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    Thread: Major fish loss - need help

    1. #21
      fly4koi is offline Senior Member
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      AFAIK all chemical binders convert the ammonia to ammonium which is less toxic to the fish, but you'd still need nitrification cycle to happen in order to convert it to nitrite and then nitrate, or remove by water exchange. Depends on the water temperature, a cycle can take 2 month to establish fully, I'd suggest slowly adding the BS to bring the water to ph 8 which would help the cycling.

      Nitrate is not of concern when < 80ppm, I recall a fish farm owner said with sufficient KH he was not worried at 120ppm level. NitrIte on the other hand, very toxic.

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    2. #22
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      Add baking soda. That level of ammonia is not really a concern, and the higher KH will help the bio bacteria convert the ammonia more efficiently.

      Adding dechlor of any variety for treatment of ammonia, really just changes the ammonia to ammonium, the non-toxic form. If you are truly worried about the ammonia, get the ammonia alert card from Seachem. It shows only the toxic ammonia, whereas most of the types of ammonia tests measure both the ammonia NH3 and the ammonium NH4 giving a total reading rather than readings for each.
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    3. #23
      SimonW is offline Senior Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by kdh View Post
      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.
      Thanks for your sharing of your experience!

      Not saying your observation was necessarily wrong, I would like to point out that I did my observation in a more reliable and repeatable way: Indoor overwintering aquariums and tanks with very stable water parameters over more than 6 months, and it has been repeated several seasons, while you did your observation once in an out-door pond with many other uncertain parameters that could have affected the result.

      My purpose of sharing my observation is that koi-keeping should be as simple as possible so that more people will dare to try. That is also why I am repeatedly saying that "major water change" is not a default solution to be recommended for any kind of problems (so easy to recommend this "solution"!), nor are any immediate "treatments", without first analyzing the possible causes of problems.
      Last edited by SimonW; 02-18-2024 at 04:42 AM.

    4. #24
      aquaholic is offline Supporting Member
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      I have been keeping ornamental fish for 4 decades with several fish rooms (several hundred glass aquaria) and bigger food fish species in ponds, aquaculture tubs and earth tanks for about 2 decades. In that time, Ive also owned ten retail aquarium stores, a fish importation facility and produced enough fish to be wholesaled by live weights. Most people quicky realise I'm obsessed with fish.

      So lots of experience with fish culture, filtration and disease control. Not only practical experience, collecting aquarium books is another hobby and working at a major research university gives me access to scientific journals. One of my golden rules is most definitely to change a considerable amount of water if fish are mysteriously dying and I don't know why. Change as much as possible without shocking fish from a safe water source and then change some more as soon as fish have adjusted. If taking water from a nearby pond - tank which has similar water parameters, I would change 95% without qualm.

      Each fish keeper has their own way of looking after fish of course. If you don't want to change water then thats fine.
      Last edited by aquaholic; 02-18-2024 at 05:32 AM.

    5. #25
      SimonW is offline Senior Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by aquaholic View Post
      I have been keeping ornamental fish for 4 decades with several fish rooms (several hundred glass aquaria) and bigger food fish species in ponds, aquaculture tubs and earth tanks for about 2 decades. In that time, Ive also owned ten retail aquarium stores, a fish importation facility and produced enough fish to be wholesaled by live weights. Most people quicky realise I'm obsessed with fish.

      So lots of experience with fish culture, filtration and disease control. Not only practical experience, collecting aquarium books is another hobby and working at a major research university gives me access to scientific journals. One of my golden rules is most definitely to change a considerable amount of water if fish are mysteriously dying and I don't know why. Change as much as possible without shocking fish from a safe water source and then change some more as soon as fish have adjusted. If taking water from a nearby pond - tank which has similar water parameters, I would change 95% without qualm.

      Each fish keeper has their own way of looking after fish of course. If you don't want to change water then thats fine.
      Of course, if you have the possibility to easily and cheaply change a lot of water, why not? I wish I could have a spring above my koi pond so that I have no need to any filter system but continuous flow-through.

      Then it also depends on how dedicated we are. People willing to take a lot of trouble to ensure perfect solutions for their koi have no need of my opinion.

      But after all, the more troublesome a hobby is, the more prone it is for the hobbyist to quit.
      Last edited by SimonW; 02-18-2024 at 05:45 AM.

    6. #26
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      No spring or well source. I have multiple shoulder high carbon filters and more rain water tanks than I can remember. But yes, it's a matter of priorities and dedication. Plant beds which grab ammonia before nitrification hugely reduces nitrate production and subsequent water change requirements.

