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    Thread: Was a healthy pond, now losing fish...fast!

    1. #1
      RichardL is offline Junior Member
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      Was a healthy pond, now losing fish...fast!

      My 5000 gallon pond has been issue free for years, and my fish are huge. About 3 weeks ago I had a dead fish. Since then I lost 3 more. After the second loss, I did an 80% water change, after the 3rd loss I did an 80% change. Today I see one more big guy swimming fast and totally erratically, bumping into things, upside down, sideways and breaching the surface. I did a 2 portion Potassium Permanganate treatment over 5 hours, and am now doing another 80% water change. Up until I have seen this fish acting this way, I only found the fish dead. The pond and the fish all look fine, no wounds, ulcers, spots, etc. I do see a very slight redness in the rear fin of the bad guy.

      The filter, which pulls from a bottom drain, has always kept the water clear, there aren't too many fish, I enter the pond late spring each year to clean out all debris on the bottom, no rocks or pebbles on the bottom or walls. Waterfall and 2 aerators run 24x7. I backwash the Aqua Ultima II 6000 filter each week. Fish are fed once a day, except in the summer, twice a day, all the food goes. All my fish are large and have been in the pond for at least 5 years, no new recent additions. I am about 20 miles north of New York City, and it has been hot with much rain. The pond itself is in a shady area under trees, so it only gets morning sun.

      I am very concerned about this fish, and that this pattern may continue.

      Photos attached of the bad guy from today.

      Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

      Thank you!
      Attached Images Attached Images    

    2. #2
      FRK's Avatar
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      Any chance you have electric current leaking into your water?

    3. #3
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      Quote Originally Posted by RichardL View Post
      My 5000 gallon pond has been issue free for years, and my fish are huge. About 3 weeks ago I had a dead fish. Since then I lost 3 more. After the second loss, I did an 80% water change, after the 3rd loss I did an 80% change. Today I see one more big guy swimming fast and totally erratically, bumping into things, upside down, sideways and breaching the surface. I did a 2 portion Potassium Permanganate treatment over 5 hours, and am now doing another 80% water change. Up until I have seen this fish acting this way, I only found the fish dead. The pond and the fish all look fine, no wounds, ulcers, spots, etc. I do see a very slight redness in the rear fin of the bad guy.

      The filter, which pulls from a bottom drain, has always kept the water clear, there aren't too many fish, I enter the pond late spring each year to clean out all debris on the bottom, no rocks or pebbles on the bottom or walls. Waterfall and 2 aerators run 24x7. I backwash the Aqua Ultima II 6000 filter each week. Fish are fed once a day, except in the summer, twice a day, all the food goes. All my fish are large and have been in the pond for at least 5 years, no new recent additions. I am about 20 miles north of New York City, and it has been hot with much rain. The pond itself is in a shady area under trees, so it only gets morning sun.

      I am very concerned about this fish, and that this pattern may continue.

      Photos attached of the bad guy from today.

      Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

      Thank you!
      Do you have test levels for ammonia, nitrite, KH, and pH? Also, what is the temperature of the water?
      Any spraying or chemicals used near the pond?
      --Steve
      Find more about Weather in Poulsbo, WA

      "It is far better to be alone, than to be in bad company." --George Washington

    4. #4
      RichardL is offline Junior Member
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      FRK, good thought. There are many lights around the pond, however this fish is NG when none are on. The pump house is about 15 feet from the pond and about 8 feet from the top of the waterfall. If there was an electrical issue, wouldn't all the fish be affected?

      I have to perform water tests, and take the temp, now that the water change has completed.

      No chemicals used anywhere on my property.

    5. #5
      smr is offline Junior Member
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      We live near each other.
      We have had about 5 inches of rain in the last 30 Days. But we had two short but large volume of water drop on us. Both my pond and swimming pool over flowed. Luck for me I built my pond 2 feet higher than my pool. Chlorine will take out a pool quickly.
      The next thing is PH shock. We have bad acid rain. PH=4. Koi like PH of 7.5 to 8.
      Last thing is electric. Check you UV for a crack.
      Do you have submersible pumps?
      I have seen a window cleaning company wipe out a koi pond using Windex spray near the pond.
      You 80% water changes also concern me. T
      Depending of your water source you may be drastically swing you current pH and adding more chlorine into you pond.

    6. #6
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      With that much rain, a pH crash or a temperature drop is a good possibility. Provide the values Steve asked for, and also provide the values for the source water. Water can be clear and still have ammonia, nitrite, and a low KH. Low KH leads to rapid pH changes, and a pH crash will not only affect your fish, but also your biofilter, which could cause ammonia or nitrite to spike.

      Is your source water from a well or from municipal water. If it is from a well, check the pH immediately after drawing the water, and again after an hour of vigorous aeration. If the pH rises upon aeration, that is a sign of high CO2, which is common in well water. CO2 is deadly to fish, and it usually affects the largest fish first.

