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

    1. #21
      DarkStar is offline Supporting Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by Koigarden View Post
      outside pond
      kH 356 and
      GH 285

      soft water stock tank inside
      kH 338 and
      gH 53
      Hi Koigarden, I'm so sorry you're still having well water problems. Any news or hope that local or state government / EPA may be working on the ground water & heavy metals issues? First, it's great that you bought the GH / KH test kits. That info helps a lot.

      Ok, let's get all the facts in one place and make sure we have them right, ok?

      *You do NOT have Ammonia in your House water (Culligan Filtered) That's what you're using for your stock tank inside. Unless I misread, the ones inside are ok?

      So let's keep that separate for now, not to confuse issues.

      Pond:

      The Well Water Unfiltered, has ammonia as your source for pond water, correct?
      *Your recent pond pH averages 8.2 - 8.4
      *The pH in your Well Water averages ?
      *The latest ammonia test result in your pond is 0.50 ~ pretty much the same as that of your source well water. Correct?
      *Your current pond water temperature is approx. 39F = 3.8C
      *kH 356 and GH 285

      I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but with all of the limestone in your area acting as an aquifier, I doubt you're ever going to get your KH down to what most of us think of as 'normal' levels, which means it's going to act as a natural buffer keeping your pH up in those 8.0 - 8.4 levels with the unfiltered well water. That in turn will always make ammonia in your water more of a risk even in colder temps (JMHO)

      The filtered Soft Water you have obviously has a lower pH, a much lower GH, and a slightly lower KH, with a notable absence of Ammonia. So the quickest and most obvious solution would be to use the treated soft water for the pond from now on, if that's doable cost-wise and logistically (where you have to pump the water from to get it to the pond). I have no idea what the cost is for a Culligan Filter, how long it lasts, how many gallons it can process before it has to be recharged (?) or replaced, etc.

      This is something you'll have to consider and make a decision about not only for the present but for the long term.
      For the time being with super-cold temps your fish may be relatively unaffected by small amounts of ammonia, but what will you do when the weather & the water warms up again, feedings, fish size, ammonia and waste increase incrementally. If there is ammonia in the source water to begin with, plus whatever the fish generate, you will most certainly have to treat the pond for ammonia at the very least with every water exchange and likely more often.

      I wish I had easier, better choices to offer. Other folks with a lot more experience than I may have better suggestions........
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    2. #22
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      [QUOTE=KoiRun;2699116]Koigarden, I like your pond. Do you have any pictures of the build?

      Ok, I put together an album which is under profile maybe, but look at the last one first as it loaded in reverse order, and also tip your head to the left Sorry it didn't load nicely.

    3. #23
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      thx darkstar, and belated happy bday. I am in the process of going to softwater. I am doing water changes to get there now. as weather allows.
      Per your pm, Hope you feel better soon.

    4. #24
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      With your KH values inside, the only reason that you would have a pH as low as you report is if the water is not aerated sufficiently to drive off the carbon dioxide. The carbonate/bicarbonate buffer system, carbonates if the pH is low enough will dissolve taking the H+ ion of acids and making bicarbonate. At a pH of about 8.3/8.4 the bicarbonate will take the H+ ion and make water plus carbon dioxide, which in water is an acid bringing down the pH. Through aeration the carbon dioxide is driven off bringing the pH back to a value of 8.3/8.4. Most well water, tested directly from the well will have a very low pH because the acids that dissolved the carbonates have created large amounts of carbon dioxide. Put that well water in a bucket with an air stone overnight and the pH will jump much closer to the 8.3/8.4. The carbonate/bicarbonate buffer consumes acids until consumed at which time the pH becomes very unstable and will start to drop with increases in acids instead of remain constant.

      The only way to get rid of the KH buffers is to use acid. Some have tried to use vinegar, but I have heard that is not a good idea. Muratic acid is hydrochloric acid, which is hydrogen ions and chloride ions. The chloride ions will combine with sodium ions and form salt or with calcium ions to form calcium chloride, and the hydrogen ions will consume the bicarbonate as shown above.

      Getting rid of the ammonia is a good thing, and if your filter system is removing it at the flow rates of the hose then that will take care of that problem, but water changes will not bring down the KH so pH will not be affected by your filter system.

      "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. #25
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      Quote Originally Posted by Koigarden View Post
      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.
      I filled this ammonia calculator for you. Your ammonia is far from being toxic at this ph and the current temp.

      Name:  Screen Shot 2018-12-24 at 10.11.37 PM.png
Views: 62
Size:  21.3 KB

      How are the fishies?
      Last edited by KoiRun; 3 Weeks Ago at 11:21 PM.
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    6. #26
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      I doubt it is possible to calculate the resulting pH after a water change due to the reasons RichToyBox indicated. Here's what I would do.... Fill a quart Mason Jar or measuring cup with 32 oz of your pond water-- remove 25% (8oz.)-- add 8 oz of your softened water --- stir or shake, wait a minute and measure the pH.

