Periodic fish deaths


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My previous biofilter could not keep up with the fish load of a koi and 3 goldfish, despite weekly filter changes, bi-weekly water changes, and plants in the pond. So I built the bog, finished it in late summer, and my water clarity and quality improved within days of going live.
Wow, those results are remarkable! Quite a big bog, but gives me an idea of the size I would need to aim for (if I was doing nothing but bog filtration). Thanks for the context with the similar pond, this is immensely helpful!
 
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OLD IS YOUR TEST KIT?
I opened my API Pondmaster kit and ran my first set of tests on 23/2/20. Maybe it's time for a new kit just to be sure :unsure:
(Probably not a bad idea to get a whole new kit anyway because I keep dropping the little glass vials and breaking them!)
Whenever I took water to the aquarium shop, just to check my test results, they gave me the same readings (using API drop kits also).
But I have another possible theory:
  • My colour sensitivity is not so great and I am reading the ammonia level incorrectly. I double check with my partner and she thinks the test is showing a (yellow) 0ppm reading. I wonder if it is closer to 0.25ppm, and that the toxicity is being magnified by high pH and high pH swings. I only recently added conditioning minerals to improve the GH/KH, which were previously quite low, and I suspect I was getting pH variability over the warm summer day.
Speaking of pH, I've seen it go as high as 9.0 before. So long as it is not swinging wildly over the day, is there a maximum safe high pH? Could the fish load be giving me a high pH? (The pH is quite a bit higher than the tap water I'm adding in.)
 

Mmathis

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@pineapple I don’t routinely test anymore, but did frequently when the pond was new — it’s a great learning process. I replaced my kits yearly. That was THEN. Today if I had to test, I’d be awaiting an Amazon delivery.

PH swings are not good, but I believe it’s normal to have a slight difference between am & pm readings. If your pH is stable and your fish are happy and healthy, the NUMBER isn’t that significant. Always have a KH test, and keep up with the KH level — simply put (because I’m simple), the KH is a measure of the pond’s ability to buffer against swings. What you don’t want to be doing is chasing your pH: high this day, so add a chemical; low this day so add a chemical, etc, etc. Test the pH and KH of your source water, as well. Hope that helps.

Yes, fish load can be a factor, but now we’re getting into REAL chemistry and the relationships that all of these chemicals and ions have with one another — and my head is spinning. Maybe someone else can answer that part.
 
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you know, we'll be watchin' for you to get a severe case of LPS in a couple years...:D:oops::rolleyes:;);););)

you know, we'll be watchin' for you to get a severe case of LPS in a couple years...:D:oops::rolleyes:;);););)
I've already had 3 cases of LPS; this is my 4th pond (I had 3 in Chicagoland before I moved here). The Big Yella Fella (my koi who moved with me) is already lobbying for a larger pond, but won't a bigger pond attract bigger alligators? (P.S. NO pineapple on my pizzas.)
 

brokensword

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I've already had 3 cases of LPS; this is my 4th pond (I had 3 in Chicagoland before I moved here). The Big Yella Fella (my koi who moved with me) is already lobbying for a larger pond, but won't a bigger pond attract bigger alligators? (P.S. NO pineapple on my pizzas.)
well, we know who JDub and Dime are going fer the next holiday...

And yep your LPS is terminal; you'll never get cured now!
 
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addy1

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If you love the size shape build of your pond, just add a bog that is a bit higher than your pond and it waterfalls into the pond.

I do not have ANY filtration except the bog. I do draw water from mid to low pond, not the bottom. Therefore not drawing in debris that could clog up the bog. I use a external pump, with a leaf basket before the pump, which I never clean all summer. Which means I am not drawing in anything that can clog up the bog over time.

It has been running for over 10 years now, never cleaned, never drained. I do yank plants now and then all summer, groom all in the fall, rake in the spring to removed dead stuff. Other than that the pond runs itself. I never test the water, no need. I do not have koi. But do have, most likely 100 to 200 shubunkins, goldfish.

My bog is simple, liner , pvc pipes, pea gravel, plants. Oh and water. It is build so it does not drain dry when I turn off for the winter. Usually off for 5ish months sometimes 4, turn back on and within 2ish days the pond is back to perfectly clear.
 
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Can any advise on how to size a pump for a bog? I'm working out the design at the moment. I have a second pump that I run a little water feature from that I would like to repurpose. It's a Laguna PowerClear 3500, just wondering how to calculate the volume of big it could run.

I'm just wanting to build a smaller one to supplement the mechanical filter for the meanwhile, also to make sure I have the skill to manage it!
 

