You’ve dug the hole in your backyard. You’ve installed the liner, and all of the pipes and filters are in place. You’ve filled your new pond with water. But now what? Should you add plants or fish to the new pond? Well, before you do that, you’ll need to season the pond. Similar to an indoor aquarium, certain nitrifying bacteria need to be in place to help promote the proper environment for plants and fish to grow and thrive. When I first set up our aquarium, the pet store gave me a bag of water with some of the sludge from their filters. The water looked disgusting, but it contained bacteria that was necessary for the fish to thrive.
These nitrifying bacteria do not exist in a new pond and need to grow. Instead of simply adding plants and fish to a new pond, you’ll need to give the pond time to develop these bacteria, but there are some steps that you can take to help the bacteria develop.
When you install a new filter in your pond, it is void of any bacteria. These bacteria do not grow if the water is too cold. So, in the spring, when the water starts to warm up, you can add enzymes to your pond to promote the growth of this bacteria. Do not do any backwashing for about a month, to allow the nitrifying bacteria a chance to grow in the filter. After a month, you can backwash as directed. If you have a UV filter, keep it turned off for the first month to give the bacteria a chance to build up.
The bacteria need some nutrients to grow. These common nutrients can be found in organic waste. So, add a couple of koi or goldfish to your pond. The waste from the fish will give the bacteria what they need to grow. Just be sure not to overpopulate the pond. At this point, a couple of fish are all that is needed. You can add more later after the bacteria is established. Remember that chlorine can kill the fish, so if your water is chlorinated, be sure to add some de-chlorinator to the water before you add the fish.
Given time, the nitrifying bacteria will build up in your pond, promoting a healthy environment for the aquatic animals and plants that you choose to put in your pond. If you follow these steps, and have a bit of patience, and give your pond time to become seasoned, you’ll be rewarded with a healthy, thriving ecosystem in your backyard.