Water change

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I have read several threads where people are talking about doing a water change of their pond. So, I was just curious why if your ph, oxygen level and other readings are ok and your filtration system is working properly why is this change necessary?
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taherrmann4

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I only purposely take water out of my pond twice a year, fall and spring when I vac out the pond and have to add some water back in. Other than that nature does it for me. When it rains a lot to the point of filling up my pond to its overflow point then a certain amount of water leaves the pond. For instance last month we had over 13" of rain so I am sure there was a lot of my pond water that was exchanged for rain water, just recieved two more inches last night so I have yet to test my pond water from all the rain. I don't intentionally drain any water out of my pond other than those mentioned above. Throughout the summer I will have to add water due to evaporation.
 
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Bart, That discussion is being made over and over again on just about every Koi, Goldfish, and tilipia pond forum out there. I had a pretty long page typed out and was doing some research to find good correct answers for anyone that might read this. problem is the more you read the more you learn and the more you have to decide what works for you. In Japan, The best breeders will tell you that they are not fish keepers, they are the water keepers and the fish live in the water they keep. I've been keeping fish for over 30 years. I've been taught over the years that the best way to reduce nitrates and phosphates was to remove some of the old water and replace it with new. Some fish and and systems require large changes, In most cases though that is not the case unless there is something going wrong in the system. smaller 10% changes are better for the actual change, reduces the nitrates, phosphates and dissolved organic compounds. DOC's
While searching I found this article, it explains the reasons for water changes pretty well. But if you do more research you will also find that there are breeders that do not do regular water changes, they do however in most cases have filters that equally as large as the pond itself. This is why they can get away without them as they have designed systems that remove these products from their system and again, they are the water keepers, The fish just live in the water the take care of.
Also keep in mind when reading the article that they refer to Koi, Koi are carp as well as Goldfish, Just larger, same principles apply for both just more critical with Koi as they grow three, four five, maybe even times as large and put out three, four, five or more times as much waste and DOC into the water as the equal # of goldfish would produce.

Koi ponds are a closed system with far more of a bio load then any natural system. Without the replacement of water on a regular basis the system will quickly become overloaded with organics. The koi will suffer in both their development and in their health.

One quick note before I get too deep into this subject. Adding water to a koi pond to replace water that evaporated does not qualify as a water change. Yes you are adding fresh water into the system, but you are not removing any dissolved organic compounds (DOCs) from the system. So as you go along adding water, the DOCs continue to increase and the environment worsens. A proper koi pond water change requires that you remove a certain percent of the water and replace it with fresh water.

Water changes are a crucial part of koi husbandry. By changing water you are reducing the organic load in the pond and increasing the mineral content. As organics build up and minerals get consumed, the water slowly becomes unhealthy for the koi. Eventually the deteriorating water conditions will claim their lives if left unchecked. Also, koi produce a hormone into the water and when it reaches a certain density it will trigger a biological change in which the koi will stop growing and stop producing eggs. This is mother natures way of preventing over population in a lake if for some reason the inlets stop flowing. So it is very common for koi that are kept in crowded small ponds that don't get a lot of water changes to simply never grow or only grow a few inches. Increasing the amount and frequency of the water changes will remove this hormone as well as the organics in the water providing a better growing environment for your koi.

Without water changes you will start to see very high levels of Nitrates and foam may appear on the surface of the koi pond. These are two clear indicators that it is time for a water change. In fact if foam appears you are well overdue for a water change and a larger amount then normal should be removed. In general a small 10-15% water change per week is more then enough. For many, simply backwashing your filters will remove enough water for an effective water change. If you have a heavily stocked koi pond and/or an undersized filter, then you may need to do as much as 20-30% water changes several times a week. Every koi pond is different and you will need to establish a regular routine that works for your pond.

Time of year will also effect the frequency and the amount of water you change. During the winter, the koi are not eating or producing much waste. So depending on your climate, you may need to do a water change as little as once a month or not at all during the colder months. But as things warm up we need to start a more frequent routine. During the peak summer season when the fish are eating heavily and the organic load is at its peak, this is when you will need to do the most frequent water changes and filter backwashes. During this time the once a week water change is a bare minimum, not a maximum.