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Can any advise on how to size a pump for a bog? I'm working out the design at the moment. I have a second pump that I run a little water feature from that I would like to repurpose. It's a Laguna PowerClear 3500, just wondering how to calculate the volume of big it could run.

I'm just wanting to build a smaller one to supplement the mechanical filter for the meanwhile, also to make sure I have the skill to manage it!
You might want to start a new thread to address this.
 

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Can any advise on how to size a pump for a bog? I'm working out the design at the moment. I have a second pump that I run a little water feature from that I would like to repurpose. It's a Laguna PowerClear 3500, just wondering how to calculate the volume of big it could run.

I'm just wanting to build a smaller one to supplement the mechanical filter for the meanwhile, also to make sure I have the skill to manage it!
it's not really cut and dried, imo. What I did is just put a wye on the pump outlet, which gives me 2 feeds. One I send to my waterfall and the other goes to the bog. With a ball valve on each, I can tailor each to my tastes. Realize, I have TWO pumps, so two feeds to waterfalls and two feeds to the bog. So, I'd say; if you should turn your water over in the pond 1-1/2 times per hour, use that size pump for the whole system, then do the wye and ball valve control.
 
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Will start a new thread on bog pump sizing.

Have purchased a new test kit today and ran another set of water quality tests.
pH 8.2, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0.

The caveats would be that the Ammonia test was not cut and dry (definitely still closest to 0, just not as bright a hue. Compared water colour to test booklet using a colour comparison app and it suggested the colour was just under halfway between 0 and 0.25ppm).

Also, the algae situation seems to be truly under control. Might be helped by a week of cooler weather and a couple of fish departing the pond...
 
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This has become something of a journal, sorry. Just updating to mention that I think I can see 0.25 ppm Ammonia on today's test. And a new fish starting to act odd - a shubby that was resting quite still on the bottom of the pond (seems it might be stress).

This all fits with the overstocking hypothesis and need for improved filtration given current bioload.

Is there anything prefab that I can buy until I get the chance to build this bog?
Edit: nitrate/nitrites remain a clear 0. pH consistent 8.2, although I haven't done a morning pH test yet.
 

addy1

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Is there anything prefab that I can buy until I get the chance to build this bog?
Small bogs have been made out of planter boxes, a stock tank, flower pot, etc. So yes. Just make sure the item is strong enough to handle the pressure of pea gravel water on the walls, IE it won't bow out.
 

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This has become something of a journal, sorry. Just updating to mention that I think I can see 0.25 ppm Ammonia on today's test. And a new fish starting to act odd - a shubby that was resting quite still on the bottom of the pond (seems it might be stress).

This all fits with the overstocking hypothesis and need for improved filtration given current bioload.

Is there anything prefab that I can buy until I get the chance to build this bog?
Edit: nitrate/nitrites remain a clear 0. pH consistent 8.2, although I haven't done a morning pH test yet.
for something small, I've used a plastic mason mortar box from the big box stores; 3'x2'x8" deep. I have one on my overwinter pool in the basement. :)
 
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I agree with all the advice and commentary above. To add some perspective, I have a similar sized pond, at 1200 gallons (approximately 4500 liters) with a 3x6 foot, 1 foot deep bog (thanks to this group) in Florida US which has a long hot summer. I have 1 koi and 25 goldfish (were 3 goldfish a year ago; baby goldfish available for a new home!), and I don't see having more than the single koi in my pond, based on room for him to swim freely (the goldfish learn to stay out of the way or merely follow him around).
My previous biofilter could not keep up with the fish load of a koi and 3 goldfish, despite weekly filter changes, bi-weekly water changes, and plants in the pond. So I built the bog, finished it in late summer, and my water clarity and quality improved within days of going live. The final test will be in the height of summer, and I am sure I'll be adding aeration to supplement the waterfall oxygenation.
Good luck with your pond.
Hi, SarahT! I ran across your reply to the full medical pond report by Pineapple and see that you also have a 1200 gallon pond here in Florida (I'm in Daytona Beach). I inherited a sludge-filled abandoned pond five years ago and rehabbed it. Previous owners said "water birds" took all their fish and got tired of it. In five years I haven't lost a single fish to predators of any kind (although I myself killed several fish early on due to forgetting to turn off tapwater - have since put a timer on the faucet, duh, and also built a rainwater collection system). A green heron landed in my yard while I was still digging out the pond, and I found raccoon footprints in the sludge. Later, when the pond was on line, I found neighborhood cats staring at the fish intently but not willing to get wet.

Of all the advice I have read about ponding on these threads, the most significant was in one word: Patience.

