What is going on??

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Ok friends... my year of pond sadness continues. (Back story for those who don't know: we lost 10 big koi to the Polar Vortex in January. We were left with one koi and a pond full of goldfish and shubunkins.)

A week ago one of our smaller goldfish went over the negative edge - it happens very very rarely, but the fish had been spawning every morning so I figured someone chased it out. I returned it to the pond and an hour later it was dead. I still wasn't too concerned as I wasn't really sure how long it had been out of the pond and just assumed the stress had killed it.

Well, that was a small portent of what was to come. To date, we have had 14 goldfish go belly up. The worst was the morning I came out and found 4 of them dead. We've had a few days when none have died and then we'll lose another one. Then a day goes by and we lose two more. We have wracked our brains trying to figure out what in the heck is going on. Two more died today.

Here's what we do know:
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrates: 0 ppm
pH: 7.4
Just to be sure, I took a sample of water to our local pet store - his readings were the same as mine.

It's been hot, but just the last couple of days. It was in the 70s when this started. We've had a good deal of rain, but nothing we haven't experienced before. The aerator runs 24/7. These are all fish that were born in the pond.

The fish show no visible signs of ANYTHING being wrong. We can check on them and every one of them is swimming fine, behaving normally, eating as expected. An hour later one will be dead. The only sign we can see that they are struggling starts in the last few minutes. They will come to the surface and suck air. That lasts for a few minutes and then they go belly up. Whatever it is happens very quickly. Once they are dead, they still look fine - no redness, gills look good, eyes are clear, no lesions or sores, no bloating... They look perfect. Other than being dead.

The fish guy at the local pond shop said he would suspect something toxic in the water (can't think of a single thing that could have gotten in the pond as we don't use any chemicals in our yard at all) or some kind of internal parasite. We have praziquantel coming tomorrow, so we'll try that and hope for the best. I hate treating without knowing what's wrong, but I don't know what else to do.

The only things we've done are put a new lotus in the pond (planted in kitty litter just like usual) and I cleaned out the bog. But the fish die off had already started before I did that.

Any thoughts are welcome! At this pace our pond will be fish free by the end of next week.
 
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addy1

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So sad! I have no clue except something getting into the water. Can you do a water change, just in case?
 
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We did. I should have mentioned that. Plus with all the rain nature has done a few of her own!
 
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Oh no! How sad and how frustrating! Could a neighbor have sprayed something and the overspray drifted into your yard? I hope you get some answers soon!
 

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Wondering if you got a bad batch of kitty litter w/something in it that should not be there. Was it just put in there and a new bag? Sounds like something toxic from somewhere.
 
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We have considered that. Our neighbor on the pond side is Mr. Chemical. But he's always very careful when he sprays. We've had a few incidents of overspray killing some of our garden plants over the years and he's been very remorseful. He's a good neighbor with some old fashioned ideas, but I know he does his best to contain it. They love our pond as much as we do. Plus there's an entire garden between the pond and the area he sprays, so we'd see the effects in the garden if he did get carried away. The guy behind us barely mows his grass, so I doubt it was him. But it was on our list of possibilities!
 
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Wondering if you got a bad batch of kitty litter w/something in it that should not be there. Was it just put in there and a new bag? Sounds like something toxic from somewhere.
/
It was the remainder of a bag that I used last year, so I don't think so. I don't think it goes bad... it's just clay, rightBut honestly, this is so darn perplexing that when my daughter said "mom - that's my lotus from CHINA" we both were like :eek:. haha! We're even into conspiracy theories now!
 
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j.w

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Maybe time to do a slow water in and slow water out to see if fresh water will stop the dying.
 
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I should also add we even wondered if the food we were feeding had gone rancid. It's leftover from last year, but it was stored in the cold garage all winter. But we've stopped feeding them at all for now, just in case it IS the food. We called the manufacturer and they said that as long as it smelled like fish and not like rancid oil, it should be fine. And they didn't think it would hurt them even if it was bad - like the guy said "they're carp. They'd eat garbage if you gave them a chance".

Ugh. This is so frustrating!
 
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Maybe time to do a slow water in and slow water out to see if fresh water will stop the dying.
Yup. We started that today. We'll see if that helps.

It's just so weird that whatever it is, it isn't killing them all at once. Just one or two a day. And a fish that looks fine today might be dead tomorrow. So toxins seem unlikely, but what do I know. We've had small ones die, big ones die... size doesn't seem to matter.

The guy at the pet store was like "oh...that's ich" and I'm like "really? I'm pretty sure I'd be able to SEE that!" Then he said "must be low oxygen". Dude. I have a 20 inch koi that couldn't be happier - no. Try again. No help at all, other than agreeing to break open a brand new test kit to check my water for me!
 
