New pond owner from New Mexico and Hi to all!


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I just found this forum and appears it can really help us novice pond owners! I built a new pond back in July and in August started to put in koi fish. Now the fish are all starting to die! My pond size is 6' x 12' and is 4' deep, about 2100 gallons. I added filter material around the submersible pump (I use the output for my water fall feature) however, the filter is not doing the job. I'm wondering if I need to add a second submersible pump and connect to an external mechanical filter for filtering out the pond. I'm frustrated because the water is very cloudy and full of algea. Not sure what to do here but I hate seeing fish die.
 
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Let's start from the beginning. Do you have any biological filtration on your pond - any bio balls or filter mats where bacteria can colonize? Any plants growing in the pond? Do you do any water testing? If so, what are the results? It sounds like you are only doing mechanical filtration, which won't help keep your pond safe for your fish.

What do the fish look like when they die? Are they acting strange first? How big are you fish? How many are you adding at a time? How long do they survive before they start to die?

Lots of questions I know, but the more information we have the more useful we can be with suggestions. Remember - algae is only a symptom, it's not going to hurt the fish. In fact, it's probably the only thing keeping them all from dying right now. An overgrowth of algae means you have too many nutrients in the pond - too many fish, too much food, too many organic materials not being removed, not enough plants/biological filtration to consume the excess nutrients. All are possible. Get to the cause of the problem and you'll not have to worry about the algae.
 

addy1

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Welcome to our forum!

Your pond is new, did you test the water? How many fish did you add, what size are they? Your ammonia might be too high or something else.
The more information you can give us the better we can help you.
 
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Let's start from the beginning. Do you have any biological filtration on your pond - any bio balls or filter mats where bacteria can colonize? Any plants growing in the pond? Do you do any water testing? If so, what are the results? It sounds like you are only doing mechanical filtration, which won't help keep your pond safe for your fish.

What do the fish look like when they die? Are they acting strange first? How big are you fish? How many are you adding at a time? How long do they survive before they start to die?

Lots of questions I know, but the more information we have the more useful we can be with suggestions. Remember - algae is only a symptom, it's not going to hurt the fish. In fact, it's probably the only thing keeping them all from dying right now. An overgrowth of algae means you have too many nutrients in the pond - too many fish, too much food, too many organic materials not being removed, not enough plants/biological filtration to consume the excess nutrients. All are possible. Get to the cause of the problem and you'll not have to worry about the algae.

Hi Lisak1, here are my answers in bold:

Do you have any biological filtration on your pond - any bio balls or filter mats where bacteria can colonize? No
Any plants growing in the pond? Yes, 5 each of lily flowers, and 3 each of something else. Lettuce and some other "water cover".
Do you do any water testing? If so, what are the results? Yes, I had it checked three times and waited for two weeks before adding fish. The last test I had done was about 10 days ago and the readings were all within safe limits.

It sounds like you are only doing mechanical filtration, which won't help keep your pond safe for your fish. Yes, I have a pump with that pond filter material (a mesh) around it.

What do the fish look like when they die? Can't really tell because the water is so cloudy.
Are they acting strange first? I can't tell.
How big are you fish? Originally, I added about 20 babies (1" or less) and a couple of weeks later, I added 20 3"-4" size koi.
How many are you adding at a time? None since all 40 have been in the pond.
How long do they survive before they start to die? They were all added in August and now we've already seen 4 dead ones (floated to the top).

Lots of questions I know, but the more information we have the more useful we can be with suggestions. Remember - algae is only a symptom, it's not going to hurt the fish. In fact, it's probably the only thing keeping them all from dying right now. An overgrowth of algae means you have too many nutrients in the pond - too many fish, too much food, too many organic materials not being removed, not enough plants/biological filtration to consume the excess nutrients. All are possible. Get to the cause of the problem and you'll not have to worry about the algae.
 
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Welcome to our forum!

Your pond is new, did you test the water? How many fish did you add, what size are they? Your ammonia might be too high or something else.
The more information you can give us the better we can help you.

Hi addy1,

Thank you, here are the answers to your questions:
Your pond is new, did you test the water? Yes, I did and the results were well within safe for adding koi fish.
How many fish did you add, what size are they? Originally, I added about 20 babies (1" or less) and a couple of weeks later, I added 20 each 3"-4" size koi.

When they were swimming around, I could see growth with all of them.