Most of the other advice reflected the individual experiences of veteran ponders and I have found my own experience to be significantly different at times. For example, this oft-quoted formula of "1 koi per 1,000 gallons" I find to be quite puzzling, as I purchased a half dozen koi fry, a half dozen comets, and four plecostami when I initially stocked my pond. The pond has two adjoining 600 gal sections connected by a sluice, and I separated the comets from the koi and split the plecostami. I used a Pond Guy pump and pressurized filter along with a filtered skimmer and its own pump circulating through three spitters. Never had room for a bog filter, but weekly backwashing of my UV pressure filter has kept the water crystal clear. Using 70% surface coverage with water lettuce has also helped to keep organic nitrogen, ammonia and phosphorus at zero concentrations.

Over the next year (three years ago) the fish grew, as they are wont to do, with one koi becoming an alpha - it grew to a foot in length, followed by the others in lesser increments. Wherever the alpha went, the others followed in formation. Of course, in an 8-ft x 5 ft pond section (28" deep), a foot-long fish can't go far without having to turn around! Now, I suppose some fish lovers would object to confining a big fish in a small pond, but this alpha (he's orange and white and I call him The Creamsicle) seems happy, as do his smaller kin. In fact, the largest black koi (6") managed to produce three black fry to my complete surprise. At this point, all the fish - including the comets in the "upper" pond - have stopped growing. Even the small ones. The plecostami, however, tripled in size! They look like sharks, cruising along the bottom, mostly coming out at night. I did lose a comet to "suicide" - he jumped out of the water and landed on his side in the sluice, and even though one gill was under water, it wasn't enough (I was able to rescue another comet two years ago when the same thing happened).

Last spring I had some green algae problems, which didn't bother the fish much. In fact, I cut back on their food pellets when it seemed they weren't hungry, and then I wound up not feeding them at all - for months! They apparently turned to eating algae and stripping organic material collected in the water lettuce roots. This regimen helped clear the water. I added more filtration to the skimmer as well as backwashing the pressure filter daily, using my Bluebarrel rainwater system to replace lost water.

For the entire summer, the pond did well, staying crystal clear. I've had string algae growing on my two waterfalls as well as the sluice, but I accepted the fact that the best way to deal with it is manual removal, which takes only a half hour every few weeks. As you are aware, temperatures were not that bad here while the rest of the country sweltered and burned. I let the water lettuce, which grows like mad, cover the entire surface of the pond to give the fish shelter and keep temperatures down. Now, with the sun lower in the sky and temperatures dropping into the 60s, I've removed much of the water lettuce and resumed feeding the fish, only with a lot less food, hopefully to keep them picking at algae growing on the sides and under the waterfalls.

So, long story only a little shorter, my point is that a half dozen koi and comets (plus plecos) can be perfectly healthy - for years - with a whole lot less than the 1,000 gallon minimum per koi that the experts claim is necessary. Anyway, I'm not impressed by two-foot koi: At that size they begin to resemble their not-so-attractive cousins, the carp.
 

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brokensword

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Hi, SarahT! I ran across your reply to the full medical pond report by Pineapple and see that you also have a 1200 gallon pond here in Florida (I'm in Daytona Beach). I inherited a sludge-filled abandoned pond five years ago and rehabbed it. Previous owners said "water birds" took all their fish and got tired of it. In five years I haven't lost a single fish to predators of any kind (although I myself killed several fish early on due to forgetting to turn off tapwater - have since put a timer on the faucet, duh, and also built a rainwater collection system). A green heron landed in my yard while I was still digging out the pond, and I found raccoon footprints in the sludge. Later, when the pond was on line, I found neighborhood cats staring at the fish intently but not willing to get wet.

Of all the advice I have read about ponding on these threads, the most significant was in one word: Patience.

Most of the other advice reflected the individual experiences of veteran ponders and I have found my own experience to be significantly different at times. For example, this oft-quoted formula of "1 koi per 1,000 gallons" I find to be quite puzzling, as I purchased a half dozen koi fry, a half dozen comets, and four plecostami when I initially stocked my pond. The pond has two adjoining 600 gal sections connected by a sluice, and I separated the comets from the koi and split the plecostami. I used a Pond Guy pump and pressurized filter along with a filtered skimmer and its own pump circulating through three spitters. Never had room for a bog filter, but weekly backwashing of my UV pressure filter has kept the water crystal clear. Using 70% surface coverage with water lettuce has also helped to keep organic nitrogen, ammonia and phosphorus at zero concentrations.

