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    Thread: Help Ammonia Shocked Koi

    1. #1
      Fangs is offline Junior Member
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      Help Ammonia Shocked Koi

      I am in a bit of a spot and could use some input to hopefully save my koi.
      I have 3 koi I keep in a large 75 gallon tank. While I was away and the koi were being fed by a friend, the filter system for their tank had failed, causing ammonia to quickly build up in their tank. As soon as I returned and was aware of it, I took action. I started with a 50% water change and treated the water with stabilizing solutions. After this I'd been doing smaller water changes over the past couple days. When the issue was first realized, my koi seemed obviously stressed and the smallest koi I had seemed to be lethargic. After I started treating the water, though, they had all seemed to start perking up.
      At least till this morning, when I woke, the smallest koi I had was struggling to keep itself righted and kept floating on its side.
      I have since moved this koi to a hospital tank and have done another water change. I administered some MelaFix, thinking an infection might of affected it's swim bladder. The fish was still very active this morning, but has since progressed to simply floating on its side with little response.
      I am at a loss at this point of what more I can do, if anything. The fish is still alive as I write this. Outside of small water changes, I am not sure what to do.
      Any advise would be appreciated.

    2. #2
      icu2's Avatar
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      Welcome to Koiphen, I'm glad you found us.

      A product called Prime or Safe will detoxify ammonia but needs to be reapplied ever couple days.

      But to get a better idea of what is happening we really need you to have drip test kits for ammonia,
      nitrite, nitrate, pH, KH, and current water temp, and can give us those levels.

      I wouldn't waste any more money on Melafix.
      --Steve
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      "I know what I have to do now. I got to keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise.
      Who knows what the tide could bring." --Tom Hanks in Cast Away

    3. #3
      RichToyBox's Avatar
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      As Steve mentioned, Prime or Safe or Cloram-X will bind the ammonia into the non-toxic ammonium form, but to know if you have enough binder to keep it converted, you really need to get the SeaChem Ammonia Alert Card. It will show the toxicity of the ammonia from safe to lethal, and as long as it is in the safe, then enough of the binder is present. The test numbers are important for evaluating the stability and safety of the water. High ammonia burns the gill tissue and skin, making it hard for the fish to take in oxygen, or for burnt skin, flashing. KH is probably the most important test, at least for cycled filter systems, as the KH is consumed by the filters and when gone allows extremely wide swings in pH from very high to very low, causing irritation to the fish, but also the pH crash will kill the bio bacteria that convert the ammonia to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate, creating high ammonia levels even without feeding.

      Melafix generally is not considered to be of much help. It is a tree oil and oil and water really don't mix well and oil coating the gills will impair oxygen intake. It is not an antibiotic which is needed for most ulcers. It does make good money for the seller and manufacturer.

      "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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    4. #4
      Fangs is offline Junior Member
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      Sorry for the delay. I had to buy a test kit, which has left me more shocked. The results I got from the test kit is more thorough then the free one I normally get from my local store and now... I am really not sure how to respond.
      I took tests from both the hospital tank and the main tank.
      Hospital tank
      ph 8.0 alkakinity 300 hardness 1000 nitrite 0.5 nitrate 20
      Main tank
      ph 5.5 alkakinity 80 hardness 1000 nitrite 1 nitrate 200

      I had no idea the water was so hard. I use water conditioners but apparently it isn't working. The alkalinity is super high in the hospital tank, though I don't know what caused that.

    5. #5
      Fangs is offline Junior Member
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      I hadn't known that about Melafix, it has always been what was recommended to me before by both stores and other fish enthusiasts. I got the water tested again and am rather at a loss at it is far from what the first, admittedly basic, tests I had gotten done showed.
      Hospital tank
      ph 8.0 alkakinity 300 hardness 1000 nitrite 0.5 nitrate 20
      Main tank
      ph 5.5 alkakinity 80 hardness 1000 nitrite 1 nitrate 200

    6. #6
      mplskoi is offline Supporting Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by Fangs View Post
      I hadn't known that about Melafix, it has always been what was recommended to me before by both stores and other fish enthusiasts. I got the water tested again and am rather at a loss at it is far from what the first, admittedly basic, tests I had gotten done showed.
      Hospital tank
      ph 8.0 alkakinity 300 hardness 1000 nitrite 0.5 nitrate 20
      Main tank
      ph 5.5 alkakinity 80 hardness 1000 nitrite 1 nitrate 200
      This would be a total crash going on? If that PH result is accurate your bio is getting killed. Prepare for an ammonia spike!

