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    Thread: Please help me understand.

    1. #1
      szweier is offline Member
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      Please help me understand.

      Two years ago I built a pond in my yard. A friend of mine gave me some koi and when winter hit they didn't make it. It appeared as though some sort of parasite had gotten to their gills and killed them. Unfortunate and upsetting to say the least. Changes were made to avoid the same happening this year (Keeping the UV on further into the winter, adding a bubbler to provide more oxygen into the pond).

      This year everything was going great, beautiful 12+inch koi, a few goldfish. Everyone was happy (myself included). Cleaning the filter weekly, UV was on, bubbler runs all day long. Went to bed last night and everyone was fine, woke up this morning and every single fish (I'm assuming, I still haven't found one) was dead.

      No sign of parasites that I could see, the gills looked healthy upon inspection. We had a relatively large rain storm last night but nothing more than I've seen in the past without effecting the pond negatively.

      Nitrate: 0, Nitrite: 0, Ammonia: 0.25, PH: 7.8, ~1600 gallon pond, 3 Koi, 4 Goldfish

      The few interesting things to note. This morning was the dirtiest I've ever seen the water, as if the storm kicked up a ton of junk from the bottom. The bubbles on the surface are no longer simply air bubbles that go away quickly but rather thick foamy bubbles I can pick up with my net. It has a greenish tint to the bubbles as well.

      Coincidentally (or not) one of the solar light fixtures I had above my pond was taken down by the storm as well and I found it inside of my pond. Not sure if they are toxic or not but it was a relatively small solar panel with a small string of LED lights on it.

      I didn't see much odd behavior occurring before this incident, the Koi would occasionally hang out looking at the waterfall but they weren't gasping at the surface so I didn't think much of it.

      There's a tree hanging over the pond that drops seeds this time of year, sadly I'm not sure what type of tree it is or if it could be the problem but I thought I'd mention it as well.

      Another interesting fact is that it appears as though anything in the pond (with the exception of plants) has died. There were a number of worms floating inside of the pond, laying on nearby rocks, scooped up with the net. Something horrible happened last night and I'm at a loss for what it might have been. I need help figuring out what went wrong before I give this a third attempt. I don't want to be the person who just keeps putting fish in and hoping for the best without at the very least feeling like I have an explanation for and guard against what has happened to me.

      Please help me understand what went wrong here. I appreciate any and all feedback.

    2. #2
      ademink's Avatar
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      What is the KH reading for your pond? My first suspicion is a pH crash due to low KH values from rain.

      My second guess is lightning strike, with everything being dead.

      So sorry for your losses.

      Editing to add a question: You said a "small string of LED lights". Are those solar powered, as well? Or were they plugged in?
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    3. #3
      szweier is offline Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by ademink View Post
      What is the KH reading for your pond? My first suspicion is a pH crash due to low KH values from rain.

      My second guess is lightning strike, with everything being dead.

      So sorry for your losses.

      Editing to add a question: You said a "small string of LED lights". Are those solar powered, as well? Or were they plugged in?
      Iíll have to get back to you on KH. As for lightning strike I wouldíve thought something like that wouldíve woken me and I didnít hear anything. As for the LED sorry for the confusion. Itís a single light. It has a small solar panel and that panel is connected to a string of small LED nodes. So it is solar powered only itís not plugged in.

    4. #4
      RichToyBox's Avatar
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      Your description of the appearance of the water this morning makes me want to believe it might be hydrogen sulfide. Something stirred up debris from the bottom of the pond making it appear nasty, and the proteins on the surface showing as thick foam, and all of the other animal life that is dead reinforces this. Hydrogen sulfide smells like rotten eggs and is highly toxic to all living things, and it is formed by anaerobic digestion of solids, ie debris on the bottom that is not getting oxygen to the bottom.

      "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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      Quote Originally Posted by RichToyBox View Post
      Your description of the appearance of the water this morning makes me want to believe it might be hydrogen sulfide. Something stirred up debris from the bottom of the pond making it appear nasty, and the proteins on the surface showing as thick foam, and all of the other animal life that is dead reinforces this. Hydrogen sulfide smells like rotten eggs and is highly toxic to all living things, and it is formed by anaerobic digestion of solids, ie debris on the bottom that is not getting oxygen to the bottom.
      What should I be doing different to combat this? I had been using a net to scoop debris from the bottom of the pond as much as I could and I had a bubbler on the bottom of the pond all season to stir up as much as possible. Is there something additional I should be doing?

