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    Thread: Major fish loss - need help

    1. #1
      Pondfan09 is offline Junior Member
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      Major fish loss - need help

      New member, but have visited in past and I am in awe of the depth of knowledge and experience of other members. Iím hoping someone can please distill that knowledge into easily deciphered terms for me to follow in my emergency situation.
      Location: Northern MD, about 45 minutes from York, PA.
      3 Ponds, but only one affected pond
      Affected pond: established in 2011, approximately 1600 gal., maximum depth 3.5 feet. Receives morning/early afternoon full sun.
      Current pond temp: 42F with Tetra Pond De-icer
      Tested water yesterday using PondMaster test kit (drops)
      Ph: 8.0
      No Ammonia, Nitrates, Nitrites or phosphate. I do not have a test for Kh
      Current fish load: 3 12-14Ē orfs, 2 12-14Ē koi, 3 4-5Ē shubunkins, 4 4-5Ē goldfish and koi.
      About two weeks ago after those tremendously heavy rains, we saw a dead fish. Normal looking (no obvious signs of disease or trauma), but unusually bright, vivid coloring. We went away for a week to tend to elderly family, and came home to a major fish kill, losing 2 dozen goldfish, koi, and shubunkins, mainly smaller to medium size fish. Immediately added aeration to pond. Upon examination of remaining fish, several had white speckles over their bodies (Ick??) with skin sloughing off. Those were hanging right at surface. The big guys are all down towards the bottom and donít exhibit any obvious signs of disease. Most of the speckled fish died yesterday.
      After searching this forum, I figured my best bet is to net the survivors and put them in a 150 gal stock tank I purchased last night. My garage is not heated, so Iím thinking of putting the stock tank in my basement. Bought a 300 watt aquarium heater to put in stock tank to heat water to a temperature where a salt treatment would be more effective. Will add Atlantic aerator that I currently have running in pond.
      My questions are:
      1. Do I fill the stock tank with 100% pond water so as to not shock the fish? Or, add some water from tap? (We are on well water - no worries about chlorine).
      2. How fast should I increase the water temp?
      3. Begin salting the water immediately? I bought a 40 lb bag of Solar Crystals from HD last night.
      4. While fish are being treated in the stock tank, what should I do with the pond? I removed all the plants and have them stored in tubs of water outside. The pond is cleaned Spring and Fall, so it was mucked out in October before we shut everything down for Winter.
      5. Do I have to treat the plants with something?

      I am lost here in this horrible situation and donít know which way to turn. Hoping the experts here can provide me with a plan and guidance to try to salvage the remaining fish.

      Any input/advice would be much appreciated. We have had ponds and fish since 2003, and never had anything like this happen. We are completely heartbroken over losing the fish that have died as they become like members of the family. Trying now to save the big guys, who have been in there since 2011. Sorry for the long post, but figured the more detail, the better the advice.
      Sincerely, Jen

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    2. #2
      cindy's Avatar
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      Sounds like the rain causes a ph crash. You can use well water and slowly heat.
      spray it in to add air. Heat slowly. Be ready to do daily water
      Changes Sounds like the skin is sloughing off. Iíd salt to .3%.

      Get a kh test kit and keep baking soda on hand. Always bind ammonia before adding baking soda. If you had a ph crash try to watch ammonia and kh because itís likely your biofilter material too a hit.


      If you bring them in and heat theyíll have to stay inside till it warms up. I have a 150 in my basement for my wakins. Not heated.

    3. #3
      Pondfan09 is offline Junior Member
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      Thank you for the reply and analysis.
      I set up the 150 in my laundry room (very little heat if door remains shut to rest of finished basement). Added well water to cover drain to make sure it didnít leak; then, put in pond water from affected pond. Ph in tank is 7.6; Ph in pond is 8.0. Pond temp = 48; tank temp = 52. Have two Atlantic disc aerators going in tank. Moved most of the fish yesterday. Still have 2 big guys and maybe some little ones to catch this AM. I donít want to turn the heater on in the tank until everyone is in there. I did add 2 1/2 c of salt last night. Current reading is .19%. Iíll add more salt as soon as the rest of the fish are in the tank. I ordered a Kh and Gh test kit yesterday, but it wonít be here until Tuesday.

      My plan is to bring the salt in the tank up to .3% to deal with the skin issues. As suggested, Iíll raise the tank temp slowly. Is 72F a good temp to work with?

