Hi, I'm currently in the process of having a new pond built, and when it's finished (hopefully this year!), I was thinking about cycling it by adding Ammonia rather than food. Have any other members used this method, and if so which is the correct Ammonia to use-just plain household cleaning Ammonia? Where in the UK is it available-Hardware stores or chemists? Also how much and how often should it be added? Would it help if I added water from the old pond or is it best to start afresh? Any advice would be gratefully accepted,thanks Maz
How big is the new pond? Generally speaking it is not advicable to do a fishless cycle for a pond. What goldy suggested with seeding the new pond with gunk and old filter media is a good option. Depending on the design of your filter, it may be possible to do a close loop fishless cycle. If you have questions, just ask.
Rather than artificially cycle why not get water ready before hand so that you can fill the pond with matured water as soon as possible. I had loads of matured water ready prior to having the pond lined, those 10ft diameter paddling pools with the inflatable collars make great storage tanks.
The near one was £60 from poundstretcher and the far one I think £69 from B&Q. These were bought last year and have been up right through winter as I 'forgot' about them. If you dont have the space for one of those then 1 ton builders delivery bags lined with cheap plastic and held up by a wooden frame work hold about 180UK gal each.
I had, I think, 5 on the go preparing water for my fish pond, I even 'grew on' plants and fry in them. Having such volumes of water ready before hand may also be very handy if the pond is dug in an area with a high water table
Thanks for the advice folks My new pond is 6ftx6ftx2ft. I am going to be keeping the present one running as it has quite a few frogs living in it and my husband reckons he's seen a couple of newts. It also has a thriving insect poulation in there-I have seen Damselflies and Dragonflies visiting on numerous occasions. So I am going to let it keep developing as a wildlife pond, possibly installing a few native fish such as Sticklebacks. My new pond will be more formal, with the only plants being Water Lilies and oxygenators. Would it be an idea to virtually empty the old pond into the new pond, then top up the old pond with fresh water, or would this upset the balance in the old pond? Also as the old pond is very small we have never had to use a filter-we have a very efficient filter pump which runs a waterfall and two small water features on the side of the pond. The water is therefore well aerated and always crystal clear, and my readings are always spot on. The only problem is I do not have a filter to transfer to the new pond-the bacterial population must live on the pebble "beaches" in there. As I do not want any pebbles in the new pond, which will have a filter, should I put some of the pebbles inside the new filter to give it a kick start? Sean, I like your idea of preparing water, the trouble is our garden is very small and I don't think it's feasible to have paddling pools in it as my husband is constantly working out there and they would get in the way. The idea about the builder's sacks looks good though-I'll ask him if he can manage to get any. Thank you for the illustrations BTW, they're great Anyway, thanks again everyone for replying-if you have any more suggestions that will help me to make the best job of getting the new pond up and running ASAP, I'd be grateful to hear them Maz
I see. I won't disturb the old pond too much. You might end up with two sick ponds to look after. Better to leave it alone. However, what you can do is to either add the new filter to the old pond while the new pond is being prepared so that it is cycling while you wait. Just rig it on the side, doesn't have to look pretty. Another option is to find out what type of bio-filter media your new filter box takes, like lava rocks, ceramic noodles or bio-balls, etc. place them in a laundry bag or something like that and place it under the waterfall in the old pond. That way, the good bacteria will have a head start growing on the filter media. The most important thing to remember is that the "cycle" is not a real process. It is really a period of time that it takes the nitrifying bacterias to colonise a new tank/pond/filter. If you start a new pond with a filter that has the nitrifying bacterias already insitu then the pond is instantly cycled. Of course, more bacteria will grow on the pond walls in time but the hard part is done.
Maz, what fish are in the old pond? Goldfish etc are not truely compatable with a wildlife pond, you want something like sticklebacks or minnow. If the old pond is heavily planted and the fish are not fed I doubt you will need a filter in it at all, just a pump. My wild life pond is heavily planted and now contains only sticklebacks, I have never fed the fish in there with fish food, they occassionally get mosquito larvae, and it has never been filtered. Last year, its first full year, it was blanket weed city but this year, now that the plants are established, it is virtually blanket weed free and it is crystal clear. If you get wild stickle backs get any ornamental fish out first and do not shift plants from the old pond to the new once the stickle backs have been added. Sticklebacks can carry nasties that you dont want in an ornamental pond. My wildlife pond was initially home to about 50 3/4" goldfish fry, only 5 survived the introduction of the stickle backs. I suspect that most of the nasties die off providing the pond isnt continually reinfected by visiting herons etc. Why do I think that? Because I have just removed the 5 goldfish, now coming up on 2 years old and between 2 and 4 inches, and put them in a Q tank with 2 goldfish from my fish pond, the two are not showing any signs of parasite infection coming from the 'dirty' 5
Thanks ever so much guys for providing the perfect solution-it's so logical I can't think why it didn't hit me before! What I'll do is, as you suggested captk, rig up the new filter to the old pond, or get the filter media actually in the water whilst the new pond is being built, then when it is finished I'll transfer it to the new pond, let it cycle then add the fish from the old pond (a Goldfish, a Sarasa Comet and a Golden Orfe). Then I'll probably get some Sticklebacks and Minnows to put into the old pond so it will truly be a native wildlife pond-it is virtually one now apart from the ornamental fish. Sean, where would be the best place to get the native fish from-can you buy them or do you have to catch them? Don't worry Sean, I'll be getting new plants for the new pond and will make sure the ornamental fish are in the new pond before adding the native fish to the old pond. Perfick!! Thanks again for the advice-much appreciated Maz