What is going on??


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@bettasngoldfish we probably have about a 15 fish left plus one big koi. Setting up a separate "holding pen" would be nearly impossible - just getting the water ready for fish would take more time than it appears we have at this point. It's a good idea though!

@poconojoe - yup. The first disaster was precipitated by a plumbing failure that forced the shut down of the pond. And then the Polar Vortex hit. We have wondered if that event - which seemed to not affect the goldfish at all - may have actually weakened them and left them susceptible to parasites. So they may be related in a tangential way.
 
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@Tula No. In fact we had made plans with a local nursery to go pick out some new shubunkins yesterday to replace all the koi that we lost - put that on hold for the time being. We haven't added a fish to the pond since year three, other than those that have been born in the pond.

We did have a pair of nesting ducks that hung around in early spring... I wondered if they brought something to the pond that has taken hold of the fish? I know ducks carry parasites that affect other water fowl, but I suppose they could have picked up something from other fish and passed it along. Or any of the other birds that visit the pond... I'm thinking of all the possibilities here!
 
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@Tula No. In fact we had made plans with a local nursery to go pick out some new shubunkins yesterday to replace all the koi that we lost - put that on hold for the time being. We haven't added a fish to the pond since year three, other than those that have been born in the pond.

We did have a pair of nesting ducks that hung around in early spring... I wondered if they brought something to the pond that has taken hold of the fish? I know ducks carry parasites that affect other water fowl, but I suppose they could have picked up something from other fish and passed it along. Or any of the other birds that visit the pond... I'm thinking of all the possibilities here!
I reckon you have hit on the clue. The ducks. They are a carrier of waterborne parasites! It is usually birds of some type that introduce the parasites. Waterbirds are usually the #1 suspect. I think you are doing the right thing overall. Dont add any more fish. I am wondering what type of prazi you are getting? They usually add other things to make it more effective. It can be quite hard to kill parasites in a pond that is for sure. Have you ever had parasites before?
 
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It's Hikari brand PraziPro. I hope it's a good brand. It says the ingredients are just praziquantel and an inert stabilizer. I guess we'll see. The pond store I called (which could mean I was talking to a 16 year old working his summer job!) said internal parasites should only need a single treatment and that should eradicate them from the pond as well. I'm hopeful this is the solution.

And no - we've never had parasites as far as I know.

So far, no dead fish today. We're holding off on feeding for the time being. All the fish appear to be behaving normally, although slightly annoyed that the food isn't falling from the sky like it normally does - haha!
 
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My folks have a place up on Lake Michigan and I grew up swimming there regularly. Oe hot summer day, we were thrilled to have a little group of ducks swim with us:) After a short while I started feeling itchy....which progress to huge red welts that itched and oozed. I forget what it was, but read in a local paper the the waste of ducks contained a "bug" that was prevalent that summer due to heat. Maybe it was the ensuing ducks.
 
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How are things after the prazi treatment?
Ray
 
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How are things after the prazi treatment?
Ray
So far so good @Ray G - no more dead fish. It was super easy to do and we got the predicted small amount of foaming which I was actually glad to see. Reassured me that the medication was being distributed throughout the pond. I've got my fingers crossed that we landed on the correct solution.

Thanks for checking!
 
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I'm glad to hear no more losses. I'm interested in the treatment....I've never done it before but have heard it's effective. I've also read we pond keepers should keep it on hand.....what are your thoughts about that?
 
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@Tula If this works to stop our fish loss, then I will sing it's praises from the rooftops! We are three days from our last dead fish, so I am really, really hopeful!

As for keeping it on hand, I think that depends on how fast you could get it if you needed it. We were able to have it delivered to our door same day, so I don't think I would consider it necessary to keep a supply at home. If that were not the case, I would say it's worth considering. I don't know the shelf life of the product, so that would be a factor as well. (There was no expiration date on the bottles we got.) It was not prohibitively expensive, but it did cost us about $75 to treat our almost 4000 gallon pond, so it's not something you would want to see go to waste if you didn't need it before it expired. I researched a few other formulations, specifically in a powdered form which may have been cheaper in the long run, but this one seemed the easiest and most reliable so we chose to go the premixed liquid route.

One thing is for sure - I would start using it at the first sign of a sick fish next time, once I knew that my water parameters were not an issue. I regret that we waited as long as we did... but live and learn I guess. We've just never had sick fish before.
 

