Don’t Put Your Koi In Until You Read This!
Your Koi pond must be ‘cured’ or ‘cycled’ first.
The term ‘curing’ as applied to a new Koi pond basically means populating the pond with sufficient bacteria to eliminate harmful nitrogen compounds that may kill your Koi.
Wait….if you’re thinking that’s too technical for you, don’t worry.
All I mean is that you should not put Koi in to a new Koi pond imediately upon filling it with water. It needs to be ‘cured’ first. You see, Koi waste and urine produce harmful nitrogen compounds, in particular ammonia. This is a natural part of the Nitrogen cycle. As a responsible Koi owner, you should take steps to eliminate the ammonia (and other harmful nitrogen substances) from your pond water BEFORE putting your Koi in. The way to do that is to promote the growth of certain bacteria that will remove these harmful nitrogen compounds. But these bacteria will only grow when there is ammonia. The more ammonia, the more bacterial growth.
So it’s like a vicious cycle. Putting Koi in will produce the ammonia that will promote the growth of helpful bacteria. But the ammonia will kill your Koi if the amount of bacteria in your pond is not high enough to eliminate all the ammonia.
What do you do, then?
The answer is to introduce ammonia into your pond water without putting Koi in.
How do you do that?
Here are 3 ways:
Drop a small chunk of raw fish or a raw shrimp into the water. As it decomposes it will release ammonia into the tank.
Use liquid ammonia.
You can buy ammonia in liquid form and by using a dropper, add 5 drops of ammonia per 10 gallons of aquarium water. If you don’t get an ammonia reading with your test kit, add some more drops until you start to see an ammonia reading. Keep track of how many drops you’ve used so you can repeat this process daily.
Continue to dose the tank with ammonia until you start to get nitrite readings with your test kit. Once you can detect nitrites you should only add 3 drops of ammonia per 10 gallons of aquarium water, or if you added more drops originally to get an ammonia reading cut the amount of drops used in half.
Continue this process daily until you get nitrate readings with your test kit. Do a 30% water change and your tank is ready.
Use filter media from an established and already ‘cured’ pond. This will seed the pond with all of the necessary bacteria for the nitrogen cycle. But you must be careful about one thing when using this method. Ask your source if they have recently used any copper medications in their tank. If they have and you are planning to have invertebrates in your pond you should probably not use this method. Invertebrates will not tolerate copper. Get a copper test kit to determine if it’s safe to use.