    6. #6
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      From your description, you don't have a bottom drain. Can you describe the pond set up, submersible or external pump, gravel bottom or bare bottom, size of the aerator pump, type of filtration, types and amount, if any of plants and how they are planted?

      Bottom drains are very good at removing the debris from the bottom of the pond, and for those ponds constructed without bottom drains, there are retro bottom drains. The removal of the solids once drawn into the bottom drain is very important and can be accomplished in a number of ways from cheap strainers to very expensive RDF filters with the amount of labor and removal efficiency being inversely proportional to the price. Plants can be a major problem, but they can be worked with, trapping serious amounts of hydrogen sulfide in the rotting roots, and shedding large amounts of waste into water.

      All ponds can be made healthy, just a matter of understanding where the problems are and working to solve them.

      "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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      Please help me understand.

      Quote Originally Posted by RichToyBox View Post
      From your description, you don't have a bottom drain. Can you describe the pond set up, submersible or external pump, gravel bottom or bare bottom, size of the aerator pump, type of filtration, types and amount, if any of plants and how they are planted?

      Bottom drains are very good at removing the debris from the bottom of the pond, and for those ponds constructed without bottom drains, there are retro bottom drains. The removal of the solids once drawn into the bottom drain is very important and can be accomplished in a number of ways from cheap strainers to very expensive RDF filters with the amount of labor and removal efficiency being inversely proportional to the price. Plants can be a major problem, but they can be worked with, trapping serious amounts of hydrogen sulfide in the rotting roots, and shedding large amounts of waste into water.

      All ponds can be made healthy, just a matter of understanding where the problems are and working to solve them.
      Iíll do my best to describe the setup.
      1. There is no bottom drain
      2. I have a 1920gph pump connected to a 36w UV. Itís a submersible pump that is about halfway down (2ft down a 4ft deep pond) the water goes into a small waterfall/stream before reentering the pond.
      3. I have a second 1920gph submersible pump that connects directly to a canister filter that is cleaned via two handles built into the top of the canister while a bypass is turned on to drain some water. I do that cleaning once a month.
      4. The air pump I have is a pondmaster AP-20 connected to an 8 inch disc placed at the bottom of my pond in the middle.
      5. The plants I have are in 2 foot planter boxes it two water Lilyís and two other plants that I canít recall the name of at the moment. I also have creeping Jenny growing inside of my stream.
      6. Barebottom
      Last edited by szweier; 4 Weeks Ago at 09:51 PM.

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      Thought Iíd attach some pictures of the foam and plants.






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    9. #9
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      Quote Originally Posted by szweier View Post
      I’ll do my best to describe the setup.
      1. There is no bottom drain
      2. I have a 1920gph pump connected to a 36w UV. It’s a submersible pump that is about halfway down (2ft down a 4ft deep pond) the water goes into a small waterfall/stream before reentering the pond.
      3. I have a second 1920gph submersible pump that connects directly to a canister filter that is cleaned via two handles built into the top of the canister while a bypass is turned on to drain some water. I do that cleaning once a month.
      4. The air pump I have is a pondmaster AP-20 connected to an 8 inch disc placed at the bottom of my pond in the middle.
      5. The plants I have are in 2 foot planter boxes it two water Lily’s and two other plants that I can’t recall the name of at the moment. I also have creeping Jenny growing inside of my stream.
      The air pump with disc, if set on the bottom should keep the debris in motion, making the water have significant cloudiness due to the swirling debris, but it should not accumulate in large quantities, except possibly at or near the edges. If there were a bottom drain disc under the air disc, it would improve the solids removal significantly.

      I don't know the brand of the sub pumps, but are they rated for both submersed and external use, some are, some aren't. If they are, then plumbing a line from a bottom drain to the pump through a solids collector/strainer basket would be a big improvement. To prevent the complete draining of the pond accidentally, put a smaller hole in the plumbing near the 2 foot level to allow the pump to have the suction broken be an air gap. Better to have a pump run dry than a pond. All pumps should go through some form of filtration, not just a UV and stream, so for that size pump another canister filter would work, though a shower with some quilt batting or finer Matala pads for further solids removal would work better. The canister filter should be backwashed weekly to remove as much of the solids as possible and improve the flow. Ponds need to have 10 to 15% water change per week.

      "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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    10. #10
      RichToyBox's Avatar
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      Looking at the picture, there is another possibility. With that amount of foam today and not yesterday and the fish dead today and not yesterday, could it be that someone has dumped some soap in the pond. Kids have been known to do that, and it will kill the fish.

