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An introductory Course in Basic Koi Keeping

K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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Table of Contents
(In electronic version of this document, use “control + click” to jump to titled sections)

Typical obligatory disclaimer ........................................................................3 Do you have an emergency? .......................................................................3 Preface.........................................................................................................3 Acknowledgements ......................................................................................4 Overview ......................................................................................................4 What are Koi? ..............................................................................................5 History of Koi................................................................................................5 Questions to ask before you build a Koi pond..............................................6 Pond construction pitfalls .............................................................................7 Retrofits........................................................................................................9 Pond safety ................................................................................................12 S.A.F.E. Koi pond limits .............................................................................16 Filtration .....................................................................................................17 Water quality ..............................................................................................19 Buying Koi ..................................................................................................23 Feeding Koi ................................................................................................24 Beginners Koi health problem check list ....................................................25 Stress, handling & quarantine ....................................................................26 Koi behaviors and clinical signs of illness ..................................................27 Disease diagnosis and treatment...............................................................30 Koi viruses .................................................................................................33 Koi Varieties ............................................................................................. 355 Appendix .................................................................................................. 388 Emergencies and potentially appropriate responses ............................... 388 Index ........................................................................................................ 444
K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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Typical obligatory disclaimer
We have attempted to make all the information in this document accurate; however, we accept no responsibility for errors or omissions. We can’t and won’t be responsible for any misuse of this information or anything else foolish that you may do. So please be careful and responsible and when in doubt, seek competent help.

Do you have an emergency?
If you have had recent fish deaths and many or all of the rest of your fish look ill, you probably have an emergency and quick action is in order. Presuming you are a novice Koi keeper, you should enlist competent help. If you are unable to find such help, we suggest that you immediately do a big (>50%) pond water change and continue to seek help. Once the crisis is over, take action to prevent the problem from happening again. Note: the water change may not provide any benefits, and in fact may be detrimental, if the source water is the cause of your problem.

Preface
“If you do it right the first time, you won’t have to re-do it later.” These are words of wisdom that apply to many aspects of life and they certainly apply to Koi keeping. This hobby can be relatively easy or it can be difficult. Success is tied to the way you do it and that depends on either your knowledge of the subject or on luck. Stating the obvious, being knowledgeable puts you in control and is much better than hoping to be lucky. All of the people involved in the creation of this document have kept Koi for several (often many) years and have actively studied the science and art of Koi keeping. Many have been helped by other hobbyists and all would like to share their knowledge and be helpful to others. It is the goal and hope of those involved in this document that if you understand and apply the basic concepts and principles contained herein, you will avoid most common problems, have more success and thus gain more enjoyment from this hobby. If you desire more in-depth knowledge, additional information is available on the K.O.I. web site, www.koiorganisationInternational.org. First some caveats: These are the authors’ and contributors’ opinions, things that have worked for them and/or worked for others they know. They are almost certainly not the only way to be successful but at least they have actually worked in real life and are not just untested theories. K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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Next, an important word about costs: Keeping Koi is generally much more expensive than say keeping tropical fish or goldfish. It’s roughly about 10 times as expensive and that is if you don’t buy the expensive Koi. For example in the very early part of the 21st century, a pond cost about $1 per gallon if you built a liner pond and did the work yourself, $2 per gallon if you built a concrete pond yourself and about double those amounts if you had someone else build the pond for you. Like most other things, these costs tend to go up (and up) with time. If you are still with us, read on.

Acknowledgements
Section authors for, editors of, and direct or indirect contributors to this document include (listed in alphabetical order): Ken Austin, Cindy Badder, Mary Bailey, Lee Brouillet, Richard Carlson, Roddy Conrad, Spike Cover, Kevin Fuess, Duncan Griffiths, Roc Goudreau, Nancy Goss, Don Harrawood, Joe Hatfield, Wally Hathaway, Kathy Hoffman, Kris Jones, Joan King, Rich Little, Marie Loftis, Norm Meck, Chris Neaves, Karen Pattist, Bryan Reese, Tom Ross, Lois Salaun, Steve Salaun, Richard Strange and Kent Wallace.

Overview
Below is an overview of the basics of good Koi keeping. 1. Build and maintain an adequate system, including a pond with: a. Bottom drain(s) and skimmer(s) b. Good circulation (no dead water spots and good aeration) c. Adequate depth for your climate d. Adequate safety for humans, Koi and pets 2. Have a filtration system that: a. Is adequately sized and working properly b. Has a pre-filter (for solids removal) c. Has a bio-converter (to “neutralize” the ammonia and nitrite) d. Is easy to maintain 3. If you already have a system with problems, take action to fix those problems (consider retrofit solutions) 4. Don’t overstock your pond (for safety, have about 20 gallons of pond water per inch of fish) 5. Keep your system, including the water, clean 6. Do small frequent water changes – in general, more is better 7. Feed a good quality, balanced Koi food in amounts correct for the season and pond water temperature 8. Buy only healthy Koi; quarantine, observe and treat as necessary, all living things before adding them to your pond system; disinfect all non-living items before adding them to, or using them in, any of your systems 9. Learn how to diagnose and treat pond and fish problems K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Page 5 10. Have a Koi net, a tub, water test kits and emergency equipment on hand and know how and when to use them 11. Keep records on significant events relating to your pond and fish 12. Get to know at least one person who understands good Koi keeping well. The above is just an overview. Please consider reading the rest of this document. Should you seek even more information, K.O.I. offers a multitude of in-depth courses on a variety of Koi-related subjects. We hope you will continue to learn and thereby increase your enjoyment of the hobby.

What are Koi?
Koi are common carp that have been highly refined by selective breeding. More specifically they are carp that have been selectively bred from sports 1 or more colorful individuals of Cyprinus carpio (common carp), a species which is thought to have originated in the Middle East in lakes and slow moving rivers. Carp have been domesticated for about 2000 years and came to Japan by way of China.

History of Koi
Nishikigoi 2 , or Koi as we know them, originated in eastern Asia and were first cultivated by the Chinese and later introduced to Japan as food fish about eight hundred years ago. The story goes that Japanese rice farmers in the northern mountains kept common carp in their irrigation reservoirs to supplement their diet of rice and vegetables. During the winter, the Koi were housed in small ponds next to the owner’s house and, in some cases, inside the house by excavating a pond in the earthen floor of the home. They noticed that some of the carp were more colorful than others and kept those for breeding stock and as a hobby. This selectivity eventually lead to more colorful offspring. During an international exhibition in Japan in the first part of the 20th century, the rice farmers of Niigata presented the Emperor with colorful carp. This began the popularization of Koi. In western civilizations since the 1800’s, the advent of better roads, transport and communication brought forth an increased awareness of the world. With this came the popularity of public zoos and aquariums and as a result the popularity of fish keeping in peoples homes and gardens. The invention of the plastic bag made transporting Koi around the world much more practical. Koi are now raised in many countries, although Definition of “sport:” mutant: (biology) an organism that has characteristics resulting from chromosomal alteration. 2 Nishikigoi is a Japanese term that literally translates to “brocaded carp”. In Japan, Koi were originally called Hirogoi or Irogoi, but later they became known as Goi or Koi. The preferred name now is Nishikigoi, from the Japanese word “nishiki”, used to describe an expensive cloth of many colors imported from the Indian subcontinent into Japan and China hence Nishikigoi - “carp of many colors”. K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.
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Page 6 Japan has the culture that most advanced this hobby. We use Japanese terms to describe the Koi, and have gained much of our appreciation for Koi beauty from the Japanese. Many countries have Koi keeping societies or associations run by volunteers who readily share their knowledge with those new to the hobby. The internet has made this sharing of knowledge even more efficient. As you can see, what began as a farmer’s simple pastime of trying to produce a more colorful carp (previously only raised for food), has spread all over the world by hobbyists that are fascinated by the beauty of Koi.

Questions to ask before you build a Koi pond
The first and foremost question to ask your self is:

Are you prepared for the commitment of providing responsible care for your Koi?
• • • • Koi require a commitment of time, money and effort. Koi need proper nutrition. They will also periodically require medicines for diseases or injuries. Ideally, you should plan to purchase and learn to use a microscope, primarily for parasite identification. There will be expenses involved for basic water test kits and water additives such as dechlorinator and ammonia binder.

Before you consider entrusting the construction of a pond to a contractor 3 , ask the following questions of them and discuss these issues before you enter into an agreement. If you have chosen to build the pond yourself, these are questions you should ask yourself. If you cannot answer a question, seek help.

1. Have you checked with your local land use/zoning authority to see if a Koi pond is allowed?
This is possibly the first contact you should make. You may be forced to fence your pond in or even remove it if you have not done your zoning homework prior to construction.

Many pond contractors are trained for constructing landscape features, but a few actually understand the principles necessary for a good Koi pond. Do your homework. If your prospective contractor tells you that Koi can be kept in gravel bottomed 2 feet deep water garden, be very suspicious. Often the least expensive bid will wind up costing you many times more (in money and sorrow) than what you would have spent to have it done right by a contractor who specializes in, or at least understands, Koi ponds. Ask any prospective contractor if you may contact others for whom he has installed Koi ponds and then contact them. K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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2. Are there any geological conditions at your location that would prevent you from providing adequate pond depth?
If you live in a low lying area or experience seasonal flooding, or if you have very shallow soils, you may need to adjust your construction plans accordingly.

3. Does your prospective pond location have a balance of sun and shade?
A full-sun location can expose your Koi to sunburn as well as promoting excessive algae growth. While some shading is desirable, leaves and debris from overhanging branches will add to pond maintenance and detract from water quality. Your pond may benefit from adding some artificial shade.

4. Do you have adequate and conveniently-located sources of water and electrical power?
You will need both.

Pond construction pitfalls
After considering the safety of people and animals, Koi ponds need to be designed and constructed with a focus on Koi health and safety. Unfortunately, this is not always a priority for some pond builders who may be uninformed or have been grossly misinformed and tend to pass this misinformation on to their customers. This section covers some of the pitfalls that you might experience as you build your pond.

Rock work
Waterfalls, streams and edging constructed of rock often enhance the visual appeal of the pond. Submerged or low-hanging rocks that your Koi can contact may be a hazard. A safe pond design minimizes the rocks Koi can contact or uses a few rocks with smooth surfaces and edges.

