Koi College- Pond water
Chlorine and Chloramines
Chlorine and chloramines are harmful to fish and will kill the beneficial nitrifying bacteria in the pond. Likewise, they may burn or kill aquatic plants. Chlorine, a volatile gas, will dissipate with water circulation and exposure to the air within one or two days. Chloramines, however take much longer to break down. City water suppliers are more frequently adding ammonia to combine with chlorine to product the longer-lasting chloramines. It is not uncommon for city water to test positive for ammonia straight out of the tap.
When adding chlorinated water to the pond, spray it in with a hose to provide the necessary aeration for dissipation of the gas.
Sodium Thiosulfate will remove chlorine from water and also pull chlorine from the chloramines. A stock solution of four ounces of Sodium Thiosulfate crystals to one gallon of distilled water makes your stock solution. Use 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of the solution for each 10 gallons of makeup water to neutralize up to 3.75 ppm chlorine. One cup can be used for each 500 gallons. (The entire one gallon of solution will treat about 7500 gallons of tap water.) Make sure to use a test kit to monitor your ammonia levels carefully. High ammonia levels cause disease, and death.
As a precautionary measure, if the pool is regularly topped off or changed 5 to 10 percent weekly with chlorinated water, setting up filtration through one pound of zeolite per 100 gallons of pond water will help to remove residual ammonia.
Heavy Metals in Pond Water
Well water may contain ferrous bicarbonate, detected by a brown precipitate that forms when neutral or alkaline water is aerated. Besides being mildly irritating to the fish, ferrous bicarbonate stains equipment and causes water to become cloudy.
E.D.T.A. (Ethylene Diamine Tetra Acidic Acid) can be used to chelate out any heavy metals such as iron or copper from the water. To make a stock solution with EDTA, use 1 teaspoon and mix it with 4 ounces of distilled water. Shake well. Then use 2 drops of this stock solution per gallon of pond water. EDTA will lower your pH, so care should be used when adding it to the pond. We suggest taking a pail of water out of the pond, check the pH and then add 2 drops of EDTA per gallon of pail water. Mix the water well and then test the pH once again. The maximum amount per day that the pH may be dropped is 0.2, any more can pH shock the fish, make the fish stressed and cause a disease outbreak in the pond.
Run-off water from a nearby stream, or collected rainwater may contain toxic insecticides, herbicides or fertilizers. Rainwater from metal roofs or asbestos shingles will contaminate the pond and may prove toxic to both the fish, and the plants. If the fish display signs of toxicity, execute a 50% water change and/or remove the fish to safe quarters, or a hospital tank until the water has been changed.
Acid rain may produce stress in water lilies. Immediately following to a heavy rainfall, the lily leaves may show signs of burning at the edges or abrupt yellowing. A partial water change may be needed after such rainy periods, if the pH readings are lower than the neutral 7.0 range.
White foam at the waterfall entry of the pond is a sign of a high level of dissolved organic compounds. Do some partial water changes and add some Aqua Gold to the pond to handle the high organic load.
The pH range of 6 to 8.5 is acceptable for most pond life. The primary concern with pH is its direct relationship to the toxicity of ammonia and nitrite. Each pH interger above the neutral 7 reflects a tenfold increase in such toxicities.
Any pH value below the neutral 7 is considered acidic. Baking soda or ground limestone will raise the pH level.
pH values over 8.5 will definitely stress the fish to the point of disease. We receive some calls where the pond owner claims to have a pH reading of 9.0 or more, and the cause for this is cement or mortar leeching toxic lime into the water. Bricks or untreated mortar blocks used as plant pedestals, run-off water, and reconstituted materials used in or around the pond may be washing in leeched lime which can cause severely high pH readings.
We suggest you use a commercial lime neutralizer or nontoxic pool sealant paint if you have a concrete pond.
If the pH is normally high in your tap water, we suggest obtaining more suitable fish for your pond, such as the common goldfish, shubunkin, or comet goldfish. These fish can tolerate higher (non-toxic) pH levels.
Adding Salt To Your Pond
The maximum level of salt that you can run without major damage to the fish is 0.3%. This high salt level is used for treating fish wounds and parasites. To achieve this level, add 3.8 oz. of salt per 10 gallons. This salt level is better suited for a bath, or in a hospital tank. Never ever take your main pond up to a level like this. Long term exposure to high salt content will damage or kill the fish and your biological filter. This salt level should be used for a 15 minute bath only.
Michigan Koi will not put salt in the pond, but will use it in our hospital and quarantine facility. We believe the problem with running salt year round is you create salt resistant parasites....
Chlorine In Koi Ponds
Acceptable concentration of Chlorine in Koi Pond = 0
A gas widely used in the disinfection of water and as an oxidizing agent for organic matter, manganese, iron, and hydrogen sulfide.
Chlorine is known to react with organic matter in the water to form trihalomethanes (THMs), a suspected carcinogen.
Homemade Chlorine Neutralizer
Make a solution consisting of 4 ounces (1/4 lb) Sodium Thiosulfate crystals (photo or technical grade) dissolved in 1 gallon of distilled or deionized water. Use 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of the solution for each 10 gallons of makeup water to neutralize up to 3.75 ppm chlorine. One cup can be used for each 500 gallons. (The entire one gallon of solution will treat about 7500 gallons of tap water.) The shelf life of the solution is about six months when stored in a cool location. The crystals will keep for several years if kept dry.
