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    Thread: Help diagnosing sudden death

    1. #1
      roykirk is offline Junior Member
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      Help diagnosing sudden death

      This morning I experienced the sudden death of one of my young koi (who when I went to bed last night was healthy and frisky as possible), and I'm trying to figure out what went wrong. He shared a 500 gallon outdoor "pond" (yes, I know it's small, but it's temporary) with two other koi. All were are under 3" and had been living together just fine for the past several weeks. Water was kept constantly filtered through a 1638 gph UV light bio filter. Aeration provided by a waterfall. Water was crystal clear with a temperature around 62. All 3 koi appeared healthy and never seemed stressed. I fed them last night before bed and they all came up and ate eagerly and everything seemed fine before I bid them goodnight.

      When I awoke this morning and checked on them I found one of them at the bottom of the pool on his side, rigid, mouth agape, and dead (no trauma of any sort). I used to raise koi years back and I'd dealt with a few sick and dead fish before. But I'd never once seen one just fall over dead in the course of a few hours. There were always initial symptoms like buoyancy issues, flashing, swimming backwards, etc. The other two fish seem fine so far. I know a test kit would probably be the best tool to start diagnosing, but it doesn't arrive until Wednesday. Until then, any thoughts on things I should be checking? Here's a few things I've been considering:

      - We had a massive outdoor temperature spike the last two days. Ambient daytime temp when from 60-ish to 98. Pond is in the shade, so the water temp didn't climb over about 68-70, but I'm wondering if that little change would be enough to kill a fish?

      - Is it possible I'm "overfiltering" the water given its size? I was wondering if I'm filtering it so much that I'm pulling out all beneficial bacteria as well. In other words, keeping it too clean, if that's possible.

      - About 4 days ago I added about 30 gallons of city water to account for evaporation. I didn't add any pond conditioner at the time because it seemed like such a small amount. Could that be the culprit?

      - Maybe the waterfall aeration is insufficient and I need to add a big bubbler stone or something similar

      I'm open to any further ideas.

    2. #2
      RichToyBox's Avatar
      RichToyBox is offline Administrator ~ WWKC BOD ~
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      If the fish was highly active last night as you describe and dead this morning, and shows no signs of trauma, it probably died of stroke or heart attack. I have not had one that small in a long time and when I did, I don't remember any dying so quickly, but I have had some decent size fish swimming across the pond just die while I watched. So probably nothing you could have done for it or anything that you did cause it.

      I would get the test kits and start tracking water parameters. If this is a temporary pond, you will have to go through the cycle on the new digs, so get comfortable with the tools.

      As for additions of water with or without binder/treatment, I believe you could do up to about a 10% water change with no harm done, but that is dependent on the amount of organics in the pond. In older systems, there is enough trash that the chlorine is consumed very rapidly, before any damage could happen to the fish, but if the pond is new, with good filtration, you may need to treat. I always treated and recommend treating as there is always that time that the phone rings during the refill and the next thing you know it is much later, the pond is overflowing and the 10% has been way over extended, with fish dead and dying.

      "Our goal is to assist with emergency and Koi health issues, as well as educate on best practices. Please help us gain a clear picture by giving the original poster time to answer our questions before offering opinions and suggested treatments."

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    3. #3
      roykirk is offline Junior Member
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      Thanks very much for the advice! I'm glad to know that perhaps it's not something I did wrong. I'm anxious for the testing kit to arrive on Wednesday so I can see if there are any obvious problems.

    4. #4
      cindy's Avatar
      cindy is offline WWKC Vice President
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      Is it a new fish or did you add new fish?
      My opinions in ER and on this forum are mine only. Use my advice at your own discretion.

      "Our goal is to assist with emergency and Koi health issues, as well as educate on best practices. Please help us gain a clear picture by giving the original poster time to answer our questions before offering opinions and suggested treatments."


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    5. #5
      roykirk is offline Junior Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by cindy View Post
      Is it a new fish or did you add new fish?
      All three were purchased about 3 weeks ago. They came from the same store and had lived together in the same tank.

    6. #6
      roykirk is offline Junior Member
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      Ran my first water test today:

      pH: 7.6
      Ammonia: 0 ppm
      Nitrite: 0 ppm
      Nitrate: 0 ppm

      The remaining two koi still seem to be thriving and they seem somewhat more "relaxed" since the third one is gone. By that I mean that when the third one was still there, none of the three would come out of hiding during daylight hours except for feeding. Now the remaining two are swimming around in the open during the daytime (always tightly together), whether they are being fed or not.
      Last edited by roykirk; 05-16-2018 at 04:17 PM.

    7. #7
      cindy's Avatar
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      Sounds good. A test I would add is kh or total alkalinty
      My opinions in ER and on this forum are mine only. Use my advice at your own discretion.

      "Our goal is to assist with emergency and Koi health issues, as well as educate on best practices. Please help us gain a clear picture by giving the original poster time to answer our questions before offering opinions and suggested treatments."


      K.O.I.

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