There are those who live in drought areas and simply cannot in good conscious throw away that much water. In situations like this there are solutions. The easiest is to simply reuse the water you are draining away. Plants, grass and fruit trees will love the nitrate rich water. On the day you plan to backwash, turn off the sprinklers and use the pond water. One more thing to keep in mind during a water change is temperatures. Major water changes can cause significant shifts in the temperature of the koi pond. Major swings in temp can at the very least be stressful to the koi, and at times, lethal. In general koi do much better going from cold to warm, but not so well going from warm to cold. So during the summer you need to be careful about major water changes. If the koi pond is say 80 degrees one hot August day and you do a 50% water change and the tap is a chilly 65 degrees, well you could easily shift the water temps 7-8 degrees in a matter of minutes. The koi will not be happy and may rush to the bottom of the pond and stop swimming. It is best during the hot months to do smaller water changes more frequently. But if you are in a bind and you must do a major water change for some reason, then try to add the water slowly. If you can spread the water addition over a period of an hour or two, then the temperature shock on the koi will be greatly reduced.

A few tips to keep in mind when doing water changes:

1. Always use dechlorinator. With major water changes a dehlorinator and ammonia binder is best.

2. Don't forget the water is running!!!!! The number one reason for total loss of all koi in a pond is forgetting to turn the water off. The chlorinated water will burn the koi's gills and they will die within a couple hours.

3. Always add a bit extra dechlorinator just in case

4. If you use a carbon prefilter, you won't need dechlor, but monitor the carbon and replace when needed

5. Sometimes the city will flush the lines with elevated levels of chlorine and chloramines to clean out the pipes. I always add extra dechlor, but you if you are doing a major water change, testing for chlorine levels before you add the water is a good idea.

Regardless of how you decide to do your water changes, they must be done if you want your koi to live long healthy lives and grow to their full potential. In a well designed koi pond a water change is a quick and simple procedure and usually combined with the weekly backwash routine. Just take care and be aware of your actions. Water changes can become routine and humans are a forgetful species.
 
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I had indoor aquariums for years and knew how important water changes were. Now I moved my hobby outdoors and I have been thinking about this subject since i quadrupled my pond size last year and experienced a multitude of water problems.
Why do the locals farm ponds stay so clean. Not crystal clear, but somewhat blue. They have no filters, just nature. The 1 factor most have is a constant supply of water. Some pond water supplies are just a trickle.
I was wondering if a ponder had a viable overflow location, if it would be smart to forget about all filtration and run a trickle stream into your pond from the well source. Of course this would only work on well systems, but maybe it would work! Just 5 gal per hr would equate to 840 gal per week of turnover. thats 10% of a 8400 gal pond. I would think that even the poorest well could do 5 gal per hr. What else does nature provide in a farm pond?
If i was able to discharge the water somewhere other than the middle of my yard, I would definately be trying this.
I hate to run my well pump in the middle of the summer to replace 10% weekly, so I just recently piped all the house spouting into my pond, and no, I am not worried at all about roof shingle contamination. When I am sure it is going to rain, I choose to backflush my filter several times. The rain (hopefully) comes and I am "topped off" again.
mgeez
 

taherrmann4

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mgeez said:
I had indoor aquariums for years and knew how important water changes were. Now I moved my hobby outdoors and I have been thinking about this subject since i quadrupled my pond size last year and experienced a multitude of water problems.
Why do the locals farm ponds stay so clean. Not crystal clear, but somewhat blue. They have no filters, just nature. The 1 factor most have is a constant supply of water. Some pond water supplies are just a trickle.
I was wondering if a ponder had a viable overflow location, if it would be smart to forget about all filtration and run a trickle stream into your pond from the well source. Of course this would only work on well systems, but maybe it would work! Just 5 gal per hr would equate to 840 gal per week of turnover. thats 10% of a 8400 gal pond. I would think that even the poorest well could do 5 gal per hr. What else does nature provide in a farm pond?
If i was able to discharge the water somewhere other than the middle of my yard, I would definately be trying this.
I hate to run my well pump in the middle of the summer to replace 10% weekly, so I just recently piped all the house spouting into my pond, and no, I am not worried at all about roof shingle contamination. When I am sure it is going to rain, I choose to backflush my filter several times. The rain (hopefully) comes and I am "topped off" again.
mgeez
Mgeez when I first built my pond I did have one of my gutters (800 sq ft) piped into my pond but felt that during hard rains it would just change to much of the water and also felt that it was causing some of my water problems early on so I took it out. Now my brother has about a 6000 gallon pond and has one of his piped in, does not do any water changes at all and has absolutely no problems at all. So it may depend how much water is being discharged into your pond on an average rainfall. After our 13" of rain last month I am quite surprised that my pond water is not messed up. Will check this week once it quits raining.
 