      With some forsight and planning, it's easy to design for easy and faster drainage and filling. Although I dont have the time (due to number and volume of tanks), manual old fashioned fish care and maintenance is part of the enjoyment of fish keepers including myself.

      My water and electrical bills are scary.
      Last edited by aquaholic; 02-18-2024 at 06:08 AM.

    7. #27
      coolwon is offline Senior Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by aquaholic View Post
      I have been keeping ornamental fish for 4 decades with several fish rooms (several hundred glass aquaria) and bigger food fish species in ponds, aquaculture tubs and earth tanks for about 2 decades. In that time, Ive also owned ten retail aquarium stores, a fish importation facility and produced enough fish to be wholesaled by live weights. Most people quicky realise I'm obsessed with fish.

      So lots of experience with fish culture, filtration and disease control. Not only practical experience, collecting aquarium books is another hobby and working at a major research university gives me access to scientific journals. One of my golden rules is most definitely to change a considerable amount of water if fish are mysteriously dying and I don't know why. Change as much as possible without shocking fish from a safe water source and then change some more as soon as fish have adjusted. If taking water from a nearby pond - tank which has similar water parameters, I would change 95% without qualm.

      Each fish keeper has their own way of looking after fish of course. If you don't want to change water then thats fine.



      Hi,would you please explain all the detrimental a/effects of high nitrates on Koi, to help clear up

      it's presence in the majority of hobbyists ponds and aquariums.

      In anticipation.

      Thank you.
      Last edited by coolwon; 02-18-2024 at 07:26 AM.
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    8. #28
      aquaholic is offline Supporting Member
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      I've got a bad throat infection with high fever so I'll respond to your nitrate level question in a few days. I'm not able to think clearly and don't have the energy although I know what I want to say.

    9. #29
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      Hi, Everyone - I wanted to update the status of my 150 gal stock tank. I am down to 11 fish. Fortunately, all 4 of my big guys and my 2 smaller koi are doing well. The goldfish are hanging in there, but aren’t as happy as the koi. Temp 72.5, Salt 31%, Kh 6, Ph 8, Am .25ppm, NitrAte 40ppm, NitrIte 0ppm.
      I am feeding them dried mealworms and Tetra Koi Vibrance once a day. Koi are eating both VERY happily; orf prefer the mealworms; goldfish want the Tetra. No signs of Ick. Only one goldfish has skin issues where it seems to have lost scales (see attached picture). I have 3 pump/filters and 5 aerators. Filters are cleaned 2x/day. I did a 75% water change on Sunday, 2/18, and another 75% water change last night (Wednesday, 2/21) when NitrItes measured .25ppm.
      Questions:
      1. Any diagnosis on the goldfish skin issue? (See attached pictures)
      2. With no signs of Ick, should I drop temperature and salt levels?
      3. Any recommendations to achieve longer lasting water conditions? I am on well and septic; I don’t want to stress the well with the frequent water changes. Likewise, I don’t want the septic to be negatively affected by the large amounts of salt water. Any advice?
      Thank you to everyone for sharing your knowledge and experience!
      Sincerely, JenName:  IMG_1573.jpg
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    10. #30
      SimonW is offline Senior Member
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      Some years ago some of my koi got similar lesions as that shown in the last 2 pictures. Later I found large amount of flukes on the affected fish. After treatment with fluke-M they healed nicely.

      Maybe you should do scapings on this fish. You can search on Youtube to find films on how to do it.

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    11. #31
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      I think i would treat it as a wound, apply iodine to the area with a q-tip, and then allow time for healing.
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    12. #32
      kdh is offline Senior Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by SimonW View Post
      Thanks for your sharing of your experience!

      Not saying your observation was necessarily wrong, I would like to point out that I did my observation in a more reliable and repeatable way: Indoor overwintering aquariums and tanks with very stable water parameters over more than 6 months, and it has been repeated several seasons, while you did your observation once in an out-door pond with many other uncertain parameters that could have affected the result.

      My purpose of sharing my observation is that koi-keeping should be as simple as possible so that more people will dare to try. That is also why I am repeatedly saying that "major water change" is not a default solution to be recommended for any kind of problems (so easy to recommend this "solution"!), nor are any immediate "treatments", without first analyzing the possible causes of problems.
      I think mine was reliable. As when nitrates where at 120+ (it could have been higher as the api test kit is hard to differentiate the colors at that level). the fish were sluggish and healing slowed down. After I brought it back to 40 they all perked up and all was well. All other conditions and water parameters remained constant.

      Could you post documentation that koi are not affected at 120+. Thanks

      If not than I well take your statement with a grain of salt about high nitrates not affecting carp.
      Last edited by kdh; 02-24-2024 at 09:14 AM.