Gravel and/or small-rock bottoms
The short version of our advice is: don’t use them. The facts are that waste material accumulates in the gravel and/or small rocks, decomposes and releases chemicals into the water that are toxic to Koi. Complete cleaning only once or twice per year is not a sufficient safeguard against pollution and bacteria issues caused by the waste buildup.

Bottom drains
Bottom drains move the water and heavier-than-water debris to the filtration equipment where the debris can be collected and removed. Not only can bottom drains be included in the initial design of the pond, but existing ponds can also be retrofitted with them. Water quality in ponds equipped with bottom drains is typically superior to those without them. K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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Waterfalls
Splashing increases water-to-air contact which helps saturate the water with oxygen (and is known as “aeration”). Increased aeration improves water quality and helps ensure the Koi have sufficient oxygen. Waterfalls are an ideal place to add dechlorinators because good and rapid mixing will occur there.

Poisonous plants
Plants near a pond may drop leaves, flowers or fruit into the pond. Some plants are mildly to extremely poisonous. Below is a list of plants suspected or known to be toxic and their toxic parts. The list has not been tested with Koi and is not meant to be all-inclusive, i.e., it probably does not include all plants potentially toxic to Koi. Often toxic plants are found in the same genera and this list can hopefully help you avoid planting species from a “family” that has known problems with humans and other pets. Pond owners should exercise caution when situating all plantings as any plant debris that enters the pond, toxic or not, will contribute to the decline of water quality. Amaryllis – bulbs Azalea/Rhododendron – all parts Baneberry - berries, roots Bird of Paradise – seeds Black Locust – all parts, especially pods Boxwood - leaves, stems Buttercup - all parts Calla Lily – all parts Cherry - pits Coral Plant – seeds Cotoneaster – all parts Daffodil - bulbs Datura – all parts Death Camas - all parts Eggplant - all green parts Elephants Ear - all parts English Ivy - berries Foxglove - leaves, seeds, flowers Hemlock - all parts Holly – berries Hyacinth – bulbs Hydrangea – all parts Indian Turnip - all parts Iris - bulbs Jack-in-the-pulpit - all parts Jasmine – all parts Java (Lima) bean - uncooked bean Lantana – all parts especially immature berries Laurel - all parts Locoweed - all parts Marijuana - all parts Mayapple - all parts but fruit Mistletoe – all parts Mock Orange – all parts Morning Glory - all parts especially seeds Narcissus – bulbs, leaves Oak - acorns, young shoots Pine - sap Poinsettia - all parts Potato - green parts Privet - berries, leaves Prunus varieties - seeds some Redwood - sap (from decks also) Rhubarb - leaves Ranunculus - all part Snapdragon - all parts Snowdrop - all parts Tiger Lily - all parts Tomato – non-fruit parts Tulip – bulbs Vinca/Periwinkle – all parts Yew – foliage, bark, seeds

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Retrofits
If you’ve found that your pond is not what you’d like it to be but you don’t want to tear it out and start over, you’re in the majority as most pond owners find themselves in this situation at one time or another. For you and others, retrofits are likely the answer. Below are some retrofit suggestions for typical situations. Note: If you’re not a do-ityourselfer and/or if you think your skills are not up to the tasks, please seek professional help. There are only a few specific examples included here. An entire course is planned by the KOI, Inc. group dedicated to retrofits. Please check their web site for further details: www.KoiorganisationInternational.org.

Pond problems
Pond too small. This is a difficult situation but you can leave part of your existing
pond in place and still increase your pond’s volume. This can be accomplished in a concrete pond by cutting out part of the pond, e.g., the pond bottom, adding structure to support the new portion and then using a Polyurea coating (professionally applied) to seal the finished form. If the pond was lined, additional liner may be sealed to the old liner using a minimum 12” overlap. Note that it is often cheaper in the long run to start over, and relegate the old pond to plants/goldfish.

Poor circulation. This is when very poor or no circulation occurs in a portion of the
pond. This can be “cured” by: • Routing part of the water returning to the pond into those areas • Adding small submersible pumps (often with a venturi) to circulate water in the areas • Often the addition of air stones in the “dead spots” can solve this problem.

Bottom drains needed. This problem can be the complete lack of any bottom drains
or the need for additional drains. Fixes include: • Cutting a hole in bottom of concrete pond for drain, tunnel under bottom (to make connection) with high pressure water, patch around added drain with water tight patch (see Piping thru pond wall section below), pipe to filtration and back-fill around excavation. If you’re not particularly handy, seek professional help with this modification. • Using commercially available sit-on-the-bottom units that have piping inside the pond and is connected to the filtration using either a thru-the-pond-wall connection or an up-and-over-the-wall connection.

Skimmer needed. The addition of a skimmer can aid significantly with removal of floating debris. No-niche skimmers may be added and operated either via gravity or off the suction side of a pump.

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Piping thru pond wall. In concrete ponds, a plastic pipe may be installed through the pond wall or bottom by the following sequence: Note: make sure adequate provision is made for connections once the pipe has been installed – usually a water-tight connection is required outside the pond. • Cut a hole (using a hammer-drill or hole-saw) 1” to 1.5” bigger than the outside diameter of the pipe, • Roughen and prime the OD of the pipe (to enhance adhesion), • Treat the inside of the cut or drilled hole with muriatic acid if the inside surface is not clean and/or if the hole is “old,” • Prepare a 50%-50% mix of #90 silica sand and plastic cement to the consistency of moderately stiff putty, • Pack the sand/cement mix tightly into the hole around the pipe that is inserted through the hole, and • Allow the mix to harden completely w/o disturbing the pipe. Note: making external connections prior to packing the hole with the sand/concrete mix can help hold the pipe steady.
In liner or fiberglass ponds, a pipe may be put through the wall or bottom by the following sequence: •

Purchase a bulkhead or bottom drain kit made for liner ponds. Below is a picture of the plastic pieces (plus rubber gasket) of a bulkhead kit.

Remove the rubber sealing gasket and use it as a pattern to cut the hole. Place the gasket over the area where the bulkhead will be installed and mark on the inside of the gasket. When cutting the hole in hard plastic or fiberglass it is best to use a hole saw. Use a sharp knife or other small blade to cut a clean hole when installing the bulkhead in a flexible pond liner. Apply a bead of silicone sealant to the gasket and place this on the wet side of the installation. Note: the “nut” portion of the assembly goes on the (dry) outside of the pond liner. The sealant will act as a lubricant to keep the liner from bunching up and also help to create a watertight seal. K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Page 11 Tighten the nut to the point that the gasket is crushed against the liner. Install a male adapter to attach your plumbing to the bulkhead. It is recommended to use a flexible pipe connector (or Fernco) and flexible piping to relieve any stress that could be exerted on these types of fittings. See example below.

Fernco Inc. coupling using Stainless Steel Hose Clamps.

Waterfall addition. Adding a waterfall after the pond is completed is one time when
nature works with us. Bringing the waterfall over top of the pond lip/wall is relatively easy (compared to making a water tight connection there) and helps ensure that leaks are minimized at the interface. The challenge then becomes to make the rest of the waterfall leak-tight. This is fairly easily done by using a liner. It is best to have professional help on this one.

Filtration problems
No pre-filter. This situation can be remedied, space permitting, by the simple addition
of a pre-filter. Both open and pressurized units are available commercially and some may be fashioned with DIY ingenuity. Below are some examples of pre-filter materials and a commercial unit.

Left –pre-filter matting. Right – pressurized pre-filter.

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Bio-converter(s) too small (inadequate for fish load). This problem is usually fixed by adding one or more bio-converters in addition to the existing one(s). Put the new additional bio-converters in parallel with the existing units for best results. Another possible solution is to increase the flow thru the existing bio-converters if they will still function effectively with the increased flow.

Pond safety
Below are questions that should be considered as you seek to ensure the safety of your pond.

Can anyone be electrocuted in your pond?
All electrical devices used to run a pond, including pumps for water and aeration, UV lights, decorative lighting, and even electrical outlets near the pond should be on GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) 4 protected circuits. There are three options available. First, common plug receptacles may be replaced with GFCI receptacles (as usually seen in bathrooms). Second, short extension cords with integral GFCIs may be used to connect devices to existing non-GFCI protected circuits. GFCI Receptacle GFCI Extension Cords

Third, existing circuit breakers in the main electric panel (or sub-panel) may be replaced with GFCI breakers (see pictures below). Most manufacturers suggest monthly testing and resetting. Check the recommended replacement interval in the instructions when buying a GFCI device.
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Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) devices help to protect against potentially lethal electrical shock. When a person touches energized electrical wires or components, some current may flow through the body to ground. The GFCI senses this as an imbalance in current, quickly trips off, stopping current flow through that circuit, and mitigating the harm of such electrical shocks to the body. K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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GFCI Circuit Breaker

Circuit Breaker Panel

Is there a quick way to turn off every device running the pond?
Disconnects should be close to all electrical equipment. A plug in a receptacle works well, but any electrical equipment that is wired directly (not just plugged in) should have a switch. All pond electrical equipment should have a way to be quickly disconnected or turned-off in an emergency.

Are there overhead electrical lines?
If you pond is located near or under electrical lines, consider having the lines relocated away from your pond. Many pole nets and pond skimming nets have metal handles. If metal handles contact the overhead lines, the person holding the net is in danger of electrical shock. The nets with fiberglass handles do not conduct electricity very well (except when wet) and thus reduce the likelihood of injury. But, they are not as good a precaution as relocating the electrical lines.

Are you safe from electrocution?
Never work around or in a pond when thunder storms are predicted or when you hear thunder. If you are close enough to hear thunder, the pond could be hit by lightning. Water does not attract lightning, but it does conduct current extremely well, and a nearby lightning strike could kill or injure you.

Will pond over-flow cause any problems?
Check where overflow or runoff water from the pond may end up. Not only do you not want to flood the neighbors’ (or your own!) basement, but check to see that there are no electrical outlets or features such as pole lamps that could be flooded by water K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Page 14 overflowing or being diverted around the pond. Below-pond-level (aka, “flooded”) pumps should be protected with a sump pump in the pump well.

Can someone drown in your pond?
Here is an example of a pond with a fence. However, behind and to the right of the pond, the fence is not very tall and looks like it could easily be climbed so it may not meet the building code requirements of many jurisdictions.

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Page 15 Here is a pond with good fencing.