      This simulates a 25% change, this could similarly be done for any other percentage.

      I'm not sure how the water is dispersed when you do a water change, but it may create a pocket that will not readily intermix without some form of agitation (airstone or filter pump). At 38 degrees I'm assuming the fish are just sitting on the bottom.

      Adding a little bit of Seachem Safe during your water changes would also do wonders. Buy it by the kg and the application cost is negligible.

    7. #27
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      Quote Originally Posted by Koigarden View Post
      thx darkstar, and belated happy bday. I am in the process of going to softwater. I am doing water changes to get there now. as weather allows.
      Per your pm, Hope you feel better soon.
      Thank you kindly, Koigarden!

      In focusing on your problems, I’ve forgotten to mention how nice your pond and cover is, and your horses are beautiful!
      Happy Holidays and best wishes, friend. Hopefully, your difficulties will be sorted out soon.
      Find Something You Would Die For And Live for It.



    8. #28
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      I am kind of new here and thought I had set alerts to know when I had a response. I'm sorry I didn't know there were any responses since I had set it. I must have done that setting wrong.

      You have some good thoughts here which I will need to digest. I am puzzled and mad that I have now done 2 x 25% water changes with soft water and haven't yet made a change in the ammonia level. My water softener takes out some of the ammonia but still tests for a little. My softened water tested at the source is .25ppm ammonia, my pond still tests .50, so my culligan system isn't totally removing it. I had my hubby check all the basement plumbing to be sure no hard water was still getting outside and it is for sure all soft water now at the pond.

      I am going to recheck ammonia in the pond today and see if 24 hours was not enough time to mix it up. I am not enjoying getting cold and sadly broke a my best garden hose when it froze and I moved it frozen. The metal part just broke in half.

      The last time I did a water change I vacuumed the bottom with a $20 pool vacuum that runs on water pressure, as I have in the summer. I vacuumed almost the whole bottom and the total amount of particles caught in the bag ( like a filter sock ) was less then 3/4 cup, and mostly sand, gravel. So is there ammonia coming from decay? Nope.

      I have since learned ( another older thread) I should not be testing my water when it's still cold as the reagent might take more than the 5 min. when cold so now I am testing it (apples to apples) at room temp so perhaps my previous ammonia tests done with cold water were actually higher than .50 and now we are finally truly .50. Perhaps that is why it isn't showing improvement.

      I put some pics of the pond build in my album for those who asked.


      Rich you are so right. The pH hasn't budged with the soft water changes yet, so no worries of a dangerous swing.

    9. #29
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      Koirun
      thanks for showing me how to use the linked calculator. I didn't get it when you first posted, but after you filled it in I did understand how to do it, and had to look it up. So my conclusion is The api ammonia number goes on the third blank, and it looks like NH3 is the bad form ( last blank- fills itself in) and NH4 is not a concern. Since it doesn't give a ppm value for NH3 ( like my api test kit) can you tell me what number on that calculator is it a concern? Like (.01 or .015 or __?__) Then the results would be more helpful.

      It's nice that it can calculate pond temps colder than the charts. Sweet!

    10. #30
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      Name:  IMG_4484.jpg
Views: 41
Size:  96.9 KB Here's a pic of the survivors at the last water change. I count 11 so no one has died and I must have miscounted last time. Can't get a nice shot on a gray day. Fatty, the big one is 18 inches, is my favorite and no one knows how old she is as she was a gift found in a pond when the owner moved, and I would be very sad if she died because I did something or didn't do something. Any guess as to her age? she weighs 3#.

      And below a pic of the last sick goldfish tail which I removed for being sick with something.
      If not ammonia then sick with something else.Name:  IMG_4465.jpg
Views: 43
Size:  153.0 KB.
      Last edited by Koigarden; 3 Weeks Ago at 11:57 AM.

    11. #31
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      Quote Originally Posted by Koigarden View Post
      Koirun
      thanks for showing me how to use the linked calculator. I didn't get it when you first posted, but after you filled it in I did understand how to do it, and had to look it up. So my conclusion is The api ammonia number goes on the third blank, and it looks like NH3 is the bad form ( last blank- fills itself in) and NH4 is not a concern. Since it doesn't give a ppm value for NH3 ( like my api test kit) can you tell me what number on that calculator is it a concern? Like (.01 or .015 or __?__) Then the results would be more helpful.

      It's nice that it can calculate pond temps colder than the charts. Sweet!
      There's a calculator on the forum on the upper navigation bar called "Koi Calculators". The rate at which NH3 is dangerous depends on the temp and pH level.
      Just plug your total ammonia (NH3/NH4) in at the top of the chart.

      https://www.koiphen.com/forums/koicalcs.php?do=calcnh3c
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    12. #32
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      Ok. I did just that. Thank you. It has been a week since the last water change. The water has had plenty of time to mix up. Nothing has improved. If it's not ammonia that killed 70% of the fish mostly small goldfish, than there is another issue. The last sick fish, a small goldfish, ( tail pictured above) was removed 12/15.