    13. #33
      SimonW is offline Senior Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by kdh View Post
      I think mine was reliable. As when nitrates where at 120+ (it could have been higher as the api test kit is hard to differentiate the colors at that level). the fish were sluggish and healing slowed down. After I brought it back to 40 they all perked up and all was well. All other conditions and water parameters remained constant.

      Could you post documentation that koi are not affected at 120+. Thanks

      If not than I well take your statement with a grain of salt about high nitrates not affecting carp.
      Thank you for your clarification!

      Please be informed that I am not trying to defend my view, but presenting what I have observed.

      The circumstances have been the following:

      I have been keeping much fish in my over-wintering tanks, pools and aquariums. For instance this winter I am keeping 5 of 50-60 cm, 20 of 40-50 cm, 40 of 30-40 cm, and at least 30 of 15-30 cm koi in 3-3.5 m3 water. I only change 60-100 liters of water while I feed 150-300 grams of 34% koi food each day. That means 150-300 grams of food to 60-100 liters of water.

      And this winter, in an aquarium of 150 liters, for instance, I am keeping about 80 small koi of 5-8 cm, I feed 10-20 grams of food each day and only change 20-30 liters of water each week.

      I keep huge amount of biological filtration though. To the 3-3.5 m3 water I use 2 pressurized filters (one for 10 m3 densely populated pond and one for 3 m3 densely populated pond) and one big DIY flow-through filter containing media from a pressurized filter for one 15 m3 densely populated pond, and the aquariums have a lot of broken porous light concrete bricks on the bottom and fake plastic plants, and all of them are heavily aeriated thereby good water movement. I flash the filters very 2-5 days when the 3-3.5 m3 pool is full, and about the aquariums I only siphon out the debris among the broken bricks each week-end and then add equal amount of new water as water change.

      The color difference of the nitrate test kit (JBL Aquatest) is very subtle when the numbers go above 80 ppm so it not very accurate, but my safe guess is at least 150 ppm.

      I have done things this way in 3 consecutive winters now. I know that it is not optimal, but I cannot say that it is a failure.
      Last edited by SimonW; 02-25-2024 at 06:50 AM.

    14. #34
      coolwon is offline Senior Member
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      Nitrates, whats that?
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    15. #35
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      Quote Originally Posted by SimonW View Post
      Thank you for your clarification!

      Please be informed that I am not trying to defend my view, but presenting what I have observed.

      The circumstances have been the following:

      I have been keeping much fish in my over-wintering tanks, pools and aquariums. For instance this winter I am keeping 5 of 50-60 cm, 20 of 40-50 cm, 40 of 30-40 cm, and at least 30 of 15-30 cm koi in 3-3.5 m3 water. I only change 60-100 liters of water while I feed 150-300 grams of 34% koi food each day. That means 150-300 grams of food to 60-100 liters of water.

      And this winter, in an aquarium of 150 liters, for instance, I am keeping about 80 small koi of 5-8 cm, I feed 10-20 grams of food each day and only change 20-30 liters of water each week.

      I keep huge amount of biological filtration though. To the 3-3.5 m3 water I use 2 pressurized filters (one for 10 m3 densely populated pond and one for 3 m3 densely populated pond) and one big DIY flow-through filter containing media from a pressurized filter for one 15 m3 densely populated pond, and the aquariums have a lot of broken porous light concrete bricks on the bottom and fake plastic plants, and all of them are heavily aeriated thereby good water movement. I flash the filters very 2-5 days when the 3-3.5 m3 pool is full, and about the aquariums I only siphon out the debris among the broken bricks each week-end and then add equal amount of new water as water change.

      The color difference of the nitrate test kit (JBL Aquatest) is very subtle when the numbers go above 80 ppm so it not very accurate, but my safe guess is at least 150 ppm.

      I have done things this way in 3 consecutive winters now. I know that it is not optimal, but I cannot say that it is a failure.
      OK. However you dont know what the results of your fish would be today with low nitrates?Just a thought

    16. #36
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      Quote Originally Posted by kdh View Post
      OK. However you dont know what the results of your fish would be today with low nitrates?Just a thought
      I admit that this is not the greatest animal welfare for my fish, but I have no better choice. I will try to sell 2/3 of them this summer. Earlier winters I had about 1/3 lower fish load.