Even if the local codes do not require a fence, one may be desirable to, for instance, keep the neighborhood kids safe and/or to protect your landscaping from deer or other animals.

Does your pond have a way out?
Even a shallow pond may be incredibly difficult to exit because the walls become slick with algae. A pond may be so slippery that it’s impossible to gain enough traction to get out. Some pond owners tie a floating polypropylene rope to something substantial and leave the loose end in the pond to aid egress. If the pond walls are vertical, having steps and handholds might help solve the problem. Note: any object submersed in the pond, even ladders and steps will get slimy and slippery!

Can someone easily fall into the pond?
Installing devices to increase traction on decks and smooth edging should be considered. When designing a pond for a household with small children, a raised pond edge can reduce the likelihood that the children will fall into the pond when they reach over to feed the Koi. All small children should be supervised when they are inside the pond fence.

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Do you have a safe, dry place to store pond chemicals and supplies?
Many chemicals used in ponds need to be kept dry. De-chlorinator and baking soda will both dissolve if they get wet. Some pond chemicals are toxic or combustible and should be stored in a location with restricted access.

S.A.F.E. Koi pond limits
Rules of thumb for stocking levels are not very meaningful by themselves 5 . What a Koi keeper should try to establish is a healthy environment for the fish. The SAFE Koi Pond Limits provide guidelines for accomplishing that goal. SAFE Koi Pond Limits S = stocking levels limited to no less than 10 gallons of water for every inch of fish in the pond- see “Total Length” in the illustration below for how the length of a fish is measured for this calculation. Note: this calculation needs to be revisited if and when significant growth occurs in the Koi, i.e., when fish grow, you need more water. A = aeration levels limited to no less that 80% of full saturation dissolved oxygen levels F = flow rate through bio-converter should be no less than 60 gpm (gallons per minute) for each pound of food fed to the fish each day. This minimum flow rate is scaled up or down in direct proportion to the feeding rate. E = emergency capacity for life support when other things fail. This is equal to double the pond volume after all minimum conditions above are met 6 .

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Very high stocking levels can be safely managed by adequate filtration and aeration as demonstrated by intense aquaculture operations. Therefore just a rule of thumb regarding stocking levels does not cover the situation most owners of Koi ponds face. The SAFE Koi Pond Limit formulae cover all the critical issues regarding a healthy habitat for your fish. E stands for emergency, meaning that even though the stocking (S) levels, aeration (A) and flow (F) through the bio-converter are adequate, there is some likelihood they will either functionally fail or fail to perform as expected. At that point an emergency situation exists until systems can be returned to a safe status where the lives and health of the fish are not in danger. The extra volume of water mitigates (not prevents) that emergency. The fish will have a greater chance of survival in the larger volume of water and the oxygen it holds. The SAFE formula requires pond owners to have double the amount of water needed to meet minimum requirements of “S,” i.e., safe stocking levels. This provides a safety factor (of 2).

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Filtration
Why are filters needed?
Wild fish that live in lakes or rivers have a large amount of water for the number of fish. By comparison, the gallons of water per Koi 7 in our garden ponds are so low, that our fish could not live very long without the help of filtration and water conditioning. The contamination that fish produce is toxic to them. The lack of sufficient filtration in a Koi pond 8 can lead to fish death. There is also usually an accumulation of leaves, pollen, and/or other debris in outdoor ponds. If this material is not removed relatively quickly, its decomposition will reduce water quality.

What type of filtration do you need?
In general, filtration systems are needed for two types of contamination, solids and chemicals. The solids are materials not dissolved in the water. Chemicals, on the other hand, are substances dissolved in the water. In your fish pond, the solids we are concerned with are mostly organics, e.g., things like feces, uneaten food, and plant material, including algae. The chemical contaminates in a fish pond are things such as ammonia, dissolved organic carbons, nitrite and nitrate. Filtration systems that perform both solids removal and chemical decontamination are needed for a Koi pond.

Why is solids removal important?
Typically the number of harmful bacteria in the pond water increases as the solids in the water increase. And, as the bacteria count goes up, there is a corresponding increase in the likelihood of the Koi contracting a bacterial disease. Another issue is that the solids may accumulate in the various filter components, clogging them and making them less functional with a subsequent reduction in water quality. Poor water quality is a leading contributor to Koi health problems.

Why is chemical decontamination important?
A Koi’s metabolism produces chemical contaminants that are released into the water. The most prominent of these is ammonia, which is toxic to Koi. Although it maybe slowly release into the water, ammonia can accumulate relatively quickly to toxic levels. The effective and continuous reduction of components such as ammonia keeps them at safe low levels.

Gallons of water per Koi ratio – knowing this ratio helps when making decisions about how many fish to keep in your pond and design decisions like filter and pump sizes and types. The process is: calculate or measure the number of gallons of water in the pond; then add up the total length (in inches) of the Koi; then divide the number of gallons by the total inches of Koi. [The SAFE “rule of thumb” is that you should have 20 gallons of water for each inch of Koi in your pond] 8 Koi pond – Since Koi can become very large fish as adults, a pond designed as a habitat for Koi must include the necessary volume, configuration and filtration for that purpose. A minimum pond size requirement should be met as determined by the gallons of water per inch of fish ratio. This means a Koi pond is designed differently than a pond intended for smaller fish or just plants.

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Can one filter or one filtration step handle both types of contaminants?
Combination filters (solids removal and chemical decontamination in one unit) may be acceptable in small volumes of water such as a home aquarium, but are usually not practical and effective for Koi ponds. Filtration systems and water conditioning systems can perform their functions in a variety of ways. A solids separator is usually positioned in the system before the chemical unit. This keeps the chemical decontaminating component cleaner and allows it to perform with less-frequent cleanings. Solid waste can be separated and/or removed from the water by: • Settling – heavy particles settle within the tank • Centrifuging – cyclone (spinning) separation • Filtering – mechanical exclusion or trapping • A combination of the above Chemical contamination can be handled by a variety of methods but by far the most common method is bio-conversion. With this method, bacteria residing in the bioconverter 9 change the relatively toxic ammonia to less toxic nitrate. Nitrate is then typically removed by water changes 10 . There are other beneficial biological activities but the ammonia to nitrate conversion is the most critical on an ongoing basis.

How is a Koi pond filtration system configured?
The pond needs to be designed such that contaminates move from the pond into the filtration system. This usually involved features like bottom drains, skimmers, and flow patterns that move contaminates toward and into the pond water outlets – see Pond construction pitfalls section. Additionally, a pumping device is required to push water to or from the filter system. A pump similar to what one would use for a swimming pool may be used. However, pumps that are specially designed for use in Koi ponds are usually a better choice. They are high-volume, low-pressure pumps and require less energy to operate a typical Koi pond filter system that needs to be operated continuously, i.e., 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Air-lifts have been successfully used to move water through filter systems in situations that lend themselves to this technology. Solid separators, bio-converter and water pump designs vary widely. Points to consider when selecting these devices are:
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Bio-Converter – a component in the filtration system where biological conversion of chemicals takes place. The bacteria involved in the bio-conversion process do not function freely suspended in the water; they need to be adhered to a surface. Bio-converters contain a media with plenty of surface area for bacteria to adhere and colonize. Since the bacteria are located in one place (the bio-converter), pond water must be circulated through the media in the bio-converter in order to accomplish the chemical decontamination of the pond water. Water changes are the periodic removal of some pond water and its replacement with fresh water. This is a necessary practice or chemical contamination will continue to accumulate until it reaches levels harmful to the Koi. The guidelines for water changes recommend replacing a minimum of 10% of the pond volume every week, however and in general, the more water changed, the better it is for fish health.

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• • • •

Page 19 Functionality – (Does it work well?) Ease of maintenance – this is a biggie! If it’s not well maintained, it won’t do the job and if it’s easy to service, you’ll likely do it more regularly. Size – (Will it fit in your yard and system, nicely?) Cost – initial (purchase), maintenance and running costs

One of the best ways to choose components for your system is to ask others what components and systems they have and what they like and dislike about them. Koi clubs can provide a good source of this information as can the internet. However as with all things, maintain a healthy skepticism particularly for information from sources that have not been proven reliable. Gather information and then verify and evaluate it using reliable sources and your common sense.

What are some filtration system components I should consider?
Pre-filter or settling tank - Used for solids removal, this is essentially a large container through which water flows very slowly, allowing heavier-than-water solid matter to settle to the bottom. The settled debris is then flushed away during cleaning. Mechanical filter- Used for solids removal, this is a container which contains mechanical devices such as brushes, matting, shredded PVC, sand and/or gravel. One variation is a pressurized container that contains a screen or other filtration media such as small cylindrical or round (bead-like) materials. Bio-converter- Used primarily for ammonia reduction; this is a container which contains high surface-area media that encourages the growth of large numbers of beneficial bacteria. Air is sometimes introduced to enhance the effectiveness of the media. These units may sometimes be pressurized. Ultra Violet (UV) Light – Used to control floating or suspended algae (the algae that causes green water). Intense UV light can kill the algae.

Water quality
Warning: If you have very limited knowledge and/or expertise in the section’s topics, you should seek competent advice as the recommended water tests require specific equipment and knowledge with which you may not be familiar. Also, you may not be familiar with some of the clinical signs that Koi exhibit when the water quality is poor. Maintaining good water quality is difficult if you do it wrong and relatively easy if you do it right. The trick, like many things in life, is to know right from wrong. "Keep good water you will avoid many problems" is a widely held truism in the Koi hobby that has evolved after much collective experience. A common misconception is that clear water is good water. The fact is clear water is not necessarily good water. Water being clear is primarily for the hobbyist's benefit. We like to see our fish and it helps us determine their health status. Clear water can contain many harmful K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Page 20 components that are not visible. Regular water testing is recommended to monitor these invisible components. Testing can allow you to take corrective action before little problems become serious. Below is a discussion of such issues.