      If the source is from municipal water, did you treat for chlorine or chloramine when you did the large water changes?

      What is the volume of the pond and how deep is it? The deeper the pond, the more stable the temperature will be and the less effect rain will have on it, but even with a deep pond, an 80% water change can cause big changes in the water temperature and chemistry. The fish do best when the water chemistry is stable and when temperature changes are gradual.
      Last edited by RickF; 08-10-2018 at 10:37 PM.

      "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."

    7. #7
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      Yes SMR, wonderful NJ is a few miles away, our usual go out to eat locations :-)

      Wish there was some way to port all this rain to the California wildfires, so I could enjoy the great outdoors here...

      Thank you everyone so far for the interaction, this is a major issue, appreciated all around.

      I did water tests:
      PH: 7.8
      PH high range: 8.0
      Ammonia: 0
      Nitrates: 0
      Nitrites: 0
      Will get the temperature on Saturday.

      I will test the source water too, great point.

      My pool and pond have overflowed, and by design they do not interfere with each other.

      I don't have a chlorine test, but do agree on the chlorine aspect of my water changes. I must say that the fish do seem fine and mellow after these changes. Also since it has been hot, the water temps were certainly lowered by the changes as well. The water is municipal water. No chloramine application, I must get some - thank you. My past water changes, about twice a year, have never had any ill effects - but then again anything can happen for any reason... The first fish deaths happened out of the blue, no water changes, I changed the water as a result of the deaths. Now I have this bad guy acting this way. Very upsetting.

      If well water is out of scope, is CO2 still a possibility, if so, how? I have only lost big fish (I have a few smaller ones too), so if this is a possible source of the problem, is there a CO2 test?

      The pond is about 3 feet deep at the ends and about 3.5 feet deep in the middle. My UV is not working so I have had it off for a few months, no power there. The pond is about 30 feet from the house so no collateral chemicals going that way. No submersible pumps of any kind, nothing electrical in the water of any kind. 3 Performance Pros above ground - 1 for the drain, 2 for the skimmer/in wall bulkheads. An air pump connects to rubber hoses which feed three 1 foot in diameter hard plastic aerators which sit on the pond bottom.

      Could this have been started by wildlife? I have major chipmunk and bird activity on my property. My property has hundreds of feet of rock walls, and many rock areas, the chipmunks love them. 3 times (twice this year) over 14 years of having the pond, have they munched on the rubber liner. Always above, but just at the water line.

      Approaching this backwards, is there any line of fault that would cause a fish to act this way?

      Thank you very much.

    8. #8
      KoiRun's Avatar
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      So are there holes in the liner above the water line caused by chipmunks? Did water get into those holes and is there a collection of water behind the liner?
      Did you ever see any the your fish breathing fast?
      Did you ever see any severe clouding of the water right after the storm or heavy rainfall?
      Do you have any sort of bog in that waterfall?
      Also what kind of filters do you have? What is the turn-over rate?
      Can you provide picture of the whole pond, the water fall, filter, water edge and liner holes?
      Did you shake the nitrate bottle #2 for greater that 30 seconds during your nitrate test?
      Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. ---- Marthe Troly-Curtin



    9. #9
      Longfin Lover's Avatar
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      Has there been any large fires causing smoke to drift over your pond?

      proudly Canadian

    10. #10
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      Quote Originally Posted by RichardL View Post
      If well water is out of scope, is CO2 still a possibility, if so, how? I have only lost big fish (I have a few smaller ones too), so if this is a possible source of the problem, is there a CO2 test?
      This was a post from RickF in another thread that I saved about CO2 that might help:

      The most simple way to tell whether the well water is high in CO2 is to measure the pH right out of the tap, and then aerate vigorously for 30 minutes and measure the pH again. If the pH goes up by more than 1 unit with aeration, the water is high in CO2. Although I do not measure either, I believe that measuring CO2 would be more useful than measuring O2. On the other hand, if the pH of the pond does not drop overnight or when you do the water changes, then the CO2 is not too high, so there is little point in measuring it. If your KH is 100 ppm, the pH would have to drop to 7.1 before the CO2 would be toxic. If the KH is 150 ppm, the pH would have to drop to 7.3 before CO2 would be toxic. I have seen well water, though, with KH above 180 ppm and pH below 7.0. That would be toxic.

      Here is a good article regarding CO2 concentrations in ponds. These are agricultural ponds, and not koi ponds, but the information is relevant. The interesting point is that we always stress measuring pH at dawn and in late afternoon to determine whether pH drops overnight. While pH swings in and of themselves are stressful, pH swings are also good indicators that the CO2 is accumulating overnight, especially if the KH is above 100 ppm and the pH still drops at night. If the morning pH is the same as the evening pH, then I would not worry about CO2 concentrations.
      --Steve
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      "It is far better to be alone, than to be in bad company." --George Washington

    11. #11
      RichardL is offline Junior Member
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      So are there holes in the liner above the water line caused by chipmunks? Did water get into those holes and is there a collection of water behind the liner?
      The 2 holes are where the waterfall runs, and they have been patched. When it happened the soil was wet, but no puddling.

