Is this idea totally nuts?

kyponderAugust 21, 2007

Ok...I have been trying to research this online for some time now with NO luck. I was told the bacteria in "septic tank bacteria" that you can buy for your septic system (I assume such as rid-x) appears to be the same as what is in the "pond bacteria" we buy to keep our ponds clean. I cannot find anything to prove this theory either way. It would be fantastic if it were true because the septic tank bacteria is CHEAP compared to the pond bacteria. BUT i'm not brave enough to try it. I don't want to take a chance on hurting my fish, plants, etc. I'm sure (if it were true) the pond bacteria people would NOT want us to know. If I understand correctly the septic bacteria is supposed to be non-toxic, etc. and basically do everything our pond bacteria does. So...I'm just curious if anyone else has thought of this, researched it or tried it.

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Ok... this is what I found on the web. Seeing as manmade products are, well, manmade...

I've attached the link to the article below.

"Manmade bacteria are the derivatives of many different types of microbe spores. Inexpensive bacteria may carry from one to five different strains of formulation. The higher the count of strains, the higher the cost. The highest microbe count that is currently available is sixteen. One pound will treat 250,000 gallons of water. Manmade bacteria will only eat certain types of food and are not yet sophisticated enough to eat all of the foods which a pond will produce."

Here is a link that might be useful: bacteria carefree enzymes

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 1:56PM
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Ok... ignore my previous post. I just found another site that states that their product is safe for septic systems / water supplies with fish, etc...

Too much conflicting information... argh

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 2:00PM
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HaHa...well welcome to my world! Its been lurking in the back of my mind ever since I was told this. I know there has to be an answer but I can't seem to find it...& I have honestly been too embarrassed to put the idea out there. It makes you wonder if its like some big SECRET...we aren't supposed to find out about. I've researched every time I get a chance...but i just get frustrated. Good luck and PLEASE share it with us if you figure it out!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 2:24PM
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Promise - If I can find anything that will help save a few $$, I'll let everyone know!!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 2:34PM
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larryl(7 Southern Oregon)

Any bacteria that can live in your pond are probably already there. Adding bacteria that don't already live there, means you are adding bacteria that probably can't live there. Send me $20 dollars and I'll send you some bacteria that either can't live there or are already there. Two bags for only $30.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 2:43PM
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Ok. now that the Reckitt people think I'm totally nuts - they directed me to the part of their website that deals with the specs of their products. Attached, please find the specs for Rid-X... Environmental issues are that it is toxic to fathead minnows when used in excess. Just what is excess I asked? They had no answer - Go figure.

So anyway, I'm thinking don't use RID-X - but I'm sure there is something else out there that is equally as inexpensive - Time to keep calling Manufacturer's of bacteria and enzyme products. (I'm glad picture phones are not being used).

Here is a link that might be useful: Reckitt - mfg of Rid-X

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 2:44PM
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So what you are saying is that you can send us a bag of bull for $20.00? Such a deal... I didn't know that hot air could be bagged though. :-)


Now getting to other pressing matters, I think your question was one that other's have thought about in the past as well. I'm still looking for you and the rest of us who might be interested in seeing if it's possible.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 2:52PM
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Pond bacteria is aerobic which uses oxygen to work and septic tank bacteria is anerobic which works without oxygen. This type of bacteria occurs when ponders are not keeping the pond clean. The the aerobic bacteria is used as starters in cold regions. In warm areas the bacteria will be around all the time. Happy water gardening.

Here is a link that might be useful: Chuck Rush

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 4:18PM
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larryl(7 Southern Oregon)

Barbara, cold doesn't kill bacteria. Bacteria might not function or multiply in cold conditions, but as soon as the temperature warms to the level where the bacteria can function, its off to the races. If you added bacteria to your pond in cold weather, it probably wouldn't multiply, just like the dormant bacteria that are already there wouldn't multiply either. When it warmed up each of the bacterial species would begin to function at its own desired temperature, whether it was natural, or introduced.

This whole bacteria thing is just a bunch of smoke and mirrors IMHO. If the bacterial enthusiasts would just buy some plants, the bacteria that are already there would colonize the roots and submerged surfaces of the plants, and they could save a lot of money. Actually, the plants would already come with a supply of their own bacteria.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 8:58PM
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sheepco(MN z4)

In my experience I think there's enough bacteria in my pond already. I've never seen the need to add more...even here in zone 4 where it takes spring awhile to come...