Ammonia (NH3)
This is a toxic inorganic chemical made up of nitrogen and hydrogen. Any detectable level (by hobby test kits) of ammonia in the pond is cause for concern. Ammonia gets into your pond from several sources: • Usually and primarily from the gills of the fish. • Immature filtration systems are likely inadequate to properly reduce ammonia. • Mature filtration systems can be damaged and/or rendered inadequate by chemicals and/or by clogging. • The decomposition of organics releases ammonia into the water • If your tap water contains chloramines, using a dechlorinator alone will release ammonia from the chloramine. The additional use of a binding agent for ammonia is recommended. Routine tests of your pond water for ammonia are recommended and a satisfactory test result is no detectable ammonia. The use of two or three-reagent salicylate-based test kits are recommended as they may be used effectively with most ammonia binders. These kits show yellow with no ammonia and turn progressively more blue-green with increasing ammonia in the test water. The use of one-reagent Nessler-based test kits (clear to yellow-orange with increasing ammonia) is discouraged as they produce false readings when ammonia binders are present.

Nitrite (NO2)
Nitrite is formed when bacteria process the ammonia. The amount of nitrite in the water is then reduced when another group of bacteria convert it to nitrate. High nitrite levels occur when this second group of bacteria is slow to develop in a new filtration system, or when these bacteria have been damaged or overloaded. Causes of such damage or overloading include over feeding, over stocking, an undersized filtration system, dirty filters, low oxygen levels, low pH or the presence of toxic chemicals. Routine tests of your pond water for nitrite are recommended and a satisfactory test result is no detectable nitrite. Fish with nitrite poisoning maybe sluggish, flash or in severe cases, die from lack of oxygen. The gills will take on a brownish or grayish color as the nitrite crosses the gill, binds with hemoglobin, inhibits oxygen uptake and turns the blood brownish.

Carbonate hardness (KH)
KH is the safety net that keeps the pH from swinging drastically. However, it can be confusing to find the terms carbonate hardness, alkalinity, total alkalinity and the abbreviation KH as used by test kit manufacturers to mean essentially the same thing. You can think of KH as being a chemical sponge (also known as buffering capacity) for acid. Being aware of KH is important because much of the biochemical activity in the pond results in acid (released into the water). Sufficient KH allows the ponds pH to K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Page 21 remain relatively constant (see pH discussion below). When the KH level drops too low, it can no longer effectively regulate the pH and that parameter may drop into the harmful (acid) range. This can damage or kill plants, fish and the beneficial bacteria in the bio-converter. For this reason, the KH test is particularly important. Routine tests of your pond water for KH are recommended and a satisfactory test result is a level above 80 ppm (this has a small safety factor included). If regular water changes aren’t enough to maintain the KH, you can add cheap, un-odorized baking soda (sodium bicarbonate – note this is not washing soda). KH levels can be safely (and slowly) raised to 200 ppm.

General hardness (GH)
GH is the measure of calcium and magnesium ion concentrations dissolved in the water. Low GH can be a problem when the source water is lacking these mineral ions. Unlike alkalinity (KH), general hardness (GH) isn't consumed in any substantial amount by biological or chemical activity in the normal pond. Calcium is necessary and is consumed in small amounts by fish to build bones and regulate certain internal processes, but the amount is fairly small. A reading above 20 ppm is normally acceptable. Calcium chloride may be added to increase GH and/or calcium levels.

Nitrate (NO3)
Nitrate is produced by bacterial activity. It is the second step in the biological conversion of ammonia. While nitrate is not usually considered to be acutely toxic, if it is allowed to accumulate in ponds, it can cause fish health problems. Water changes help keep nitrate under control. Routine tests of your pond water for nitrate are recommended and a satisfactory test result is nitrate levels below 20 ppm.

pH
pH tells us if our pond water is acidic or basic (basic is sometimes called alkaline). A reading of seven (7) is neutral. Below seven is acidic while above seven is basic. Normally Koi can tolerate a fairly wide pH range, but a rapidly fluctuating pH will stress them and can lead to shock and even death. Therefore, attempts to adjust the pH in your pond water are not recommended except in emergencies. If fish are allowed to adapt they can tolerate ranges between 6.5 and 9.0. The bacteria in your filtration system only function reasonably well within a similar pH range. In ponds where there is no buffering reserve, a simple event such as rain or overgrowth of algae can cause the pH to change to unacceptable levels. To test for this, it is recommended to test the pH in the early morning and late evening to see if the pH has changed significantly. When the pH drops too low, the fish will lose their appetites, lie on the bottom of the pond, show signs of red streaking in the fins and body, and can eventually die. When the pH drops below four (4.0), death can occur quickly. K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Page 22 Increasing the pH is usually as simple as adding common baking soda slowly to the water (see Carbonate hardness, above). Decreasing the pH is not advised unless it is dangerously high.

Oxygen (O2)
Fish need oxygen to survive. The fact that oxygen is slightly soluble in water is what allows fish to live in it. By promoting a high oxygen level (at or near the water’s oxygensaturation limit), we help assure healthy fish. Koi gasping at the surface is a sign something is wrong. As water temperature increases, the oxygen saturation level in your pond drops. This can be especially troublesome at night time when the plants (including algae) also consume oxygen. Oxygen is in air. Good mechanisms for getting oxygen into the water are: spray-bars, waterfalls or air pumps with air-stones. In general, the more water movement or splash, or the more noise, the more likely the water is approaching or reaching (oxygen) saturation.

Dissolved organic carbons (DOCs)
Dissolved organic carbons (DOCs) are just what the term implies: organic materials that are dissolved in the water. Organic material can come from a variety of sources including plants, uneaten food and fish waste. DOCs may “show” themselves as bubbles on the surface of the water, e.g., foam on the water and/or as a yellowy tinge in the water. Elevated organics in the pond may depress the fish’s immune system which can lead to increased susceptibility to disease. Some fish parasites thrive in high DOCs. Additionally, while organic material decomposes, it consumes oxygen. This may lead to a shortage of oxygen for the fish. Some common causes of a DOCs buildup include a lack of water changes, lack of pond and plant maintenance and over stocking. Correcting these problems will help control DOCs.

Dechlorinators and ammonia neutralizers
City municipalities usually either add either chlorine or chloramine to their water to make it safer for human consumption. Unfortunately, both of these chemicals are toxic to fish. Chloramine is a combination of both ammonia and chlorine and is the choice of many cities because it is more stable than chlorine alone. It is not uncommon for cities to increase the amount of these chemicals in the water during flooding, piping repairs or other incidences of possible increased contamination in the water. It is important to check what types of chemicals are added to your water source and their concentrations so that water added to the pond can be made safe. Sodium thiosulfate works well to neutralize chlorine and will also break the chlorineammonia bond of chloramine and neutralize the chlorine. However since chloramine is a combination of both ammonia and chlorine, a chemical which neutralizes both should be used with containing chloramine. There are several products on the market, such as Ultimate®, and ClorAm-X®, that neutralize both the ammonia and the chlorine in chloramine. No large amount of water (greater than 10% of the total system volume) K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Page 23 should be added to the pond without using the correct chemicals to neutralize the chlorine or chloramines.

Carbon dioxide (CO2)
Carbon dioxide (CO2) dissolved in water is something that can affect fish but is normally not a parameter hobbyists need to worry about, especially in ponds with adequate aeration. CO2 is a gas and most of us know it as bubbles in carbonated beverages. It is very soluble in water as compared to say oxygen (CO2 is about 1.45 g/l as compared to oxygen at 8.2 mg/l at 25ºC) but is not very prevalent in the atmosphere (CO2 averages about 0.032% by volume compared to oxygen at about 21%). Carbon dioxide is introduced into pond water by fish respiration, plant respiration and by the aerobic decomposition of organic materials. Dissolved CO2 can affect the fish in the following ways: • Can inhibit the fish’s uptake of oxygen; • Can cause the water to become more acidic; and • Contributes to the growth of algae and other submerged plants that compete with fish for oxygen during low-light times. The best way to keep dissolved CO2 from becoming a problem is with good aeration.

Organic solids
Organic solids are the organic materials that are not dissolved into the water. These particulates can be suspended in the water or found on surfaces. They come from several sources including plants, uneaten food and fish waste. This material is a food source for organisms and the process of converting food to energy consumes oxygen and produces ammonia. Fine suspended particles can also clog gills and impair their function. And, they can clog filters and interfere with the bio-conversion process. The average pond owner controls organic solids by using the proper mechanical filtration and routine filter cleanings.

Buying Koi
Buying Koi is not significantly different from buying most other things in that the customer should have reasonable product knowledge, know the reputation of the dealer and know a reasonable price for the product. Talk to fellow hobbyists and get their perspective on various dealerships, the dealers’ product pricing and the hobbyists’ experience with them. Talk to the dealer and ask them about their Koi, if and how they quarantine incoming stocks and what you can expect from them in the way of support and any guarantees or warrantees. A look around the dealer’s facility will give you a good idea of their attention to cleanliness and the details. Clean and neat is obviously K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Page 24 better than unkempt and sloppy. Look at the displays and observe the apparent health of the fish. Never acquire fish from a system that contains a sick, dying or dead fish and always try to buy from a dealer with whom you feel comfortable. Until you become experienced and successful at Koi keeping, it is recommended that you purchase only small, relatively inexpensive Koi (less than $50 each). Small Koi are not as hardy as larger fish and if you are successful with small fish, you’ll have a better chance to successfully keep the bigger fish. And, only after you have at least a year of successful keeping, is it recommended that you buy somewhat more expensive Koi (less than $200 each). Even then, it is recommended that you wait at least two years before you consider buying the higher-end fish (more than $500 each). This waiting period not only allows you to hone your skills as a keeper but it allows your pond and filter system to mature through a couple of seasons. This should “settle” your system (allow it to come to a balance) and it should be more stable, which is a highly desirable condition for successful Koi keeping. Buying fish online requires similar but a slightly different approach. First, ask others about their experiences with the prospective online retailer. Then look at the dealer’s web site to see what support and/or guarantees the dealer can or will provide. Also look at the terms and conditions of the sales, the shipping costs and any alternatives available. If you decide to buy online, it is recommended that you place a smaller trial order and evaluate the experience before proceeding further. In Koi keeping, as with many other things in life, patience is a virtue and it definitely has its rewards.

