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    Thread: Advise needed to safely transition to soft water in 35-40F pond with 50 ppm ammonia.

    1. #1
      Koigarden's Avatar
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      Advise needed to safely transition to soft water in 35-40F pond with 50 ppm ammonia.

      I'm trying to improve the situation not stress my fish further. Please recommend how to proceed with winter water changes. This is my first winter with a pond. Temps get 20 below at times. Today might get up to 40 F, and I'm off today in the daylight so I can do something.

      My pond was 8.2-8.4 pH. My soft water is 7.4pH and test 0 for ammonia

      Here's the situation. This fall I made my pond deeper and unknowingly refilled it with ammonia water. Yep, turns out my well water is testing at 50 ppm ammonia. We are in IL and the filters would freeze, so the barrel filters and all filtration has been removed with the start of freezing weather. So without a filter they just had to sit in ammonia.

      It took me a long time to figure out the well water was tainted so in the meantime 70 % of the fish died. I have 10 left. ( A number of them were 2" feeder goldfish) and maybe they don't survive winter, not sure.

      First winter with a pond.
      Thanks to ICU2 ( great advice!), I did test my outside well spigot and figure out the ammonia was coming from the water not the fish ( who haven't eaten in 2 months)

      I had a plumber over and have talked with the culligan guy, and now have it switched to soft water coming out the spigot to the pond.

      My pond, at last test BEFORE THE 25-30% water change was still 50 ammonia, with 8.2-8.4 PH morning/ evening and the temp is 35- 40 F different days.( tested at the bottom and the top- only 1 degree warmer at the bottom)

      3 days ago I did a 25%-30% WATER CHANGE over 24 hours to soft water. The pond warmed up from 35-40. I haven't tested my pond yet but figured I'd give it a few days and retest today to give it time to mix up since there isn't any pump stirring it other then air pumps. And I understand it's best not to chill winter fish with moving water.

      I believe the fish got weakened from the stress and ammonia and perhaps those little ones were too little, but I have has none die recently, but I did remove another sick tiny goldfish last weekend. Some growth on her tail making it as thick as her tail stump.

      I was advised to put the salt back in to stop the disease process and it is at .35% salinity.

      When should I do my next water change?, what percentage to not create a pH stress, and how do I keep fish in torpor from getting more stressed? Do I let the water crash in to add air to my airless well water?

      So far only 1 koi was sick and removed, the others (Koi and GF) are at the bottom- 4 ft deep, moving and don't appear sick.

      If it helps I will retest my water today when the sun is up and see what the 25%-30% change did so far.Name:  IMG_4285.jpg
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      here is a pic of the re-dug pond filled unknowingly with ammonia well water Oct 27, 70% of those pictured have died.
      Last edited by Koigarden; 12-19-2018 at 08:30 AM.

    2. #2
      mplskoi is online now Supporting Member
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      One of the benefits of the shape of pond that you built is that it will be easy to cover with styrofoam. The warmer you keep it the better chance you have of addressing the other issues safely. If I were you I would head to a local building store and buy enough two inch pink board to cover the pond. And I would also consider a 4 by 8 sheet of rigid greenhouse plastic. Give them some day light on one end and all covered on the other end. And total coverage with foam at night. Based on your profile pic you may also access to hay bales. Consider laying them out around your pond to keep the surrounding earth from getting too cold when we have a real cold snap.
      I will let others address what you really asked about.

    3. #3
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      Salt is helpful for osmoregulatory support in a heated quarantine tank, but that's the only time I advise using it.

      For your ammonia, soft/hard water and temp issues, I would do a 10% water change at least daily until you get the ammonia down. The goal is a gradual change in small increments, which won't shock the fish. What are you using for an ammonia binder?
      Mary

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      [QUOTE=mplskoi;2698771]One of the benefits of the shape of pond that you built is that it will be easy to cover with styrofoam.

      I built this pond this size to fit a 'lid' I found in a scrap yard and then my entire summer building the lid to be better for winter/summer use. I even learned to use a bandsaw to make wooden wheels as it is so heavy to lift. and built in a counterbalance. We are very windy and I have looked with interest at the foam covers on a thread here but don't want to risk it, I'll see if I can find you a pic or my lid. I may not choose to continue with it in summer as it has given me bicep tendonitis

      so yes, I completely agree with the idea of a lid. I can't show you the water with the lid in place, which is why you wouldn't know I have one

      Well BUMMER UPDATE> the previous water change this weekend did nothing. Tests are the same. I had a 0 ammonia test at first from the spigot but it is back to 50 if not more because there was a second valve I didn't know I needed to close so it apparently dumped ammonia water back in rather then the soft water I had on my initial sample. ammonia wins again... green water test not yellowName:  IMG_3948.jpg
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Size:  141.6 KB, ph stayed 8.2

    5. #5
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      Last edited by Koigarden; 12-19-2018 at 01:20 PM.

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      Sorry about the water issue. Can you do another big (25%) water change today with a binder like ChlorAm-X or Ultimate or Safe (all available on Amazon, Safe is the most economical) and then 10-15% daily after that?
      Mary

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      I can do today and then I'd have to wait for another day off this weekend. What about changing the ph that fast? That is my concern, they've been in 8.2-8.4 and how fast can it swing to 7.4 safely?