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In Japan when a constant water supply can be used it is. Some of the best breeders in the early days bred fish this way and top notch I might add. Problem comes in our day and age, what is in the well water, what is it's PH. What is the hardness, are there any pesticides that have leached into your water system. If your lucky and have a well that produces good quality water for the fish this would be ideal. Unfortunately it isn't the Norm, Addy has Very Low PH well water, Some of the folks out in Arizona and Calif. are in a drought and water is precious., Here the well water is Very hard and the Ph is high. So it's not that we can't use it but it should be added slowly and be balanced when using it.
I've been reading for the last few days about a fellow in Singapore that doesn't use water changes at all. He has a complete different approach. He uses towers for aerobic filtration. Massive Towers, I might add but then he also uses a HUGE chambered filtration system with a foam defractionator, two chillers, Massive amounts of oxygen saturation and has a turn over rate of 6.5 times an hour. I'm having a hard time understanding some of their measuring as they use a complete different system of capacity, volume, and measurements then we do so I have to constantly go back and forth to see sometimes what is actually being talked about. He believes that water turned over at a higher rate through these massive filters that it acts more like nature as the water has more contact with the bacteria to filter it better. I have seen his ponds and fish and it's hard to argue his point of view as he keeps VERY LARGE show quality fish. But the principle is about the same. Pure pristine water is the key.
This fellow made a point that I had to think long and hard about but to some extent do agree. Would you drink the water directly out of you fishes pond and feel safer about drinking it than your tap water or store bought bottled water? If so then you have accomplished the goal that they strive to accomplish for their fish there. I'm not drinking my pond water yet BTW!!!!!! LOL
 

taherrmann4

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I have tried drinking my pond water, was trying out a new backpacking water filter that i take when we go on backpacking trips, not too bad.
 

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I use catch water when I can too, But I don't add it directly to the pond, I have a large holding tank that the water goes to. It's not balanced well at all, I have to adjust the Ph ( drop it by 1.0-1.5 to get it back close to the 7.0-7.5 I like to try and maintain) then and I run it through Activated charcoal for about 24 hours before adding it to my pond. The KH and GH usually settle down and become stable in the pond shortly after a water changes as they are now close and the oyster shells seem to lock it in and make everything more stable from that point on.
 
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fishin4cars said:
In Japan when a constant water supply can be used it is. Some of the best breeders in the early days bred fish this way and top notch I might add. Problem comes in our day and age, what is in the well water, what is it's PH. What is the hardness, are there any pesticides that have leached into your water system. If your lucky and have a well that produces good quality water for the fish this would be ideal. Unfortunately it isn't the Norm, Addy has Very Low PH well water, Some of the folks out in Arizona and Calif. are in a drought and water is precious., Here the well water is Very hard and the Ph is high. So it's not that we can't use it but it should be added slowly and be balanced when using it.
I've been reading for the last few days about a fellow in Singapore that doesn't use water changes at all. He has a complete different approach. He uses towers for aerobic filtration. Massive Towers, I might add but then he also uses a HUGE chambered filtration system with a foam defractionator, two chillers, Massive amounts of oxygen saturation and has a turn over rate of 6.5 times an hour. I'm having a hard time understanding some of their measuring as they use a complete different system of capacity, volume, and measurements then we do so I have to constantly go back and forth to see sometimes what is actually being talked about. He believes that water turned over at a higher rate through these massive filters that it acts more like nature as the water has more contact with the bacteria to filter it better. I have seen his ponds and fish and it's hard to argue his point of view as he keeps VERY LARGE show quality fish. But the principle is about the same. Pure pristine water is the key.
This fellow made a point that I had to think long and hard about but to some extent do agree. Would you drink the water directly out of you fishes pond and feel safer about drinking it than your tap water or store bought bottled water? If so then you have accomplished the goal that they strive to accomplish for their fish there. I'm not drinking my pond water yet BTW!!!!!! LOL
Yes, My question and comment was of course, dependant on acceptable well water quality. I was just pondering why farm ponds remained suitable to sustain life w/o outside means of filtration. And. i will never drink my pond water, even if i had $100,000 worth of filtration...LOL!
 