Feeding Koi
Koi need a diet that maintains their health and lets them achieve their potential size and beauty. Unlike wild carp, they generally have available only what you give them. Here are a number of simple facts about Koi and tips about feeding to help ensure they grow and thrive. 1. Koi have a short and simple digestive system, without a stomach. They are omnivores and can digest and utilize only part of the plant material they eat, i.e., the carbohydrate portion. The indigestible part is the cellulose of the plant cell walls but that is also beneficial to the digestive system as fiber (roughage). Caution: koi get all the carbs they need from their pellet food, i.e., they do not need supplements in the form of bread, rice, Cheerios, or other high carb foods. 2. Feed your Koi according to the water temperature: • Below 50º F, (10 º C.) do not feed • From 50º F to 59º F (10º - 15º C) feed once per day, half usual amount. • From 60º F to 68º F (15º – 20º C) feed once or twice per day. • From 68º F to 86º F (20º – 30º C) feed twice or more per day. • Above 86º F (30º C) do not feed K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Page 25 3. Feed only what the fish can eat in 5 minutes; skim off any remaining food. Feed less, more often. It’s better to underfeed than overfeed as there is a limit to what the Koi’s gut can absorb. The excess ends up in the water and the filter. 4. Read the label. Food package labels show a list of nutrients and ingredients. The first nutrient is usually protein; this should be at least 35%. Avoid “winter” foods that have less protein. Feeding low protein foods should be avoided. 5. Ingredients: These are listed in descending-percentage order (i.e., the highest percentage first) on the label. To ensure a proper balance of nutrients, most foods contain fish meal. This should be one of the first ingredients. Others to look for are fish oil, for the same reason. Look for Vitamin C, the stabilized form has “ascorbyl” in the name. Avoid ingredients like lard and feather meal. 6. Storage and handling: Freshness is important. Vitamins and other nutrients are quickly degraded by heat, light, and oxygen. Keep food dry and in air tight containers in a dark, cool place. Choose foods with a date of manufacture or at least a “sell by” date and only buy enough to use it up before it goes stale. Stale or rancid smelling food should never be fed to your Koi as it can harm them. 7. Try not to throw food and walk away. Often, the only time you can get a good look at your fish is when they are up and eating. Check them for wounds, sores, and odd behavior. If one fish doesn’t come up with the rest, it can be a sign of illness.

Beginners Koi health problem check list
Monitor your pond frequently to check on the health and safety of your fish. If you suspect something is wrong, this checklist will provide some clues about the potential problem. More detailed information on how to respond to these issues is available in the Disease diagnosis and treatment section and in the Emergencies and potentially appropriate responses section in the Appendix. 1. Water quality – Has the filtration equipment been properly maintained and cleaned lately? Is all the equipment turned on and functioning? Perform tests on ammonia, nitrite, and pH – are these parameters within safe limits? 2. Water aeration - Has the aeration equipment been properly maintained and cleaned lately? Is all the equipment turned on and functioning? Low oxygen levels can occur early in the morning especially during hot weather and/or if there are a lot of algae in the pond. 3. Water temperature – NOT air temperature. Extreme cold temperatures below 40° F (5° C) can cause shock symptoms and reduced immunity. Warm temperatures above 85° F (30° C) can cause stress and harmful changes in dissolved oxygen, ammonia and pH levels. 4. Koi’s behavior and appearance – see Koi behaviors and clinical signs of illness.

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Stress, handling & quarantine
Stress
Koi are susceptible to stress and may take as long as several months to recuperate from a particularly stressful event. Stress can have a chemical cause (like poor water quality) or a physical cause (like being chased by a Heron), and even a perceived threat can trigger a stress response. A single stressor may reduce the capacity of Koi to tolerate additional stressors. Stress may be exhibited in Koi as general redness in the Koi’s skin, fins or bleeding from the gills, but most often, stress cannot be seen. Stress compromises the Koi’s immune system, and a weakened immune system may allow the Koi to become sick from something that normally wouldn’t have been a problem. Additional stress may be fatal while the Koi is in a weakened state from a previous stressor, and therefore stress may be thought of as cumulative. Stress reduces the Koi’s slime coat production, which is their first line of defense against parasites, bacteria and osmotic imbalance. Following any stress, it is important to assure that the Koi’s slime coat is working as close to optimal as practical. Slime coat disruptions may be partially compensated for by the addition of artificial slimeenhancing/replacing chemicals. Disruptions in slime coat, in addition to a compromised immune system, are thought to be the most important factors for why Koi get sick after they have been stressed.

Catching/Handling Koi
The best way to catch Koi is by using two people, a specially made pole net and a tub and by moving slowly. If the pond is very large, the use of a seine net can also be helpful. Avoid rough contact between the Koi and the net – rather, use it to slowly guide Koi towards the tub. Koi should not be lifted out of the water with a net, regardless of the Koi’s size although larger Koi are especially subject to injury if lifted. All Koi depend on water to support their body weight, and larger Koi can be seriously damaged by being lifted without proper support. Most Koi tubs are round and made of thick blue, low-density polyethylene plastic. Ideally the tub should be larger in diameter than the length of the Koi. While the Koi is being gently guided toward the tub with a net held by one person, another person should be holding the tub. The tub should be tipped vertically so that at least ½ the tub is submerged with the open side of the tub facing the Koi. The biggest mistake typically made is that it is floated horizontally and just submerged in the water. The Koi must then be forced up and over the lip. The Koi tends to panic and is stressed. Keeping the tub vertical and about ½ to ¾ submerged and swimming the Koi into the tub slowly will greatly reduce capture stress. Once the Koi is in the tub, it should be slowly tipped to the horizontal position. If moving Koi a short distance, cover the tub with a net and carry the tub. If Koi need to be moved longer distances, bag them just as they presumably were when they were purchased. K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Page 27 It may be useful to take the K.O.I. course on Transporting Koi, or to seek help from the authors group if you want/need to learn more about bagging and/or transporting Koi.

Quarantine
Always quarantine Koi when they are new (to your system) or any time they have been moved off the premises and may have come in contact with other Koi and/or potential pathogens. Koi transport can cause stress and stress can upset a Koi’s ability to regulate body-fluid pressures and composition. One goal of quarantine is to help the Koi reverse this stress-induced upset by providing a quiet time during which the Koi can adapt and regain the necessary control of body functions. It allows the Koi’s immune system to recoup and time to adjust to a probably new feeding routine. It is also easier to evaluate and treat sick Koi in a tank isolated from other fish and it prevents the spread of disease to those other populations. If the Koi are highly stressed or injured, add ~0.36% salt 11 to the quarantine tank. This allows the Koi to expend less energy on balancing fluids and salts and allows resources to be used for healing and adaptation. Do not crowd Koi in a quarantine tank – allow 100 gallons per adult Koi. Quarantine the Koi for three to four weeks at 70 ºF to 80 ºF. An aquarium heater (or heaters) with a thermostat may be helpful to maintain temperatures, and it maybe helpful to insulate the system. During the last week of quarantine, a pond owner may add a Koi from their existing collection into the quarantine tank. New Koi may introduce new bacteria to the pond, and while those bacteria may not be harmful in the long run, they may cause the existing pond inhabitants to initially become ill. The existing Koi may have the same effect on the new Koi, so a period of observation and adaptation is a good reason to find out the effects of mixing the populations while the Koi can be closely observed. In general, Koi being held in quarantine tanks should be fed lightly. Use a fresh, highprotein, high-quality, complete Koi food, and offer no more than a small amount twice a day.

Koi behaviors and clinical signs of illness
Koi ownership involves a responsibility for the health of the animals. The diseases and health problems that effect Koi can be perplexing. It is encouraging to know that in most cases, knowing the cause of the problem and making a few corrections can make your Koi well again. The diagnosis of the problem can begin with observing how the Koi looks and how it behaves, knowing and noting what is normal and what is not. For
Salt treatments require reasonable care in preparation. The salt must be at least 99.5% pure with no minerals or other additives, particularly YPS. Sea salt, non-iodized table salt, rock salt and ice cream salts are usually acceptable. Always read labels – manufacturers often change package ingredients. A 0.36% solution is prepared by adding three pounds of salt per 100 gallons of water.
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Page 28 information about treatments, refer to the Diagnosis and treatment section. Below are some behaviors and clinical signs of illness of which you should be aware.

Behaviors
Schooling – It is normally not a sign of illness but stress when you see Koi schooling (crowd close together and swim as a group). Any perceived threat such as a net put in the pond will likely cause them to school. Flashing - When a Koi flashes it appears to swim towards the side or bottom of the pond and quickly turns, rubbing itself on that surface. This generally exposes the usually pale underbelly so you glimpse a “flash” of light-colored skin. Flashing can be caused by changes in pH, temperature, by toxins or by parasites. Piping - When Koi gulp at the surface of the water (at times other than when feeding), it is called “piping.” This indicates a need for oxygen due to damage to the gills, low availability of oxygen in the water or other problems. Koi that need oxygen will also tend to stay under waterfalls or around rising air bubbles. Isolation – When Koi are not well, they will often isolate themselves from the rest of the Koi in the pond. Clamped fins - Koi that have one or more of their fins clamped are exhibiting another sign of problems. If they are sitting on the bottom of the pond with their pectoral fins clamped to their sides (and it’s not night when they “sleep” like this), you should investigate. Having a microscope and being able to do a scrape 12 might help identify the problem. Most Koi clubs have knowledgeable members with a microscope if help is needed. Head shaking - Koi may shake their heads from side to side if they have a parasite problem or if they have something stuck in their mouth or gills. Jumping - An unhappy Koi can also try to jump out of the pond, tank or tub. This can be caused by overcrowding, bad or rapidly changed water conditions or a newly introduced Koi will sometimes react to the strange environment by jumping. Lying over – It is normal for Koi to sit on the bottom at times, but when their body is not in the upright position but rather on its side, this is typically called “laying over” or the “laying down disease.” This is can be a bacterial infection and/or the result of severe stress, such as cold shock or chlorine/chloramine exposure.
A scrape (or a “scraping”) is a term used to describe a technique used to diagnose external parasites attached to the Koi’s skin, fins or gills. A Koi’s body is typically covered with mucus and scraping and examining this mucus layer will often disclose any parasites present. A sample of this mucus is typically obtained by using a plastic slide cover-slip to “scrape” the skin, fin or gill and pick up a sample of the mucus on the plastic. This sample can then be placed (with a drop of pond water) on a slide and viewed under a microscope.
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Page 29

Hanging in the water - Another sign a Koi is not well is the Koi ”hanging” in one place with its tail up or down, i.e., not level. This can be a symptom of an infection, and an immediate treatment is in order. Swimming style – Your Koi should be able to swim in a strong straight line with what appears to be little effort. Any difficulties in swimming or keeping their body in the normal upright position are signs of problems. Normal behavior - Koi are very social creatures and will normally swim all around the pond. Try to feed in one spot so they know where to come for food. Look for this normal behavior every time you visit the pond and investigate when you see something abnormal. ADR – When a Koi is referred to in this way, it is slang for “ain’t doin’ right.” In other words: the Koi is acting in a way that is different than the normal behavior of a healthy fish.

