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When you observe a fish exhibiting behaviors in your pond that you have not seen before, for example;
If any of these conditions are present in your pond water you need to check your water quality!
To do this we recommend that you purchase a quality water test kit such as API pond master test kit. They are available at most quality pet shops and over the Internet. These kits usually come with several graduated test tubes and various squeeze bottles containing different solutions of reactive test agents. Also supplied with these kits are instructions and color keys so that you can interpret the results of each test.
The items these kits test for are;
Here are the numbers you should strive for in your pond for happy and healthy fish;
The third thing you should do is a thorough pond cleaning;
Remove any debris i.e. dead leaves and settled solids from the bottom of the pond, Clean out your filters, Clean out your settling tank, Make sure your bottom drain/s have good water flow, clean out your surface skimmer basket or brushes.
Next you should do a 40% - 50% water change. Use a de-chlorinator like API brand if you are on city water. This product will Remove/detoxify all of the kinds of toxic nitrogen compounds in the water and all forms of ammonia, ammonium, nitrites & nitrates from the water, including the ammonia in chloramines.
If after a few days the water in your pond checks out to be within normal limits yet your fish are still showing signs of sickness, then we suggest you Isolate the fish, or fishes in question, from the rest of your pond into a “self” contained, (Isolated from the main pond water system), holding tank, with excellent water quality and adequate filtration. This Isolation Tank should also be “salted”.
Real water changes should be undertaken on a regular basis on one of the following schedules;
One of the determining factors in setting up your Water exchange schedule is related to the following criteria;
For this, if you are on city water, you need to use a de-chlorinator like AmQuell +©. This product will Remove/detoxify all of the kinds of toxic nitrogen compounds in the water and all forms of ammonia, ammonium, nitrites & nitrates from the water, including the ammonia in chloramines.
Remember folks the vast majority of Koi Ponds are closed eco-systems and except for some rain and the water you put in, there are no other sources of fresh water! And even with a moderate fish load Fresh Water doesn’t stay “Fresh” for long!
Failure to do pond water changes, on a regular schedule, allows the accumulation of of these compounds, such as phosphates and proteins which inhibit Koi and pond fish health and growth. Finally, water changes need to be done regularly in order to replenish the trace elements and minerals in the water which Koi fish need to reach their full potential.
Water Quality is by far the most important environmental factor for maintaining health fish. It is also the easiest to maintain. By not maintaining it will cause your prized Koi, Butterfly Koi and Goldfish to exhibit many behaviors related to stress which can look like it is suffering from some malady.
Water quality must be compatible with the requirements of the fish being held, especially with regard to ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, hardness, alkalinity, and salinity. Although initial water quality in a system will be determined by water source and water treatment regimes, the long-term water quality in a re circulating system depends on numerous factors. The most important considerations are the source of water in the system, fish load, feeding rates, and bio filter capacity.
Water from the source should be evaluated by an Aquaculture specialist and a water-testing laboratory before a system is established. Water from different sources may have different potential problems that must be addressed. Municipal water may contain chlorine's or chloramines; well water may contain hydrogen sulfide, supersaturated gases (such as nitrogen gas, resulting in gas bubble disease), high carbon dioxide levels, and low oxygen levels, or high dissolved iron levels, (all conditions that can be lethal to fish if not corrected); surface water sources may be high in bacteria or toxic chemicals resulting from run off.
The most common water quality problems in re circulating systems are toxic levels of ammonia or nitrite caused by imbalances between the capacity of the bio filter and the fish load and feeding rates. This problem often occurs during the start up of a system, although it may occur at any time. The bacteria in the bio filter can require three to eight weeks to cycle (i.e., become established) at 25–27°C (77–81°F) and even more time may be required at cooler temperatures (see UF/IFAS Fact Sheet FA-16 Ammonia). Aqua culturists will often begin this cycling process prior to the addition of fish by one of the following methods:
In established filters, toxic levels of ammonia and nitrite may result from overfeeding, crowding, or inefficient removal of solids (such as feces and uneaten food), resulting in breakdown of large quantities of proteins into ammonia. However, in addition to problems caused by source water issues, ammonia, and nitrite (described above), problems can also result from changes in water quality parameters that were previously acceptable. Parameters that can change over time in a system include dissolved oxygen (DO, decreases), alkalinity (decreases), carbon dioxide (can increase), and pH (decreases).
Low DO can occur during operation of a system as the result of many different causes. Some of these include: high stocking densities, inadequate water flow, inadequate aeration, high organic loads in the system that lead to large numbers of bacteria in addition to those in the bio filter, high feeding rates or the use of certain chemicals such as formalin (see UF/IFAS Fact Sheet VM-77 Use of Formalin to Control Fish Parasites). Re circulating systems with little loss or addition of water often undergo gradual pH drops, a result of gradual acid addition and alkalinity reduction in the system. The bacteria in the bio filter produce acid (H+) as a by-product of nitrification (the process occurring in the bio filter that converts toxic ammonia and nitrite into much less toxic nitrate). In other words, as ammonia is converted to nitrite and nitrite is converted to nitrate, Hydrogen ions (H+) are released into the water. This acid then uses up the carbonates and bicarbonates by combining with them (which essentially neutralize them), causing a reduction in alkalinity. Drops in alkalinity may also result in ammonia and nitrite spikes because, in addition to oxygen, ammonia, and nitrite, the bio filter bacteria require the bicarbonate portion of alkalinity for survival and growth.
Acids also come from the decomposition of uneaten food and fish wastes and from carbon dioxide released by the fish and bacteria in the water. All of these acid additions react with the bicarbonates and carbonates, removing them from the water and also leading to drops in alkalinity. In addition to alkalinity's importance for bio filtration, alkalinity is very important as a pH buffer. Components of alkalinity (especially carbonates and bicarbonates), as described above, neutralize acids, and help to prevent major drops in pH that would otherwise occur. However, if the alkalinity does reach a critically low level, the pH of the water will drop rapidly and have detrimental effects on the fish and bio filter. Minimum alkalinity levels recommended for good bio filtration range from 100–180 ppm (in particular, the levels of bicarbonate and carbonate ions). Holding species that thrive in lower pH and lower alkalinity, such as discus, can make maintenance of a balanced bio filter much more challenging.
Some management options to prevent this drop in alkalinity and pH and the potential rise in ammonia and nitrite include:
Other important water quality parameters that may require monitoring include hardness, salinity, organics, and conductivity. These parameters may increase over time in a system that does not undergo routine water changes, but is only “topped off.” In such a situation these parameters may reach levels that are not desirable for maintenance or reproduction of some fish species.
Heavy metals, such as copper, zinc, and lead, are also toxic to fish and may be present in the water source. If they are, methods to remove them should be considered (consult an Aquaculture or water filtration specialist), and system levels should be checked regularly. Additionally, heavy metals (such as copper or zinc) may be part of the hardware of the system (though this is highly undesirable) and may begin to leach into the water as the pH becomes more acidic. Check with an Aquaculture specialist for the best construction materials.