NEVER use chlorinated tap water to clean your bio converter (filter) media unless you are actually trying to sterilize it. Water from the pond is a much better choice for this task.
Michigan Koi Can Supply Sodium Thiosulfate crystals .
Ammonia In Koi Ponds
Where does the ammonia originate from?
Pond fish produce waste in the form of ammonia, which is released into the water through the gills. Ammonia can also originate from the dead and decaying plant material in the pond or from uneaten food, which is left in the water.
In an established pond with a functioning filtration system the ammonia is broken down by Nitrosomonas species of bacteria to a secondary product, known as nitrite.
Ammonia can exist in two forms when dissolved in water, the first is the free ammonia and this is very poisonous to fish, the second form is known as ionized ammonia which is not quite as harmful as the free form.
Ammonia can have a number of detrimental effects on pond fish such as disrupting the ability to regulate water and salts, it may also damage delicate gill tissue, causing swelling of the tissue which may hinder the absorbtion of oxygen from the water.
If the water becomes polluted with ammonia, regular partial water changes need to be undertaken to reduce the concentration of the pollutant.
In the early stages of establishing a filtration system on the pond, it may take several weeks before the ammonia level in the water begins to drop.
Nitrate In Koi Ponds
Nitrates are a natural by-product of the bacterial "reduction" or removal of Ammonia and Nitrite in the natural pond's ecosystem. Nitrates are an under-estimated fish killer. When fish are sick, and the history contains some information to suggest the pond has been set up for a while, you can bet Nitrate levels are part of the problem. This is especially true for Goldfish and "flipover" disease. Once dismissed as a "non" threat to Koi and Goldfish, exceptional information exists to suggest this is not true. Scientists initially evaluating Nitrates as a toxin did not test their subjects long enough. Nitrate accumulations cause dilation of the veins in the fins and other health problems. Never let your nitrate levels exceed 100 ppm or illness and vulnerability to disease will be the result!
Nitrate control in Koi care:
1. Made from Nitrite by Nitrobacter
2. Toxic above 120 ppm (Nitrate test)
3. Signs include red streaking in fins, dilated blood vessels in fins and skin, "heavy" smelling water, and lethargic fish. Folks with fish which are "poor doing" can be rewarded to check Nitrates. Chronic illness or susceptibility to disease are often caused by high Nitrates.
4. Ideal range: 20-60 ppm is acceptable.
5. Do massive water changes to reduce levels below 80 ppm.
6. Remove by water changes. Allow algae to grow on the liner.
7. If you usea algae destroyer, you will have no plant Nitrate utilization. This can be hazardous.
8. Generally not acutely toxic unless algae are specifically excluded.
Nitrite In Koi Ponds
As the ammonia in the water begins to reduce, the secondary break down product, nitrite will begin to increase and this is also very poisonous to fish.
Nitrite is a skin irritant and will cause the fish to display symptoms of irritability such as rubbing themselves, jumping, or even skimming across the surface of the pond. These symptoms are also commonly associated with parasites and it is sensible to eliminate nitrite as the cause before treating the pond.
Nitrite also has a rather sinister effect on the pond fishes blood, as it will bind very tightly with the red pigment and thereby preventing the blood cells from absorbing vital oxygen from the water. Once the nitrite has become associated with the red pigment, it turns the blood a dull brown color and hence the popular name for nitrite poisoning is "brown blood disease".
A second group of micro-organisms, comprising mostly species of Nitrobacter bacteria are responsible for breaking down the nitrite into nitrate, which is the final breakdown product but in the event of high nitrite levels occurring in the pond, regular partial water changes need to be undertaken to reduce the concentration of this pollutant.
Nitrite is an odorless, colorless substance and its presence can be detected using a Test Kit
Alkalinity in Koi Pond Water
Alkalinity, often referred to as "carbonate hardness," or German carbonate hardness, is the measure of carbonate and bicarbonate concentrations in your aquarium water. Alkalinity is a measure of the ability of a solution to neutralize acid without changing the pH. It both controls and maintains water pH. Carbonate hardness is measured in degrees (dKH), parts per million of calcium carbonate (ppm CaCo3), or milligrams per liter (mg/L).
Alkalinity is not the same as pH because water does not have to be strongly basic (high pH) to have high alkalinity. Alkalinity is related to the amount of dissolved calcium, magnesium, and other compounds in the water and as such, alkalinity tends to be higher in "harder" water. Alkalinity is naturally decreased over time through bacterial action which produces acidic compounds that combine with and reduce the alkalinity components.
In an established pond, the ideal Alkalinity measurement should be around 100 ppm. Readings from 50 to 200 are acceptable.
High alkalinity is normally prevented by routine water change outs assuming the water being replenished has a lower alkalinity than the pond water.
Ponds with vinyl liners or of fiber glass construction tend to show a decrease in alkalinity over time and may need supplements to maintain an acceptable level. Raise alkalinity by adding Calcium Carbonate, concrete blocks, oyster shells, limestone, or even egg shells.
