First koi pond up and running

JDB636June 2, 2014

So my fianc´┐Ż and I just got our pond running . The pond is about 2100 gallons 12'x10'x3' rough dimensions. We filled the pond and let it sit for a week until I was able to get the correct fittings for the pump and filter put on. The filter and pump have been running for about 24hours and so far everything looks good including the small stream/waterfall that we added. After we installed the liner we used field stone around the edge which had a descent amount of dirt on the rocks, now the water looks all muddy like lake water if not a bit more cloudy. My question is this, should I be doing something to clear up the water, will it clear up on its own? I was thinking about completely draining cleaning and refilling the pond but I'd rather not. I have the beneficial bacteria (powder) additive to help the cycling process along and also purchased some salt from a local pond store as the guy highly recommended it. Should I wait to add these things until my water clears up or can I just go ahead with them. I'd like to get koi in here ASAP but want to make sure I do everything the right way! Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance I look forward to reading your responses.

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I know nothing about koi and I have kind of forgotten about my initial experience with my new pond so you will have to wait for most of your practical information from the others who post. But since I am here (and for what it is worth) I have a couple of thoughts. Most importantly, I am concerned that ' I'd like to get koi in here ASAP...' is not a logical approach. I think I would wait a little while just to look for trouble of unspecified nature. Things like leaks, really needing to drain the pond, strange animals, heavy rain water eroding your garden and running into the pond, whatever. Perhaps just waiting for someone who doesn't regularly post, but who has a great horror story for you.

Then, (again admitting I know nothing of koi), I have never understood why people suggest adding salt to a freshwater pond. Maybe someone will explain it to us. I also suspect that the dirt on your rocks could be considered a good thing because it is probably giving you the bacteria you are perhaps buying in the bottle. On the other hand, if this dirt comes from a soil that is mostly fine white clay or something with similar super fine particles, you might find that your water wouldn't easily clear up and a refill would be convenient. Personally, I would probably just wait for nature to Eventually take its course, but while that's a lot of water there, you could just pump it out to your garden (if nearby) for a couple of days and just call it watering.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 3:15PM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))

There are many ways to run a pond, each person has to decide for themselves.

The dirt in the water is a tough one because it depends on the kind of dirt. Some will settle right away, some will stay cloudy for a long time. It will most likely settle at some point in the future. Tomorrow, next week, next year, no way to tell. There is also the question of what "clear" means to you. What one person considers clear another person would not.

If it were me, unless water was being rationed or really expensive I'd dump the water and start over. You will have plenty of other issues, no sense adding to that list. Chalk it up to learning.

I don't think there would be any problem adding fish to a pond that's cloudy from dirt. There's a small issue of the fish getting grit in their gills, but I think that concern is way over hyped. Grit settles. What stays suspended is clay and Koi live in mud ponds all the time.

There are endless products being sold to clear the water. All are scams. Some actually could work, like flocculants. These are used in waste treatment plants. But in order to truely work 3 steps are needed.

1. Pour in the flocculant.

2. Apply extreme agitation to get the bits to clump into large enough clumps for the next step.

3. Removal of clumps using a fairly sophisticated filter.

Pond flocculant products being sold don't talk about steps 2 & 3 of course. So people buy the product, which is the only step the seller really cares about, pour it in and it often makes things worst or if the pond does clear it's only temporary because the polymers in flocculants break down pretty fast and the clumped dirt goes back to being dirt.

Virtually all pond products work that way. Part truth with a lot of scam. Sellers don't worry about repeat business because only people new to ponds buy these products.

"Benefical bacteria" same deal. Most are completely worthless. There are a few that may sometimes contain some actual benefical bacteria and in a few cases can help. For example say you were about to add 20 full grown Koi to your 2100 gal pond. In that case you'd expect ammonia problems right away so trying to get bacteria working fast would save you some work in the next couple of weeks. But if you're like most people you're going to add a small number of very small fish which won't create an ammonia problem.

You already have benefical bacteria in your pond, they're everywhere. They reproduce to fit the environment. Right now there's almost no ammonia for them to eat, so they just sit around watching Oprah all day. As soon as there's more ammonia they start eating and reproducing.

Adding more bacteria to a pond that doesn't have the food (ammonia) available does nothing but add waste to the pond.

If you really want to create more bacteria before adding fish you can do that by adding ammonia, plain ammonia from the drug store, to your pond. Use your ammonia test kit to get it up to some reasonable level, say 2ppm. Then use your test kit to to measure ammonia dropping, and maybe nitrite climbing and then falling. Takes about a week for the ammonia to go, nitrite can take longer if you measure any. Ammonia is also a food for algae so doing this really requires a UV filter to stop algae from sucking up all the ammonia as fast as you can put it in.

Or, just add a few small fish at a time and let them produce the ammonia for the bacteria. Simple as pie.

Local pond store guys are the worst pond keepers on the planet. They have to be. Water Gardens are very easy to run and require almost nothing be added. No pond store could stay in business based on that. So they make a living selling stuff no one needs. I have seen a few good pond stores that made most of their money selling good quality Koi and useful products like liner and high end filters. But those are rare.

Adding salt to a pond is done by some people, not a lot. Whether it's a benefit is inconclusive in my book. The biggest problem I have with it is what do you do with waste water. Dump it on your lawn? Over time that probably isn't going to be good. Most cities have laws against sending down a storm drain or sewer. With no clear benefit I say who needs the hassle. And it takes a lot of salt to raise a 2100 gal pond to a level that matters. I'm guessing the pond guy sold you like a few pounds of sea salt flown in from the Black Sea or something. Regular water softer salt from the hardware store is all that's needed if you chose to go that route. $5 for a 40 lb bag. I'm guessing the pond store guy's salt costs a lot more. Salt is salt.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 3:38PM
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Thanks for the advise! When I stated that I wanted to add fish ASAP I really meant assuming that I take all necessary steps to ensure a healthy environment for them first. I actually had some issues with my filter lid popping off last night so the whole project is in hold for the moment. I may just decide to drain the pond clean and refill as I believe that may be the best way to achieve what I am looking for.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 8:11AM
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We have installed several ponds and they always had that murky cloudy water.. Mainly from us standing in the liner adding rocks, dirt from the hole we dug, plants we were putting in.. It usually settles in a week or so if you have a filter system in but to clear it up quicker I go to the fabric store and by a square of their "cushion" filler and slide it in front of my pump in the skimmer or if you don't have a skimmer wrap it around the pump.. You will have to rinse it out a couple times a day but it clears the water very quickly

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 1:57AM
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I've had no problem with pond clarifiers, but I also have no issue with dirt settling on the bottom of the pond, which is what's going to happen. Sure, some of it gets caught through the filtration system, somet ends up at bottom of the top pool of my falls (the water hyacinths up there loved that muck), but for the most part it just causes it to settle. It stays down there unless I stir it up again.

Really though, unless there's been some really bad rains flooding the pond, I find at this point putting a basket of quilt batting in a netpot and setting that under the output of the waterfall filter works just as well and pretty much as quickly as clarifiers. And it removes more rather than letting it sink.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 11:35AM
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