No complaints here, once the water cycles I can see the bottom crystal clear.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 11:06PM
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Ok guys no need to fuss about it. Obviously everyone has an OPINION. Just like everything else, we get so much conflicting information it just leaves us even more CONFUSED. All I know for sure is...I am still relatively new to this whole ponding thing. I started last spring with a 100 gal pond and upgraded this spring to 1500 gal. I knew it would have to cycle & it has. However, I DID add bacteria to my biofalls to get it started and I'm adding along the way for maintenance. I have gone thru some string algae and just plain old yucky stuff partly due to the big trees in my yard. My pond is the FIRST thing you see when you come to my I naturally want it looking PERFECT all the time. I understand how the plants work and I have a lot of them. My fish are fat, happy & they are already having babies!! All I want is pretty clean water and I want it to be as self sufficient as possible. I don't want it to get out of control and become a cesspool. I have farm ponds all around me that are covered in YUK! So if leaving it alone to fend for itself causes that...I'm out. All I'm saying is... for those of us who feel the need to add bacteria (and from what I understand IF the pond doesn't need it it will die off anyway) then maybe we can find a cheaper way to do it. I am one of those who have a rock bottom pond because I wanted it to look as natural as possible. Yeah...I know there's lots of conflicting info on that too. We never know to until we try. Oh just FYI - I bought a pondovac 3 and it has been fantastic in removing the excess crud...even with all my rocks. I'm just exploring my options! Here is my pond...

These photos were taken soon after we finished building it. My plants have filled in a lot since then.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 1:03AM
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sheepco(MN z4)

Beautiful Amy!

I should have added to my post that while I have never found it necessary to add bacteria, many here on the forum do, with good results. I did one year, with no positive results. Perhaps I added it too early in the season - spring is very fickle here.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 10:24PM
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sheepco -Thank you for your compliments & your thoughts on the subject. Who knows in a few years I may agree with the idea of no bacteria...

I really enjoy this forum...even with the all the different opinions...keeps it interesting!! lol.

And still if anyone actually has the answer to the original all means let me know.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2007 at 11:00AM
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madtripper(5/6 Guelph)

The world may give you conflicting information, but you need to also put some thought into the matter.

If you take a sterile petrie dish and let it sit open a few minutes, it gets loaded with bateria. What do you think happens in your pond sitting open for 24 hrs each day. The fish you add, the plants you add, and all of the rock was not sterile when you put them in - they were covered with bateria. Your hands are covered with bateria, and so is your mouth, and what come out the other end.

Think about how hard the hopitals work to keep things sterile, and still there is contamination.

Companies sell you all kinds of things to kill bateria from every surface. Other companies sell bottled bacteria to add to things. Can't you see a problem here? If the toilet is full of bacteria, and needs to be disinfected every day, why would you need to add bacteria to the septic system?

The idea that you need to add bacteria to a system that is very unsterile, is laughable.

As long as you crap into the toilet your septic system does not need them. And as long as you do not steam sterilize everything in your pond every few days, it does not need them either.

The bacteria will find your pond.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 8:01PM
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Ok...I HAVE put some thought into it! I am NOT a science major and don't claim to be...but consider this...

Organic farming uses natural ways to combat insects, etc. They use GOOD insects to destroy the BAD insects, etc.

Consider cow poop in the field, or roadkill for that matter...I don't know which is the good and which is the bad...but somehow bacteria causes it to decompose naturally. If the cow poop or roadkill landed in sterile environment with no bacteria...I suppose it would be there for a very long time.

We have good bacteria in our bodies that we need to sustain life....AND when we come in contact with BAD bacteria it will make us sick if we don't have enough good bacteria to fight off the bad.

Isn't penicillin made from a bacteria? Vaccines are made from some form of the same germ that causes the illness...correct?

No one here is fool enough to expect or want a sterile pond...that idea is "laughable". What is wrong with the idea of having good vs bad bacteria? Makes all kinds of sense to me.Good vs Evil. It's the way of the world.

Whether you agree with the idea of beneficial bacteria in the pond or not, the original questions still septic tank bacteria the same as pond bacteria...just cheaper?


    Bookmark   August 26, 2007 at 12:14AM
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Firstly the point of adding bacteria has to be defined as to the pond you are adding it to and what you are trying to accomplish. When you start trying to listen to people say there is enough bacteria in a pond they are possibly correct if your point is self-contained and all of the added water is done manually and all of the vegetation is removed and there is a skimmer and bottom filter.