      Did you ever see any the your fish breathing fast?
      No

      Did you ever see any severe clouding of the water right after the storm or heavy rainfall?
      The only time I see some cloudiness is after backwashing the filter, this clears up quickly
      All areas surrounding the pond, including rock walls have liner behind them (where the darn chipmunks munched..), so no dirt/soil enters the water.


      Do you have any sort of bog in that waterfall?
      No bogs, all water is in constant movement

      Also what kind of filters do you have? What is the turn-over rate?
      Aqua Ultima II 6000
      A Performance Pro Artesian A1/2-75 (3/4 HP) pump pulls from the drain and feeds the filter, which then goes thru the UV (which is powered off now).
      Not sure of the turnover rate


      Can you provide picture of the whole pond, the water fall, filter, water edge and liner holes?
      Pictures provided.
      Patched holes are under the perimeter rocks along the waterfall, very hard to get to.
      Note the 2 1/4 foot high deer mesh fence which effectively thwarts the herons. It is more prevalent in pictures than real life...


      Did you shake the nitrate bottle #2 for greater that 30 seconds during your nitrate test?
      Yes.

      Has there been any large fires causing smoke to drift over your pond?
      None in the region, I am about 20 miles north of New York City, we have had much rain.

      The pond:
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      Waterfall (appx 4 feet height):
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      Savio skimmer:
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      Valves to 2 pumps from skimmer which select pull from skimmer or in-wall bulkheads:
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    12. #12
      RichToyBox's Avatar
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      You didn't provide a KH value. KH is probably the most important test in the kit. If it is showing values over 100 and definitely over 150, then the pH should be stable, which is good for the filter bio bacteria, and for the fish. Getting a value right now, after an 80% water change will not be of very much value, as you are now going to be testing mostly new water. It would have been much more valuable as a diagnostic tool, if it had been run before the water change. Rain water has no KH, and along the eastern states is fairly acid, consuming KH as it enters the pond. Many do preventative additions of baking soda to raise the KH to over 200 prior to big storms, like hurricanes to prevent pH crashes due to heavy rainfall. I would like to see you get the KH test kit, start following where it leads you, and post one of the early readings for some additional help.

      "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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    13. #13
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      Quote Originally Posted by RichardL View Post
      So are there holes in the liner above the water line caused by chipmunks? Did water get into those holes and is there a collection of water behind the liner?
      The 2 holes are where the waterfall runs, and they have been patched. When it happened the soil was wet, but no puddling.

      Did you ever see any the your fish breathing fast?
      No

      Did you ever see any severe clouding of the water right after the storm or heavy rainfall?
      The only time I see some cloudiness is after backwashing the filter, this clears up quickly
      All areas surrounding the pond, including rock walls have liner behind them (where the darn chipmunks munched..), so no dirt/soil enters the water.


      Do you have any sort of bog in that waterfall?
      No bogs, all water is in constant movement

      Also what kind of filters do you have? What is the turn-over rate?
      Aqua Ultima II 6000
      A Performance Pro Artesian A1/2-75 (3/4 HP) pump pulls from the drain and feeds the filter, which then goes thru the UV (which is powered off now).
      Not sure of the turnover rate


      Can you provide picture of the whole pond, the water fall, filter, water edge and liner holes?
      Pictures provided.
      Patched holes are under the perimeter rocks along the waterfall, very hard to get to.
      Note the 2 1/4 foot high deer mesh fence which effectively thwarts the herons. It is more prevalent in pictures than real life...


      Did you shake the nitrate bottle #2 for greater that 30 seconds during your nitrate test?
      Yes.

      Has there been any large fires causing smoke to drift over your pond?
      None in the region, I am about 20 miles north of New York City, we have had much rain.

