POND HEALTH ISSUES
by Carolyn Weise
We're always hearing questions
from people pertaining to what type of treatment and what
particular chemical to add to their pond when a fish looks
sick. The issue I need to address may not be the sick fish.
It may be the overall health of the pond.
If you have a healthy pond, the fish will be healthy. If you
have clean (not necessarily clear) water, the fish will thrive.
If you are dumping chemicals into the pond trying to clean it
up, what are you accomplishing? I suggest you are complicating
First, nothing should be added
to the pond unless you have already done the preliminary
diagnosis; this is best done by observing the symptoms,
observing the overall pond conditions, catching more than one
fish, sedating them and scraping to view under a microscope in
order to find out if parasites are a part of the problem (either
primary or secondary) and if there is an excess or lack of slime
coat, and then consulting a real professional.
*But even before this can be done, you
still need to have information on hand:
How much water
is in the pond (yes, exactly how many gallons?)
How many fish,
how many “pounds of fish”? (what size are they)
What color is
the water? (Is it clear, tea-colored, muddy, green, etc.)
How does the
water smell? (Is there any oil slick or scum on it?)
pesticides been sprayed lately?
What size is
the filter? What capacity?
Have you done
the water tests and what were the results?
Have you added
any new fish, plants or other things to the pond?
disturbed the algae growth on the sides and bottom of the
pond? (pressure washed)
How often do
you maintain the filter?
How much and
how often are you feeding the fish? (# 1 cause of water
decline is improper feeding)
The point of
this inventory is to get owners used to looking at more than the
fish when there are suspected problems with their fish. Fish
are probably the last in the chain of events and the first to be
noticed in many cases.
hygiene is essential. Overcrowding is invitation to disaster.
Nature will cull all the fish that the pond cannot naturally
sustain, and unfortunately, the ones that die will be the ones
you love the most. Koi are noted for their insatiable spawning,
every spring unless you are lucky, and invariably some survive.
The other problem
most common to koi keepers is the feeding. It is so enjoyable
to see them race after food or eat out of our hands that we tend
to overdo it, especially in the heat of summer. A little known
fact is that when the temperatures are above 85F, feeding should
drop to once a day. And if the pond is shallow, that is a real
risk for the fish because the water will heat quickly.
lightly, we are in effect feeding the fish, and not the pond.
Koi have no stomach in which to digest food. They have one long
intestine and the food is pushed through as they eat. In one
end and out the other. If there isn’t sufficient time to digest
in between the mouth and the tail end, it comes back much the
same as it went in. The fish does not benefit from the
nutrition and the pond receives the waste. So, its primary
function at this point is to foul the water, which happens
In the case of
koi keeping, a good rule of thumb is “LESS IS DEFINITELY MORE.”
And you need to have an up close and personal relationship with
your entire pond.
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