      "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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    11. #11
      szweier is offline Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by RichToyBox View Post
      The air pump with disc, if set on the bottom should keep the debris in motion, making the water have significant cloudiness due to the swirling debris, but it should not accumulate in large quantities, except possibly at or near the edges. If there were a bottom drain disc under the air disc, it would improve the solids removal significantly.

      I don't know the brand of the sub pumps, but are they rated for both submersed and external use, some are, some aren't. If they are, then plumbing a line from a bottom drain to the pump through a solids collector/strainer basket would be a big improvement. To prevent the complete draining of the pond accidentally, put a smaller hole in the plumbing near the 2 foot level to allow the pump to have the suction broken be an air gap. Better to have a pump run dry than a pond. All pumps should go through some form of filtration, not just a UV and stream, so for that size pump another canister filter would work, though a shower with some quilt batting or finer Matala pads for further solids removal would work better. The canister filter should be backwashed weekly to remove as much of the solids as possible and improve the flow. Ponds need to have 10 to 15% water change per week.
      Good point on filtering whatís going through the UV. Probably adding a lot of junk into the stream that doesnít need to be there. Iím definitely going to keep the 10-15% water change per week in mind. Seems like a toxic build up reached a breaking point last night resulting in this massive die off. Incredibly heart breaking, makes it tough to decide to try again. But hopefully with some more water changes additional filtration on the UV pump and maybe some sort of bottom filter will get my setup into a better position to handle sustaining life.


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      Hi szweier, I'm so very sorry for your loss. I just lost one Koi. I can't begin to imagine what you must feel like right now losing them all in one blow.

      From the foam in the photos, it sure looks like something toxic got into pond. Is your pond on a slope where it would be in the path of run-off from other areas? Fertilizers, pesticides and such could do it. It's always hard to think anyone would do something like that deliberately. But trying to explore other possibilities for your fish fatalities, is all your electrical work grounded? Problems with your electricity, submersible pumps and lightning / storm could have been a lethal combination.

      On a separate note, you mentioned cleaning / stirring up the pond bottom. Do you have gravel (or river rock, etc.) on your pond bottom? That harbors worst possible muck, and even 'vacuuming' never gets it all out. So if you do have gravel and do decide to start over, it would be very beneficial to remove all the gravel before doing anything else.
      My heart goes out to you.
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      Quote Originally Posted by DarkStar View Post
      Hi szweier, I'm so very sorry for your loss. I just lost one Koi. I can't begin to imagine what you must feel like right now losing them all in one blow.

      From the foam in the photos, it sure looks like something toxic got into pond. Is your pond on a slope where it would be in the path of run-off from other areas? Fertilizers, pesticides and such could do it. It's always hard to think anyone would do something like that deliberately. But trying to explore other possibilities for your fish fatalities, is all your electrical work grounded? Problems with your electricity, submersible pumps and lightning / storm could have been a lethal combination.

      On a separate note, you mentioned cleaning / stirring up the pond bottom. Do you have gravel (or river rock, etc.) on your pond bottom? That harbors worst possible muck, and even 'vacuuming' never gets it all out. So if you do have gravel and do decide to start over, it would be very beneficial to remove all the gravel before doing anything else.
      My heart goes out to you.
      Sorry for your loss as well. So as far as someone deliberately doing something to the pond I donít think that happened as itís tucked into the back corner of my yard and to get in someone would have to walk passed video surveillance. So unless it was my wife I think I can safely eliminate that possibility.

      As for water run off. This is an interesting topic. I manage all of my yard care to try and avoid anything getting into my pond. The majority of the edges of the pond go untreated. The lawn on one edge gets some fertilizer via a broadcast spreader. I make sure to use an edge guard to keep it from getting into the pond. The last treatment was done on October 7. I have a sprinkler system run every other day so while itís possible the heavy storm brought more into the pond Iím not sure Iím convinced that did it. I checked with my neighbor to see if they sprayed any pesticides and they did not.

      My electricity is grounded but I plan on double checking all of that again just in case.

      The only gravel that exists on the bottom got there because my fish knocked it out of the planters I have in the pond. So the answer there is that itís a bare bottom pond.


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      Quote Originally Posted by szweier View Post
      Sorry for your loss as well. So as far as someone deliberately doing something to the pond I donít think that happened as itís tucked into the back corner of my yard and to get in someone would have to walk passed video surveillance. So unless it was my wife I think I can safely eliminate that possibility.