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      PH changes of .2 - .5 per day are acceptable. You can figure out how much a change you are making by percentage and average the results. If you change out 25%, that's 75% of water at 8.4 and 25% at 7.4. Hopefully you're better at math than I am.
      Mary

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      50ppm?

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      that's good to know .2 to .5 pH change per day. I'll ask my kid to check my math!

      25% water change today. 40 degrees in the pond held constant. 43 degree day. oh so fun.

      kph- I had to go get my test kit sheet. I typed that wrong. It reads .50ppm actually, it looks more like 1.0 at the start of the water change today, maybe in the middle, .75ppm.

    11. #11
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      ok 25% water change should be ok ph wise.. 8.3 ave. drops to 8.07 then today ( math wise) and so I could do 25% next time, saturday I guess.
      looks like my fish are getting good water for christmas if the weather stays this warm.
      K

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      Quote Originally Posted by Koigarden View Post
      that's good to know .2 to .5 pH change per day. I'll ask my kid to check my math!

      25% water change today. 40 degrees in the pond held constant. 43 degree day. oh so fun.

      kph- I had to go get my test kit sheet. I typed that wrong. It reads .50ppm actually, it looks more like 1.0 at the start of the water change today, maybe in the middle, .75ppm.

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      The pH may not change at all for a few water changes, depending on the KH. The KH will have to be depleted some to allow the pH to shift. Check the KH of the pond and the KH of the treated water and you will be able to calculate the shift in KH. Once it drops to around 80, you will see a shift in the pH, but until it gets close to that, any shift in pH will bounce back, as the KH is derived from carbonates, which were dissolved by carbon dioxide producing bicarbonate, which have a pH of 8.3/8.4. You may, depending on KH keep the same pH all winter without a shift, but most likely it will shift. The shift will happen fairly quickly once the KH is consumed. You will want to increase the KH in the spring about the time that the filters are brought back on line to assist the development of a good bacteria colony in the filters to start the bio conversion.

      "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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      Koigarden, I like your pond. Do you have any pictures of the build?

      It is the non-ionized ammonia (NH3) that is toxic to a pond environment. To be safe NH3 level should be less than .02mg/l. How much NH3 is influenced mostly by ph and temperature. Plug your current total ammonia (per your drop test), ph and temperature on this neat calculator and let us know what you get.

      http://www.hbuehrer.ch/Rechner/Ammonia.html

      Also you have not given us your KH, nitrite, nitrate level (unless I missed it). Can you see the bottom of your pond and your fish clearly? Is the bottom clean?
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      Glad you asked!

      My GH and KH test kit arrived today and I have numbers! However they are off the API chart so are probably very bad. I am going to paste these here. My apologies if you already read this on my other post.

      Outside pond GH 16 drops ( off the chart) and KH 20 drops ( off the chart). this is mostly well water, I'm water changing it to soft water slowly as my well water is testing positive for ammonia. So my salt in there is .35% and I know that shows up on the gh test right? So I suppose this means my water is hard on my koi/ GF? someone tell me. maybe the ammonia I am trying so hard to get rid of is in GH numbers too I don't know.
      oh some other tests from today pond temp 39F=3.8C, ammonia still 50 ( I'm so bummed, it's fricking cold out there to be doing this) and pH held at 8.2

      In comparison my soft water in my inside stock tank of baby koi- this water goes thru the Culligan water softener which means it test 0 for ammonia ( unlike my well right now)
      GH is 3 drops so the chart says that = ppm gh/kh 53.7. and dKH 3 so my general hardness and .35% salt is 53.7 and what is dKH 3?
      then my kh on my stock tank is 19 ( off the chart). My ammonia is 0 and nitrite 0 and nitrate 20 and temp is 68F
      are these numbers any better for koi?

      I'll have to figure out your calculator as it is not ppm units. Give me some time, but thanks. And yes I can see the bottom but it isn't glistening gin clear without the filter. No debris or leaves or muck tho.

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      RichToyBox's Avatar
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      My responds is shown in the post on Yentyl, post 7.

      As for the values being very high, there is very little concern for the numbers being high, they just need to be above some minimum value for stability. Some people will use a softener to reduce the GH as there is some that believe soft water is beneficial to the quality of the colors/skin, and that is fine as long as there is at least some GH. Other than the use of acids, I know of nothing that will lower the KH.

      "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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      Ok, I am not sure how to come up with the figures the calculator link ...NH3? nh4/nh3?
      my kit does pH 8.2, ammonia .50 ppm, nitrite test from a week ago 0, nitrate hasn't been tested as it is the least of my worries and I am doing water changes...
      Not dodging the calculator question but not sure how to fill it in, sorry
      I'm sure it will be better when I get it switched to soft water with 7.4pH and none of this ridiculous ammonia.
      Last edited by Koigarden; 12-23-2018 at 12:20 AM.

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      Just fwiw too, the number of drops can be multiplied by 17.8 to find that actual reading and that should
      give you the number for the ones that are off the chart.
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      oh good, I was bummed to buy it and have no actual numbers, thx
      getting my calculator...

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      outside pond
      kH 356 and
      GH 285

      soft water stock tank inside
      kH 338 and
      gH 53

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