Your ammonia might be too high or something else. That is what I'm thinking. I'm thinking on having the water tested again.
 

addy1

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That is a lot of fish for how new your pond is. Also way to many koi for the size of your pond. They will out grow it fast and foul the water.

Most that have koi say one koi in 1000 gallons. The more fish you have the better the filtration needs to be.

I have only shubunkins, a lot easier to care for then koi and more forgiving with water conditions.
 
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I agree with @addy1 - your pond will end up seriously overstocked with 40 koi. They are small now, but grow incredibly fast. And you probably added too many too soon... but that's water under the proverbial bridge.

I'm not much of a water tester myself, but whenever anyone gives water testing results they will say "everything was fine" or "all were within acceptable ranges". Posting actual values will give a much better picture. And it sounds like they tested before the fish were added to the pond - I'm not sure what they would be testing for with no fish in the system. Get a good test kit and learn how to do your own testing - in the early days of pond keeping it's really important that you know what's going on with your water.

Plants are an integral part of the pond filtration - you have five lilies, which is good, but they don't really do much for water quality in my opinion... unless you have them free-ranging in your pond, which I would not recommend. You need a LOT more plants than what you have. The plants will take up those excess nutrients in the pond and eventually starve out the algae. I use a planted wetland filter to filter my pond - plants and gravel (home to colonizing bacteria) keep my pond clean and my water healthy.

Every pond needs two kinds of filtration - mechanical, to remove the things that you can see (mostly broken down organics and other things that fall into the pond) and biological, to remove the things you cannot see. You are lacking the second. (Unless your waterfall is built on a biofalls or waterfall box filled with bioballs or other filtering media and you didn't mention it... ) You can sieve out organics all day long, but if there's no good bacteria to consume the fish waste and no plants to uptake the resulting nutrients, your system will fail. Now you do have bacteria in your pond - you can't avoid it. It colonizes anywhere there's a surface for it to cling to. But without a biological filtration system, your pond will struggle.

I know no one wants to hear that they have an overstocked pond, but it's a story we hear over and over again. Those tiny koi are so pretty and so... SMALL. But check out @CometKeith 's thread about his goldfish (now with koi!) pond to see the growth you will get in just one year. And the amount of waste they produce is a big consideration when you keep koi.

Stick with us... you'll get to a clear pond and healthy fish with a few tweaks!
 
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I agree with @addy1 - your pond will end up seriously overstocked with 40 koi. They are small now, but grow incredibly fast. And you probably added too many too soon... but that's water under the proverbial bridge.

I'm not much of a water tester myself, but whenever anyone gives water testing results they will say "everything was fine" or "all were within acceptable ranges". Posting actual values will give a much better picture. And it sounds like they tested before the fish were added to the pond - I'm not sure what they would be testing for with no fish in the system. Get a good test kit and learn how to do your own testing - in the early days of pond keeping it's really important that you know what's going on with your water.

Plants are an integral part of the pond filtration - you have five lilies, which is good, but they don't really do much for water quality in my opinion... unless you have them free-ranging in your pond, which I would not recommend. You need a LOT more plants than what you have. The plants will take up those excess nutrients in the pond and eventually starve out the algae. I use a planted wetland filter to filter my pond - plants and gravel (home to colonizing bacteria) keep my pond clean and my water healthy.

Every pond needs two kinds of filtration - mechanical, to remove the things that you can see (mostly broken down organics and other things that fall into the pond) and biological, to remove the things you cannot see. You are lacking the second. (Unless your waterfall is built on a biofalls or waterfall box filled with bioballs or other filtering media and you didn't mention it... ) You can sieve out organics all day long, but if there's no good bacteria to consume the fish waste and no plants to uptake the resulting nutrients, your system will fail. Now you do have bacteria in your pond - you can't avoid it. It colonizes anywhere there's a surface for it to cling to. But without a biological filtration system, your pond will struggle.

I know no one wants to hear that they have an overstocked pond, but it's a story we hear over and over again. Those tiny koi are so pretty and so... SMALL. But check out @CometKeith 's thread about his goldfish (now with koi!) pond to see the growth you will get in just one year. And the amount of waste they produce is a big consideration when you keep koi.

Stick with us... you'll get to a clear pond and healthy fish with a few tweaks!