Over the next year (three years ago) the fish grew, as they are wont to do, with one koi becoming an alpha - it grew to a foot in length, followed by the others in lesser increments. Wherever the alpha went, the others followed in formation. Of course, in an 8-ft x 5 ft pond section (28" deep), a foot-long fish can't go far without having to turn around! Now, I suppose some fish lovers would object to confining a big fish in a small pond, but this alpha (he's orange and white and I call him The Creamsicle) seems happy, as do his smaller kin. In fact, the largest black koi (6") managed to produce three black fry to my complete surprise. At this point, all the fish - including the comets in the "upper" pond - have stopped growing. Even the small ones. The plecostami, however, tripled in size! They look like sharks, cruising along the bottom, mostly coming out at night. I did lose a comet to "suicide" - he jumped out of the water and landed on his side in the sluice, and even though one gill was under water, it wasn't enough (I was able to rescue another comet two years ago when the same thing happened).

Last spring I had some green algae problems, which didn't bother the fish much. In fact, I cut back on their food pellets when it seemed they weren't hungry, and then I wound up not feeding them at all - for months! They apparently turned to eating algae and stripping organic material collected in the water lettuce roots. This regimen helped clear the water. I added more filtration to the skimmer as well as backwashing the pressure filter daily, using my Bluebarrel rainwater system to replace lost water.

For the entire summer, the pond did well, staying crystal clear. I've had string algae growing on my two waterfalls as well as the sluice, but I accepted the fact that the best way to deal with it is manual removal, which takes only a half hour every few weeks. As you are aware, temperatures were not that bad here while the rest of the country sweltered and burned. I let the water lettuce, which grows like mad, cover the entire surface of the pond to give the fish shelter and keep temperatures down. Now, with the sun lower in the sky and temperatures dropping into the 60s, I've removed much of the water lettuce and resumed feeding the fish, only with a lot less food, hopefully to keep them picking at algae growing on the sides and under the waterfalls.

So, long story only a little shorter, my point is that a half dozen koi and comets (plus plecos) can be perfectly healthy - for years - with a whole lot less than the 1,000 gallon minimum per koi that the experts claim is necessary. Anyway, I'm not impressed by two-foot koi: At that size they begin to resemble their not-so-attractive cousins, the carp.

I can guarantee you you're having success because of this line above;

"and then I wound up not feeding them at all - for months!"

...and your use of a lot of plants.


Like you, I believe (and have proven experience) keeping fish that others would say were 'stunted' but otherwise healthy in both behavior and body shape. It can be done. The main reason we tend to note '1 koi per the first 1000 gallons' is that most people that get fish (koi especially) want large fish and their feeding habits follow suit. The majority of koi owners feed more than once a day, and the 'true professionals' up to 6 times a day. And we're not talking algae bits, we're talking high protein food just for getting that growth! The VAST majority of peeps aren't able to discipline themselves to the actual size pond and fish they have, so we get a lot of 'fish got large, died, what went wrong?' posts.

Bottom line; green water tends to indicate an abundance of organics/nutrients and the free floating types are there in response. String algae is a sign of that too, so you already know some of the struggle despite ending up with 'clear' water. So, not dinging ya as much as explaining; you ARE walking a fine line. And if you keep your habits as espoused above, including your regular maintenance, you might get by. Just be careful and truly take some base line measurements, even if by pictures, of your koi growth; they tend to keep growing after year 4, albeit slower. With little change to your herd, you should be okay. I mean, I'm not one to 'talk' but I do; it is indeed MY aim to keep my particular koi herd (41 in 7K gallons with 100+ gf) at under 20"; I feed maybe once a day in the summer and that's only for a minute until everyone's got something. Otherwise, I can see them doing as your fish are doing; grazing on the UW surfaces.

Continued good luck/success!
 
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pH 8.2, ammonia 0.25ppm, nitrates 0ppm, nitrites 0ppm yesterday.

I've been able to rehome the koi, which removes over 100cm of fish from the pond (assuming we measure tip to tail?). I was surprised when I looked at estimted fish capacity for a 4500L pond - that's something like 4 koi OR 40 goldfish. We'd rather keep a whole bunch of fanices. :)
Now we have around 20 goldfish of various sizes left, half being about 10cm and the other half about 5cm or under. Unfortunately a few others fell sick before we could rehome the koi, hoping they recover. Had to do a water change of about 10% as there was a sudden massive increase in dark sludge (probably dead algae post bloom), increase in ammonia, and the sick fish. I'll give the pond some time to settle now and add the mini bog this weekend to up the biofiltration. Fingers crossed it's smoother sailing from here on out.
Thank you everyone for the advice. I have been learning lots reading everyone's posts!
 
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wow, not even sure how to start this. Maybe by applauding your love of pizza and your acceptance of pineapple on pizza eaters.

