Help me please...koi are dying

Discussion in 'Illness and Disease' started by sweetbeats, Aug 19, 2018.

  1. sweetbeats

    sweetbeats

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    We’ve had a koi pond that we adopted when we moved here 3 years ago. The koi that were here have thrived and been healthy until this last week one died and now today another. They don’t appear to have rot, but they’ve stopped eating. I checked the PH when the first one died and it’s above 8.4 at the end of the day so I’m working on gradually bringing it back down with vinegar, but there is something else going on. I notice bubbles caught in the algae on the surface. The algae has been hard to manage this year. We now have 8 left, I think, in a 3000gal pond with dual waterfall bio filter system. We are novices at this...they’ve just done so well. Please help us save our koi.
     
    sweetbeats, Aug 19, 2018
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  2. sweetbeats

    poconojoe

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    Sorry to hear about your fish.
    The experts will chime in I'm sure.
    Do you have a test kit to check the water condition? Ammonia, nitrites, phosphates, pH.
     
    poconojoe, Aug 19, 2018
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  3. sweetbeats

    Lisak1

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    Hello @sweetbeats - sorry to hear about your fish. Something is obviously going on.

    First thing I will suggest is to stop worrying about your pH - they only time pH really becomes an issue is when it is unstable. Higher or lower than "normal" is nothing to be concerned about, as long as it stays relatively stable.

    If you do test for other water parameters, can you post the results. I'm not a water chem expert, but we have others here who can help if they see exactly what those numbers are.

    Have you added anything to the pond to try to deal with the algae? Or changed any of your other routines? Are you confident that your 3000 gallon estimate for size is correct? Do you have aeration in the pond? Did you see any signs of distress - fish at the surface, gasping or gulping for air, etc? Have you had any big storms lately? Where are you located? Has the weather been unusually hot?

    Any chance something toxic got into the pond - that one is a long shot, but you have to wonder when otherwise healthy fish start to die. Do the others seem OK?

    Share some photos of your pond if you can - we can sometimes see something that you might miss.
     
    Lisak1, Aug 19, 2018
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  4. sweetbeats

    MitchM

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    Yes, stop adding the vinegar, stop feeding.
    We need to get some water test results, but I am suspecting that the filter system hasn't been able to keep up.
     
    MitchM, Aug 19, 2018
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  5. sweetbeats

    CometKeith

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    Hi. I'm so sorry about you losing your Koi. By any chance was it in the morning when you noticed that the two fish had died? If it was then it would indicate depletion of dissolved O2 in your pond because at night they hit the lowest levels.
     
    CometKeith, Aug 20, 2018
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  6. sweetbeats

    addy1 water gardener / gold fish and shubunkins Moderator

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    How much are you feeding? Like said above post your test results, it will really help us help you.

    If you are adding anything to your pond quit.
     
    addy1, Aug 20, 2018
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  7. sweetbeats

    sissy sissy

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    koi need lots of aeration like said and need to good to great filtering .I agree get an api test kit and stop feeding and we need more info on the pond and size of the fish .How clean is the bottom of the pond because it could be waste breaking down .Has anything been washed into the pond like fertilizers or weed killers
     
    sissy, Aug 20, 2018
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  8. sweetbeats

    Mmathis TurtleMommy

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    @sweetbeats How deep is your pond and where do you live — what climate zone? Have you recently added any new fish? Have your fish had babies? Sometimes when koi spawn, the females can become so stressed out that they can die. I wonder if there has just been a spawning...... That could also account for the “bubbles.”

    As others have mentioned, tell us all of your water parameters (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, pH, KH...) and tell us the number values, not just “good” or “OK.” And stop adding vinegar or anything else to the pond! The pH doesn’t need to be adjusted to a particular number. I won’t go into an explanation now, but tell us your KH reading and later we can explain what that’s all about.

    Algae gets worse when you have too many nutrients in the water (from fish waste, food, decaying plant matter, etc.), so that tells us something. Is your pond in full sunlight? How often do you feed? What size are your remaining 8 koi?

    Anyway, back to the basics, as mentioned, please get us water test results, be sure the water is being aerated (you said 2 waterfalls, right?), stop feeding, don’t add anything else to the water for now. We’ll wait to hear back from you! Oh, and I agree that some pictures of your pond would be extremely helpful!
     