      As for water run off. This is an interesting topic. I manage all of my yard care to try and avoid anything getting into my pond. The majority of the edges of the pond go untreated. The lawn on one edge gets some fertilizer via a broadcast spreader. I make sure to use an edge guard to keep it from getting into the pond. The last treatment was done on October 7. I have a sprinkler system run every other day so while itís possible the heavy storm brought more into the pond Iím not sure Iím convinced that did it. I checked with my neighbor to see if they sprayed any pesticides and they did not.

      My electricity is grounded but I plan on double checking all of that again just in case.

      The only gravel that exists on the bottom got there because my fish knocked it out of the planters I have in the pond. So the answer there is that itís a bare bottom pond.


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      re: Deliberate act - I didn't suggest it. I believe there's good in everyone which is why I said 'it's hard to believe anyone would do that deliberately'.
      Although I'm still shaking from last night's newscast in which it was announced that several Mallards were found beaten to death! How utterly horrific!

      re: Edging - No clue what kind of edging you have, but water can permeate basement foundations so it's not hard to believe that ground water saturated with fertilizer or pesticides can get under, over or around garden edging. Just saying.

      re: Electric current - There's an interesting and informative discussion about "Grounding Our Ponds" in the Koiphen Archives. Here's the link if you'd like to check it out: http://www.koiphen.com/forums/archiv...p/t-64782.html
      For years there have been articles and posts on the internet about stray current from pond pumps causing bent spines and broken backs in fish (IIRC Doc Johnson talked about it too way back when), I'm not sure about fish kills, but still, none of that would explain the foam.

      You seem to be eliminating all the plausible possibilities (some sort of chemical leeching, fertilizer, pesticides, electric current, lightning / storm). Perhaps there's a combination of things going on here? Or something else entirely that we're just not seeing?

      Other suggestions for action: Check with local Dept. of Environmental Services to find out if any overhead pesticide spraying was done in the last several days and tell them about your fish kill, all the things you've checked and eliminated as causes so far. Maybe they have some other ideas, reports of problems from / with other ponds or nearby bodies of water, or maybe will take an interest and check further. You could even check with the local Fish & Game Commission. It's a stretch, but birds carry stuff, drop things in ponds (bugs, fish, tadpoles, etc.) ask if there's anything transmissible around. It's worth a try.

      I'm really trying to help. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be not knowing what caused it.
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      What does a spawning look like?

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      Well there's a lot of foam with spawning too, but I've never heard of one where all the fish and even the worms end up dead.
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      So I appreciate how nice everyone has been to this point and I hope it continues. That being said I have some additional info to provide.

      I have a friend whoís had ponds basically all his life. He is where I get nearly all of my advice from. My pond being lightly stocked (3 12inch koi and four small goldfish) meant cleaning the filter using built in handles monthly sometimes more often. That doesnít feel like quite enough and I will definitely start more often. That being said I do appreciate all of his help but Iím starting to question these things. I was waiting til further into fall to do a deep clean on my canister filter (laguna pressure flo-clean 2100). Given what has happened I decided that waiting wasnít really important anymore. I mean what could happen I kill my nonexistent fish? Sigh.

      Upon opening it it became abundantly clear that the handles that scrape the filter pads to release dirt were ... not as effective as Iíd hoped they were. Iím considering doing deeper cleans of the filter throughout the season next year instead of using the handles. That being. Opening up the filter removing the pads hosing them off. Removing the filter ribbon at the bottom and rinsing that off. Then dumping out the dirt that has settled to the bottom of the filter. Is that too much? Not enough? Will it entirely remove beneficial bacteria. What should I do instead. I really want to do better and have nothing against working hard to do so. I just need some guidance.

      Thanks

      Warning the pictures below may greatly disappoint expert pond owners.




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      Once the good bacteria populate a surface it is very difficult to remove it. Chlorinated water, in large quantities will kill the bacteria, but pressure washing quickly will kill so little that the numbers may not even show the blip. Cleanliness is good.

      "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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      Please help me understand.

      Quote Originally Posted by RichToyBox View Post
      Once the good bacteria populate a surface it is very difficult to remove it. Chlorinated water, in large quantities will kill the bacteria, but pressure washing quickly will kill so little that the numbers may not even show the blip. Cleanliness is good.
      Thanks. Do you think the shape the filter was in would be capable of resulting in a mass death in my pond overnight? Or am I way off on this one. Good to know a quick clean out of the filter wonít hurt though.


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      Last edited by szweier; 4 Weeks Ago at 07:59 PM.

    20. #20
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      If there were a power outage that allowed the water in the filter to become stagnant, anaerobic, and then the power came back on blasting the hydrogen sulfide out, it would be possible, but if the filter were flowing, I don't believe it could have caused the problem.

      "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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