Hear is the problem; when your pond is balanced then it rains and collects runoff which will include vegetation and manure and other organic material there will not automatically be enough "digester" in the water to handle all of this new organic. So when you say your pond has bacteria you are correct but it needs more at times to handle the fluctuation in "balanced" ponds.

This added bacteria does help and more than you can imagine. When there is a "ranch pond" with several acres of water, cows, and runoff then this bacteria will break down the organics and make the water cleaner, smell better and also it will seal the ponds bottom by tightening the soil. the sediment at the bottom will be less and it will extend the life of the pond by years.

So the question about rid x in your pond, YES it works and YES it is safe and Yes you will see and smell a difference. Your water will be cleaner, less bottom plants and moss and your fish will be much healthier. What makes me an expert? I have a total of 20 acres of water in stock ponds and when i started paying attention to the ponds they were terrible. The ponds were full of decaying mud and sludge stinking and making it impossible to play in. Now, after putting digesters in the water and removing all of the old logs and and other vegetation they are excellent. I just caught a 12 pound bass out of it and a fatter fish there has never been. He fought for a long time because I only had 10 pound test.

Everyone good luck with your ponds, they are great to have, we had a pick-nick nest to the best pond cover with trees and surrounded by meadows. Remember there may be differences in bacteria, but eating the sludge caused by decaying organic material these will do; any sewer digester/bacterial.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 11:51PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

If you are not familiar with the following poster, he is one of the most knowledgeable and helpful members of this forum. He and some others, who have been here from the start, are taking what I hope are temporary leaves of absence from posting but the info is still there if you do a forum search.

"Posted by drh1 z4 VT (My Page) on Sat, Oct 3, 09 at 15:06
First, let me apologize for my short but flippant remarks above. For those of you who prefer such short answers you probably won't be interested in what follows.
My rationale for not particularly recommending Rid-X is as follows:
a.) At one time, if memory serves me correctly, Consumer Reports evaluated the use of this material in septic systems resulting in a conclusion that there was no significant difference. Also, in my state - again if memory serves me correctly - one of the state agencies attempted to evaluate the effectiveness of such treatments on the longevity of mound-type septic systems with respect to extending longevity. The result was non-conclusive, i.e., no particular statistical significant difference. However, such studies and others out there are focused on ANAEROBIC systems as exist in septic tanks...not in our ponds which are aerobic. The company specifically states in it's FAQ section that it has not been tested and is not recommended for aerobic systems. Of course they are focusing on waste treatment systems and not ponds. Click here for Rid-X FAQ
b.) If you look into what is actually in the product you will find that it supposedly contains enzymes and dried bacteria specifically meant to work in an anaerobic environment. However, there is some indication that is not all that is in there. A bit of research will show you the basic patent for Rid-X. Click here for Rid-X Patent info
One of the ingredients that appears to be present is a form of pyrophosphate to help buffer pH as well as increase metabolic activity in the anaerobic environment. Pyrophosphates are generally hydrolyzed and broken down in aerobic environments to orthophosphates...the form that is readily taken up and used by algae. It is therefore potentially possible that adding Rid-X that you might be adding phosphate to your pond although there may be formulations out there that contain no such compounds. Given that our ponds are closed or recirculating systems such compounds might prove detrimental longterm (i.e., enhancing algae growth).
c.) As you probably know in a truly balanced and designed scientific study you run a control study in which has all the same things going on except you don't have compound Z added. You compare one against the other. Drug manufacturers go one step further: they have a third group in which they typically give a sugar coated pill that looks exactly like the experimental pill. The reason for this is the "placebo effect"...just the fact that a person receives a pill and is told that is very strong acting causes them to believe and actually demonstrate an improved response. We tend not to trust those studies that are funded by the companies that are marketing the product because we suspect bias in the analyses and interpretation of the data. The problem we have with adding stuff to our ponds is that we lack ANY type of reasonably controlled designed experiment. That being said there is, I suspect, a significant "placebo" effect in that I've paid money for this product, I've added it to my pond, others (with or without a connection to the product) say it works very well therefore any results I see must be due to the product I've added!!