Established ponds will normally maintain their equilibrium pH value if sludge and decaying organic material is routinely removed from the pond, mechanical filter, and biological converter. Scheduled water change outs (10% per week for a small pond, less for larger ponds) are also helpful.
pH In Koi Pond Water
The pH is in all respects a measure of acidity and alkalinity, pH 0 - 6.99 is acid; pH 7.0 is regarded as neutral and pH 7.01 - 14.0 is alkaline. On the whole the pH is not generally a problem but it can have a profound effect on the toxicity of ammonia. Alkaline water, that is with a pH of over 7.01 in combination with increasing temperatures causes more of the ammonia to exist in the free form, which is very poisonous to Koi.
The higher the pH and water temperature the greater percentage of the ammonia which exists in this harmful free form. If the water is alkaline it is worth bearing in mind that this will affect the toxicity of ammonia and that even very low readings could therefore be quite serious for the welfare of the pond fish.
The pH of the pond is largely dependent on the pH of the make-up water in the surrounding area and therefore it is not possible to try to control this parameter artificially.
Green Water (Algae) in Ponds
Sometimes referred to as an algae bloom, Another factor which can influence the pH of the water is the presence of plants, most notably if there is an algae bloom in the pond. During the hours of daylight, plants produce nutrients directly from carbon dioxide dissolved in the water and the energy obtained from sunlight, a process known as photosynthesis.
As a consequence of photosynthesis the plants utilize carbon dioxide in the day time and remove this from the water causing alkaline carbonates and bicarbonates to predominate in the water and the pH to rise. In the case of heavy algae blooms, the pH of the water can fluctuate quite dramatically through a 24 hour period.
While many large fish can survive these fluctuations, small fish can become quite stressed by these rapid pH changes.
Koi Pond Water Change Outs
Partial water change outs can reduce the amount of anything dissolved in the water but not totally remove it. Although it is sometimes necessary, draining and refilling a pond should only be used as a last resort!
Drain some water from the pond before refilling; ideally pumped or siphoned from the dirtiest conditions from the bottom of the pond.
Remove no more the 20% of the pond volume at a time; 5 to 10 percent of a pond's water per week is more in line. Larger water changes are likely to upset the biological balance of the pond.
A water change out reduces the amount of a substance in the water by the same amount as the percentage of water replaced. Remember the concentrations of anything beneficial in the pond is being reduced at the same rate!
It is very common for pond keepers to skip making these routine water change outs. This is not advisable as many things can build up in your pond over time and this is the only way to reduce them. Experienced pond keepers know that their fish are healthier and stronger when these water change outs are conducted.
Michigan Koi uses a through water system; this adds only a few gallons hourly 24/7. We feel small water additions are better then shocking the pond with large changes. The Koi will love you as water chemistry stays constant.
Salinity in Ponds
36340 Harper Ave. Clinton Township, MI. 48035 Office: (586) 790-8013
Cell: (586) 489-0783
FACT: Salt Kills Freshwater Koi and Shuts Down Their Kidneys.
Some disturbing news has been going around that states salt levels above 0.3% are going to cure your Koi if they are all broken out in sores. This is incorrect because salt works by using osmotic pressure and therefore will not kill bacteria that are in the Koi’s bloodstream. These bacteria cause diseases.
Salt will also damage your biofilter and cause high ammonia levels.
We have received calls from Koi hobbyists that have ruined their pond, and/or killed their Koi due to over salting. Unfortunately, the salt takes a while (a month to three months) to kill the Koi. Most Koi keepers do not understand these points.
There is a very high success rate with healing and treatment techniques. If you want to save your Koi, please take some time to read and use the proper Koi and Water treatments.
Salting Your Koi? Important information that you need to know:
We have been studying medications and raising Koi for 30 years now, and in the last couple of years... hobbyists started using salt by the ton on their Koi as some kind of new "wonder drug". We would like to explain what happens to freshwater fishes when exposed to high sodium levels over periods of time.
Many Koi keepers that we talk to, tend to think that their Koi have dropsy because the Koi are swollen, they stop eating, and eventually start breaking down with many different secondary infections, due to the high-stress levels that are introduced by using salt.
Some of these infections include:
1. Hemorrhagic Septicemia (red streaks in body and/or fins).
2. Saprolegnia Fungus (white cottony puffs on skin, fins or tail).
3. Pseudomonas Bacteria (Fin and Tail Rot).
4. Aeromonas Bacteria (Sores on the body with ulcerations).
5. Heavy slime covering the fish. The fish produce heavy slime as a defense against the high salt levels.
6. Extreme swelling similar to dropsy.
7. High mortalities, sudden death, and complete tank or pond wipe-outs.
Salt at high levels will also destroy the nitrifying bacteria in your filter, that keeps your tank or pond cycled and ammonia free. So, if you are using salt and notice abnormally high ammonia or nitrite levels in your water... this is the cause.
Osmotic Pressure on Fish:
The use of salt is being promoted mainly by hobbyists in chat rooms that have little or no understanding of fish pathology or osmotic pressure on fish and how this works. This is a case of hobbyists, consulting to hobbyists can be detrimental to the health of your fish.
