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    Thread: Hello! Seeking assistance with lethargic koi

    1. #1
      Koifancinci is online now Junior Member
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      Hello! Seeking assistance with lethargic koi

      Hi! We installed our koi pond 12 years ago and have really enjoyed our fish. We have 5 in a large pond with waterfall and bog at the top. We added a bunch of water hyacinth last Monday which prompted their second (!) spawn of the season. They are still acting lethargic a couple of days later. They are hanging out at the bottom and not moving much - also not eating. We tested our water and everything was in normal range except for phosphates which are high. Did a partial water change yesterday. Planning to do another partial change today. Any suggestions? We've never had an illness in the pond (knock wood) so unsure what to do to perk the koi back up. Also wondering if I should rinse the roots of the water hyacinth - there are still a lot of eggs on there and they are not eating them like they did the last time. TIA!

    2. #2
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      Quote Originally Posted by Koifancinci View Post
      Hi! We installed our koi pond 12 years ago and have really enjoyed our fish. We have 5 in a large pond with waterfall and bog at the top. We added a bunch of water hyacinth last Monday which prompted their second (!) spawn of the season. They are still acting lethargic a couple of days later. They are hanging out at the bottom and not moving much - also not eating. We tested our water and everything was in normal range except for phosphates which are high. Did a partial water change yesterday. Planning to do another partial change today. Any suggestions? We've never had an illness in the pond (knock wood) so unsure what to do to perk the koi back up. Also wondering if I should rinse the roots of the water hyacinth - there are still a lot of eggs on there and they are not eating them like they did the last time. TIA!

      Hello and welcome to Koiphen. Sorry to hear about your Koi. I am going to move your question to our ER section so you will be able to get some help there. Best wishes for your fish.
      Nancy



      Koiphen 2013 Koi Person of the Year!

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      SimonW is offline Senior Member
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      This is a typical situation when new parasites have been introduced into the pond by adding new fish or plants directly without quarantine or disinfection.
      Last edited by SimonW; 07-31-2021 at 01:23 PM.

    4. #4
      Koifancinci is online now Junior Member
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      Yes I was worried it might be the plants. I never knew they should be quarantined - never had a problem before with new plants before. My pond guy suggested MicrobeLift - not sure that would help if it is parasites.

    5. #5
      Noahsnana's Avatar
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      Please post your water parameters including KH

      How many gallons is your pond?
      The will of God will not take you where the grace of God cannot keep you. .....
      "I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." -Winston Churchill Zone 7a
      I believe it can happen... Koi World Peace
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    6. #6
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      As Noahsnana asked, we really need numbers. With your test kit having phosphates, I am guessing that you have the Pond Master Test Kit, which also has the wide range pH test, which is really only good for showing whether you need the High Range pH Test or the normal pH Test. There is a better Master Test Kit, the Fresh Water Master Test Kit has both of the pH tests but not the High Range pH, but also includes Nitrate that is not included in the Pond kit.

      Based on my experience, the addition of hyacinths was a major inducer for a spawn. Following a spawn, the fish will eat eggs in mass, and with the high protein diet, they will generate a significant ammonia spike. My filters were generally able to handle that spike fairly quickly, but the subsequent nitrite spike was fairly severe and lasted for some period of time. The fact that they are not interested in food is not surprising as they have more than they can eat already. If it weren't for the plants in the pond, I would recommend salt at 1 pound per 100 gallons to protect from the nitrites, but with plants I think I would use Safe or Prime to neutralize the nitrites.

      The filters kicking into high gear will consume considerable alkalinity, resulting in a low KH (Get the KH Test Kit), which will lead to a pH crash, where the pH swings wildly from high to low evening to morning. If the KH is less than 6 drops, then you should be prepared to raise it with baking soda. I always liked mine at about 10 drops, but 6 would be my minimum. A poor substitute for KH testing is to check the pH as close to sunrise as possible and again at sunset or close. The pH should not be shifting more than about 0.2 on the pH scale. There is a calculator at the top of the page ( https://www.koiphen.com/forums/koicalcs.php?do=calckh ) that will help you determine the amount of baking soda needed to raise the KH. pH with adequate aeration should be about 8.3.