    17. #37
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      I am at an impasse with my water chemistry. Everything seemed to be going well doing water changes every 3 days whenever I would see NitrItes appear. Then on Wednesday, 2/28, I did a 2/3rd water change in the morning. Initially, NitrItes down to 0 ppm, but Am only reduced to .25ppm from .50ppm. Nitrates remained at 40 ppm, albeit a lighter shade of red (using the API test kit color chart). By evening, NitrItes back up to .25ppm
      In addition ,even though I followed the normal Amquel Plus and baking soda routine, Kh will not go past 4. Currently Ph is 7.8, Am .25ppm, NitrAte = 40ppm, NitrIte .25ppm. So, numbers are holding for the past two days, even though I have added additional Amquel Plus and BS.
      Fish load: 2 big (14-16”) and 5 small (4-6”) Everyone happy, healthy, and ravenous. Salt = 30%, Temp = 70F. Filters cleaned 2x/day.
      Questions:
      1. Why isn’t Kh increasing? If Ph is 7.8, do I need to continue to add BS?
      2. Water is clear and clean. If I add Amquel Plus without a water change, will it “detoxify” ammonia, NI and NA?
      3. When Amquel Plus “detoxifies” Am, NI, NA, does the API color chart test kit (drops) reflect those changes? I saw on another post that Seachem Safe has its own color charts to measure “detoxified” water. Should I switch from Amquel Plus to Seachem Safe?

      I am at a loss as to why everything that I had previously done to reduce Am, NI and NA is now not working. Even more confusing, there are less fish now than when my chemistry was spot on!

      Thank you in advance for your help. Jen



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    18. #38
      fly4koi is offline Senior Member
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      1. Ammonia and nitrite means either your filter is not fully cycled or it's not sized correctly to process the waste. Given the temperature it's not easy to cycle at this time.
      2. pH is logarithmic, meaning it'll take who lot more to raise .1 on the scale. KH is constantly being used by the nitrification process.
      3. Chemicals are just binders to make the ammonia / nitrite into a non-toxic form, they will still need to be removed from the system by plants or water exchange.

    19. #39
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      I would start doubling the baking soda until you have a minimum of 6 drops and I even like to see it closer to 9 drops during cycling. Stability, morning to evening is important to not just the fish, but the nitrifying bacteria, as well. The test kits for ammonia, for the most part, all measure ammonia plus ammonium. Ammonium is the non-toxic form, which is the form after treatment with the Amquel Plus, so the test will show the total, even though it is all detoxified. The Seachem Ammonia Alert card shows only the toxic ammonia, ignoring the non-toxic. Salt will provide protection to the fish from nitrites. There are some posts showing the minimum amounts calculated, which are really small amounts. I always used by the salt meter 0.1% as the number that I wanted, which is way overkill, but does not harm fish, and doesn't need to be minded daily.

      Changing water is good, but if the tap is low in KH, then you are doing more work than needed. Do moderate 10-20% changes once a week and give the filters a chance to catch up.
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    20. #40
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      Chemistry, chemistry, chemistry! I obviously chose the wrong major in college!

      Thank you @richtoybox and @fly4koi for the information. @fly4koi - fish are indoors in a stock tank in my laundry room; temp of room is around 68-70F. Water temp is 71-72F. I have a heater in the water and a heater in the room to keep temperatures consistent.

      Re: chemicals -
      1. If I understand correctly, I should cut down on my water changes because my well water measures low Kh (3). Should I still clean filters 2x/day? Or should I allow the bacteria time to cycle? Btw, I am feeding Tetra Koi Vibrance only; the dried mealworms were just too messy, leaving a coating of debris on the sides of the tank.
      2. Until I get the Seachem, add Amquel Plus once/day? And continue adding BS to maintain Kh8 (once I get there)?

      Just checking my understanding here: Unlike the Seachem Ammonia cards which SHOW the actual toxic ammonia, Amquel Plus treatment is deceptive in that my tests are still showing the Ammonia, albeit less, but it is ammonium. How in the world are you supposed to know whether you have toxic ammonia measurements or non-toxic ammonium???

      3. Is that true also for NitrIte and NitrAte, too? My API color cards show NitrAte 40 ppm and NitrIte .25ppm even after my dose of Amquel Plus last night.
      4. Is there a better test kit/color chart to show actual toxic NitrIte and NitrAte?

      Re: Salinity -
      5. I am running .30% salt because of the ick the fish had that started this whole episode. Should I start lowering the % salt as I resume water changes in anticipation of moving them back outside? What about water temp? Should I think about lowering that, too?
      6. What should be my target Ph? Even though my Kh is 3-4 as of this AM, my Ph is 7.8.

      Apologies if my questions are dumb; just trying to understand the chemistry.
      The good news is that water is crystal clear and fish are happy, hungry, and energetic!

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