Other clinical signs
Dropsy – This is a condition where many, if not most, of the scales are sticking out from the body (much like a pine cone) and the Koi appears to be puffed up. Dropsy symptoms are caused by an inability to rid the body of excess fluid. By the time a Koi shows signs of dropsy, it may be too late to save it, but reports of recovery are not unheard of. Immediate medical treatment is in order. If you have little or no knowledge on how to handle the situation, try to find someone who does and enlist their support. Some Koi with dropsy also show protruding eyes but this condition can also occur if the water conditions are not good. Gill problems – Diagnosis requires lifting the gill cover and looking at the color and condition of the gills. Seek competent help if you do not know how to do this. Pale pink or brown color, patches of white or grey and a tattered appearance are all signs of disease. Fin problems – Look for any abnormal condition – tattering, discoloring, red streaks or reddish coloring, and wounds or tumors are all indications of disease. Underside problems – Visualization usually requires either holding the Koi and rolling it over or putting it in a plastic bad and viewing it from underneath. Seek competent help if you do not know how to do these things. Bacterial infections will appear as red spots or open sores in the skin. If you observe your Koi during feeding, it is sometimes possible to see the undersides of your fish. Body abnormalities – Look for any abnormal spots of color. Small white spots can be the signs of parasites. Wounds and tumors will have an abnormal color. Sometimes an abnormal spot of color is a benign condition, but often it indicates disease.

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Disease diagnosis and treatment
Warning: If you have very limited or no knowledge/expertise in the section’s topics, you should seek competent help as the chemicals named in this section can present a very real danger to you, and your Koi, if not properly used. Prescription medications can legally only be obtained from a veterinarian. Here are a few things that need to be mentioned up front: • If you keep Koi long enough, you can bet that sooner or later you will be putting chemicals into your pond to combat a real, or a perceived problem. With this in mind, the following short descriptions are an attempt to give you a preview of what to expect and point you in the right direction. It’s not in any way an attempt to fully equip you with all you need to know in this area. You could also be forgiven for thinking this section was designed to put you off keeping Koi altogether. This is not the case. It is, however, an attempt to inform you what you can expect and information is power. • It’s always best to know what’s wrong with a Koi before you treat it. If not, it’s a bit of a crapshoot and just like a crapshoot, often the outcome is negative. • Most problems can be avoided by keeping “good water.” Another way to say this is that bad water causes many of the problems in Koi keeping. Good water test kits that are used regularly and regular partial water changes (at least 10% weekly) can go a very long way toward keeping you and your Koi from the problems discussed in this document. • Many treatments require, or are better administered under, anesthesia. • Most chemical treatments are temperature sensitive; do not administer any of them below 55º F (water temperature). When you suspect your Koi have problems, the first thing to determine is the likely or apparent severity of the problem and then to respond accordingly

Crisis management
If you have an immediate and serious crisis (some fish dying and many don’t look good), usually (“usually” is the key word here) the best thing to do is a big water change using a chlorine and ammonia binder (see: Water quality section) and then decide what to do next. Exception: This may not be the thing to do if the source water is the problem or if chemical treatments are immediately needed that would be inactivated by the chlorine and ammonia binders. Again, if you have a Koi problem and you have little or no knowledge on how to handle the situation, try to find someone who does and enlist their support.

Differential diagnosis
This is a logical way to determine what is causing the observed clinical signs of a problem. Presuming you’re fairly knowledgeable, you can identify what could have K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Page 31 caused the observed signs then do a series of what are normally called “rule-outs,” i.e., tests that rule out (or in) various possible causes. Listed in the tables below are common causes of disease and the usual method of diagnosis. Infectious diseases Cause Parasites – small organisms, many are microscopic, that live on or in the Koi and obtain their nutrition from the fish. Typically, these organisms facilitate a bacterial infection that sickens the Koi further. Bacteria – microscopic single cell organisms that invade the cells or tissue of Koi and cause disease Diagnosis Most parasites require a microscope to detect and diagnose. If you don’t have one, you’d best find someone who does and knows how to use it.

Fungus – microscopic organisms that live and grow by decomposing and absorbing organic material such as the tissue of a Koi’s body

Swim bladder problems – buoyancy problems

Virus – an ultramicroscopic organism that invades the cells of a host such as a Koi, usually causing disease

Bacteria often gain entry to the body of Koi through the tissue damage done by parasites (This is known as a “secondary infection”). This can be seen as redness, swelling or tissue damage (ulcer). Accurate specific diagnosis usually requires a qualified lab. Fungi often use the tissue damaged by a bacteria as a food source (again, a secondary infection). Sometimes the fungal organisms are visible without a microscope. Accurate diagnosis usually requires a qualified lab. Behavior changes such as Koi sinks to bottom when not actively swimming; or the Koi may lie over or become inverted. Seek professional help. Behavioral and physical changes are often the first clue of a viral infection. Accurate diagnosis requires a qualified lab.

Non-infectious diseases including those caused by stress and/or trauma: Cause Bad water quality (chemical or particulate) – any contaminant in the water that has a negative effect on the Koi’s health (other than a biological contaminant) Mechanical - cuts, wounds, abrasions, sunburn Diagnosis Usually diagnosed by water testing

Lesions or other physical signs usually obvious from looking at the fish

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Cause Electrical shock – often from malfunctioning electrical equipment and sometimes from lightening Cold shock – a response to very cold or rapidly dropping water temperatures Tumors - a swelling or lesion formed by an abnormal growth of cells - can be external or internal

Diagnosis Typically a “bent-body” look as the Koi tries to swim but cannot straighten out its body Behavior changes such as lying over on the bottom of the pond/tank The skin tumors are usually obvious from looking at the fish and the internal tumors often appear as a swelling. Seek professional help. Accurate diagnosis requires a qualified lab. This leads to inflammation and a probable infection with subsequent behavior changes and physical signs. Seek professional help.

Egg binding – a condition in female Koi where they are unable to pass their eggs

Treatments
A word to the wise: A chance to treat is a chance to kill. Please be careful! Other diseases and treatments are presented in K.O.I.’s Levels 2 and 3 courses. Note: treatments frequently require the dose to be measured and this typically requires a scale measuring in grams with sensitivity to at least one decimal point (0.1 gram) or in the case of liquids, a way to measure milliliters, typically a graduated cylinder. Listed in the tables below are common diseases and their recommended treatments. Warning: If you handle the fish, it is recommended that you wear appropriate gloves to protect against pathogens being transmitted to you from the fish and/or water.

Disease or Trauma

Recommended Treatment (see label for dosing instructions)

Parasites Protozoan parasites (e.g., Ich - a.k.a. white Formalin, formalin & malachite green or spot, chilodinella, trichodina, & costia) Proform-C® (commercial product) Flukes Praziquantel, Supaverm (commercial product), or chloramine-T Anchor worm & fish lice Dimilin Bacteria Most infections involve gram negative • Most treatments require warm, near bacteria perfect water to be effective • Water treatments: pond, tank or bathe – involves a chemical treatment such as potassium permanganate • Skin treatments – clean and remove K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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Disease or Trauma

Recommended Treatment (see label for dosing instructions)

dead tissue from wound or lesion, then disinfect • Internal infections – medicated food, injected antibiotics (see a veterinarian) Fungus Saprolegnia spp. (water mold), • Water treatments – involves a Brachiomyces sp. chemical, such as formalin, malachite green, salt • Skin treatments – involves a chemical, such as malachite green or salt Swim bladder problems Usually no cure - Seek professional help for possible remedies. Virus see separate section Toxicity due bad water quality (chemical) • Change water, and/or • Add appropriated binding chemicals to detoxify the water, e.g., salt for nitrite poisoning; sodium thiosulfate to neutralize chlorine; ClorAm-X® or Ultimate® to neutralize chlorine and ammonia • Use carbon and/or resin filters to remove (bind) toxins from the water Mechanical - serious cuts, wounds, Clean and disinfect punctures, tears and abrasions, sunburn (radiation burn) serious abrasions. Note: if the environmental conditions are good, it is often best to do nothing to minor wounds. Electrical shock Usually no cure. Place fish in perfect, warm (75 to 80ºF) water and hope! Cold shock slowly warm the water Tumors – may be infectious or nonSeek professional help for possible infectious surgical remedies. Egg binding Seek professional help for possible remedies.

Koi viruses
Viruses are cellular parasites and cannot replicate on their own. They “highjack” the reproductive mechanisms of host cells and use those systems to make more virus. Two of the several viruses that infect Koi are known to be herpes viruses, carp pox and Koi herpesvirus (KHV). K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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Carp pox looks like hard waxy globs on the surface of the fish and/or its fins and is usually only lethal in very young fish. Carp pox usually occurs in the colder water of winter and fades with the warmer water of summer. Some fish seem to develop immunity to carp pox recurrence but others have several bouts with it. If you want to try to “treat” carp pox, try warm (80ºF) salted water (3 lbs of salt per 1000 gallons) for 4 days to a week. This may help the fish’s immune system put the virus into remission. Koi herpesvirus (KHV) is much more lethal than pox in all ages of Koi and usually occurs at water temperatures between 18º and 28ºC (~64º to 82ºF). It can only be diagnosed definitively by proper testing , i.e., viral isolation and PCR (polymerase chain reaction); both tests require equipment found only in labs that specialize in such testing). The most common clinical sign of KHV is necrotic (dead) gill tissue. However, other signs are sunken eyes, a “notch” in the nose and blotchy skin patches. Other viruses that can infect Koi are probably hikkui (suspected to have a viral cause) and spring viremia of carp (SVC). Lymphocystis is a viral disease that has been reported to infect Koi but that seems NOT to be the case. It is included here based on the confusion of the past. Lymphocystis lesions (skin abnormalities) are warty and rough. Lance Jepson wrote this regarding lymphocystis, “Most freshwater fishes appear to be susceptible, but members of the cyprinid (carp-like) family do not become infected.” i Jepson went on to write, “… Another possibility is epihtheliocystis, which is a very different disease caused by a bacteria-like organism that infects the mucous-secreting cells of the skin and gills. Epitheliocystis is well recognized in cyprinids, such as carp; if lymphocystis-like masses are seen on these fish, then treat for epitheliocystis.” Noga writes, “Lymphocystis is a disease of higher (i.e., evolutionarily advanced) teleosts and does not affect salmonids, catfish or cyprinids.” ii Koi infected with lymphocystis-appearing lesions are reported to have been helped by heat or Acriflavine (Neutral) with 3-5 hour bathes at 5 day intervals until cleared. iii Hikkui is thought to be a viral disease that appears almost exclusively in red-pigmented epidermis, usually in Koi 3 years and older. The lesions are much softer than carp pox and in advanced disease, are almost like soft Jello. It is treated by totally removing the infected tissue and disinfecting the lesion. Spring viremia of carp (SVC) occurs at low temperatures (~40º to 65ºF) and is not all that common in Koi. Clinical signs include bulging eyes, hemorrhages of the skin, abdominal distention, and bloody mucus trailing from the vent or easily expressed by slight pressure. SVC is a reportable disease in many countries (this means it must be reported to the appropriate agricultural authorities).