In the ocean, fish will swim into freshwater to rid themselves of parasites, and then swim back into the ocean. The fish do this only for a few minutes and then return to their natural environment. The reason that the parasites fall off is due to increased osmotic pressure. When you put a marine fish into freshwater, it is like putting a heavy weight on top of the fish. So, this does not mean that this will work for freshwater fish the same way. Salt can be used for external parasites if used properly. Make a 0.3% salt dip and leave the fish in the solution for 3-5 minutes. Return the fish to fresh water. This is stressful for the fish, so care should be taken when using this approach. It is suggested that if you have parasites, to treat the whole pond with the proper parasite treatment. This salt dip will not cure many bacterial diseases that fish carry in their bloodstream, and is no cure-all for fish diseases.
Testing The Salt Theory:
A good way to test the salt theory would be to set up 2 tanks.
1.) Salt one tank 1 according to the instructions that were given to you and use a dechlorinator, if you are using tap water.
2.) In tank 2, use a nitrifying bacteria (like Pond Support), and a good dechlorinator (like DeChlor & More Dry Concentrate) for your tap water. Do not add any salt to this tank.
3.) Go down to your local fish store and purchase a dozen fish of your choice. Tell the fish collector to separate them and put 6 fish in each bag.
4.) Get yourself a small note pad, so you can keep a log of events on both tanks. This experiment will take some time (around 2-3 months) to complete.
So, now let's look at some facts:
Salt is anti-bacterial and anti-viral. This does not mean that it is good for freshwater Koi. You could pour a bottle of BLEACH into your pond, and I could guarantee that it will kill any living pathogen in there, but it would also kill all of your Koi. Get the point?
Salt is toxic to your Koi if used at high levels for long periods of time. It will shut down their kidneys, and that is why so many people have Koi with "pop-eye" or Koi that have the same symptoms as Dropsy. Salt is toxic to humans if ingested in quantity, and high salt levels are toxic to animals. Use some common sense with the information we have provided for you, and remember that if salt was such a great treatment option; we would not need any of the Koi and water treatments.
"These salt treatments are nothing but the Fleecing you with false hope." Would you rather buy a small bottle of medicine that really works, or lose a whole pond full of Koi from overdosing with salt?
Michigan Koi will not put salt in the pond but will use it in our hospital and quarantine facility. We believe the problem with salt year round is you create salt resistant parasites! William W. Risher
When you do use salt, know the correct dosage.
Use this salt calculator: http://www.michigankoi.com/Pond-Salinity-Calculator.html
Understanding the Nitrogen Cycle
Nitrogen Cycle: The Key to Biological Filtration
Understanding the nitrogen cycle is an important part of keeping a successful Koi pond. The nitrogen cycle is responsible for the biological filtration within the system. It keeps the water free of toxic compounds that are a result of the respiration of the inhabitants, and the decay of any matter such as waste products and uneaten food. When we understand this cycle, we can anticipate situations that may cause damage to this process, and prevent or avoid these situations that may lead to livestock loss.
What is the nitrogen cycle?
In the nitrogen cycle, the waste products of the fish, plants, and invertebrates, along with any dead organisms or uneaten food, are broken down by bacteria and fungi into the resulting chemical, ammonia. Ammonia is extremely toxic to all of the pond inhabitants. It is broken down by an oxygen-loving bacteria, Nitrosomonas. The Nitrosomonas* bacteria feed on both oxygen and ammonia, and with their biological activities, they excrete a chemical called nitrite. Although nitrite is not as toxic as ammonia, even at low concentrations in the pond, it can be harmful to fish and invertebrates. Another bacteria Nitrobacter*, which also utilizes oxygen in its respiration, acts in a similar way as Nitrosomonas, and essentially changes the nitrites into a relatively harmless chemical called nitrate. The bacteria that will feed on nitrates are anaerobic, meaning they grow in areas of little or no oxygen. They require low-oxygenated stagnant water, and can be found in more elaborate filtration systems and within live rock. Here they breakdown nitrates into free nitrogen.. The * bacteria feed on both oxygen and ammonia, and with their biological activities, they excrete a chemical called nitrite. Although nitrite is not as toxic as ammonia, even at low concentrations in the pond, it can be harmful to fish and invertebrates. Another bacteria *, which also utilizes oxygen in its respiration, acts in a similar way as , and essentially changes the nitrites into a relatively harmless chemical called nitrate. The bacteria that will feed on nitrates are anaerobic, meaning they grow in areas of little or no oxygen. They require low-oxygenated stagnant water, and can be found in more elaborate filtration systems and within live rock. Here they breakdown nitrates into free nitrogen.
