Pond Info Center > Fixing Pond Cycle Problems

Fixing Pond Cycle Problems

Sometimes, problems arise within the nitrogen cycle of a garden pond. Difficulties generally occur when too many new fish are introduced at one time or when the pond becomes overcrowded with fish. The ammonia or nitrite levels will rise faster than the bacteria can handle and the pond basically becomes poisonous to the fish. Thus whenever you add new fish be sure to check the ammonia and nitrite levels of the water each day. Frequent water testing is also necessary if you are keeping fish in a temporary container for pond cleaning or maintenance, since the ammonia levels can rise quite rapidly.

Too Much Ammonia in the Fish Pond

Should the tests show that the ammonia has reached a dangerous level, one option is to replace about half of the water. You don't want to replace all the water in the garden pond because some ammonia must be present to encourage the growth of good bacteria. Also keep in mind that the new water should have a good pH and if necessary be treated for any unsafe chemicals that may be added to the tap water in your area. A high quality pond test kit will tell you what to look for in the test and how to make adjustments.

A good alternative to changing the water is to add ACC Eliminator or a zeolite product such as Ammo Rocks, Ammo Chips, or Ammo-Lock 2 to absorb the ammonia. Zeolite is a porous mineral that works through an ion exchange process to attract and absorb toxic ammonia like a sponge.

*Please Note* When using zeolite do not add salt to your pond. Salt causes zeolite to release the ammonia, sort of like squeezing the water out of a sponge. Because the zeolite reacts this way to salt, you should be extremely careful never to add salt to a fish pond when you are using zeolite. The ammonia will be released back into the water and the fish will be in big trouble. So remember: never add salt to a pond containing zeolite!

These products are wonderful for emergency pond fixes and temporary fish containers, but they should not be used as permanent solutions to an ammonia problem. The only real long-term way to handle ammonia is to establish a healthy nitrogen cycle. If your pond is overcrowded with fish, you may have to find new homes for some of them to properly balance the pond.

Too Much Nitrite in the Fish Pond

Should you test the water and find that the nitrite levels are too high, there are two things you ought to do. The first is change out around fifty percent of the water. The second is add two and a half pounds of pond salt for every hundred gallons of water in the pond. The best way to add salt is by first dissolving it in a little water. It is also a good idea to remove as many plants as possible. Again, remember never to add salt to a pond that is being treated with zeolite.

Before taking any measures to reduce ammonia or nitrite in a pond be sure that the tests indicate unsafe levels. Being overly eager to act will prolong the amount of time it takes to establish the nitrogen cycle. However, if the water is unsafe you should act quickly to preserve the fish. Then continue to monitor the water in the fish pond and let nature take over.

Related Pond Article: Nitrogen Cycle of a Garden Pond

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