      Keep an eye on the fish and if there is a change in activity that is not toward the normal behavior, let us know. Please furnish the test results so that we can help to make the water the best that it can be.


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    7. #7
      Koifancinci is online now Junior Member
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      Thank you for your replies, Noahsnana and RichToyBox - The pond is 2000 gallons with a population of 5 10-year-old koi. I have a Pondmaster Clearguard pressurized filter and an aerator operating in addition to a bog/waterfall combination. I conduct monthly 20% water changes and keep the floor of the pond free of debris. (The floor of the pond does not have any rocks - just a liner.)

      I have the Pond Master Kit - it sounds like I need the Fresh Water Master Test Kit/KH Test Kit. I do not know what the KH value is. The test kit I have did not show an ammonia or nitrate spike yesterday or today but the phosphate value was high on both days. I would like to get more exact data so will chase down the other kits. RichToyBox - the hyacinth definitely triggered the spawn - the koi already had one spawning event a few weeks prior so I thought that would be it for spawning this year. Surprise!

      My local koi club suggested 10-15% water changes for a few days and also to do a backwash of my filter in order to combat the water quality/lethargy issue. Today was the second day of minor water changes. I backwashed the filter yesterday. The koi did seem to perk up a bit after today's water change but I was away from them for a few hours tonight and unable to observe them later in the evening. The hyacinth are still in the pond but in a floating basket to keep the koi from eating the roots. So there are still eggs on the roots - not sure if I should just let them be in the basket or let the plants float in the pond for the koi to nibble on. Anyway while I am not new to koi, this situation is a first for me and your advice is very much appreciated.

    8. #8
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      Pond chemistry update

      Thanks again for the assistance - all I could get my hands on locally to check KH was an API test strip which is a 5 in 1 strip that measures GH, KH, pH, Nitrite NO2 and Nitrate. NO3 The results were: GH 180, KH 80, pH 7/7.5, Nitrite 0/0.5 and Nitrate 20. The results from the Freshwater Master Test Kit are 7.6 pH, 7.8 High Range pH, 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite NO2 and 0 Nitrate NO3. Tested phosphate levels and there seems to be a slight improvement. Fish are still not as active as I would like.

      I have a second aerator going in addition to the one I put in yesterday. Should I do another small water change?
      Last edited by Koifancinci; 08-01-2021 at 02:50 PM. Reason: new information

    9. #9
      Noahsnana's Avatar
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      Test strips are not as reliable as drops
      Your KH seems to still be low... Were these numbers were after a water change? If so it make me think you were in the midst of a storm/Crash

      Can you test your water source to see PH and KH from tap Are you on well or city water?
      The will of God will not take you where the grace of God cannot keep you. .....
      "I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." -Winston Churchill Zone 7a
      I believe it can happen... Koi World Peace
      "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." - Margaret Thatcher

    10. #10
      Koifancinci is online now Junior Member
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      new test result

      I found a liquid KH test kit at an aquarium store. Just conducted another small water change on the pond - the koi are more active and the water is more clear. Due to the recent water changes I am not sure if I can get an accurate KH from the pond. We live in an area with very hard water - we are on city water and the tap tested at 5-6 drops to reach a bright yellow color. Hope this helps gain some insight into the pond chemistry. Anxious to hear your thoughts. Thank you!

      Edited to add that wide range pH is 9 straight out of the tap.
      Last edited by Koifancinci; 08-01-2021 at 05:08 PM. Reason: new information

    11. #11
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      The KH value of the tap water is about 100ppm, which I would consider barely acceptable, as it leaves little room for deletion before being critical. KH is consumed by the bio bacteria in that they generate a lot of acid and the KH keeps the pond from showing the acid accumulation, but once the KH is depleted then the pH will crash. Your pond water test of 80 on the test strips would indicate you were at that critical value, as once it goes below 80, pH becomes less stable. Since you have done some water changes, I suspect the pH was bouncing which caused the fish to be stressed and thus not as active. I would continue to do 10 to 15% water changes daily for a few days until the fish return to normal.

      After the fish settle down, I would start adding some baking soda with each water change, using the alkalinity calculator https://www.koiphen.com/forums/koicalcs.php?do=calckh to determine how much to add to bring the KH up to about 120 -150ppm, 7-9 drops.