The nitrogen cycle in new ponds Newly-set-up ponds lack the colonies of bacteria that are necessary to perform the biological filtration. Because of this, the pond must be "cycled." "Cycling" refers to the process of establishing and maturing the biological filtration. In order to establish the system, we need to provide a source of ammonia for the Nitrosomonas bacteria in the filtration system so they can live, reproduce, and colonize. To provide an ammonia source, it is best to add a few hardy fish that can withstand the presence of ammonia and nitrites. Then we need to seed the pond with bacteria. There are commercially available cycling aids that contain the bacteria. As the fish in the new system are fed and begin to thrive, they will, through their biological activities, produce ammonia. The Nitrosomonas bacteria, in turn, will begin to feed upon that ammonia and will start populating the aquarium. Their population will be greatest in the media that contains the highest level of oxygen and surface area, which will normally be within the filtration system. At this point, because the numbers of bacteria are limited, they will not be able to convert all of the ammonia that is present in the system, so the ammonia levels will continue to rise. As the amount of ammonia increases, the population of bacteria will also increase, but at a much slower rate than the ammonia. The ammonia level will eventually reach a peak and then start to decline as the population of bacteria becomes large enough to break down the ammonia faster than it is being produced. Because there is still ammonia within the system, however, the bacteria will continue to live and feed on the ammonia until it reaches a level undetectable by testing. At this point, a balance has been achieved in which the rate of ammonia production equals the rate at which it is broken down by the bacteria. The number of bacteria, from this point on, will change as the levels of ammonia (their food source) changes. bacteria in the filtration system so they can live, reproduce, and colonize. To provide an ammonia source, it is best to add a few hardy fish that can withstand the presence of ammonia and nitrites. Then we need to seed the pond with bacteria. There are commercially available cycling aids that contain the bacteria. As the fish in the new system are fed and begin to thrive, they will, through their biological activities, produce ammonia. The bacteria, in turn, will begin to feed upon that ammonia and will start populating the aquarium. Their population will be greatest in the media that contains the highest level of oxygen and surface area, which will normally be within the filtration system. At this point, because the numbers of bacteria are limited, they will not be able to convert all of the ammonia that is present in the system, so the ammonia levels will continue to rise. As the amount of ammonia increases, the population of bacteria will also increase, but at a much slower rate than the ammonia. The ammonia level will eventually reach a peak and then start to decline as the population of bacteria becomes large enough to break down the ammonia faster than it is being produced. Because there is still ammonia within the system, however, the bacteria will continue to live and feed on the ammonia until it reaches a level undetectable by testing. At this point, a balance has been achieved in which the rate of ammonia production equals the rate at which it is broken down by the bacteria. The number of bacteria, from this point on, will change as the levels of ammonia (their food source) changes.
As we can see in Figure 2, the nitrites go through a very similar cycle as the ammonia. Nitrites are produced through the biological activities of theNitrosomonasbacteria as they feed on the ammonia. As their numbers increase, so does the amount of their waste product, nitrites. The Nitrobacter bacteria, because of the increasing supply of nitrites, will multiply and increase in numbers. They, too, will be most densely populated in the area with the greatest surface area and oxygen content. The nitrite levels will rise until the number of bacteria has increased to the point at which they break down the nitrites faster than it is being produced. At this point, the peak level of nitrites has occurred, and the bacteria will continue to metabolize and feed upon the nitrites that are produced. The nitrite level will decrease until it becomes undetectable. As with the Nitrosomonas, the Nitrobacter will constantly alter their numbers as the amount of nitrites changes, keeping a balance at which the nitrites are undetectable.bacteria as they feed on the ammonia. As their numbers increase, so does the amount of their waste product, nitrites. The bacteria, because of the increasing supply of nitrites, will multiply and increase in numbers. They, too, will be most densely populated in the area with the greatest surface area and oxygen content. The nitrite levels will rise until the number of bacteria has increased to the point at which they break down the nitrites faster than it is being produced. At this point, the peak level of nitrites has occurred, and the bacteria will continue to metabolize and feed upon the nitrites that are produced. The nitrite level will decrease until it becomes undetectable. As with the , the will constantly alter their numbers as the amount of nitrites changes, keeping a balance at which the nitrites are undetectable. The end product of this whole process is nitrate. Nitrates, in low to moderate concentrations, are not toxic to fish and invertebrates. Nitrates, however, can serve as a nutrient source for bacteria and plant life, and be the cause of other problems in the pond, such as excess algae. The anaerobic bacteria will break down the nitrates. Plants within the system will also feed on nitrates and are a good natural way of controlling this nutrient. Otherwise, the nitrate level needs to be controlled by chemical filtration and partial water changes. The length of time required for this cycle to be completed in the new pond depends on many factors. These factors include: the amount of ammonia being produced during the cycling period; the efficiency of the biological filtration; and whether live rock or live plants are used in this process. The typical time period in most ponds is going to be 3 to 6 weeks. It is important that if any of the fish used during this process perish, that they be replaced with another hardy fish in order to maintain the input of ammonia.
The nitrogen cycle in established ponds An established pond is one that the biological filtration has been matured. There are situations, however, that affect the nitrogen cycle in established ponds, such as: adding livestock; unnoticed death in the pond; overfeeding; medicating the pond; and system maintenance.
Adding livestock In the biological filter of an established pond, there are just enough bacteria to handle the biological load that is placed on the system at that time. When we add livestock to this system, we are increasing the amount of ammonia for the bacteria in the biological filter to metabolize. This situation brings us back to the cycling process (Figure 2), where the bacteria begin to multiply to make up for the extra biological load. How high the toxins will become in the system is going to depend both on the amount of livestock added to the pond at one time, and the size of the pond. If too much livestock is added at one time, it is possible for the ammonia and nitrites to reach dangerous levels, which may lead to livestock losses. It is important to minimize these levels by stocking the pond slowly over time, giving the biological filtration time to catch up to the load.