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In a natural pond the bottom serves as a filtration system, The muck at the bottom gets stirred and doesn't anaerobic as easily because it can breath somewhat. In a enclosed lined system the function is replaced by filters. Also in a natural pond in most case your fish load is far less than our ornamental ponds, Plants and alages are naturally growing year round and are able to take their natural course. In a enclosed system we as humans try and eliminate the Algae for better viewing. It's all about balance to the load and the bacteria that breakdown the load, In a enclosed pond we do this by filtering in a open natural system it is done in the muddy bottoms and with plants.
 
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fishin4cars said:
In a natural pond the bottom serves as a filtration system, The muck at the bottom gets stirred and doesn't anaerobic as easily because it can breath somewhat. In a enclosed lined system the function is replaced by filters. Also in a natural pond in most case your fish load is far less than our ornamental ponds, Plants and alages are naturally growing year round and are able to take their natural course. In a enclosed system we as humans try and eliminate the Algae for better viewing. It's all about balance to the load and the bacteria that breakdown the load, In a enclosed pond we do this by filtering in a open natural system it is done in the muddy bottoms and with plants.
Can't argue those facts! Where I differ from the true pond enthusiast is the fact I do not desire crystal clear pond water. I am trying to obtain a natural look. Most pond and lakes I have seen in my life are not crystal clear to the bottom, except in the mtns of Yosemite park. I want clean water, but do not wish to see the sub pump 4 - 5' underwater. I want good plant growth, somewhat healthy fish and a natural look. After Saturdays clean out of the entire pond, we do not like seeing the btm of the liner!
mgeez
 
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If you do not use a filter and not overload a system the water WILL always be clearer that a system with bio filtration. They are a drag on any well kept pond...
 

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Pond Boy said:
If you do not use a filter and not overload a system the water WILL always be clearer that a system with bio filtration. They are a drag on any well kept pond...
Not always I have a pond that has nothing but plants, No fish load at all. I have a small sponge filter run by a single air stone just to keep the water moving and to reduce the chances of mosquitos breeding in it. It's never as clear as my pond with the Koi and the Bio filter.
I understand wanting the natural look. It also has it's benefits and drawbacks, benefits by giving more secure setting for the wildlife, It runs cooler in the summer month's and it incourages more wildlife and insects to grow in the enviroment. Draw backs are in smaller systems algae can take from the plants nutrients, The algae use more oxygen and causes decreases in oxygen saturation which can also cause more PH fluctuation. I've kept and raised comets and shubunkins in a pond with no filtration, Only plants. It worked but I couldn't maintain it for long periods of time without water issues, and the baby fish began loading it up and I was back to having to filter again. As for seeing the bottom, I placed flat rock on the bottom of my pond, They are med. sized and once or twice a year I will lift them and blow anything that has settled under them out. It looks natural yet easy to maintain. I do have water being pumped from several different points in the pond so there is always water moving all through the pond and I don't have many dead spots of current in the pond.
 
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North vs. South there. In the far north, where I grew up, you could sit in a boat on an unpolluted lake or pond and read the labels on the beer cans on the bottom. Unclear water meant cesspool seepage. I don't know how a filtered pond compared because I never saw one. Down here, the only natural water that is clear is bubbling up from a spring . Even lakes in wild preserves are murky-looking. But filtered fish ponds can be as clear as a northern lake.
 
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Thanks a lot everyone. I have a better understanding the reason behind the water changes now.
 