      Maybe size matters- would you expect small goldfish to die in a cold pond? Should 2", 3" survive winter outside at 35-40F?
      Is there a minimum size on small koi surviving cold water? I read somewhere tosai ( which are under 1y.o. I guess) should not be outside for winter?? is this true?

      Today in the A.M.
      pH 8.2
      Temp 40 F
      ammonia .50ppm still
      nitrite 0
      GH 250

    13. #33
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      Thanks for the latest numbers. I wouldn't worry about measuring GH so much. KH paints a better picture.
      ppm is the same as mg/L

      I plugged in your numbers:

      Name:  Screen Shot 2018-12-29 at 1.23.14 PM.png
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      NH3 becomes a concern if it is .02 mg/L or ppm

      0.008967 mg/L is safe.

      If your ph remains the same (likely if your KH remains 7 kdh or above ime) your NH3 level won't be toxic until your water temperature reaches 14C.

      Are you covering your pond? I did notice that you have a solid cover that you have made. Can you cut an opening in that cover and put a window to let sun in? Sunlight will help a bit of algae grow. Algae will consume some of NH4+ reducing the total ammonia (NH3 + NH4+). Is there anyway you can hang a small recirculating filter about a foot below the surface? I'm thinking a small pump and filter might give you a head start in the spring and in the meantime help clarify your water.

      Nice looking koi. I can see why she/he is so precious. Just in case you disappear for awhile after this problem, I'd like to mention now not to add anymore fish in this pond come spring/summer... for fatty's sake.
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    14. #34
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      Great minds think alike. Just today I thought it might be a worthless effort but why not try and suspend a filter in the water since it doesn't seem like freezing yet. I was told BB doesn't work below 40F but just maybe ... I can get a break here.

      So I threw together a filter - 25 gallon of lava rock that has been seeded , put a submersible pump hose in there, covered it in a mesh bag to keep the fish out of the openings and suspended it on a steel bar under the lid. It's about 10 inches under the surface so it shouldn't freeze just yet. I've had no ice so far in the pond.

      Today's temps are 38 in the pond. I pulled out another dead small dead goldfish. sigh...but I have good news to share...The good news is I found a baby koi, White Tiger, in my indoor stock tank filter today!! The baby butterfly koi is 2.5 inches and had gone missing a week ago. He must have jumped into a 2 inch opening on the lid of the lava rock filter in the stock tank!
      So a 14 cent goldfish loss outside but a $7 koi find inside! He's fine, eating, no cuts from the rock. If I hadn't built the lava filter outside today with seeded lava rock, that little koi might have gotten quite hungry in the stock tank filter.

      Maybe I'll test parameters at the pond in a week and see if I can get a pond post christmas miracle.

    15. #35
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      Thx and update. First of all, Y'all have been most helpful and I have followed thru on advice given. I also found a mentor!

      I forgot how I found the group but I ended up chasing info/ articles over at K.O.I. where I found a contact list and contacted a fellow many hours away but still in IL. As you might know I've had no luck finding local advice. I asked him if he knew any smart people in my area to give me advise.

      He's been thru some of their courses and many of you know him here too as Jeff at windsongacres. As it turns out he doesn't know anyone living near me BUT travels for work and will visit my pond sometime before spring. He's willing to take a look and give advice which is just what I was hoping for. He's experienced with wintering fish outdoors, BD, sieves, etc and other things that need to be done right. I feel so relieved that he is willing to come over sometime. This is an answer to prayer.

      Jeff, on the phone, told me my pond was too cold and to make a cover for my pond, which someone here advised me of also, but since I already had a cover, I needed to be told why I needed to do more, so thx to the person here who said " do a cover" and now I have added a bubblewrap blanket( not touching to water) under that fiberglass lid. (Which is good as the high is 18F and only getting colder tomorrow.)

      Roddy told me my water is not soft, which helped me to bring some things up with Culligan and has been patiently answering questions and giving me guidance, and Steve ICU2 and Darkstar have all been willing to patiently answer question after question.

      My source water with the Culligan guy adjusting settings, is now FREE of AMMONIA and no longer tests hard!

      The 3 week attempt at decreasing ammonia at this temp with a submerged pump and seeded filter thrown in the pond has been discontinued as it did not decrease the ammonia at all and Jeff said to stop running the pump,as it is just stirring the waters.

      I have 9 fish left and the last one that died was another GF on dec 11. Hopefully the PP and the other changes bring that to an end now.

      I froze my butt off doing many water changes (15-20%) and even vacuumed the bottom with no decrease in ammonia as the source water had the ammonia in it. (Yeah, it's crazy, I can't believe it either) Thx to those who showed me that at this temp it is nontoxic and not the problem. Those koi calculators are the bomb! My frozen butt thanks you all to.

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