Unnoticed death in the pond It is possible in many ponds, such as planted ponds, to have an inhabitant perish in a place where it cannot be seen. When this happens, the organism begins to decay, which places a large load on the biological filtration. Again, the nitrogen cycle can be thrown out of balance depending on both the amount of death in the system, and the size of the pond. Having a large pond, in this case, is advantageous because the ammonia being produced by the organism will be diluted by the large volume of water.
Overfeeding When feeding the pond, it is important that the food that is added for the fish and invertebrates is consumed within a short period of time. After a few hours, any food that is left uneaten in the pond will begin to be broken down by the bacteria and fungi, resulting in ammonia added to the system. This ammonia in turn becomes part of the biological load and if the amount of decaying food is great enough, can cause an imbalance in the biological filtration. If the pond has been overfed, it is necessary to remove any uneaten food and to perform a 25% water change.
Medicating the pond Many medications affect the ability of the bacteria to function in the biological filtration. For instance, anti-bacterial medications act in the way the name describes, by killing many types of bacteria. Unfortunately, the biological filtration is bacteria-based, and will be affected by these medications. Other medications such as copper, antibiotics, and ich treatments will also affect the filtration in different degrees. It is important, when treating a pond, closely monitor both the ammonia and nitrite levels and to perform water changes or chemical filtration when necessary.
System maintenance Water changes and filter maintenance will both affect the biological filtration to some degree. When performing water changes, it is important that the replacement water is free of any toxic chemicals such as chlorine. These chemicals can kill bacteria within the system and any water that is to be used, should be treated by one of the many available liquid dechlorinators. Filter maintenance, if not done properly, can have a large effect on the biological filtration. Again, the beneficial bacteria responsible for the nitrogen cycle, populate in the greatest numbers where the water flow and oxygen content of the water are the highest. This is typically within the filter. When performing maintenance on the filter, it is ideal to leave the biological media untouched in order to preserve the bacteria. If there is no biological media within the filter, it is wise to change only ½ of the mechanical media at a time. The remaining media that is to be reused should be rinsed in water taken from the pond in order to preserve the bacteria colony.
Restoring the balance All of the above situations can cause an imbalance in the nitrogen cycle, and make it necessary for us to monitor the level of toxins in the system whenever they occur. If any level of either ammonia or nitrites is detected, it is important to control these toxins either through partial water changes, or with one of the available toxin-absorbing resins. When performing water changes, it is important to change no more than 25% of the pond water at a time. Changing more than 25% of the pond water can cause rapid changes in both temperature and pH, which can result in added stress to the pond inhabitants. Therefore, if toxins are present, it is best to perform small water changes frequently (even daily) rather than performing large water changes at less frequent intervals. Again, the makeup water that is used to replace the pond water should be treated by a liquid dechlorinator. It is ideal that the makeup water is at the same temperature as the pond. There are many chemical medias available on the market that will help control sudden increases in ammonia. By stopping the ammonia prior to it being broken down by the bacteria, we are reducing the biological load on the system. These products can be useful in the situations that have been described above. Again, it is important when using these products to monitor the water quality, and to perform water changes when any toxin levels are detected.
Know the warning signs It is not practical to constantly test and monitor our water for ammonia and nitrites, but there are signs that we can see within the pond. These signs are the actions of the fish. When ammonia or nitrites are present in the water, the fish will show signs of stress. These signs can be in the form of erratic swimming behavior, gasping, or even laying on the substrate. These activities can also be the sign of disease, but our first reaction should be to test the water for ammonia and nitrites.
Conclusion: Maintaining a healthy pond starts with understanding the nitrogen cycle and its effect on the inhabitants. This cycle takes time to stabilize the water conditions both in the initial set-up, and after adding livestock. It is important to stock your new pond slowly and to allow the cycle to be completed prior to adding any new inhabitants. If you understand this process, pay attention to the warning signs, and take appropriate actions, there is no reason for catastrophic die offs in the pond due to ammonia or nitrites.
Fall Water And Koi Care
36340 Harper Ave. Clinton Township, MI. 48035 Office: (586) 790-8013
Cell: (586) 489-0783
Winter Water and Koi Health
How you feed your Koi in the fall and winter can have a huge impact on their health through the winter to the spring. Springtime is a time when Koi are less hearty from winter and the fluctuating temperatures add to there stress level, making them vulnerable to disease. As cooler temperatures arrive, you'll want to start getting your Koi ready for the winter ahead. The only way you can possibly feed your Koi correctly as the weather cools is to know the temperature of the water. If you do not have a thermometer, it's time to get one. When the water temperature in the pond decreases to the low 70's (F), it's a good time to mix your Koi food with a wheat germ base that is lower in protein and easily digested. When water temperatures drop to 60*(F) it's harder for Koi to digest food properly, the stable food should be switched to wheat germ-based foods exclusively. When pond water temperatures decrease, the nutritional requirement of hardy Koi change. Koi metabolism and the ability to properly digest and extract nutrients decrease as water temperatures plummet. Wheat germ diets are much easier to digest than other foods, making them the ideal food choice during periods of cool water temperatures. The wheat germ diet can continue to be fed all winter if the water temperature doesn't get below 40*(F). Even though your Koi need to bulk up for winter, be careful not to overfeed. You can feed less but more frequently, Feed whatever they'll eat in 5 minutes or less, then remove any uneaten food. Stop once the water temperature fall's to 40*(F).