    Mmathis, Aug 20, 2018
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  9. sweetbeats

    Gemma

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    Sorry about your fish ):
     
    Gemma, Aug 20, 2018
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  10. sweetbeats

    Rrooferman

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    So we had very lethargic fish today.. noticed the fountain wasn’t working well
    We cleaned it and think we got more aeration..but being rookies we are really not sure
    The fish appear to be doing better
     
    Rrooferman, Aug 20, 2018
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  11. sweetbeats

    Mmathis TurtleMommy

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    Hey there, @Rrooferman! Are you the same person as @sweetbeats? If so, glad to hear that you have seen an improvement! If not, why not pop over to our introductions topic and tell us about yourself and your pond.
     
    Mmathis, Aug 21, 2018
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  12. sweetbeats

    CometKeith

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    My first guess when people have fish die without any previous sign of illness is not enough dissolved oxygen in the water. I would recommend you buy a pond aerator and install it asap. If the water fountain is the only source of aeration and the fish died as a result of it not working well you don't have nearly enough aeration going on and you need a LOT more! Good luck!
     
    CometKeith, Aug 21, 2018
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  13. sweetbeats

    sweetbeats

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    Thanks all so much for the replies. So sorry for lobbing our the desperate cry and then being silent...much going on here on top of the problems with the koi pond.


    I’ll try to answer all the questions in chronological order of the posts, which will hopefully help clarify our setup and the current situation.


    Test kit: I do not have a test kit. I was using pool test strips to measure PH. I was encouraged by a local koi supplier/pond supply store we found a couple towns away to use a liquid test kit. We got one and even after adding a couple gallons of vinegar over several days the PH in the morning is still 9+...it is maxing the scale out which goes to 9. That tells me the PH was and possible still is greater than 9 in the morning, and greater than that in the evening. This helps to explain why we have struggled with the algae so much this year. So though I’m told in this thread not to worry about it, I am going to continue to bring it more into normal range, like something stable between 7 and 8.4 or so between morning and evening.


    Algae control: we have added a nominal amount of algae control granules we got from Webb’s Water Garden online several times this season, but not for many weeks.


    Pond size: yes I am confident of the 3000gal size. The pond is oval shaped, about 20’ x 15’ and 1.5’ to 2’ deep, and also features two good sized waterfall canals being fed by a Shinmaywa 10,500gph pump. We run the pump 24/7/365. Aeration is not the problem.


    Location/recent weather/runoff: we are in Oregon in the Salem area...no storms to speak of (literally only trace precipitation for a couple months now), we do have lawn irrigation that is fed by our well, but the water is potable drinking water quality...tested last year. The pond is periodically topped off with this same water and partial water changes are accomplished by overfilling and allowing water to escape via an overflow drain that exits about 400’ away from the pond. It has been an unusually dry and warm summer for us so far.


    Possible toxins introduced? I’m embarrassed to say, but a couple weeks ago we bought a couple small koi from a local chain pet store. One died within 24 hours. I’m feeling terrible at the though this may, along with water quality conditions, be killing our koi. :( I will say there is a natural wetlands/swamp about 500’ away on our property and we occasionally have guest salamanders and frogs at the koi pond. This is not new this year. But I thought I’d mention it. We also used a lot of the little mosquito pucks in the pond this year to try and mitigate all the mosquitos. We have bats that visit the pond nightly to help with insect control. As of today a total of three of the large (I.e. about 16” long) koi have died. I think there is another for which death may be imminent. I’m starting to be able to see the ones that are at greatest risk separate from the others and hang out by the filter basket, and there is one that was doing that yesterday.


    Feeding: they continue to not eat. Prior to this the nine koi (seven large and two medium) were eating three 15g feedings a day no problem. I have been removing the uneaten food and yesterday removed the feeder altogether...I plan on hand feeding small amounts daily to see if there is interest.


    Timing of deaths: it is not in the morning when I find the dead koi, but rather in the afternoon or evening. Again, with the two large waterfalls and 10,500gph pump I not believe O2 levels are the problem.