Lisak1,
Thank you very much for this response. At this time, I'm not even sure how much fish are still alive. I won't be adding any more anytime soon! For now I need a second filtration system as you noted, a biological filtration system. I need to install one ASAP before I loose more fish. Is there one you recommend? I thought I consulted pond experts when I was building it and that didn't get me very far. I'd prefer not calling anybody who is selling a system because they'll try and sell you the moon. Any advice you can offer will greatly be appreciated.
 

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Wow! You are so ambitious to have added so many fish all at once with no real experience. I would suggest either building a skippy filter or get a very good quality pressurized filter with a backwash system and an external pump. These systems can start around $2000 and go up. I would suggest you buy a kit that includes everything so you know everything will work together well. I have a aquadyne 4000 filter for my 3000 gallon pond and I wish I would have bought the 6000. A system for a 4000 gallon pond would be good for you. Good places to look are Webb’s Water Gardens and AZ Ponds. Good luck!!
 
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I would also suggest you consider adding a bog filter to your pond, if you have the space.

Post a picture of your pond - we'd love to see it and our suggestions would be far more helpful!
 
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Here is a pic of my pond. I don't have any shade and is a big problem for algae growth and murky looking water. Now the temperature is changing here in Santa Fe, so algae growth won't be a problem. Fortunately, all my koi didn't die so I still have some. Over the winter I need to figure out how to get a bio filter in place. I'm thinking on making my own since I'm retired and have lots of time.:)
 

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addy1

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Nice looking pond.
Koi are pretty and neat fish, but for ease of care I would stick with shubunkins (poor mans koi) really pretty, a lot easier on the pond.

I have the water room for koi but no desire to have them
20160912_122713.jpg
 
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I don't have any shade and is a big problem for algae growth and murky looking water.

I'll say it again - it's not a shade problem. A well balanced pond can be in full sun all day long without having an algae overgrowth or murky water. You have WAAAAAY too many fish in far too small of a pond. You said your pond was 2100 gallons... looking at the photo, I'd have to question that. I know it can be hard to judge size from pictures, but unless some of those rocks are 6 feet long, there's no way your pond is 6 feet wide and 12 feet long.

I'm not being critical or trying to second guess you - it's just very important that you know the true size of your pond for lots of reasons - stocking fish being one of them. And looking at the size of your pond (again - I may be wrong, so feel free to correct me if I am) but you don't have a koi pond - that would be an ideal pond for a few goldfish. You will struggle with water quality forever in a pond with too many fish... and the fish will struggle as well.
 
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Hi Lisak1, believe me the pond is 12x6 (I oversaw the digging, including plant shelves), I have large rocks that are placed over the actual pond opening. There are two plant shelves that are 1' on both sides of the pond. I guess technically, it would be 10' x 6'. I do agree, there is too many fish. Either way, I need a bog filter or something else to keep it as clean as it can be. Only problem is a bog filter really doesn't work well with the layout of the pond and my backyard. I'm not sure what other options I have. During the winter I figured I would start building some sort of DIY filter???
 
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Nice looking pond.
Koi are pretty and neat fish, but for ease of care I would stick with shubunkins (poor mans koi) really pretty, a lot easier on the pond.

I have the water room for koi but no desire to have them
View attachment 125132
Those are beautiful. When its all said and done, I may have to replace with shubunkins.
 
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I’d say the first step would be to find homes for most of the fish. Reduce what’s fouling the water. You can get big totes, net the fish, decide which ones to keep, and put those back. If the fish will be in the totes longer than it takes to catch them, put select ones back, and transport the rest, get air pumps in there. For 2100 gallons, I’d keep 1-2 koi, or 1 koi and some nice goldfish.
One thing I didn’t see anywhere on here, are you on well or city water? I know most of New Mexico has been in a drought, otherwise I’d say do a 30% water change, to dilute the build of ammonia. If you loose any more, check their gills for red coloration. And if you do put them in totes, be sure to use half pond water, half fresh dechlorinated water. Cities add chlorine to waters to inhibit bacteria, but it’s harmful to fish.
Best of luck!
 
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Regarding the water, I don't use either well or city water. Here in New Mexico since we are in a drought, we have to save all rain water from our roof into 4,000 gallon cisterns. I also use this water for irrigation as well and the plants love it. Maybe stored rain water is a problem? Hmmm...sounds like I should drain out water and refill to get rid of ammonia, good suggestion.
 

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