Plants are not good to have in with Koi as they harbor many parasites. If you do have plants, It's always a good idea to trim and remove any dying plant material as it appears, so it does not add to debris build up. Fall is a great time to divide and repot plants. The mild temperatures will give the plant time to heal its root system before cold temperatures arrive, and will most likely provide more blooms the following summer if properly fertilized. In our northern climate when temperatures get below 60*F, tropical plants should be brought inside or disposed of, along with surface and submerged plants. Trim the bog plants back and pull lilies out to trim them before frost. Then set all plants out of the pond, prepare a place protected enough to keep the roots from freezing. ie. Buried tub, barrel or frost protected area.
All this moving about may stir up things so it's a good time for a water change. You'll need to remove some of the excess debris or it will continue to decompose, using up oxygen and producing hydrogen sulfide; a toxic gas. A fine weave aquarium networks well to sift out excess sludge. No need to completely drain, but remove all the mud and debris that you can. A water change can be done anytime in the fall but will create less discomfort to you if it's done before the water temperature goes below 60**F. If a 50% water change still leaves the water murky the next day, try another. Remember to use DeChlor & More if your tap water contains chlorine. Now that the plants, mud, and debris are out of the pond, it's time to treat our Koi & water for fall.
Elevate our Koi Health
The first step is our water.
First: Treat tough salt resistant parasites with Terminate (Malachite Green & Formalin). This is a three-day treatment and it will not set back your filter. Terminate can be used in water temperatures as low as 50* Fahrenheit, allowing you to treat in fall and spring. Add 3.5 oz. for every 1000 gals. pond water.
Second: On day three mix with Terminate, Praziquantel this will increase the power of both. Praziquantel is a powerful treatment for flukes and internal worms. Add 1 gram per 100 gals of pond water.
Third: Wait 7 days and treat for anchor worm. This parasite is not affected by Terminate or Praziquantel. I threat with ARGENT Trichloracide (dry) 1/2 teaspoon per 100 gals. or CYROPRO (liquid) 1 oz. per 312.5 gals in pond water. Re-dose every 7 days for three times, this kills both the adult and babies hatching. Anchor worms thrive on plants, females attach to Koi, suck blood, drop off have babies and the cycle goes on. The best part is, all this treatment will not harm your bio-systems.
Forth: Starting with the beginning of water treatment shift from the staple Koi food and feed Medi-Koi for no less than 14 days. This will build the Koi's immune system to enter winter at full health. Shift back to the staple food with your ponds water temperature.
We use Mostly Dry Concentrates. I think they work better for the Koi keeper, as they can be used as needed and are not geared to shelf life. Dry concentrates are more cost-effective, we are not buying heavy water or shipping it. Un-plug U.V. sterilizers during treatment.
# 1: I use Sludge Remover to dissolve Koi waste, leaves, bird droppings and all other sludge. Use 1 oz. per 100 gal pond water on bi-weekly bases. Un-plug U.V.
# 2: Pond Support Is added as beneficial bacteria to stimulate the biosystem for peak performance. just a few of the other benefits are: By removing toxins we get healthier Koi, Helps clear pond water, Stabilizes pH, Reduces ammonia and nitrites. The list goes on. Dose at 1 oz. per 1000 gals. on a bi-weekly treatment. Un-plug U.V.
# 3: Aqua MedZyme this one's for the Koi, as it helps prevent bacteria infections by reducing Aeromonas, Pseudomonas to levels so low they cannot harm your Koi. Un-plug U.V. Mix 1 tablespoon (enclosed scoop) with some pond water in a pail, let stand for 10 minutes, then, re-stir and pour around the pond. Repeat every three days for three treatments, then 1 tbsp. each week for two weeks. For maintenance: ponds up to 2500 gals. use 1/2 tbsp. every two weeks, for larger ponds up to 5000 gals. use 1 tbsp. every 2 weeks. This treatment renders the bacteria that infect your Koi harmless. This system of treatment has and is working for Michigan Koi bringing our Koi through many long winters into spring without Koi mortality. When water quality is at peak Koi are healthy. You take care of the water and the Koi will take care of themselves and love you for it!
