Putting in a new pond comes with lots of challenges. You built it perfectly with great filtration and put in the most amazing fish, but your ammonia is off the charts and you can’t get your filter to start cycling. (Cycling is the process wherein good bacteria convert toxic ammonia to toxic nitrite to safe nitrate.) There are many products out there that claim they can “quick start” your pond and get it cycling faster. Well, we’re here to tell you that these quick fixes do not work.
After trying several products to get our own hospital tanks cycling, we were forced to wait not-so-patiently until they started cycling naturally. Most systems will start to cycle between 4-6 weeks, MINIMUM (temperature dependent). To prove this point, the first day we tested positive for any nitrite was EXACTLY 4 weeks to the day that we added fish to our tank. We added several different products to our 4 separate hospital tanks to try and speed this process up, but to no avail.
The only way to ensure a faster start is to take biologic media (mats, beads, etc) from a pre-existing, cycling system and add them to the new biological filter. Since we were starting from scratch across the board, this option was not open to us. Keep in mind: differences in water chemistry and temperature can cause changes in your bacteria colonies. Transferring established media to a pond with very different water chemistry and temperature variations will not do you any good and will kill the pre-established bacteria.
Sorry, but you’re just going to have to wait.