Okay, short answer? You're over stocked. This is the general rule of thumb; ONE koi for the first 1000 gallons, and 250-500 for each additional. That all by itself is giving you much of your problem.

Next, all the additives you're using are unnecessary. For instance, I've never used a chem yet and unless your tap water has chlorine/chloramine in it, you don't even need dechlor. And I have FORTY TWO koi (not any larger yet than 16") and over 100 gf, sized on average of 10" in 7000 gallons of water, with a bog, 3 waterfalls, an aerator and a partridge in a pear tree.

I have a hard time believing all your water params are zero; just having the string algae alone tells me your water should test high in nitrates, or at least test SOMETHING.

All the 'beneficial bacteria' you're buying is a waste of your money. A pond already has the necessary bits but you need to have patience so they colonize AND give them a place to do it. That is, the MORE surface area, and forcing water over/under/through it will give the bacteria a chance to filter for you. This is where my suggestion of a bog filter comes in.

Next, your feeding habit is fine.

Why are you vacuuming debris out? What is getting in that is such a nuisance? That too should show on your water tests.

String algae is a product of too many nutrients; see point 1. Algae, in any form despite your nonacceptance is still helping fight bad water conditions for your fish. It is a symptom, NOT the problem.

pH being STABLE is the important part. Changes from pH of 8 to 9 is like an increase of concentration of 100, so NO SWINGING pH.

Lastly, Prime is a TEMPORARY fix; after 48 hours, it'll release the ammonia. Again, if your ammonia test is zero, how are you needing Prime?

Okay, best solution is to rehome fish, asap, or enlarge their home. Whichever is easier. Otherwise, nature is going to fix your problem for you and it's not one you're going to like. You MIGHT end up with the hardiest of your goldfish, maybe.

A well balanced pond doesn't need any water changes.

If you invest time/energy into bog filtration, some of this will go a way, but you're still overstocked, imo.

Sorry; hope you get your pond squared away.
Brokensword I didnt realize you had so many poinent things to say! I just usually read your remarks to laugh at your off the wall sense of humor :) I totally agree with all your comments. The “ dead” giveaway by the original poster is that he was recently buying new fish to add to the pond. So @pineapple if you do everything correctly the pond will balance itself. No need to ever add chemicals except for declor. There is no exact rule for proper bioload because there are so many contributing factors. My guess is about half the fish need to go.
 

brokensword

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Brokensword I didnt realize you had so many poinent things to say! I just usually read your remarks to laugh at your off the wall sense of humor :) I totally agree with all your comments. The “ dead” giveaway by the original poster is that he was recently buying new fish to add to the pond. So @pineapple if you do everything correctly the pond will balance itself. No need to ever add chemicals except for declor. There is no exact rule for proper bioload because there are so many contributing factors. My guess is about half the fish need to go.
yeah? Well....can you whisper that a bit louder in the Super Boss' ear so my pay hike request goes through? You have no idea how long it's been tangled up in GPF red tape...sigh...they give me a squire with a dog and expect me to figure out a way to keep the halls clean AND feed the pups! Not like lil Queenie is making my life easier either, let me tell you, see it's the...


[Shadow Moderator interception; this post has been flagged as erroneously out of place in a technical thread, hence the rest of it has been banished to the koisphere, somewhere in the jungles of Great Britain. No need to ask; we buried it very well and Mssr Brokenpointy's credentials are now being thoroughly investigated for 'anti-pond' behavior and well, suspected honey theft, too. Needless to say, he's been sent to his corner and the OTG something or other has been put on notice to reign him in.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming...]


:oops: :oops: :oops:
 
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yeah? Well....can you whisper that a bit louder in the Super Boss' ear so my pay hike request goes through? You have no idea how long it's been tangled up in GPF red tape...sigh...they give me a squire with a dog and expect me to figure out a way to keep the halls clean AND feed the pups! Not like lil Queenie is making my life easier either, let me tell you, see it's the...


[Shadow Moderator interception; this post has been flagged as erroneously out of place in a technical thread, hence the rest of it has been banished to the koisphere, somewhere in the jungles of Great Britain. No need to ask; we buried it very well and Mssr Brokenpointy's credentials are now being thoroughly investigated for 'anti-pond' behavior and well, suspected honey theft, too. Needless to say, he's been sent to his corner and the OTG something or other has been put on notice to reign him in.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming...]


:oops: :oops: :oops:
Hmmmm…..are you sure we are not in the metaverse now with an alternate reality taking place??? The way I see it is the loonies have taken over the asylum and the moderators are sitting quietly with their hands folded! The only constant is good pond advice is still be given out otherwise everything else is upside down!
 
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