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Any major spraying for mosquitoes in the area? Thinking about what happened with Jamie- farmer spraying large field! Any chance the bag of cat litter was contaminated while being stored? Hubby put a bag of pesticide next to my litter! I threw it out. I hate it when fish die and you cant find out why!
 
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Sorry to hear of the tragedy Lisa. Very distressing. I suspect it had something to do with cleaning out the bog. Could that have released some toxins or parasites that were in the soil? I suspect internal parasites as opposed to anything to do with water. If they were external parasites you would see them and fish would be flicking/flashing on objects. Also the fact that all fish were not affected at the same time also supports the idea of internal parasites. Internal parasites are carried by birds and other wildlife and end up in the droppings amongst plant litter. The prazi is the right thing to try in my opinion. Let us know how it goes.
 
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Thanks @Ray G - internal parasites is our best guess right now, too. From what I'm reading, if that's the case the prazi should do the trick. I like that it's mild and pretty much just does what you need it to do without causing problems with the good biology in the pond or the plants. Fingers crossed that it works. It's not cheap.

And I thought about the bog clean out, but like I said, the fish deaths had started before I did that. I did have a thought that taking out all that plant matter had caused the nitrates to suddenly spike, but the water tests proved that wasn't the case.
 
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@mrsclem - our village doesn't spray for mosquitoes and we're far from any farm fields. Pretty much just a suburban neighborhood. I know some homeowners do use those mosquito services for their yards - maybe I should check with neighbors to see if anyone has been spraying in the vicinity.

And no - we honestly don't keep anything toxic or chemical. The kitty litter was stored in my pond shed all winter - not much in there but sprinklers and pond nets in the off season.
 
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I'm so sorry to hear this...

Don't worry about using prazi, it's a very safe medication. And won't harm your beneficial bacteria. Flukes are so common in goldfish some people will treat their fish with it on a routine basis (every six months or so)

Was the lotus a new plant you purchased? Did you "quarantine" the plant before putting it in your pond?

I had a similar issue with my fish dying a few years ago. I ended up losing all of them. I don't know for sure but I think it was caused by chemicals my neighbor was spraying on the fence line (my pond is close to the fence)
 
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Was the lotus a new plant you purchased? Did you "quarantine" the plant before putting it in your pond?
It was brand new, but was just the bare root when it came. And it was planted in the pot for about 5 or 6 weeks before it went in the pond. (We put the whole thing, pot and all, right into the pond.) We always wait for the lotuses to get a good head start before they go in the pond - otherwise the fish just yank them out of the pot. I don't think a bare root plant would carry anything parasitic, but we did have the thought that maybe it had to be sprayed with something to get through customs to be shipped here? That's probably a big stretch though... and even if it did, the water was changed in the pot numerous times before the plant went into the pond. But we are literally considering all possibilities!

Oh, I am sorry that you lost all your fish! It is so frustrating and sad! I dread walking out to the pond right now, for fear of what I will find. Like I said, our neighbor does spray his weeds, but he's a good 30 feet from the pond when he does and he does try to be very careful. I will mention it to him the next time I see him, but since our garden is not showing any signs of overspray, I really doubt that we got anything from his yard.
 
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Thanks @Ray G - internal parasites is our best guess right now, too. From what I'm reading, if that's the case the prazi should do the trick. I like that it's mild and pretty much just does what you need it to do without causing problems with the good biology in the pond or the plants. Fingers crossed that it works. It's not cheap.

And I thought about the bog clean out, but like I said, the fish deaths had started before I did that. I did have a thought that taking out all that plant matter had caused the nitrates to suddenly spike, but the water tests proved that wasn't the case.
yep I reckon it is definitely not the water or toxins in the water. Usually if it is the water or toxins all fish are affected at the same time. If it is parasites then each fish is infected to a different level until they are all affected. Are some of the fish behaving normally and with good appetite? If so I would put them in another container to quarantine them as they may not be infected yet. but treat them with the prazi as well. Prazi is not a fix all though and as you said it is very expensive. internal parasites usually take a while to kill a fish so they have possibly been in the water for a while.
 
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When I lost all my fish I drained the pond and let it dry for several days. Then I refilled it and started over. I haven't lost any fish since I restocked it. ***knock on wood**

After hearing how you handled the lotus I doubt it had anything to do with your loss.

How many fish do you have left? Do you have a stock tank or pool you could move them to? Just to see if they fare any better out of the pond and in "fresh" water.
 

cas

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So sorry to hear Lisa! I sure hope things get better soon.
 
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Oh my, how horrible that you have to go through this again. And not knowing the cause this time makes it even worse.
I'm trying to recall what happened last time. Wasn't it a plumbing connection that worked loose? If my memory is wrong about that, could this loss and the last one be related? Maybe neighbor's chemicals both times?
 
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