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mgeez said:
Can't argue those facts! Where I differ from the true pond enthusiast is the fact I do not desire crystal clear pond water. I am trying to obtain a natural look. Most pond and lakes I have seen in my life are not crystal clear to the bottom, except in the mtns of Yosemite park. I want clean water, but do not wish to see the sub pump 4 - 5' underwater. I want good plant growth, somewhat healthy fish and a natural look. After Saturdays clean out of the entire pond, we do not like seeing the btm of the liner!
mgeez
Im like you, I dont breed Koi for competition and I dont want an oversized aquarium. I like to be able to see my fish, but not even necessarily the bottom of my pond. If you stock it lightly with fish, can achieve that good plant growth, and you have ample of them, I suspect once your pond matures, you would be fine without water changes at all, but do keep an eye on water quality by running tests now and then to make sure.

FWIW, the pond I inherited had not had a water change in ~30 years and didnt have a filter other than irisses, and those where fed water with a comparatively tiny pump (50.000 liter pond, with a 5000 liter/h pump, pump not even positioned at the bottom of the pond). Im changing that now (adding 2 more powerful pumps, skimmer and bio filter), as it did turn in to a giant mud pool in the end, due to tons of leaves and stuff falling in it for decades, but even then water quality was still pretty good according to my Koi dealer. We did have a parasite infection 2 years ago that wiped out 2/3 of the Koi, and it would be naive not to think almost 1 meter of accumulated dirt played no role in that, but then doing water changes would not likely have prevented that either.
 

koiguy1969

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myself, no matter what anybody says.. i wouldnt have a pond with out a sufficient mechanical / bio filter,and occassional chemical as well (as far as i'm concerned,theres no such thing as too much filtration..just not enough!)...i can read the paper thru my water at just under 30" deep..it is always "GIN" clear (see any of my pics or videos and you will see) and my paramters are always spot on...and i have a large bioload. my load has actually gone down. and i have 5 16' - 20" koi, a 18" pieco, and 20 5" koi....i like to see my fish as well. this means "open water" as well. not to mention my koi decimated my lilly population last year. perhaps some ponds can exist and prosper with out a filter, but i, as probably most others, like a "WELL" populated pond. i know my filter is not a burden on my system it is a must!!! water changes are a good thing even if you wouldnt consider them a neccessity...they dillute DOCs, reduce pharamones, replenish trace minerals,and dillute any other toxins that may be present, amungst other functions. this year i may set up a continual drip set up.
 

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I've been reading other forums and trying to get as much information as possible for my next build. As I have watched video after video of Koi, filter systems, and experimental systems one thing has really become clear to me. The more I watch these video's the more I learn to appreciate crystal clear clean water. I've always appreciated the look of a very natural looking pond, with lilies, plants, fish, waterfalls/streams. But the more I look and read about Koi, ( Which I plan on my next pond(s) being completely dedicated to) The more I see and understand the NEED for perfect water. Watching Koi grow to 30" in less than four years and seeing them displayed in all their majesty. I think good filtering, superb water conditions, water changes, heavy aeration, good water movement, and DOC removal are more necessary for the health of the fish than I ever have. Watching them in crystal clear water is the only way to truly appreciate the Beauty and gracefulness of an adult Koi.
 

koiguy1969

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exactly right Fishin', and just because fish are surviving in an enviroment doesnt mean theyre flurishing. clear water doesnt neccessarily mean good clean healthy water....good filtration and water changes are a must for a serious koi keeper.i try to provide this and i by no means have show quality fish.
 

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koiguy1969 said:
exactly right Fishin', and just because fish are surviving in an enviroment doesnt mean theyre flurishing. clear water doesnt neccessarily mean good clean healthy water....good filtration and water changes are a must for a serious koi keeper.i try to provide this and i by no means have show quality fish.
Beg to differ on something in this post, You don't have show winning fish? If you keep koi and you enjoy them and allow others to enjoy your pets then they get shown. They deserve just as good water as any compitition koi. I don't post much if any at all on the actual koi forums. You say you don't have show quality koi, My favorites are butterfly koi so I seem to get hammered very quickly and told they are junk. But I really like long flowing junk fish fins and I will give my junk Koi all the love I can and hopefully I can keep improving the water and home that I give them to show them off.
 
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