Killed a KOI with Cupramine. Please help to understand and identify the disease


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I lost a KOI a few days ago, and I'm trueing to understand what caused it, learn a lesson and treat other fish. Sorry for the long post. I'm very upset about my stupidity and helplessness with my beloved pets.

My pond is about 1000gl with waterfall and biofilter, 40W UV. I had 8 Koi for about seven years. I bought them about 8," and they are now about 25".
A week ago, I noticed spots on some that looked like a parasite. In the photos, you may see reddish spots with the black area. Also, see strange round openings in the body. The KOI seemed active, eating well. Nothing abnormal. Water temperatures in lower 60th. I checked water chemistry, and it seemed OK. It is clear. Exchanged water two weeks ago.
Two days ago, I met the guy who worked in the fish store and asked him to stop by. He handed me a bottle of Cupramine by Seachem with about 100ml left. (Bottle says 250ml treats 1312 gallons). Suggested to feed the fish by hand and while it is close - squirt the chemical on the area. 1,5 hours later, I came back to the pond and froze in horror. Half of my pond had foam on the surface. Water is not moving in the filter. Inside the filter, I found one KOI (not the one I treated) dead, blocking the filter. Other KOI went to the bottom, motionless. Koi hid their head under the rock. They were Breathing normally. I started immediately pumping water out and exchanging it with tap water. I use a pond vacuum to suck all the foam from the surface and filter. I called the guy back. He had no explanation. He called Seachem technical support, and they had no answer about what caused it. His theory is that it was a freak coincidence. One fish went to the filter over flap, got stuck, and foaming was slime off the dead KOI. He suggested adding pond salt to the water. I'm paralyzed with fear to do anything else. Two days later, Koi are back to normal. They are active, eating well. The signs of the illness are there, and I want to take my time to treat it. Maybe monitor and see if this will heal on its own.
I welcome any ideas, suggestions on this issue.
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JRS

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Sorry about your fish. You startled me, talking about squirting it on the fish. Copper can be some nasty stuff with varying toxicity depending on its form. How is your ammonia and nitrite? I am suspecting your bio filter may have been affected somewhat also and your pond is very crowded.

I've been dosing with Cupramine™ and then I added Product X and everything died. What happened?
A: If Product X is a reducing agent such as ParaGuard™ (or other aldehyde based medications), or if you overdose with a dechlorinator, such as Prime® then the Cu2+ will be reduced to Cu+. Cu+ is 10 times more toxic than 2+. (From their FAQ)
 

mrsclem

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Going to give suggestion and idea- You had 8 koi- 8" and they are now over 2 feet. You have a very nice small pond, small being key word. 1000 gal is suggested volume for 1 adult koi. Your filtration may not be able to keep up with the large amount of fish waste. Can you find homes for a couple of your koi? I know after having them for that long , they are like family! I would not add any other chemicals or salt.This is something we see here a lot, people get a koi from a pet shop and figure if its in a tank, it can live in a small pond. Sorry for the loss of your fish, it does sound like the rest are doing ok.
 
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Usually red spots or ulcers are bacterial infections secondary to problems associated with poor water quality , which could be caused by over crowding.

I'm very sorry for the loss of your koi. Your remaining koi are beautiful.
 
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Under normal circumstances I wouldn't suggest water changes, but since your fish are ill, maybe do small amounts over a course of a week or two.
Don't add any salt or chemicals, just dechlorinator if your home's water has chlorine.
 
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Does that look like missing scales? Could it have hurt itself against the rocks in your pond?
 
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I'm sorry this is happening to you, but I have to agree with those who commented on the size of your pond - your fish are suffering from poor water quality. There aren't enough chemicals or fixes in the world to address that. You either need a bigger pond STAT or to find new homes for those koi. I wouldn't even keep one 25 inch koi in 1000 gallons, if for no other reason than you'd have a pond with just one fish!

Also - I would not take any more advice from a "professional" who did not make this very point to you the moment he saw your pond full of too-large fish. Water quality should be the number one concern of anyone who understands ponds, fish, etc.

