total available ammonia (TAN)
Monitor the ammonia level every few days until you see the number start to drop, you will then notice the nitrite level start to rise.
Depending on when you want to add fish, you can add them as soon as the nitrite level is zero, or you can keep adding a reduced amount of ammonia daily or every couple of days until fish are added.
The volume of ammonia added regularly can be calculated using the other calculator in my signature, "how many fish can your pond handle"
Let us know if you would like some assistance calculating that. You need to decide how many fish you plan on adding and what size they will initially be.

The 9.5% number in the ammonia calculator is a default number, adjust it to what you actually purchase.

Adding beneficial bacteria will speed up the approximate 4 week process, but it needs to be a viable bacteria culture. Shelf life, storage conditions and the supplier are determining factors. Research as much as possible what you are buying.
Add the bacteria at the same time as the ammonia.

.
 
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MoonShadows

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@MitchM Thank you so much for your valuable feedback regarding ammonia. Now, I have a good idea how to do this once I get the pond set up. Regarding beneficial bacteria, do you have brand and supplier recommendation? In my reading, it seems Microbe-Lift has a good reputation and is used by many pond keepers. I have looked at others, but I can't seem to find as much info/feedback on them as I can on Microbe-Lift. Thanks.
 
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You're welcome.:)
Which brand you use really depends on what your local supplier carries. Finding a good local pond store is important.
I've not seen any peer reviewed studies on Microbe-lift, but I have seen a study using Nutrifin Cycle.
The study only determined that the bacteria that Nutrifin supplied was viable based on how long the nitrogen cycle took to complete. Not much help after the fact when you want to speed things up.
The bacteria are already present on all the surfaces of your pond and filter without you adding anything. Adding viable bottled bacteria will boost the bacteria population and establish a suitable biofilm more quickly. The challenge is how to know for sure that you're obtaining viable bacteria in the first place.
A person has to weed through a lot of marketing hype, but in the end your pond will still end up completing the cycle, sooner or later.
 

MoonShadows

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Thanks, again. Luckily we have a very large nursery around 15 miles from my home that specializes in ponds...creating, building and maintaining. I will speak with someone there. I haven't been there in a while, but I have to drive right past there tomorrow. It will give me a chance to check out what they offer more closely now that getting closer to having a pond...finally!
 
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In addition to what MitchM said there's at least one more interaction to note and that's algae. It doesn't really matter, but just for fun, algae will consume ammonia directly bypassing the nitrite/nitrogen deal. A pond doesn't need to be visibly green, there can be a lot of algae before visible. Cycling a water garden is almost never needed, the light fish load in these is handled fine. It's something done in high fish load systems. Bottom line is testing ammonia at the start tells you what's going on. It doesn't really matter in a water garden whether it's algae or bacteria consuming ammonia, but in virtually all water gardens algae is doing the heavy lifting.

Rain water normally is 0 KH so the water isn't buffered at all. That leads to PH being very unstable and readings being kind of meaningless. If you measure KH and add (if needed) to keep KH up you don't even have to test PH. Rain water coming down is generally very low, like in the low 5's in west US and under down to like 4.3 in the NE US. In thunderstorms it can get down to low 2's. This can have an effect in low/no buffered ponds. And of course the resulting PH from increasing KH can effect the ratio of toxic and non-toxic ammonia. Also, chemicals to dechlorinate water can result in meaningless ammonia test readings for most common test kits.

Bacteria in a bottle is very popular with stores and people. The better the company marketing the happier the people. It's a great placebo and helps many people lower their stress level. However, if you're part of the shrinking world of people interested in data you will find no hard evidence bacteria in a bottle has any effect other than add a bit of waste to the water. If you prefer a common sense approach you can add some ammonia to water, in a bucket or whatever, and be amazed how fast bacteria set up shop and consume it all. Ammonia converting bacteria is everywhere. As for exotic bacteria some companies elude to, well, back to placebo. For sure many people who pay $20-60 for a bottle of stuff do claim to "see" benefits. Most of these products seem to do no harm so if you feel the need, I'd say do ahead. It's just money.

If you have the time, for most water gardens, it's hard to beat filling your pond with water and just waiting a week or more to add fish. You get stable water pretty fast. But a testing ammonia and KH is good insurance.
 

MoonShadows

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I have the patience; after all, I waited all this time to start a pond. After more reading this morning...it's raining so I can't go work outside!...I think I am going to go the ammonia and test route. What you wrote about adding bacteria is what I have been suspecting. And, why spend money when that is limited, but being retired, I have all the time in the world, and that doesn't cost a cent.

Is it ok to add plants before fish, when starting to add fish or after adding fish?
 
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MoonShadows

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LOL...I just decide not to use beneficial bacteria, and you post that link! Oh well, I have time to make up my mind...again! ;)
 
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Plants are like the water...sooner you added them the sooner everything settles down. I don't know what issue there would be fertilizing them as long as just fertilizer is used. I add a lot of fertilizer to plants like Canna and most plants. Most marginal type plants don't do very well without added fertilizer.
 
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Marginal is a general term for plants that grow around the edge of a body of water, the margins. Their roots are in soil. They can grow on the bank on "dry" land, but can also grow in fairly sallow water. The other 2 classes are submersibles and floaters. Submersibles have roots in soil but green part doesn't go above the surface. Floaters the roots are in the water and green part above the surface, so they float around. All the plants in these 3 classes act kind of the same, similar care.

Here's a weird one...here in Phoenix, desert, marginals are popular landscape plants.Surprised me, but makes sense. Many are adapted to handle lots of water (when sprinklers on) and storing water to get thru dry spells. Cool plants.
 
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