      Essential Questions:
      1. What do I do with the affected pond? If it is ick (sorry, no microscope - Iíll try to post pics of fish), how long will it take for the pond to clear without the fish there to act as a host? Is there anything I should do to speed the process?
      2. The plants from the pond are in plastic bins and 2 kiddie pools, covered with water sitting outside on the driveway. Current outside temp here is 49F, so they should be ok, unless we have a major snowstorm/deep freeze. Do I need to treat the plants with anything before returning them to the pond?
      3. Do I feed the fish since they will no longer be in their winter mode once the water temps increase in the tank?
      4. How do you ďbindĒ ammonia? I canít find a reference to this in the ďStickyĒ section. If I understand the section on Kh and Gh, once I am able to test for Kh, I only use the baking soda to increase Kh in order to maintain a stable Ph. I donít understand the ďBinding AmmoniaĒ comment above before adding baking soda.
      5. Since my well water Ph is significantly lower than my tank and pond water, should I mix the well water and pond water and use that to do my water changes for the tank?
      6. At what point will I be able to return the fish to the pond. I live in Zone 7, Northern MD.
      Thank you in advance for your reply.
      Sincerely, Jen

    4. #4
      Pondfan09 is offline Junior Member
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      Visual evidence on fish - Ick?

      Here are some pics of the fish in the pond. The first two pics show the fish with spots I am presuming is ick? The last pic is showing a fish with the skin sloughing off. Will a sudden change in Ph, presumably from the heavy rains, cause this skin condition?
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    5. #5
      kdh is offline Senior Member
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      You need to get a kh test kit asap and see what the numbers are. Pics close up would be great. Moving fish from cooler water to warmer water is not an issue up to about 8/10 degrees or so.5 degrees a day.
      I have changed my old koi pond at 98% with no issues from well water.Your well water will be warmer than your pond water. Salt at .3 as it sounds like you might have ich. Your pond will clear out of parasites over the weeks as they have no host. If temps stay cold than ich can survive a couple of months. But by the time you put the koi back into your pond when temps warm up. It should not be a problem. You well have to get a bio set up to control water parameters. You can use some of your bio from pond. As mentioned you well probably need a ammonia binder as the koi will become more active as temps rise. Creating more ammonia.
      Put your plants back in pond.
      Your going to have too inspect your koi for other possible issues (sores bacteria etc)and treat if need be.
      Might be a good idea to spray water in tank as this will help create ph value consistent to what you currently have in pond.
      You well also have to check water parameters daily to catch any parameter changes until your comfortable that your bio system is balanced.
      Feeding should be done carefully once temps warm up and they want food. As this can overload your bio.
      If your koi have other parasites due to compromising of immune system. Than you would have to treat with chemicals. However salt your using should take care of most parasites.
      Koi should be inspected daily for any behavioral changes.
      A bubbler for aeration should be used.
      Last edited by kdh; 02-11-2024 at 09:32 AM.

    6. #6
      Pondfan09 is offline Junior Member
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      Thank you both for your replies! I responded to Cindy this AM, but my post is not here.
      Update: All fish are now in the tank in my laundry room. Iíve added my second batch of salt; now reading .28%. Will add more later to bring up to .3%. Ph = 7.2. (Well water = 6.6, pond water = 8.0) Ammonia is still reading .25 ppm after a water change. (Iíll do another one tonight). Tank temp = 48 F. I just turned on the 300W aquarium heater; it is set at its lowest temp of 68 F. Iíll monitor it carefully to make sure it heats slowly.
      I also posted pictures this AM, but they are not here either. Iíll post them again for visual confirmation of ick. My Kh and Gh test kit is ordered, but will not be here until Tuesday. Two disk aerators are in tank and bubbling away.
      Essential Questions:
      1. I donít understand the ammonia binding comment by both of you. I tried searching on the Sticky, but did not run across it. Could you please explain it in simple terms? Is an ammonia binder a chemical I add? If so, recommended brands?
      2. The ďbiological filterĒ you both mention - is that the organisms that are in my pond water that Iíve transferred to the tank? Just want to make sure I am understanding clearly.
      3. To ďKdhĒ - your comment ď 8/10 degrees or so.5 degrees a day.Ē - I donít understand. 8-10 degrees temp increase a day?? What is the ďso.5Ē?
      Iím sure more questions will arise as I commit to this endeavor of saving my fish family. Many thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge and experience.
      Sincerely, Jen

    7. #7
      kdh is offline Senior Member
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      amquel and prime are ones for binding ammonia and there are others. You add it to the water and it well make the ammonia that is toxic, none toxic. You dont have to worry about nitrite spikes as salt helps protect the fish from this.