    7. #7
      Marilyn's Avatar
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      I'm not really following the results as you've listed them so I hesitated to get involved.
      Can you share the brand of kit, please? Is it a KH kit? Is it a drop kit?

      As has been mentioned, bind the ammonia. A pH of 5.5 is what is called a pH crash. Once the ammonia is bound, raise the buffering capacity of the water by adding baking soda. Because we only have a limited information, I can't be specific with the amount of baking soda. Know that ponds need an alkalinity level sustained over 120 to stave off pH crashes.

      This is a calculator to do so:

      https://www.koiphen.com/forums/koicalcs.php?do=calckh

      Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

    8. #8
      Fangs is offline Junior Member
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      I used imagitarium 5-in-1 aquarium water test strips.

    9. #9
      icu2's Avatar
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      Test strips are normally not very accurate. Drip tests, like this one from API, give a lot
      more reliable tests:

      http://www.cascade-pond-supply.com/T...Kit-p-444.html

      For some unknown reason they don't include a test for KH/GH in the Master Test Kit
      so get it separately:

      http://www.cascade-pond-supply.com/T...its-p-521.html
      --Steve
      Find more about Weather in Poulsbo, WA

      "I know what I have to do now. I got to keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise.
      Who knows what the tide could bring." --Tom Hanks in Cast Away

    10. #10
      Fangs is offline Junior Member
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      I will look into getting a better test kit.
      In the mean time, is there any advise to be given to help save my fish?
      I am doing daily water changes on both the main and hospital tank, taking care to condition the water. In my main tank my largest koi seems to be recovering, but another koi is showing signs of lethargy. My biggest concern is my smallest koi. I had moved it to a hospital tank as it started to loose buoyancy but was still showing signs of energy and life several days ago when I started this thread. Since then it has only been on a downturn. It hardly moves, floating mostly on its side. It isn't eating now, before it would at least try for the pallets. Is there any advise to help save this fish?

    11. #11
      mplskoi is offline Supporting Member
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      I think you have been given plenty of advice to manage your KH, PH and ammonia. If you aren't willing to follow that advice then there isn't much we can do for you. Have you done anything about your KH yet?

    12. #12
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      Maybe I am missing something or not understanding.
      I have been given some advise to fix my ammonia problem. Mostly what I've just been told is to test my water and that my tests I did weren't good enough so I have to test it again. This is fine, I understand its difficult to advise for a situation like this when not directly there to asses situations and the more information I can give, the better.
      But testing and retesting the water isn't helping my fish.
      I am doing regular water changes. I stopped putting in melafix. I got the ammonia lock solutions suggested. I am addressing the water hardness issue.

      None of this is really helping my fish.
      Is there any medicine anyone could suggest I try, since Melafix isn't suggested? Any other thing aside from addressing the water quality? Anything?
      The help I have gotten so far is not unappreciated and I am applying it to improve my main tank and keep my other fish alive.
      My main concern for this was towards my smallest koi, though.
      Nothing seems to be helping. It's health has just been deteriorating through this entire process.
      All it does now is float at the bottom of the hospital tank, mostly on it's back. It will not eat anymore, or can not.
      I am desperate for anything that might possibly save this fish. Any medicine, or herbal treatment? Any trick that might just POSSIBLY give this fish a fighting because while fixing the water is definitely important, it might not survive long enough to benefit from the improved water at this rate.

    13. #13
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      Fangs, the reason we address water first is that if the fish isn't in sustainable water (low KH and fluctuating pH) then putting medications in will likely do him in. Your pH reading means there is no buffering capacity in your water.

      Aside from sitting on the bottom, you haven't shared anything that presents as parasitic or bacterial in nature. For whatever reason, we see a lot of fish in unstable water and often, the single best thing we can advise it to get the water parameters in line.

      You mention deteriorating. Define this please.

      The bottom line is a pH level of 5.5 is a pH crash. Fish living in this will often die and the best thing to do is to resolve that ASAP. They are not meant to be living in acidic water. It's why I posted the video link.
      Bind ammonia, raise the KH so the pH is stable. The better test kits will give us a better read on your values.

