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  • Results 1 to 17 of 17

    Thread: Koi stressed after a big move

    1. #1
      napalm_beach's Avatar
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      Question Koi stressed after a big move

      I was lucky enough to re-home some big koi into my pond. There are 9 of them, the oldest 35 years and I think most of them are more than 20 years. They've lived their entire lives in the same pond, smaller and more shallow than mine, but very well maintained.

      The first few days in my pond they were fine. Not eating much but playing around the waterfall and eating algae. Then they got stressed. For about 7 days they bunched up at the bottom of the pond in one end and wouldn't eat. Fins were down, with those occasional bursts of activity and sharp turns.

      They've finally started eating and moving around again but it's now been 3 weeks and they're still showing some stress signs.

      pH is 8.2
      Amonia level is very low
      No predators have shown up on my security camera
      The pond is 4000-5000 gallons, water is clear, and the existing population was three 5" koi and a handful of smaller goldfish

      Granted, this was a huge and disruptive move but is it normal for them to be this stressed for so long? Any idea what else might cause this reaction?

      Thanks for your help!

    2. #2
      RichToyBox's Avatar
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      This sounds like a major increase in bio load, which means the filters need/needed time to increase bio bacteria populations to process the ammonia and nitrite. I wish you would give actual numbers for both the ammonia and nitrite level, and feel it would be advantageous for you to have a KH test kit to monitor and report the KH level. I suspect the ammonia levels went very high initially, and may be coming down to a reasonable value, but it would definitely cause the fish to be stressed. After the ammonia is processed by the bio bacteria it becomes nitrites and nitrites will combine with the red blood cells and turn them into brown blood cells that cannot carry oxygen so the fish can suffocate in water with plenty of oxygen. Adding about 1 pound of salt per 100 gallons will give protection from the nitrites.

      "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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    3. #3
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      I've got a digital meter for pH but I'm using those test tube / color test solutions for amonia and nitrates. They're both testing at the lowest level but I noticed today the solutions are past their expiration date so they may not be accurate. That does make sense; I noticed that when I flush the filters and top off the pond they perk up -- maybe from the fresh well water. I'll see if I can pick up a new test kit tomorrow and run those again.

      Is that much salt okay? It's hard for me to imagine putting 40 lbs of salt in the pond.

      Thank you so much for your help!

    4. #4
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      Without accurate ammonia/nitrite/nitrate tests, it's impossible to tell. It would be a good idea to also test your well water. Are you aerating the well water as it goes in to the pon, and are you doing regular water changes aside from top-offs?
      Mary

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      I'm using those color-card tests, but they're new ones. Nitrates are greater than 0ppm but less than 5 ppm, maybe ~2ppm.

      Amomnia is greater than 0ppm but less than 0.25ppm, maybe ~.10.

      Well water pH is 7.7, and it's not expressly aeriated but it does have a drop of about a foot out of the hose. I have not done a full water change this year but I have done several partials. The pond is about 15 x 20 and has two waterfalls and a bubbler. It's 4000-5000 gallons and the pumps are pushing about 10k gallons an hour.

      The new koi seem to like the fresh water coming into the pond so I assume a water change and more/better filtration is my next project.
      Last edited by napalm_beach; 4 Weeks Ago at 09:48 PM.

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      Another possible consideration is that your pond has a bacteria or parasite to which your fish have already adapted.

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      Well Water - Maybe Not a Factor But

      I also use well water. Mine comes out with very low oxygen and high levels of hydrogen sulfide. Does the water have a sulfur or rotten egg smell when it comes out of the well? If not, probably not an issue, if so, your new fish could be experiencing stress due to hydrogen sulfide exposure. Your older fish may be acclimated to the environment. Have you noticed any gasping for air, lethargic swimming, flaring of the gills, red gills?

      If not, probably not related to hydrogen sulfide. Just presenting another possibility. Others' advice here has been very good. Parasites is always a possible consideration as has been mentioned.

      Good Luck!

    8. #8
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      We've had that smell at times but it's been a number of years ago. There is no water smell now. No gasping or anything odd at the surface, gil issues so far as I can tell.

      I'm not sure what to make of the swimming, as I've not had koi this large before. They *were* lethargic a week ago but that's improved and they are now perking up for food, scavenging plants or off the bottom, and occasionally being still.

      They swim on their side at times. It's not like swim bladder where they're doing acrobatics, just on their side, and not all the time. And they are still prone to sudden bursts of speed in which they make sharp turns. Not sure if that's unusual but I haven't seen it in my smaller koi.

      I found what looks to be a pretty good tutorial on parsites: https://www.jbl.de/en/blog/detail/276 Any other recommendations appreciated. Thanks!

    9. #9
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      You have given test results for the ammonia and it looks good. You have also reported the nitrates which are excellent. I have not seen results for nitrItes, which are the result of the bioconversion of the ammonia and will cause the brown blood disease. I would be worried about the nitrItes, and if present in values higher than trace amounts, salt at about 40 pounds would be in order.