      The pond:
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      Waterfall (appx 4 feet height):
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      Savio skimmer:
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      Orientation from pool:
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      3 Pumps/Filter/Air/UV:
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      Valves to 2 pumps from skimmer which select pull from skimmer or in-wall bulkheads:
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      Thank for the info and beautiful pond BTW.
      I was just wondering whether you have anaerobic areas in between the rock walls and inside pockets if there are/were holes in the liner that could have spilled H2S during an atypically heavy rainstorm. I think generation of H2S is more likely if nitrates are typically 'zero'.
      Are the foams on your water surface and stuck around the edge of the rocks a new occurrence? If they are new it could be a sign that there has been a setback of the filters from the acid rain.
      Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. ---- Marthe Troly-Curtin



    14. #14
      lukef's Avatar
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      Howdy,
      i am the un guy.
      it ain't a kh ph or acid rain.... if it was your water would look very different especially with that set up of waterfalls. BTW you got a nice bit of water... it shows you give a **** and put in the time....or I wouldn't bother.
      Someone said it was poison in one form or another and that is almost certainly what it is/was. Now from what little I have been given I can't narrow it down but I can tell you where to look... the fish are acting and dying at a rate which yells wind-blown insecticide...or something you put on the plants or was in your plant or lawn fertilizer. from the way the bigger/older koi are going down it could be a heavy metal that has built up over a period of time. or one other thing, someone sprayed an insecticide that killed is killing the cicadas, and they are making it to your pond or waterfall before they die. And the big koi can eat them and the littler ones can't.
      The only other place to look is what is dying back in the trees and making it to the stream or pond surface that the big koi have staked out and don't tolerate the young uns trying to eat... I've had big koi form a pack where they would sit around the inlet of a 6 inch pipe waiting for bloodworms to wash in from an airlift, and anything under 18 inches couldn't hold a place across the line.
      Wind/airborne spray (mosquitoes/Mist or vapor by the government) Runoff( foliar sprays to control something like caterpillar infestations)Seepage through the soil(lawn bugs/granular or a heavy metals in fertilizers or weed control).
      From your descriptions and the good physical condition of the fish, and the huge amount of aeration supplying oxygen and off-gassing it seems neurological ... insecticide, herbicide or straight up heavy metal.. and it could be from a build up over time... a lot of time. Not real likely though. More than likely a change in lawn companies, or spot treatment to rid an area of an undesired animal or plant species.
      "Those aren't poodles. They're Dobermans with afros."

    15. #15
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      wait, one other thing.... you have not used any chemical to eliminate green water and don't fertilize your pond plants or those near the edge do you...or no one has in the last 6 months?
      "Those aren't poodles. They're Dobermans with afros."

    16. #16
      RichardL is offline Junior Member
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      Thank you all for the time and posts as well as the different slants to this.

      I will order a KH kit and use it, please stay tuned. I have baking soda at the ready.

      For the liner holes, I do not think that is an item. A few years back when the chipmunks drilled a 1-inch hole in the liner behind the rock wall, I knew it immediately because I had cloudy water. I then found the dirt line, patched the hole with metal mesh behind it. If something was breached now, with all the rain we have had, something would show. I also lose a minimal amount of water, probably evaporation from the waterfall. I do have a float/bobber that triggers an auto fill, which I see running occasionally.

      The filter setback due to the water changes and incessant rain could be an item. The foam does come and go, honestly I have not paid attention to it - but as you said it may be linked to the filter bio. I shall add some MicrobeLift. Anything else I can do or test for?

      No fertilizers used here at all, no tree spraying, the only insecticides get sprayed at the house base which is about 30 feet away and slightly downslope from the pond/pool.

      Also my property is a flat corner lot that backs up to parkland on 2 sides. There is nothing behind me, to my north for over 1/2 mile, and nothing to the west for over 1/4 mile - just trails, woods, fields, and streams - which I know are not sprayed by the park rangers. Yes, the cicadas are out in full force (bummer - the sound of late summer), it's a racket here at night!

      An update is that the "bad guy" is doing well. You now have to look hard to see that he is not perfect, but a different fish than a day or so ago...watching and hoping.

      I am agreeing that the guys that died, maybe did so from some foreign source. I haven't had a single issue in years, hoping this is a one off... As you can see, and mentioned, I do care a lot, and want the best for this environment. Yes, I put in the time, then and now. I built the pond over a year's time, in 2004/2005 by hand, with the exception of the lawn guys digging the hole.

    17. #17
      RichardL is offline Junior Member
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      Got the test tube KH test kit.

      KH: Took 7 drops

      GH: took 8 drops

      Card said 6-11 drops is 100-200 PPM.

      Anything I should do at this point?

      ...and the "bad guy" fish is actually fine. Now looking at how he moves, you would never know that I thought him dead a few days ago. But, I am weary that things can go bad just as fast...

      Thanks.

    18. #18
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      In my estimation it was a wind-borne insecticide. A case I had first-hand and intimate knowledge with involved artesian well fed pond where almost all the fish died after they sprayed a ball field 100 yds away The official reason was that the pond had too many fish and they died because of a lack of oxygen... the government that owned the pond also owned the ball fields. It was April, clear skies and windy the whole time.
      "Those aren't poodles. They're Dobermans with afros."

    19. #19
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      Check with your borough clerk and DPW about mesquito spray town wide.

    20. #20
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      Has your nitrates always been low or zero even before the major water changes? Is it still zero now?
      Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. ---- Marthe Troly-Curtin



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