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Page 35 There are no real cures for viruses. The best defense is exclusion by screening, proper biosecurity and by vaccines if and when available…. Remember to QUARANTINE everything! (for at least 3 weeks at temperatures between 70º and 80ºF to uncover active KHV disease). Also, a very important requirement of quarantine is to observe the fish frequently.

Koi varieties
Koi are genetically identical, and therefore not separated into breeds like dogs, cats and horses. Instead, they are separated into varieties according to their colors. Parents of the same variety may produce a single spawn that has includes Koi of many different varieties or colors. High end breeders will usually cull each spawn according to the variety of the parents. Koi shows group Koi according to their varieties, and then according to their size within the variety. All variety names are Japanese. In Japanese, additional physical characteristics are added to the variety to create a descriptive classification for the Koi. An example would be a Nisai Maruten Sandan GinRin Kohaku. That translates to a red and white Koi (Kohaku) that is 2 years old (Nisai), has 3 primary red patches (Sandan) - of which one is a round spot on the head (Maruten), and also has diamond scales (GinRin). You certainly don’t need to be able to pronounce or know the Japanese terms of classification to enjoy the beauty of the Koi on the following page!

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Kohaku

Sanke

Showa

Shiro Utsuri Hi utsuri

Bekko

Asagi

Shusui

Goromo

Goshiki

Yamabuki

Platinum

Kujaku

Kin Showa Kin Ki Utsuri Tancho Tancho Showa Kumonryu

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GinRin (diamond scales)

Doitsu (scaleless)

Chagoi

Higoi

Pictures by Kodama Koi Farm

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Appendix
Emergencies and potentially appropriate responses
Warning: If you have very limited or no knowledge/expertise in this section’s topics, you should seek competent advice as the chemicals named in this section can present a very real danger to you and your Koi’s health if not properly used. Prescription medications can only be legally obtained from a veterinarian. It is always preferable to properly diagnose the underlying problem(s) first. Remember that all treatments can cause harm through incorrect application, overdose, under dose or selecting the wrong treatment for the problem. Not all Koi health issues require an emergency response and only emergency, or potential emergency, issues are covered in this index. There are other Koi 101 sections that cover in more detail how to determine what may be wrong, these include: • Disease diagnosis and treatment • Beginners Koi health check List • Koi behaviors and clinical signs of illness • Water quality TABLE – 1 Below are treatment options that can be used in many situations including emergencies: Treatment option Water Change 13 – replacement of some of the water in the pond with fresh water Explanation If you have an immediate and serious crisis (some fish dying and many don’t look good), USUALLY (key word) the best first thing to do is a big water change (~ 50% or more) using a chlorine and ammonia binder (if source water contains chloramines) to treat the new water (see: Water quality section) and then decide what to do next. Exception: this doesn’t work (and is obviously contraindicated) if the source water is the problem or if the chlorine and/or ammonia neutralizers hamper other necessary treatments. If you can remove an ailing Koi (see Stress, handling and quarantine) from a pond and isolate it in an adequate volume of

Hospital Tank 14 – usually relatively
13

The water you add to the pond during a water change should not be harmful to your fish and be the cause of your Koi health problem. Test your source water to ensure that it is safe for fish. If it comes from a municipal water system it will almost certainly contain chlorine or chloramines. Use an additive that will neutralize those chemicals as you add the water. 14 The container used for a hospital tank can be almost anything that has adequate volume and shape, is water-tight and non-toxic, e.g., show tank, vinyl swimming pool (avoid pools with additives used to inhibit unwanted biological growth), stock tank or homemade pond/tank. Also needed is an air system (pump, stone and tubing), filtration system (pump, filter, piping/tubing), heater and thermometer, netting (to prevent Koi jumping out), and support equipment – water test kits, nets, siphons, buckets, salt, etc.

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Treatment option small, well controlled environment for treating and observing sick or injured Koi

Explanation water, it will be easier to monitor and treat the Koi. This will usually require somewhere between 30 to 300 gallons for each Koi (depending on their size). A method bringing the water temperature to 75ºF to 80 ºF is helpful. The requirements for filtration, aeration and stable temperature, pH and total alkalinity that apply to ponds (see: Water quality section) are even more important in a hospital tank. The goal is achieving as near perfect water as is practical. It is preferred to only move a Koi into a hospital tank if the water temperature, pH and salt level are similar to that of the pond water from which the Koi is taken. Use the same caution returning the Koi to the pond.

TABLE – 2 Emergency Koi Health Treatments – below are treatment options that may be applicable in emergency situations: Condition Toxins (herbicide, pesticide, fertilizer, or any water-borne poisoning Chlorine or chloramine toxicity – a special case of the “Toxins” section above and is one in which the chlorine or chloramine levels are high enough to be toxic to the fish Jumpers –Koi leap out of the water onto the ground. A similar situation occurs when a Koi is dropped on the ground while being handled Potential Treatment(s) If a clean system is available, you can separate the fish from the toxin by removing them from the contaminated water. If no other system is available, quickly drain the pond to near empty and then refill it will properly treated, un-contaminated water. Dose the pond with a dechlorinator first (or combination dechlorinator and ammonia binder) and then an ammonia binder if needed (for ammonia released from chloramine). Increase aeration. Be aware that high chlorine or chloramine levels can damage your filter as well as your fish. Measure your pH, KH, ammonia and nitrite levels daily for the next two weeks. Carefully inspect your fish for signs of opportunistic disease. An immediate injection of Dexamethasone (prescription only) to stiff, dry jumpers has been recommended by competent fish veterinarians. If the Koi has been out of the water for some time, is dry or appears to be injured, quickly get it back into water and gently pass oxygenated water over his gills. Make sure the gill flaps open when flowing the water. Lift them open with your thumb or finger if necessary (if they appear to be stuck closed). Do this until the Koi is resuscitated (or expires). Recovering a jumper into a hospital tank is best and is essential for the more serious cases. Do not bother “cleaning” the Koi – this can do more harm than good. If the Koi has recently jumped, is still flopping and gasping and is not obviously seriously injured, the most practical thing to do is return it to the

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Condition

Potential Treatment(s) pond quickly. Watch the Koi closely then to ensure that it swims normally in an upright position. Resuscitated jumpers should be kept in a hospital tank and monitored. Gradually adjust the temperature to 75º to 80º F and gradually bring salt to a concentration of 0.3% to 0.4%. Watch for signs of secondary infections (usually fungus). Adjust the water properties in the hospital tank of a recovered Koi to near those of the pond’s water prior to releasing it back into the pond. Disinfect the lesion and get the fish into warm, slightly salted (0.3% to 0.4%), near perfect water. Disinfecting may require anesthesia (putting the fish to sleep temporarily) and the treatment may require stitches. If in doubt, consult a veterinarian. Cotton swabs can be uses to clean and apply antiseptic. Swab solutions that have been used with success include an iodine solution (e.g., Betadine or Providone iodine), and hydrogen peroxide. Treatment involves gradually cooling the water, increasing the aeration, and providing shade. Of these, aeration is most important. Koi can tolerate the heat more easily than they can tolerate low levels of dissolved oxygen in the water. Water carries less oxygen as it warms up and fish demand more oxygen in warmer water. Spray bars, air pumps and stones, venturis and increased flow over waterfalls can all be used to increase aeration.

Serious trauma - cuts, wounds, abrasions, even sunburn

Heat Stress – a condition associated with fish subjected to very warm water and low oxygen level Can happen during shipment in hot weather or in ponds in warm climates that get lots of hot sun Cold Shock– a condition associated with fish subjected to a rapid drop in temperature (20ºF or more) Can happen when moving Koi into colder water or during abrupt weather changes in colder climates

Treatment involves the use of a hospital tank filled with an adequate volume of the same pond water (same temperature) as the pond the fish is retrieved from. Raise the water temperature no faster than 10º F every 18 hours. This can often be done in an unheated garage without the use of a heater in the water. As the fish warm up, they will become more active. Make sure the hospital tank is covered. Once the water temperature has reached the 65 Deg. F, you can heat the water and continue to raise the temperature 5º F per day up to 75º F. Gas Bubble Disease – a Since this problem is caused by excess gas in the pond water, condition where overthe treatment is to eliminate the excess gas. Heavy aeration saturated gas in the water will do this. Don’t encourage fish to swim near the surface (i.e., is absorbed through the discontinue feeding) and allow them to sit on the bottom as the gills, fine gas bubbles increased water pressure tends to counter the problem (like a come out of solution and hyperbaric chamber for divers with the bends). Conditions that get trapped in joints, favor the formation of excess gas are: adding well water vessels and vital (especially a deep well) directly to a pond; malfunctioning pump structures such as the that is sucking air on the inlet side and then pressurizing it on K.O.I. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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Condition heart, gills and brain and cause death rapidly

Potential Treatment(s) the outlet; big differences in water temperature i.e. well water at 60º F pumped into a pond at 70º F; or filling a pond from the bottom. Do not stress affected Koi while they are recovering from this condition. For this problem - prevention is the best treatment. When in doubt about any treatment for Koi, consult a veterinarian or other competent help. All treatments should be given in an accurately measured dose. This requires knowing rather precisely: how much the chemical volume/weight is; how much water the fish is in (for water treatments) or how much the fish weighs (for oral treatments or injectable drugs). The ability to measure chemicals in small volumes/quantities such as milliliters and grams is required. An immediate large water change can be used to correct mistakes made in water treatments. For this problem, there needs to be a treatment even if there are no symptoms of a problem. A Koi’s reaction to a move will be influenced by: the length of the process, degree of difference between environments, and each fish’s individual health and characteristics. This means there may be no easily detectable symptoms or indications there is a problem. Allowing Koi time to recover in a hospital tank from the stress of being transported is recommended. This would be a time period of 3 to 4 weeks in warm (75 Deg. F) well filtered, well aerated water in which the fish can relax, regain normal body functions and adapt to new water and environmental conditions. If this is a newly acquired Koi, this can also be the quarantine period for evaluation of health and treatment for disease.