If you think Rid-X will help your aerobic system by dumping in a product specifically designated to work in an anaerobic system then by all means do so and feel happy about it. I wouldn't add it to mine for the possible introduction of phosphates plus that's not what it's meant to be used for. But that's just me and obviously I'm working with my own set of biases. If you feel it's working in your system then don't listen to me but above all else...Enjoy your pond!

My pond has been running for something like 10 years now with all the errors and pitfalls and pleasures ponding brings. I have never, ever had to purchase or use bacteria other than that produced by the pond itself. If I am cleaning the pond for the winter when growth is slower, I simply add a piece of the old quilt batting I use as filter material to the new batting in the Skippy.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 11:50AM
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i know this is an old discussion but I just wanted to share for anyone who finds this thread I came across this idea from this website

I got brave enough to try Rid-x 4 days ago it must not be poison to fish because I have had no casualties, so if it works I'll try to update and let know the results.


    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 2:28PM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))

All this stuff is very confusing for sure if you treat opinion as anything other than that, opinion. In my opinion air planes can't fly. If you happen to share that opinion you're likely to consider the opinion to be useful, and true, maybe a fact. However opinions don't change anything. Air planes still fly whether we believe they can or not.

7 billion people in the world = 7 billion opinions and many of those will change their opinion minute by minute. Trying to make sense of opinions will drive you crazy. betcha. If you choose to listen to opinion as being anything other than random thoughts, tiny bits of stuff glued together to sound logical, you will indeed become very confused and spend a lot of time learning what? Other people's opinions.

On the other hand, if you limit your research to actual test data, like the great post by drh1and a little bit of basic understanding there will be much less confusion and all this stuff gets way, way easier. Even simple. We can choose to make this all very confusing or not.

I'll add one thing to the Rid-X post by drh1. At least one state attorney that started to go after Rid-X for fraud. The case got dropped because it isn't that big a fraud and lots of people "believe" it works and Rid-X agreed to dial back claims.

By basic understanding I don't just mean science. Understanding people is a skill you probably already have. Ask yourself, is any bacteria in a bottle manufacturer required by law to disclose what is inside the bottle? No. If I take a clean bottle and screw on a cap is there bacteria in the bottle? Yes. Can I legally sell that as a product people can add to their pond or whatever to "add bacteria" to "jump start up cleaning" to "help clean"? You betcha. Will 20%, 50% of people using my product believe it works? Of course. Why? Because it's impossible to tell if it works or doesn't work. "Well, there's still a lot of crap in my pond but way less thanks to me being smart and adding the bacteria." There is no way to tell by looking at a pond. But that will not stop people from having an opinion.

Obviously selling air in a bottle isn't going to be a big seller. So they put dirty water in a bottle. Dirty water is full of bacteria, microbes, enzymes and other cool sounding words people like to hear. That sells. And is perfectly legal.

Where Rid-X got into trouble was making claims on how effective their product is. Saying stuff like "makes your septic system last 2 times longer" gets you into trouble because that's something that can be proven false. If you read current Rid-X ads and looked carefully you you see they make no claims any more. They only imply claims. "Sepic systems can cost $6000 dollars while Rid-X only costs $6." Most people will assume they're saying Rid-X will save you $5994. It really is just 2 separate facts in the same sentence. Both true separately. That's legal.

If Rid-X could show their product did anything helpful they sure as heck wouldn't have to resort to these marketing tricks. They'd be flashing independent reports and handing out grants for more studies all over the place. Their business would become huge. But when a product doesn't work you can't do that.

My web page on bacteria in a bottle I posted back in 2002.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 9:19PM
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My first 60 years were in a suburban environment with a regular sewer system. My recent 10 years are with a septic system and I have had to pay attention. I can tell you that my local agricultural extension gives classes on septic health as well as water quality. They tell us that there is no value in Rid-x. Perhaps someone should try floating some money on their pond and see if that does some good. Perhaps $100 dollar bills will work better.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 10:18AM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))


I have often toyed with the idea of starting a myth for the sole purpose of measuring what percentage of the population would not just be duped, we all can be duped and I am on an almost daily basis, but would believe so strongly in the myth that they would companion the myth as fact. That they would continue to believe the myth even after hearing that it was created as a myth.

My would be myth is floating empty Coke cans in the pond. They would block sun and the red color reflects the red spectrum that algae needs for growth. And bio film grows on the underside providing great bio filtration.

Simple, uses a few science sounding words people have likely heard before. Could be the perfect myth.