You said your water parameters were "OK" - what were the exact numbers? And "clear" water means nothing when it comes to fish health.
 
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Time to enlarge the pond! Think more like 4000+ gallons, which could be done. If you calculate about a third of the surface area for a bog, you’ll find you can 1) improve their quality of life by offering more space, 2) improve quality of water, 3) improve the look of the pond by making any tweaks that you didn’t like about this one. A big pond is great as the larger volume of water diluted the fish waste, fluctuations in temps, and is easier to keep balanced than a small pond.
 
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I appreciate all the comments. The consensus seems that the pond is too small. Unfortunately, I can't enlarge the pond at this time. I can't put myself into Sophie's Choice to give up any Koi.

What gives me hope is that this is the first fish I lost in 7 years and only due to following bad advice. Those spots on Koi seem to go away slowly, and Koi look pretty happy. I oversized everything else when I built the pond - filter, pump, biofilter. I'm cleaning the mechanical filter religiously. Never overfeed the fish. Exchange water in stages up to 50% twice a year. The only chemical I add is API's Stress Coat when adding new water.
The pump runs year-round, around the clock. I hope I can trick Nature as long as I can.

Would anyone advise me on the use of Pond Salt to promote healthier Koi? Salt bath? Any other treatment you had success with?

BTW scary round "holes" on top - are bubbles, nothing on fish.
 
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Mmathis

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Just curious, but to anyone else, does that look like an anchor worm (or fish louse) attached to those sore places? If so, THAT could be the source of the infection.....
 
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I appreciate all the comments. The consensus seems that the pond is too small. Unfortunately, I can't enlarge the pond at this time. I can't put myself into Sophie's Choice to give up any Koi.

What gives me hope is that this is the first fish I lost in 7 years and only due to following bad advice. Those spots on Koi seem to go away slowly, and Koi look pretty happy. I oversized everything else when I built the pond - filter, pump, biofilter. I'm cleaning the mechanical filter religiously. Never overfeed the fish. Exchange water in stages up to 50% twice a year. The only chemical I add is API's Stress Coat when adding new water.
The pump runs year-round, around the clock. I hope I can trick Nature as long as I can.

Would anyone advise me on the use of Pond Salt to promote healthier Koi? Salt bath? Any other treatment you had success with?

BTW scary round "holes" on top - are bubbles, nothing on fish.
Regarding pond salt- That is no longer considered necessary as koi are fresh water fish. It does nothing to help with health. Salt dips can be used to treat illness.
 
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While I hope that you won't have any problems in the future, it is important to note that koi will often do fine in a pond for a number of years, and then suddenly... they won't. Everyone says "I don't know what happened - nothing changed!" but the fact of the matter is one very important factor changed: the size of the fish. Koi have large biomass and as such produce a large amount of waste. The fact that you've made it this far is no indication of what you may face in the future. I know you don't want to give up any of your fish... we've all been there. But I can tell you what's worse - pulling those big, beautiful fish out of the pond once they're dead. Goldfish are much more forgiving.
 
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I appreciate all the comments. The consensus seems that the pond is too small. Unfortunately, I can't enlarge the pond at this time. I can't put myself into Sophie's Choice to give up any Koi.

What gives me hope is that this is the first fish I lost in 7 years and only due to following bad advice. Those spots on Koi seem to go away slowly, and Koi look pretty happy. I oversized everything else when I built the pond - filter, pump, biofilter. I'm cleaning the mechanical filter religiously. Never overfeed the fish. Exchange water in stages up to 50% twice a year. The only chemical I add is API's Stress Coat when adding new water.
The pump runs year-round, around the clock. I hope I can trick Nature as long as I can.

Would anyone advise me on the use of Pond Salt to promote healthier Koi? Salt bath? Any other treatment you had success with?