      You can add your koi to water that is 10 degrees warmer without hurting them. Then 4 or 5 degrees increase each day until the temp you desire. Here is a simple nitrogen cycle link to help understand how it works in your bio filter.
      https://www.koiphen.com/forums/showthread.php?143364-Understanding-The-Nitrogen-Cycles-The-Basics

      Your koi well become more active as temps increase. So more ammonia is created. But you also need temps to increase so bacteria can do their thing.
      Its a delicate game of controlling parameters keeping your koi healthy and establishing your bio. But once bio (nitrogen cycle) is established. It well make your job a lot less worry some.

      how many koi and sizes are you planning to keep indoors. As 150 gallon is quiet small to maintain koi?

      Bio filter is a container with media that has a line going from fish tank to filter. And a pump that pumps the water back with another line going from bio tank to pond. the return line can be above the tank and the water well fall back into the tank like a waterfall. this well give more aeration as well. You can have the water flow from top to bottom of bio filter or bottom to top. You can make one. I have no experience in buying one so hope others can help you there. The pump should be capable of doing a full exchange of water from fish tank at least every half hour.
      Last edited by kdh; 02-11-2024 at 05:36 PM.

    8. #8
      Pondfan09 is offline Junior Member
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      THANK YOU, Kdh, for the explanation. I have too many fish for the 150 gal stock tank - discovered more fish than I initially saw in the pond. I already did 3 water changes today to try to get ammonia below .25 ppm. I donít have room for another tank; something to figure out tomorrow. Iím open to suggestions.
      I read a thread on someone trying to balance a tank while increasing their pond size. He had a 650 gal and spoke of a pump and filter. Got me thinking if I need a filter/pump, so thank you for confirming that!
      Anyone out there with some more details/plans for how to construct the filter/pump system Kdh described? I have the stock tank sitting right next to the laundry tub, so I could easily place the ďbio filterĒ bucket/holder in there.
      Iím keeping the temp low (currently 58F) until my Kh/Gh test kit arrives on Tuesday and I have that information to add into the equation.
      Current question: I have foam on the top of the water. Is that an indication of something bad? Fish are acting ok, all things considered.
      Thank you in advance for your help.
      PS - Hoping for a REALLY early Spring so I can get these fish back into the pond!
      Sincerely, Jen

    9. #9
      ademink's Avatar
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      The foam is likely DOCs (dissolved organic compounds) b/c of the amount of fish load for your water. Keep doing the water changes and get some Amquel/Prime asap. You need to bind that ammonia. Your water changes will keep it at bay for a little bit but ultimately, you need it. If you get Prime (by Seachem), it will also negate the harmful effects of the nitrites when you start getting them later (kdh is correct re: the salt protecting from that but if you get rid of the salt later, Prime will do the trick).

      Something to know re: Prime (or other binders): You need to add enough product for the FULL volume of water every 48 hrs for the ammonia to stay bound.
      Andrea
      Koi Health Care Committee Member

    10. #10
      Pondfan09 is offline Junior Member
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      Many thanks to everyone, who has responded to my situation!
      This morning (Monday) the tank numbers were as follows: Temp 56F, Ph 7.2, Ammonia .50 ppm. Salt .28%. I did a 75% water change, resulting in Temp 54F, Ph 6.8, Ammonia .25ppm, and then added Salt to achieve .31%.
      Today, Gh and Kh test kit arrives (courtesy of Amazon). Tomorrow, Amquel Plus and a submersible pond filter/pump (Aquascape Container Garden Filter and Pump - it moves 100 gph) arrive. The Aquascape submersible filter/pump is the only thing I could figure out to work in my stock tank to help filter the water and establish some beneficial bacteria. I am keeping the water temp low to forestall koi activity and thereby increased waste production resulting in ammonia load until the Ammonia binder and pump arrive tomorrow.
      Pond question:
      After reading/researching the Ich life cycle, treatment, and especially cold weather circumstances that we have here in Maryland, I need some expert guidance on how best to handle my 1600 gal pond.
      The plants (water lilies and lotus) have all been pulled and are currently sitting in water in plastic bins and kiddie pools on my driveway.

      I need to get everything (plants AND fish) back in the pond by Easter for traveling out of town.

      If I do NOTHING, will Ich still be in the pond and isolated plants by mid-March? Can it survive that long without any fish (host) to complete its life cycle??