Calcium Bentonite Clay
Water quality is the most important factor in a Koi pond or water garden. Koi and other aquatic life can survive in less than ideal conditions. One thing pond hobbyists can do to help their fish thrive instead of merely surviving is to make sure that the minerals and trace elements found in natural ponds are in the water of their Koi ponds and water gardens. In almost all cases, the water used to fill our beautiful ponds is deficient in most of the minerals and trace elements needed to allow our Koi to reach their maximum potential. What little minerals you have in your pond water are quickly absorbed by the fish, plants and even the bacteria that colonize your filters. Unfortunately, most of the water used for our ponds comes from the tap, which is a poor substitute for providing a healthy aquatic environment for your Koi. Minerals and trace elements are necessary for the optimum health and development of our fish. The only way those minerals can be replaced or introduced is through water changes and additives. Koi with the highest qualities in the world are raised in mud bottom ponds. Even the top Koi breeders have to add fresh clay to their ponds to replace the minerals and trace elements needed to raise these incredible living jewels. The leading Koi experts in the world agree that the clay that contains the most minerals and trace elements is Bentonite / Montmorillonite clay. There is very little, if any, Bentonite clay in our yards and gardens. This type of clay has to be mined and processed to a consistency that will allow you to add it to your pond. Michigan Koi clay can be sprinkled on moistened Koi food pellets or added to homemade paste foods. If you moisten the pellets you can also put them into a plastic bag containing Michigan Koi clay and shake it so the clay powder evenly covers the moist pellets. Spread them out onto a window screen to dry and you can feed them later. Feeding your koi calcium Bentonite clay aids in their digestion as well as removing toxins from their bodies. By improving your Koi's digestion it decreases the amount of waste they produce which in turn reduces the load on your filter thus improving water quality. Within two or three weeks you will see an improvement in your water as well as the skin quality of your koi. The colors will be more vivid, and the white ground brighter. Your Koi will show increased appetites and vigor. The reason Bentonite Clay is so effective in doing this is that it has a negative charge, and most toxins have a positive charge. We learned in Physics class that opposites attract. So it makes Bentonite Clay so useful in binding to toxins. Bentonite Clay can absorb any toxic substances imaginable: impurities, harmful bacteria, poisons, pesticides, pathogens, parasites, etc. This acts as a clumping agent, Attract, Cling, Fall to the bottom and filtered away. Michigan Koi clay will provide the proper minerals for your Koi when used according to our instructions. Try it and you will see the difference in your water and your Koi. Our clay is most effective when used on alternate weeks with other treatments.
Oxygen gets into water by diffusion from the surrounding air, by aeration (rapid movement), and as a waste product of photosynthesis. Everything in our pond needs oxygen, most the time ponds without added aeration are low on dissolved oxygen. Plants give by the day and take by night, don't be fooled by plants in a Koi pond, they do more harm than good. Koi waste and decomposition of organic matter all remove oxygen. Most Koi die just before daylight of oxygen starvation, because of all the competition for oxygen. So add aeration. The most affordable way is with 20 cu. in. air pump and a 14-inch membrane diffuser. This setup only takes 20 watts to run, oxygen for pennies per day. Waterfalls, streams, and spitters cost much more to operate and add much less oxygen by any comparison. The size of the bubble counts. There are 10,800 fine perforations in this membrane, literally 1000's of fine bubbles per second. This air can be directed to the bio-system, bottom of the pond, top of the drain. The water will sparkle; your Koi health will improve. They will be more active when not stressed from the lack of oxygen. The bio-system will be much more effective ridding the water of toxins. The water will clear easer and all the treatments will work best with a high Dissolved Oxygen level. There is no need to add a pond heater in our cold winter, no need to try and heat Michigan. Pond heaters cost much too much to operate and are an electrical danger to our Koi. (1500 watts/20 watts) Let the bubbles work for you, the ice will stay open. This raising air column will bring toxic gases up and exchange oxygen.
Winter Water Care
As fall arrives so do the falling leaves after we cleaned and treated our ponds we need to protect them from falling and blowing debris. A net with small 3/8 mesh over the pond and enough above the water so netting is not in contact with water. We don't want to soak the debris we trap, as that will add toxins to the water.
Cold Water Treatment
Arctic Blend Protects your Koi from poor water quality all winter. 50* to 30* water now can be treated for all the things that kill our Koi in winter under the ice. Arctic Blend works the same as Pond Support beneficial bacteria but works in very cold water conditions. No other pond product on the market can remove ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, phosphorus, and digest organic waste in winter conditions with water temperatures less than 39 degrees F. This product was developed from arctic bacteria that live best in this cold temperature range, all the bacteria we use as Koi keepers die and are rendered useless in the high 40's. With our Koi going into winter with there healthy immune systems at there peak they will winter with ease. Start treating your pond as soon your fish stop eating for the winter. Just one easy treatment every other week and your Koi will come out of winter in perfect condition! For Koi ponds up to 5000 gals. First Dosage - 4 oz. every other week for 2 treatments. Maintenance - 3 ozs. Every other week until water temperatures come back to 55 degrees F. For Ponds 10,000 Gals just double the dosage.
1. Begin Winterizing Your Koi High temp Protein food. Cool temp Wheat Food.
2. Plant Care Remove and protect plants.
3. Water Change Change dirty water.
4. Elevate our Koi Health Parasite Treatments.
5. Water Treatments Dry Concentrates.
6. Calcium Bentonite Clay The Wonder Elements.
7. Dissolved Oxygen The overlooked Treasure.
8. Winter Water Care Cover up protects.
9. Cold Water Treatment-Rest easy this winter.
“Thank you for your interest in our living Jewels"...............................................................................
Nancy and William W. Risher