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Cycling a pond without a filter

Discussion in 'Keeping Turtles Outdoors (Ponds & Dams)' started by smoyle, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. smoyle

    smoyle Sub-Adult Turtle
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    I have a pond in my front yard (small, about 120l) which has had goldfish in it for years - the oldest died recently at around 9 years old, and there are still a couple in there. Until I came on here 18 months ago I had never heard of cycling anything, so had no idea about filters etc, so never got one for the pond, but they seemed to survive all the same, so I assume it just developed all the bacteria growing in there to deal with the ammonia, etc.

    Now I'm setting up another pond, this time a larger one for feeder fish and plant cultivation, and I'm wondering if it's possible to do the same - namely, make it safe for fish without a filter. Any thoughts on whether that's possible, and if so how to do it? It must be possible since I've done it once, I just don't know what I did the first time! Should I just add water and substrate from my other pond to start the bacteria off?

    The reason I ask is there is no power point anywhere near where I'm putting it, and it doesn't get enough sun for a solar pump, so thought this might be worth a try. Thanks!
     
  2. Craig

    Craig Owner/Administrator/Public Officer
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    Hi Simon, you certainly can cycle a fishpond without a filter, by using Goldfish. If you can use some of the water from one of your other ponds it will definitely speed up the process.
     
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  3. Rodney

    Rodney Juvenile Turtle

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    Hi Simon

    This is what I have found is effective. I have 13 outside fish ponds without filtration. The cost of filtration is prohibitive and will have a detrimental effect on the fish eggs and fry.

    I use water from the other ponds to initially fill a new pond. But the big help is to use water plants planted in Water lily containers. The plants are planted in gravel to facilitate root growth The porous nature allows better water flow than ordinary flower pots. I also use driftwood to provide additional media for the bacteria to colonise. This allows the local water skinks to escape the ponds avoiding drowning. However there is the ever present inconvenience of the tannin leaching into the water.

    What species of feeder fish are you intending to breed outside? I ask this because all of the species I breed outside are problematic for turtles.
     
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  4. smoyle

    smoyle Sub-Adult Turtle
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    Brilliant, thanks guys. I found this link too, which seems to have some sensible suggestions.

    Rodney, my intention was just to put gambusia in there - I catch more than I need, but really only over summer, so having a few up my sleeve over winter will help keep the plants in my tank fed. I don't really need to breed them, and I find they just eat their own young anyway.
     
  5. Rodney

    Rodney Juvenile Turtle

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    Hi Simon,

    Gambusia seem to be the hardiest of any of the live bearers available. If you wanted to assist the chance of fry to survive floating water plants will be effective. Also Azolla covering the surface of a pond during winter seems to have a blanket effect, keeping the surface temperature a little bit warmer.