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So this could have happened because of ducks carrying parasites. Hope it works and no more deaths. Does this mean ducks will not be welcome now? Glad I have a net even more now.
 
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We've had several people confirm that they believe the ducks could have brought parasites to our pond. It does seem like an odd coincidence if nothing else. I think I'd be a bit less welcoming if they return in the spring.
 
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We've had several people confirm that they believe the ducks could have brought parasites to our pond. It does seem like an odd coincidence if nothing else. I think I'd be a bit less welcoming if they return in the spring.
waterbirds in general can do this. Also Prazi started as a chemical for worming dogs as far as I can recall. It has been used in the vet industry for many years. It has only fairly recently been formulated specifically for fish. The classical signs of external parasites are flicking and flashing of fish. The classical signs for internal parasites are stopping feeding and getting thin and stopping eating. If water chemistry is ok and fish have any of these signs it is possibly (probably) parasites. By the way some fish flick against the bottom of the pond because they like to scratch (like some people). But if more than 1 or 2 do it then you have a problem. Glad you got the prazi Lisa and I hope it works.
 
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I too hope it works. I've always feared something happening to my fish and not knowing what to do.
 
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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.
Sorry to hear about your year to date and you losses. Heres my thoughts i would not go to the pet store but i would go to a water testing lab ask for fertilizers and such a good lab will tell you what you should be on the look out for.
secondly i would go for broke if i lost that many i would set up a hospital tank with the remaining fish and believe it or not i would go to the pet store and get start right or similar where it has alovera in it or some other slime enhancing agent in it. Or for that matter you can add it to the water / pond without the hospital tank . but i would then clean out the pond i know your dead set against that but if it is a Poisson the solution is through disillusion. who knows it could be afrom a car fire down the road that got air born and it rained and dumped into your pond. it could be a dead fish you missed . what ever the case i hope you find it soon and don't lose any more
 
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@GBBUDD we've run through every single scenario in our heads as to where a toxin could have come from (or be coming from) - other than a "car fire down the road". I'm not sure how that would fit this scenario, but there haven't been any burning cars nearby, so I'll cross that off the list. We know with 100% certainty that nothing came from our yard - we use nothing toxic ever. Knowing how our pond is situated in our yard and how it could be impacted by adjoining yards there's no way that anything anyone else did to their grass or yard could have affected my pond. Even if all three of our neighbors were fertilizing their grass, we get zero runoff from any of their yards that would get anywhere near our pond. Here's a photo of our pond that might do more than me trying to explain it:
122595


This is an early spring photo from last year, but it illustrates how our yard is lower than everyone around us. We have retention walls on all three sides. The neighbor to the north has all garden abutting our fence, and any runoff that we might get would end up in MY garden. The neighbor behind us to the west you can't really see it from the photo, but he has retention on his side of the fence - his yard is actually at the same level as ours, but separated by our raised garden. He drops down three feet on the other side. No runoff there. The entire pond is surrounded by mulched walking path on almost three sides and we only use mulch from a local tree farm that is not dyed or sprayed. So no runoff to be concerned with there.

If it WERE something poisoning the water it seems odd that the fish died one at a time. A toxic event would kill them all rather quickly I would imagine. Parasites made the most sense after ruling everything else out - if they were infected at different times, then they would die at the rate of infection. Whether we guessed right or not remains to be seen. If the problem continues after the treatment with Prazi we will explore other options. So far, so good. A slime enhancing agent wouldn't keep them from being poisoned by the way, if that were the problem.

As for "going for broke" - to each their own I guess. 95% of these fish were born in our pond. If we lose every last one it would be sad, but I don't know that it would be worth spending a fortune trying to save them. But that's just me - others may feel compelled to break the bank to save them. We're doing the best we can within what we consider reasonable.

And basically the pond itself IS a hospital tank as we have to suspect every fish in the pond was affected by whatever it is or was that's causing this. It's extremely difficult to identify the "sick" fish - by the time we can tell something is wrong they are already dying. So we're treating the whole pond and hoping for the best. If we lose all of the fish then we would definitely empty the pond and start over. As for finding a water testing lab, where exactly would I go to find something like that? I mean I know I can get my drinking water tested - is that the kind of water testing you're suggesting? And if the purpose for doing that is to identify toxins in the water - see above. I just don't think that's the answer.
 
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