      If yes, would the following plan to treat that remaining Ich work?
      1. Drain the pond to a more manageable volume (maybe 1/2??) and salt it to 4% to kill any Ich. Even with the current low water temps of 42F, would any Ich Protozoa still be alive after 5 weeks at .4% salinity?
      2. After 5 weeks, change water to lower salt to 1% or less. If necessary, I could add water from my other pond to ďseedĒ it with healthy bacteria.
      3. Transfer plants.
      4. Once pond Ph is close to tank Ph, I would return fish. Is that a workable plan?
      Question on tank temp and fish: Once I am able to treat the tank at 73F for several days or until all signs of Ich has disappeared, can I slowly turn down the temps for re-introduction into the pond?
      Just trying to set a plan in motion so fish can be back in pond before Easter (target goal March 20th).
      Comments and suggestions most gratefully appreciated!
      Jen

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    11. #11
      SimonW is offline Senior Member
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      If you have removed all the fish out of the pond, then you have no need to hurry with drastic measures.

      I would add lime stone powder and then leave it for some week with the pump on. It will give the water good pH and hardness.

      If you suspect parasites then treat the pond with potassium permanganate like 5 ppm for 5 hours which will kill all living things in the pond.

      I would avoid the most suggested method: Huge water changes. Partly it so easy for anyone to suggest this "solution", and partly it is mostly unnecessary, and las but not least: A lot of extra work and cost.

    12. #12
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      Hi, all - My Kh/Gh test kits, Amquel Plus, and Aquascape filter/pump arrived today. Below are todayís numbers:
      Temp 54F; Salt .31ppm; Ph 7.4; Am .25ppm; NitrIte 0; NitrAte between 5-10ppm. I did NOT do any water changes today.
      Tap water tested 3 Kh = 53.7ppm; 5 GH = 89.5ppm. (We are on well water).
      I tested the tank water and it had the same measurements as the tap water.
      I added the Amquel Plus. What a miracle!! Within 10 minutes, Am tested a 0ppm!!

      Now, I am ready to add baking soda to increase the Kh so I can begin increasing the temperature without worrying about Ph crashes.

      Please someone double check my figures: I should increase the Kh to 125.3 ppm from 53.7 ppm. That means I need to add enough BS to increase Kh 71.6ppm.
      If I am using the calculator correctly,
      150 gal. 71.6ppm Kh change 4.009 Dh change. = 0.126 pounds 2.008 ounces 56.815 grams
      0.126 pounds = 1/4c of baking soda
      Is this correct? I should add 1/4c baking soda (dissolved in a gal of water) to my 150 gal tank in order to increase my Kh from 53.7ppm to 125.3ppm
      Do I add it all at once? Or, should I break it into 2 additions, each 1/8c (2 Tbsp) separated by an hour or so?
      After the Kh is 125ppm, can I begin increasing the temperature SLOWLY to 73F without worrying about dramatic Ph changes?
      Just want to make sure I have the chemistry correct before I do something that canít be undone.
      Thank you in advance for your help! Jen

    13. #13
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      Adding the baking soda will increase the pH to around 8.3. I don't know of any reason to dissolve the baking soda before addition, so I would start with about 1 teaspoon and see where my pH went, and do this hourly until the pH is near 8, and then you can add the remainder of the baking soda. Your numbers sound close.
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    14. #14
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      Hi, Everyone - I wanted to post an update on my tank numbers. I plugged in my heater and began my BS administration at 9:30 this morning, after first verifying that none of my numbers had changed overnight. As per ďRichtoyboxĒ, I added 1 tsp BS per hour, testing Kh, High range Ph, and water temp every hour. It took 7 tsp of BS to achieve 7Kh (125.3ppm). Ph measures 7.8. Water temp is currently at 61.8F from a starting point of 53F this morning.
      Water seems a little cloudy (not as clear as it has been), but Ammonia is still measuring 0 (using API Freshwater drop test kit). Fish are a bit more active. I have the laundry room lights on from 7 in the morning until 6 in the evening (to simulate the light exposure they would be getting outside). I have not fed them yet.
      Questions:
      1. I have a small (100 gph) water garden pump and filter combo with a little rake aerator running at the bottom of the tank. It has a carbon filter in addition to the foam filter. Can I use the activated carbon filter? Or, does the activated carbon affect the water treatments and/or test results that I am using? I seem to remember reading something about not using carbon filters for certain medications, but Iíve read so much the past week, I donít recall whether it applies to my situation.
      2. At what temp should I begin feeding the fish. I know this will foul the water situation, but I donít want them to starve either.
      3. According to the calculator, it was supposed to take 12 teaspoons of BS to reach Kh 7 (125.3ppm) from my beginning measurement of Kh3 (53.7). But, it only took 7 tsp BS to reach Kh7. Did I do something wrong?
      4. Not to be stupid, but now what? My Kh is 7, Ph is 7.6 (should my Ph be higher?)Am is 0, and I am still working on bringing up the temperature to 73F. I have a small pond pump and foam filter and 3 aerators. Aside from monitoring water quality daily, when should I do a water change? What % do I change to avoid a ph drop? I presume the Kh would drop with a water change because my well water is Kh3. Will the Amquel Plus I put in the water stop binding the ammonia being produced at some point?
      Apologies in advance if my questions are inane, but I have never had to do this before. I am learning so much from this experience! In the long run, it is going to make me a better fish/pond keeper!
      I am a little lost at this point because Iím not quite sure what I should be doing/watching for until I can return the fish to the pond.
      Advice from the experts for the next steps in the plan for maintaining the tank would be most gratefully appreciated! Sincerely, Jen