      "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
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      I spent the afternoon and evening changing out about 20-25% of the water and changed a little (~10%?) yesterday. I'm seeing a big difference in behavior; they're more active, moving normally without the sudden bursts, and more interested in eating my plants. So I'll continue that over the next few days.

      I don't *see* anything that looks like parasites or infections, but they are rubbing against each other and I think the side swimming might be rubbing on the bottom. This makes me think there's something to the parasite/irritant theory. Would it make sense to give the pond a couple treatments of something like Paraguard? https://www.amazon.com/Seachem-608-P...dp/B0002A5X7S/

      Thanks for your help, everyone. These are big, old fish that I wasn't completely ready to take on and I definitely feel the weight of responsibility. I'm trying to make my learning curve shorter than the koi's tolerance. Your experience is deeply appreciated.

    11. #11
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      I'm with Rich and it'd be good to see a nItrite reading. Important tests are ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, KH, and pH.

      95% of parasites can only be seen with a microscope. If you're not sure what you're trying to treat (often refered
      to as a "shotgun" treatment) a good one that will kill most parasites is to use Proform C or Broad Spectrum Disease
      Treatment (BSDT). They're the same thing. These will kill most parasites except flukes. For flukes use Prazi or
      Fluke-M (I prefer the Fluke-M). Water temp needs to be above 50* and turn off any UV and bypass any carbon
      filtering devices.
      Do a 10%-20% water change (sounds like you already did this) to help dilute any floating debris.
      Treat the pond according to the directions of Proform C or BSDT once a day for 3 days with water changes in between
      each treatment. On the 3rd days treatment also add the Prazi or Fluke-M with the Proform C/BSDT. Leave for
      7 days with no water changes. Then I usually do a water change and wait a week, and then do another treatment of
      of Prazi/Fluke-M and leave for 7 days and then do a water change and restore UV and/or any carbon filtering device.

      But first I'd get the test kits. Each one is less than $10 and a lot cheaper than the Proform C/BSDT and fluke treatments.
      You can find them at most pet stores.
      --Steve


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    12. #12
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      Okay, complete water readings:

      Nitrate is between 0 and 20 ppm, closer to 0.

      Nitrite looks like 0.5 or a little higher ppm

      pH is between 8 and 8.5

      KH is about 80

      Gh is between 0 and 30, closer to 30

    13. #13
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      I might start the shotgun treatment that icu2 has explained above, and I would add salt, approximately 1 pound per 100 gallons to protect the fish from the nitrites. The water changes are reducing all of the numbers which is causing the fish to feel better and swim more normal.

      The cycle as we know it is ammonia is excreted from the gills of the fish, and your reading of about 0.1ppm indicates that the cycle has started. The second step is the bacteria convert the ammonia to nitrite, and your nitrite appears to be a little higher than what I would call background. Next another bacteria converts the nitrite to nitrate. Your nitrate level would indicate that that nitrite to nitrate conversion is not up to full capability. The nitrate will continue to climb until diluted with fresh water, which is why we recommend water changes. Nitrate values of less than 40 are generally considered good, but I was running closer to 80ppm because my water changes were not able to keep up with the large number of large fish in a 4000 gallon pond.

      Keep a close eye on your KH since the bio bacteria consume KH during the conversion of ammonia to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate, and if it gets much lower than 80, you will see pH values fluctuate morning to evening. The addition of baking soda will increase the KH, stabilize the pH at about 8.3, and make a better environment for the filter bacteria. I like to see values of minimum 100 and I ran my pond with values that sometimes exceeded 200ppm.

      "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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      Richard

    14. #14
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      This is great input, thanks!

      ProForm-C is ordered, should have it Thursday, picking up the salt tomorrow and I'll start that treatment.

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      Make sure salt is .1% or below before treating with ProForm-C. Even though some have had success with higher levels than that, the product label says not to use with salt.

    16. #16
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      Thanks, I did not know that and .1 will fit into the treatment plan.

    17. #17
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      Wanted to post a quick update:

      Wednesday I did the salt treatment suggested by @RichToyBox: I found a block of 98.5% pure salt and let most of it it dissolve on the spillway so it would enter the pond gradually. As you all said, it calmed the koi and really reduced the flashing.

      I did a water test Thursday morning:
      GH: 30
      KH: 120
      pH 8.3
      nitrite, nitrates, and amonia: trace amounts

      The pH varied by .2 from afternoon to morning.

      Today I did two hefty partial water changes and added the ProForm-C. So far so good. No gasping or fish at the surface or near waterfalls. They're doing normal koi things like eating plants, scavenging for food, etc., with minimal flashing. I'll add another update after the third treatment is complete.

      Thanks again for all your help, it's been invaluable.

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