Over Medication – a condition in which an excessive amount of chemical is added to the water (in the case of water treatments) or is fed/injected into the Koi

Transport Stress – a condition in which Koi suffer the effects of stress brought on by what happens to them when they are moved from their current habitat Netting, handling, injuries, transport movements (sloshing) of the water, changes in water temperature and water chemistry, unfamiliar environments and lighting conditions all cause stress

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Page 42 TABLE 3 - Emergency Water Treatments – below are treatments that may be applicable in emergency situations: Condition High Ammonia levels– a condition where your water test kit indicates a detectable level of ammonia (any ammonia at all) Potential Treatment(s) The treatment is going to involve correcting the problem that caused the ammonia levels to increase and involve protecting your fish from the effects of ammonia. For the former, consider if any of the following have occurred: The addition of a large number of new fish to a pond Recent increase in fish activity and/or feeding rates such as early days of spring Bio-converter 15 has become partially obstructed with waste Bio-converter is too new to be fully functional Bio-converter has been damaged by low pH or chemicals Test the water for ammonia 16 on a frequent basis until ammonia drops to a safe level. For any causes of high ammonia conditions that can not be immediately corrected, the fish can be protected by chemical treatments available commercially under various trade names. It is also helpful to stop feeding the fish and to increase pond aeration until ammonia levels drop to safe levels. The treatment is going to involve correcting the problem that caused the nitrite levels to increase and protecting your fish from the effects of nitrite. For the former, consider if any of the following have occurred: • The addition of a large number of new fish to a pond • Recent increase in fish activity and/or feeding rates such as early days of spring • Bio-converter has become partially obstructed with waste • Bio-converter is too new to be fully functional • Bio-converter has been damaged by low pH or chemicals Test your water for nitrites on a frequent basis until nitrites drop to a safe level. For any causes of high nitrite conditions that can not be immediately corrected, the fish can be protected by water changes and salt treatments

High Nitrite levels – a condition where your water test kit indicates a detectable level of nitrite (any nitrite at all)

Bio-converter – a component in the filtration system where biological conversion of chemicals takes place. The bacteria involved in the bio-conversion process do not function freely suspended in the water; they need to be adhered to a surface. Bio-converters contain a media with plenty of surface area for bacteria to adhere and colonize. Since the bacteria are located in one place (the bio-converter), pond water must be circulated through the media in the bio-converter in order to accomplish the chemical decontamination of the pond water. 16 There are two types of ammonia test kits and the Nessler type gives a false reading when chemical treatments to counteract ammonia toxicity are used. The Nessler kit color chart normally ranges from clear, meaning no ammonia, to yellow/yellowish-orange as ammonia levels increase. The correct kit to use is the Salicylate kit that changes from yellow to blue-green.

15

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Condition pH crash - Sudden pH drop to levels of 6.0 or less Do not confuse this with normal fluctuations up to 0.4 between morning and evening. By maintaining your KH above 80 ppm, you can prevent a pH crash.

Potential Treatment(s) An immediate response to this condition is essential to save the fish. Test your pond water for pH, carbonate hardness (KH) and ammonia. If the pH and KH levels are low, but no measurable ammonia is present, add sodium bicarbonate (unscented household baking soda) at the rate of 1 cup per 500 gallons. Add this dose to a 5 gallon bucket of pond water. Stir well until the water is clear (about 2 minutes). Distribute this mixture evenly around the pond. If you have spray bars, run them to mix the solution into the water. Re-measure the pH and KH in 15-20 minutes. Subsequent doses at the rate of 1 cup per 500 gallons may be needed to pull the pH and KH back up to a reasonable level (i.e., pH >7.4 and KH in the range of 80 to 120 ppm). If ammonia is present, choose one of the two options below: 1. If the fish are not in immediate, serious distress, drain approximately 50% of the pond water, then add a chemical treatment to bind the ammonia and counteract its toxic effect + sufficient water conditioner to refill the pond; add baking soda as required to bring the pH back into the normal range; or 2. If the fish are in immediate and serious distress, first dose the pond with a chemical treatment to counteract ammonia toxicity, e.g., ClorAm-X®, or Ultimate®, at 2 times label directions. Increase aeration to the maximum possible to provide water mixing; wait ten minutes. Then re-test for ammonia and, if it is safely neutralized, add baking soda as described above. Be aware that a pH crash can affect your filter and your fish. Measure your pH, KH, and ammonia levels daily for the next several weeks. Monitor nitrite levels weekly for the next 2 months. Carefully inspect your fish for signs of opportunistic disease. An immediate response to this condition is essential to save the fish. Dissolved oxygen levels as low as 5 ppm can be dangerous for your fish. If you do not have a test kit look for signs like the fish gasping for air at the surface or crowding around the waterfall. Increase aeration of the pond water to the maximum possible. Prevention is the best treatment. A pond that is overcrowded with fish, hot summer weather, little or no aeration, and a sudden increase in the amount of algae can together cause low oxygen levels in the pond.

Low dissolved oxygen levels – a condition in which the oxygen level in the pond water has dropped so low that the fish are suffocating

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Index
ADR.................................................... 29 aeration . 4, 8, 12, 16, 23, 25, 37, 38, 39, 41, 42 air-lifts................................................. 18 ammonia 4, 6, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 25, 30, 37, 38, 41, 42 ammonia neutralizers ......................... 22 AmQuel® ............................................ 22 behaviors...................................... 27, 28 bio-converter .......................... 16, 18, 41 body abnormalities ............................. 29 bottom drains ............................. 4, 7, 18 buying Koi .......................................... 23 carbon dioxide.................................... 23 carbonate hardness........................ 2, 22 carp pox ............................................. 34 catching/handling ............................... 26 centrifuging......................................... 18 chemicals ....….7, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 26, 30, 33, 37, 40, 41 chloramine........................ 22, 28, 32, 38 chlorine............................................... 38 circulation ............................................. 4 clinical signs ............... 19, 27, 28, 29, 30 ClorAm-X® .................................... 22, 33 CO2 .........................See Carbon dioxide common carp ....................................... 5 crisis management ............................. 30 Cyprinus carpio .................................... 5 dechlorinators..................................... 22 depth ........................................ 3, 4, 5, 7 diagnosis and treatment ..................... 30 differential diagnosis........................... 30 digestive system................................. 24 disclaimer ............................................. 3 dissolved organic carbons..... See DOCs DOCs ................................................. 22 dropsy ................................................ 29 electrocution....................................... 13 emergencies......................................... 3 epitheliocystis ………………………… 34 feeding ......................................... 24, 25 fence ........................................ 6, 14, 15 filters.................................. See filtration filtration.. 4, 7, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 25, 37, 41 fin problems........................................ 29 food ...................................................... 4 General Hardness .............................. 21 GFCI............................................. 12, 13 GH......................See General Hardness gill problems ....................................... 29 gravel ................................................... 7 ground fault circuit interrupter...........See GFCI health problem check list.................... 25 Hikkui ................................................. 34 illness ..................................... 25, 27, 28 infectious diseases ............................. 31 jumpers .............................................. 38 KH ....... 20, 21, See carbonate hardness KHV........................ See Koi herpesvirus Koi clubs....................................... 19, 28 Koi herpesvirus ............................ 33, 34 K.O.I.. ................................... 3, 5, 27, 32 Lymphocystis ..................................... 34 mechanical filter ................................. 19 NH3 ................................... See ammonia Nishikigoi.............................................. 5 nitrate ........................................... 18, 21 nitrite ................ 4, 17, 20, 25, 38, 41, 42 NO2 ....................................... See Nitrite NO3 ...................................... See Nitrate non-infectious diseases...................... 31 O2 ....................................... See Oxygen organic solids ..................................... 23 overview ............................................... 4 oxygen................................................ 22 parasites............... 26, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33 pH....... 20, 21, 22, 25, 28, 37, 38, 41, 42 poisonous plants .................................. 8 pond ................................................... 16 pond safety......................................... 12 pre-filter .......................................... 4, 19 pump .......................... 17, 18, 22, 37, 39 quarantine ................................ 4, 27, 37

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Page 45 rock ................................................ 7, 27 SAFE Koi pond limits.......................... 16 safety.................................... 4, 7, 16, 25 salt.............................. 27, 34, 37, 38, 41 senses................................................ 12 settling................................................ 18 settling tank .......................See pre-filter skimmer................................................ 4 solids removal .................... 4, 17, 18, 19 Spring Viremia of Carp ....................... 34 stomach.............................................. 24 stress................................ 26, 37, 39, 40 sump pump ........................................ 14 SVC.............. See Spring viremia of carp
i

toxins.................................................. 38 trauma .......................................... 31, 39 treatments .................................... 32, 38 Ultimate® ...................................... 22, 33 ultra violet........................................... 19 UV ................................ See Ultra Violet varieties.............................................. 34 venturis............................................... 39 viruses................................................ 33 water changes........ 4, 18, 22, 30, 37, 41 water quality .... ..7, 8, 17, 19, 25, 26, 30, 31, 33, 37 water temperature ................................ 4 waterfalls .............................................. 7

The Super Simple Guide to Common Fish Diseases, - Jepson, L (2004), THF Publications, Neptune City, NJ. p. 63 ii Fish Disease, Diagnosis and Treatment, Second Edition – Noga, E (2010), Wiley-Blackwell, Ames, IA. p. 171 iii Verbal communications with Spike Cover - 2010

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