    15. #15
      Pondfan09 is offline Junior Member
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      Update:
      This morningís numbers are: Kh7, Ph 7.8, Am 0, Gh 5, NitrIte 0, NitrAte 10 ppm, T 64.9F
      I turned up the heater to 72F (was set at 68)
      Questions:
      1. Why didnít the BS change the Gh?
      2. NitrAte is 10 ppm. I added 1/3c Amoquel Plus. Measured again 1 hour later; NitrAte still 10 ppm. What do I do??

      Thank you in advance for the replies, analysis, and advice. Sincerely, Jen

    16. #16
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      I wish I had 10. Danger zone is about 100 ppm/ Yours is great.
      Dont think BS affects gh.

    17. #17
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      Nitrate can be consumed by plant matter or removed with water change.

    18. #18
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      Donīt worry about nitrate. I have once asked koipheners who can tell from her/his own experience that nitrate below 150 ppm indeed harmed their koi, and none could provide any.

      My own experience is that 150 ppm is not a problem. I had heaviely injured koi that healed by themselves nicely in waters with at least 150 ppm nitrate.

      Father fish said in one Youtube video that not even 450 ppm hurt his aquarium fish. Though not everyone believes in him I think that koi is definitively very tolerant against nitrate, and it probably can go a lot higher than 150 ppm for koi.
      Last edited by SimonW; 02-16-2024 at 12:55 PM.

    19. #19
      kdh is offline Senior Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by SimonW View Post
      Donīt worry about nitrate. I have once asked koipheners who can tell from her/his own experience that nitrate below 150 ppm indeed harmed their koi, and none could provide any.

      My own experience is that 150 ppm is not a problem. I had heaviely injured koi that healed by themselves nicely in waters with at least 150 ppm nitrate.

      Father fish said in one Youtube video that not even 450 ppm hurt his aquarium fish. Though not everyone believes in him I think that koi is definitively very tolerant against nitrate, and it probably can go a lot higher than 150 ppm for koi.
      Couldn't figure out why my koi were swimming slowly and kinda lethargic. At the time I had a koi that had jumped out of the pond and sustained some injuries. The healing was slower than the usual that I have experienced. My nitrates went from 40 to 120ppm. My well water due to severe drought over a couple of years had somehow developed a lot higher nitrates. As with other wells in the area. High nitrate definitely affect carp. High nitrates are a stressor and affect the efficiency of their immune system which leads to other problems with bacterial and parasitic. I have read is slows growth and reproduction. And over many months can affect their internal organs. Even though the fish looks fine. Over many months negative results can occur.

      Once I got my pond back to normal numbers. All was well.
      Last edited by kdh; 02-16-2024 at 09:21 PM.

    20. #20
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      Question on Amquel Plus:
      I have done several water changes on my 150 gal tank. Added Amquel Plus to reduce Ammonia and NitrAte so I can then add BS to increase my Kh, which has naturally declined due to the water changes (my well water has a Kh of 3).
      Current numbers: T 73F; Ph 7.4; Am .25ppm; NitrIte 0; NitrAte 40ppm; Kh 4.
      Even though I added Amquel Plus yesterday (morning and evening), and this morning, Ammonia is still testing at .25ppm. I am using the API Freshwater master test kit. What do I do? I want to add BS to increase and stabilize my Kh.
      Thanks in advance for your replies! Jen

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