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      Quote Originally Posted by RichToyBox View Post
      The KH value of the tap water is about 100ppm, which I would consider barely acceptable, as it leaves little room for deletion before being critical. KH is consumed by the bio bacteria in that they generate a lot of acid and the KH keeps the pond from showing the acid accumulation, but once the KH is depleted then the pH will crash. Your pond water test of 80 on the test strips would indicate you were at that critical value, as once it goes below 80, pH becomes less stable. Since you have done some water changes, I suspect the pH was bouncing which caused the fish to be stressed and thus not as active. I would continue to do 10 to 15% water changes daily for a few days until the fish return to normal.

      After the fish settle down, I would start adding some baking soda with each water change, using the alkalinity calculator https://www.koiphen.com/forums/koicalcs.php?do=calckh to determine how much to add to bring the KH up to about 120 -150ppm, 7-9 drops.
      Poster stated water changes were after koi started to stay on bottom?
      Last edited by kdh; 08-01-2021 at 10:33 PM.

    13. #13
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      Quote Originally Posted by RichToyBox View Post
      The KH value of the tap water is about 100ppm, which I would consider barely acceptable, as it leaves little room for deletion before being critical. KH is consumed by the bio bacteria in that they generate a lot of acid and the KH keeps the pond from showing the acid accumulation, but once the KH is depleted then the pH will crash. Your pond water test of 80 on the test strips would indicate you were at that critical value, as once it goes below 80, pH becomes less stable. Since you have done some water changes, I suspect the pH was bouncing which caused the fish to be stressed and thus not as active. I would continue to do 10 to 15% water changes daily for a few days until the fish return to normal.

      After the fish settle down, I would start adding some baking soda with each water change, using the alkalinity calculator https://www.koiphen.com/forums/koicalcs.php?do=calckh to determine how much to add to bring the KH up to about 120 -150ppm, 7-9 drops.
      Rich, poster stated water changes were after koi started to stay on bottom?

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      Koifancinci is online now Junior Member
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      Yes - they have rebounded and are showing more normal activity including eating. Will do another small change tomorrow but am concerned so many changes in a short span of time will throw the good bacteria out of whack. That said the koi seem to be on the road to recovery.

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      Quote Originally Posted by SimonW View Post
      This is a typical situation when new parasites have been introduced into the pond by adding new fish or plants directly without quarantine or disinfection.
      Most plants that are sold are not grown with fish for this very reason.

      When all koi go to the bottom at the same time. It is a water issue.

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      They are small water changes every other day. Not a problem with bacteria.

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      New test values for today: KH 5/6

      pH 7.6
      high range pH 7.4
      ammonia 0
      nitrite NO2 0

      phosphate using Pond Master Test Kit between 2.0 and 5.0

      Water is much more clear - fish moving around a bit but generally they aren't too active this time of day. Put a small amount of food in yesterday and they ate some - removed any excess with my net. Conducting another small water change today.

      Will need to get a handle on the phosphate - thinking the values take some time to adjust.

      Any thoughts/input very welcome - thanks again!

    18. #18
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      New test values for today: KH 5/6
      I would keep a close eye on this and consider adding the Baking Soda as a buffer to bring up KH
      The will of God will not take you where the grace of God cannot keep you. .....
      "I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." -Winston Churchill Zone 7a
      I believe it can happen... Koi World Peace
      "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." - Margaret Thatcher

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      Quote Originally Posted by Koifancinci View Post
      New test values for today: KH 5/6

      pH 7.6
      high range pH 7.4
      ammonia 0
      nitrite NO2 0

      phosphate using Pond Master Test Kit between 2.0 and 5.0

      Water is much more clear - fish moving around a bit but generally they aren't too active this time of day. Put a small amount of food in yesterday and they ate some - removed any excess with my net. Conducting another small water change today.

      Will need to get a handle on the phosphate - thinking the values take some time to adjust.

      Any thoughts/input very welcome - thanks again!
      I wouldn't worry about the phosphate reading as there's little you can do to change it. It's not one that
      effects the koi's health and why it's not usually asked for when dealing with problems in the ER.
      --Steve
      ..WWKC Treasurer


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