It's an interesting subject to me. Humans have such a strong desire to internalize myth, to defend a myth at all cost. Like currently a large portion of the US doesn't just believe global warming is false, but defend the concept at great length, ignoring all science and data. Even though defending the myth places our children's world in great peril. It is better to appear right I guess than actually be right.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2014 at 4:24AM
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steiconi(12a-Big Island, HI)

You don't wash out the Coke cans first, right? Because the Coke helps kill bacteria, right? If you start it, others will flesh out the story.

I started a myth in high school; I asked one person if she'd seen the "guitamborinedrum" on TV the night before. By the end of the day, somebody else was telling me about how great the music was.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 6:05PM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))

That's what I live hear a myth I started repeated back to me.

My best was when bee keepers came to move bee hives we hired for our orchard. Moving the hives keeps the range of bees smaller and inside the orchard. My mother asked "why do they have to move the hives?" I said because the bees bury the hives, so they have to move them before they're completely buried and they can't find them.

That was 40 years ago. She still insist bees bury their hives even though I've told her the story. It's a hoot.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 8:57PM
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Just wanted to post a follow up. I don't know anything about myths, lawsuits or septic tanks but using Rid-x seems to have been a miracle cure for my water. I have a 1000 gal pond and the water was very murky green and nasty I started with 3 tbs of Rid-x septic powder and 2 days later I saw some minor improvement it didn't appear to harm the fish so I added 3 more tbs of the powder two days later the pond was crystal clear and I could see all the way to the bottom nearly 4 feet its the best it's looked for a few years. I am not a scientist or professional pond keeper and I don't claim to be I just took the risk and something good happened. I don't know why or how but if you think it could help your pond in my opinion it was worth a $5 investment. If anyone has a question feel free to let me know.

Have a great day!

This post was edited by wvboibilly on Wed, Jun 4, 14 at 14:57

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 2:47PM
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Just wanted to post a follow up. I don't know anything about myths, lawsuits or septic tanks but using Rid-x seems to have been a miracle cure for my water. I have a 1000 gal pond and the water was very murky green and nasty I started with 3 tbs of Rid-x septic powder and 2 days later I saw some minor improvement it didn't appear to harm the fish so I added 3 more tbs of the powder two days later the pond was crystal clear and I could see all the way to the bottom nearly 4 feet its the best it's looked for a few years. I am not a scientist or professional pond keeper and I don't claim to be I just took the risk and something good happened. I don't know why or how but if you think it could help your pond in my opinion it was worth a $5 investment. If anyone has a question feel free to let me know.

Have a great day!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 2:50PM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))

If Rid-X can clear a pond in a few days someone is sitting on a gold mine. Buy Rid-X and repackage it as "Instant Clear Pond", add some bacteria speak, and sell it for a 10x mark up. Once people start using it and it works you'll be neck deep in money. Soon after you'll get a knock on your door from several big pond product suppliers wanting to license your product for huge money.

The issue with myths isn't just Rid-X and $5. That is simple enough. But when that doesn't work a person has to move to the next myth, say Barley straw. Another $10-15 and more waste added to the water. Then barley pellets, then barley extract. Then the 50 some odd pond products being sold all claiming to clear your pond. Then it's on to the dozens of filters people say cleared their pond. Add salt, lower pH, raise pH, add plants. We're starting to talk about a lot of money and a trashed pond.

Ponds do clear on their own. And when it happens to clear guess what gets the credit? Whatever the last thing the pond owner did gets the credit. Seeing is believing after all. That is in fact how myths stay alive.

In this case Rid-X being added and 2 days later water is noticeably clearer doesn't really fit the life cycle for the type of bacteria that is suppose to be in Rid-X. It takes them a while to go from dried to thriving. Something more like 7 days would be more interesting to me.

Or if someone wasn't interested in a million dollars they could do some experiments to show Rid-X was indeed killing green water algae. It would be a big benefit to the hobby and wouldn't be very hard. Get some tubs or buckets and fill with green water. Add Rid-X to some and nothing to others and see what happens. Repeat a few times. If someone had success then some other people could try to repeat the experiment. If they had success we'd have actual data to consider.

It should only take a few weeks to do the experiment several times. It would be a huge deal if true. Biggest thing ever I'd say.

I used to do such experiments but after awhile it just got too silly.

That's the difference between myth and data.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 5:39PM
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