    Chemical runoff: I don’t believe there is a reasonable way lawn/ag chemicals could be getting into the pond. I apply a fertilizer two to three times a year, but the last application was months ago and if there was a heavy rain it would have to be flash-flood like and even then the runoff would go *behind* the pond liner. I think this is not the cause/concern.


    Pond condition: there is algae and some bio waste in the bottom of the pond in areas, but never enough to cover the cobblestone in the pond...I can see rock everywhere.


    So I mentioned above the local koi/pond store. Based on symptoms the recommendation was to add salt (we’ve never added salt), 23lbs for the 3,000gal, and add beneficial bacteria. The folks at the store believe the biology of the pond is off, the waste is not being broken down (causing the foaming), and the salt will help the koi fight secondary issues that are happening from either a bacterial or viral infection, likely from the fish we added. Huge and painful lesson learned. We are very sad. They also indicated alkali condition is okay for the koi, though it will promote algae. So they sold me the proper PH test kit and suggested to get the PH in range, but not worry about 8-9 range and to always test in the morning when PH is lowest.


    That was 48 hours ago. Conditions don’t seem to be worsening at this point. The foaming is gone, the water is more clear, and I’m just watching the koi closely and will hand feed to see if they are interested. I was instructed how to look for parasites in the gills and on their bodies too and I don’t believe this is an issue.


    I have some pictures of the pond from earlier in the year, but I should take some current pictures and post those so stay tuned.
     
    sweetbeats, Aug 21, 2018
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  14. sweetbeats

    sissy sissy

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    I cannot see any use for vinegar in a pond ,they are not a salad and besides that vinegar is acidic .Salt is not good either ,why these people keep saying add this and add that don't know what they are talking about .Do not add it as flashing will start and fish will start jumping out of the pond
     
    sissy, Aug 21, 2018
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  15. sweetbeats

    sissy sissy

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    crushed oyster shells for chickens will stabilize the ph .,
     
    sissy, Aug 21, 2018
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  16. sweetbeats

    Mmathis TurtleMommy

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    @sweetbeats When they sold you the liquid pH test, did they also mention checking things like ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, KH, and GH? If not, I would recommend that you find test list for those (like API) and test as well as for pH. PH is important, but all of the water parameters should be taken into consideration. It is correct that the NUMBER VALUE of your pH isn’t as significant as the fact that the number remains stable. The test for KH will give us more info regarding that.

    Yes, unfortunately, sometimes we do learn the hard way about adding new fish. Mostly we recommend a quarantine period for any new fish before they are added to the exitisting fish. One of those fish could have been sick — or maybe just adding the new fish was enough to tip your pond. Your pond was doing great for 3 years, and this may not have a thing to do with anything you’ve done or are doing with it. As koi grow, their size alone can add to the pond’s bioload.

    As a general rule, we don’t advocate the use of salt (we are a garden pond forum with a slightly different philosophy than the dedicated koi pond people — not better or worse, just different), nor do we advocate the use of chemicals or additives aside from dechlorinator. If you can get another test kit and give us those other water parameter readings, it would be helpful.
     
    Mmathis, Aug 21, 2018
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  17. sweetbeats

    sweetbeats

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    I don’t even know what KH and GH are...I asked about ammonia, nitrites and nitrates and they said there’s no point in trying to control those until there are good bacteria established in the pond. My hope is to avoid getting into a passing match (please excuse the term) here...and the folks that sold me the stuff and gave me the advice are a well known regional source for healthy koi, koi pond setup and maintenance. I’m just trying to explain why we listened.

    Here are some pics of our pond:

    D06DF83E-9E80-435E-A00C-7BB8C88813C2.jpeg D085BFA8-F71A-4C09-B8DC-10A19FBD7F95.jpeg 6E9D1A71-04EE-4FA9-8BDC-91859A43697F.jpeg

    Some of the koi seem to still be doing okay, but the bigger ones not so much. They all appear calm...I did get one of the big ones to take a bite today but they don’t seem much interested in food. The water does look so much better though...no foaming, and very clear, but here is our favorite koi...”Orange Crush” we call him...haven’t seen him for days (there are several shelter rocks in the pond)...my eyesight isn’t really great but his scales look lifted, smaller fins appear rotted, and he’s got white stuff hanging on him:

    15D3C7B6-B067-4B2D-9FBD-B0A6D96BB38C.jpeg 467BCB4A-D014-4E6A-B75E-35EE92A48C85.jpeg 7F2088C3-C9DA-4A98-936B-2F89EC14A2E0.jpeg

    I need to figure out where I get a kit to test for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. I did find this out in the barn with random other things left behind by the previous owner, but this doesn’t look like it will help:

    E88C1253-0A27-4362-B014-9FF4BE6A444B.jpeg 0ED95B74-1576-4CE4-AED0-39C892F1A151.jpeg

    ...sigh...

    I can’t really describe how heavy we feel just watching these beautiful creatures, our pond friends, just waste away like this, and to feel responsible. :(
     
    sweetbeats, Aug 22, 2018
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  18. sweetbeats

    MitchM

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    The fish in the pictures look like they are suffering from dropsy, an inability to adapt to the water conditions.
    (an inability to properly osmoregulate) There can be many causes for the fish to develop this. Treatment is a warm salt water bath, but dropsy is usually fatal if not treated. The fish needs to be removed from the pond and treated in a separate container.

    Water quality is an issue here, so if the koi dealers have a good name, I think you must have misunderstood what they said. Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, KH, GH, PH are exactly what you want to test for.
    A liquid test kit is the only type of kit that will give you accurate results.
    Water temperature should be measured as well.
    KH and GH measure the minerals in the water, and minerals are essential for proper life functions of bacteria, plants and fish.
    Proper KH and GH measurements also keep the PH in a reasonable, stable range.

    .
     
    MitchM, Aug 22, 2018
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  19. sweetbeats

    Mmathis TurtleMommy

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    @sweetbeats You can find liquid test kits at pet stores that carry fish, like PetCo, PetSmart, and just local pet stores. You can also mail order them from almost any “pond” web site, even AMAZON. Most of us use something like the API Master kit. You would have to add the tests for KH and GH.

    You want:
    • Ammonia
    • Nitrites
    • Nitrates
    • pH (most kits have 2 separate tests included — one for high range pH results, and one for low range pH resuslts)
    • KH (carbonate hardness)
    • GH (general hardness)
    • A water pond/pool thermometer as @MitchM mentioned
    • O2 test — to check the level of oxygen — an important but not a vital test at this point
    IMHO it’s important to monitor ALL of these water parameters, and in a new pond (or any time problems appear), it’s even more important. A lot of us do stop doing regular testing after our ponds are cycled, but they still need to be checked periodically. Everything relates to and reacts with something else in the water.

    Check the expiration dates to be sure the kit is fresh. You said something about a shed, but I prefer to keep my testing kits indoors where it’s more climate controlled. Also, carefully read the directions because each test is slightly different (like having to shake the test bottle, or adding drops one at a time — or titration— instead of adding X number of drops to a test tube).

    Anyway, if you can get hold of these tests ASAP, please give us the NUMBER results. From there, we can guide you and explain how these all relate to each other.

    And yes, please isolate the obviously sick fish. We can also give you more info about quarantine if you need it.

    And let me add that we totally understand how you feel about your fish! We’ve all been where you are at some point — we care deeply about our little friends — and that’s why we want to help you make yours all better!
     
    Mmathis, Aug 22, 2018
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  20. sweetbeats

    Lisak1

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    Your pond is very pretty @sweetbeats and we all understand your heavy heart... it's frustrating and sad to see this happening.

    If I could comment on one thing you said - you are taking advice from a
    . However, there is a difference between a Dedicated Koi Pond (DKP) and what you appear to have, which is a garden or eco-pond. One of the biggest differences is plants in the pond - a DKP will not have plants or rocks or gravel in the pond. Management of these two types of ponds varies - for example, salt may be recommended in a DKP, but in a garden pond salt will likely negatively affect or even kill your plants. An eco-pond relies more on the balance of the pond to keep the water and fish healthy; a DKP relies more heavily on filtration and additives, as there are no plants or gravel to add to the eco-system. I hope that makes sense.

    Just something to think about as you continue to work to resolve this issue.
     
    Lisak1, Aug 22, 2018
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