BTW scary round "holes" on top - are bubbles, nothing on fish.
I would keep increasing your filtration each year if you don't plan on rehoming any koi. I have 4 adult koi in 1700 gallons and run a sand & gravel filter, bog, matala pads in skimmer.....lot so water turn over and aeration.
 
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While I hope that you won't have any problems in the future, it is important to note that koi will often do fine in a pond for a number of years, and then suddenly... they won't. Everyone says "I don't know what happened - nothing changed!" but the fact of the matter is one very important factor changed: the size of the fish. Koi have large biomass and as such produce a large amount of waste. The fact that you've made it this far is no indication of what you may face in the future. I know you don't want to give up any of your fish... we've all been there. But I can tell you what's worse - pulling those big, beautiful fish out of the pond once they're dead. Goldfish are much more forgiving.
This is spot-on great advice.
This is so common. All of a sudden you're having problems with the health of your fish. Too many fish that just all of a sudden outgrew their home.
 
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And sorry for being so abrupt at the end there - my dinner was calling!

But I can tell you from experience that it is the worst feeling in the world to find your beautiful fish all dead and now you have to drag them out of the pond one by one. Mine was a "too small pond" problem that only became too small when our plumbing failed one winter. We had to shut the pump down and our 4000 gallon pond became a 2400 gallon pond overnight - we were no longer circulating from the bog and rain exchange. All but one of our big koi were dead within a matter of a few days. And even though there was nothing we could have humanly done to prevent the result once we were in the midst of it - it was below zero and impossible to work on pond plumbing - I knew that we would never put koi in our pond again because the possibility that it could happen again was always right there. Power failure or plumbing failure - either one would mean disaster for big fish. We had several dozen goldfish that came through the exact same situation unscathed. That's why I say they are much more forgiving - much smaller, produce less waste, and require less oxygen.
 
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Lisak1, your story is heartbreaking. It is my nightmare – what happens if my pump/plumbing would fail in the winter. I have no plan. In retrospect – how would you prepare for this scenario? Should I just purchase and keep an extra pump( I use ShinMaywa 1/3 HP )?

I have a water heater that I keep in winter at the bottom of the pond. My thought is to run it to prevent freezing over the pond. I also keep a small aerator pump for such a scenario. I have a whole house generator to address power outages. What else?
 

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Always good to have a backup pump on hand unless you have someplace close by where you can pick one up same day. I closed one of my ponds last fall and sold all the koi as it was an above ground pond and in danger of structural failure. It was tough but at least the fish are safe.
 

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Lisak1, your story is heartbreaking. It is my nightmare – what happens if my pump/plumbing would fail in the winter. I have no plan. In retrospect – how would you prepare for this scenario? Should I just purchase and keep an extra pump( I use ShinMaywa 1/3 HP )?

I have a water heater that I keep in winter at the bottom of the pond. My thought is to run it to prevent freezing over the pond. I also keep a small aerator pump for such a scenario. I have a whole house generator to address power outages. What else?
I have a backup gasoline generator and a loooooooong extension cord; that's MY backup plan for power outages. But yes, an extra pump on standby is invaluable, imo.
 
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In our case an extra pump would not have helped. Our main line separated just above the pump - the PVC glue failed, which everyone says will never happen. Well... it did. The pump was still working, but the water was spraying everywhere. I've just resolved myself to the fact that we have a goldfish pond. I'm comfortable knowing that if we had to - or wanted to - shut the pump off for any length of time, these fish would be fine. We have a nice mix of comets and shubunkin with a couple of fantails in the mix.

I think you just have to know your pond. If you could easily throw a backup pump into action if something went wrong, then having an extra pump on hand makes lots of sense. The way our pond is set up, getting the pump in and out isn't an easy proposition. It's honestly the one thing that I can't do by myself. Either one of my boys helps me or we hire a local pond company to come and pull it for us when we need it out for any reason... which is rare, thankfully!

We did get a generator last spring that will run the pump - in addition to, oh you know, the furnace, refrigerator, lights... that nonsense! - so I would definitely do that in the case of a protracted power outage.
 

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