      Whichever tank you have, you want your readings to be zero ammonia, zero nitrite and a KH value of 100 or better. Sustain this, it is their baseline necessity for them to be healthy.



      Without adequate KH, your system will not support having healthy fish. Address that first.
      Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

    14. #14
      Marilyn's Avatar
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      Disregard the end part of this video about oyster shells. Simple baking soda will raise your KH. Bind the ammonia and buffer the water with baking soda. This will stabilize the water and the pH.

      Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

    15. #15
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      Quote Originally Posted by Fangs View Post
      . I am addressing the water hardness issue.
      Fangs- sorry if I/we sound impatient with you, but often when someone comes looking for help on this site and they say something like "I am addressing that" they actually AREN'T. Unless you tell us specifics of how you are addressing that then many of us are going to guess that you aren't. The odd thing with KH issues is that few people actually understand KH and its relationship with PH so they completely ignore the issue. As if their not understanding it means it can't matter. IT DOES MATTER. You can't have healthy fish with no KH.

      If you had acid stomach would you ignore it or would you go take a KH buffer tablet?

      You don't have to wait for better test kits to arrive to choose to raise your KH. Raise your KH as Marilyn has advised and bind your ammonia. Your filters will have completely died off from the PH crash so you are going to need to bind your ammonia for 2-3 weeks while the bio comes back.

    16. #16
      Fangs is offline Junior Member
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      By deteriorating I mean that its energy, appearance, and general health seems to be failing. When I started this post, the fish was having some lethargy and bouncy issues, swimming a bit before floating on its side. It was clearly not well but was still showing decent activity. It would still try to swim around the tank and responded to food. Since then it has gradually been loosing energy, before mostly floating right side up when possible and now simply floating at the bottom on its side or back at all times. Before it would swim and right itself, now it can't even swim enough to right itself. Its color is quickly becoming dull. It is not clamping its fin to itself. It does not try for food anymore and I'm not sure if its even capable of swimming enough to get food. At this point it shows hardly any sign of life aside from gulping water for air (I added more airation to the hospital tank to increase the oxygen in the water several days ago now)

    17. #17
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      If your ph test results of 5.5 are in fact accurate, you need to stop focusing on medication and herbal treatments and focus on kh/ph as suggested. You said you addressed binding the ammonia and water hardness, can you specify what you did?

      Where are the fish now, the main tank or the hospital tank?

    18. #18
      Fangs is offline Junior Member
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      To be clear, I am addressing the water hardness issue on several levels. In the immediate level, I've bought better quality water conditioner and are treating the water with it. I did a 50% water change at the first sign of issues and have since been doing a 15-20% water change daily on both the hospital and main tank. I've been using API ammo-lock to treat the water. I've cleaned and repair the filtration system as well as vacuumed and cleaned the tanks, removing any possible organic matter that might of been attributing to the ammonia spike (since the filtration system had failed while I was gone, there was a lot of accumulated poop in the substrate). I've reduced feeding and have carefully removed any uneaten food to insure no added debris to the ammonia issue. Baking soda was recommended but needed better tests or more info before any advise on amounts given.
      On a larger scale I am directly addressing the hard water issue at the tap water source. I was aware before that the water from the tap was somewhat hard but using the test stips on straight tap water was showing it automatically over 1000 on the test. Evidence on our appliances and pipes have also shown that the water coming into my house is much harder then anticipated or normal. That is going to be addressed by installing a water softener system so eventually the water quality will be improved straight from the tap (will still test and condition the water as needed for the fish tanks, though)

    19. #19
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      To update, the current tests I've gotten (using the test strips still, sorry)
      Main ph 8.0 alk 300 hard 1000 nitrite 0.5 nitrate 0
      Hospital ph 7.5 alk 80 hard 1000 nitrite 1 nitrate 20

    20. #20
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      The hardness/gh reading of 1000ppm seems pretty intense. I didn't realize you could get that high with tap water. That's about 56 degrees of hardness. I'd recommend getting a liquid drop test kit for gh/kh like this https://www.amazon.com/API-TEST-Fres...2625853&sr=8-4

      Also, with an alkalinity/kh of 80~300ppm, I'd expect your ph to be automatically buffered to around 8.3. The fact that it isn't even with a kh reading 300ppm/17dkh makes me suspect the test kit.

      And I may have missed it, what were the ammonia readings during this whole time?

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