SURVIVING THE STORM
Unlike ponders on the West Coast (who have to deal with earthquakes)
or in the Midwest (who have to deal with tornados), were usually
lucky enough to have notice that a storm is coming. The preparations
that we make depend on whether its a storm or
a STORM. Many of our casual afternoon thunderstorms can cause as
much damage as a tropical depression. That being said, lets
suppose that weve been advised that a storm is on its way.
How do I prepare?
a. Stop feeding the fish: they wont starve (they still have
all that algae on the sides), but continued ammonia production could
kill them if your water quality takes a hit due to filtration problems.
b. Do a water change, as large as you can handle. That way, if
things really turn bad, your fish will be starting off with water
as clean as possible. Even if its only a moderate storm, you
may be without water for a few days. With a fresh water change,
the fish will have the best chance.
c. Drop the ponds water level several inches (or more) to
allow for the extra rain. If your pond was built with an overflow
drain, make sure that the drain field remains unobstructed.
d. Net the pond to keep out as much flying debris as possible
e. If possible, when a big storm/high winds are expected, disconnect
and remove any items that may blow over into the pond, such as trickle
towers. If you can lean on it and push it over, the wind can, too!
If you cant remove it, at least disconnect the water source
so that if/when it does blow over, it wont drain your pond.
If we have another storm the caliber of Andrew (a Category 5 storm),
not much can protect you (or the fish) from the wind damage. Consider:
a 38 caliber shell travels at the speed of 500 ft. per second and
presents a face of less than ½ upon impact,
but it would not be able to penetrate a palm tree. Try to imagine
the force this 2 x 4 had from the wind!
f. Add baking soda at the rate of 1 cup per 1,000 gallons. This
will buffer the pond against a pH crash: rain water has NO buffering.
Even if it isnt acid (and heavy rainfalls seldom
are), it will dilute the waters buffering capabilities (total
alkalinity) to a critical level. Rain water contains none of the
necessary minerals that normal water contains. If it isnt
an airborne contaminant, rain water probably doesnt have it.
Baking soda will probably raise your pH to the 8.4 level, but its
buffering capabilities are unsurpassed to prevent a pH crash. Its
quick, cheap, and handy.
g. Remove anything around the pond that can take off flying,
such as nets, buckets, chairs, tables, etc.
h. If your pond is ground level and prone to flooding, try to protect
if from ground water by sand bagging it or digging a trench around
it to divert water flow.
When it starts to rain
and the blow begins, fish will usually go to bottom.
Even after heavy flooding, most people report that their fish are
still right there, hunkered down in the pond waiting for things
to calm down and return to normal. Fish are only reported missing
when the pond is in an overflow condition for several days, the
fish relax a bit, and go exploring.
The power went out what do I do now?
Well, it depends: hows your stocking rate? If its
low, you probably dont have too much to worry about. But if
youre like most of us, youre overstocked and
thats a problem when the power goes out. If your pond has
a large surface area, its better than a smaller area. If your
dissolved oxygen level was high prior to the outage, youre
in better shape than if it was low.
If the storm is a small one and you expect power to be restored
in short order (a few hours or so), then just relax. However, longer
outages require action! Alternate power sources include various
back-up systems, such as:
· Generators: the cost between a small one just big enough
to handle the pond and a larger one that can handle the pond and
a few of lifes necessities (like the fridge, the TV, a fan
or two, some lights . . .) is frequently just a matter of $200 or
so. Another consideration is the size of the fuel tank: the smaller
generators require frequent refueling. Slightly larger ones can
run for 10 hours or so between refuels (think full nights
sleep!). Make sure you have 5 gallon fuel cans, a siphon to
refill the cans from your cars tank, and whatever filters
the manufacturer suggests keeping on hand. And remember to TEST
the generator at least once a month (once a week is better) to ensure
that it will start when you need it.
· Inverters: these are marvelous little items that plug
into the cigarette lighter of your vehicle to convert the cars
DC power into AC. Many stores, including the big DIY stores, sell
this handy little piece of equipment. I recently purchased an inverter
that will supply 300 watts of constant running (600 watts start-up)
for $40.00. It has two 3-pronged (grounded) outlets and will run
for 2 ½ to 3 hours before you will need to start the vehicle
to recharge its battery. Theres even a warning light on the
inverter to let you know when you need to recharge the vehicles
battery! Larger inverters (750 watts steady/1500 watts start-up)
are also available for about $80.00. (Aside from pond use, theyre
just plain handy to have available to run equipment that you normally
would not be able to!) Run an extension cord from your car to the
pond to run critical equipment, but make sure the connection stays
high and dry, or wrap it in Saran Wrap and secure it with electrical
How do you figure out watts if your equipment doesnt list
the wattage? Use the formula Amps x Volts = Watts. Example:
my water pump draws .85 amps x 110 (volts) = 93.5 watts! Remember
that most electrical equipment with motors will draw double wattage
to start, then settle down to its normal usage. In that event, start
one then another; dont try to start everything at the same
· A UPS back-up from your computer can work in a pinch
· A (charged) deep cycle/marine battery pond-side with an
inverter attached works nicely
These items can be used to run your air pump (first) and your water
pump (second), or alternating between the two.
OK, the storm has passed; NOW what do I do?
First of all, your babies are probably just fine, but their home
may need some repairs (as well as your own!). As soon as you can,
- Survey the damage and assess what needs to be attended to FIRST
- Check all plumbing to ensure that there are no breaks or leaks
- If you netted the pond, remove it so you can see the fish and
- Take a water sample and test for ammonia, nitrItes, pH and/or
o Treat water as necessary with your ammonia binder of choice
o If there are nitrItes, add salt at the rate of 3/4 to 1 lbs.
(technically .833 lbs!) per 100 gallons, 1/3 at a time (or 8
lbs. per 1,000 gallons) over a period of 24 hours to achieve
a level of 0.1 ppm. This is sufficient to prevent the uptake
of the nitrItes by the gills. If your fish are in good shape
(no visible cuts or bruises, not too shocked from
their experience) and you have plants, this small amount of
salt will protect your fish from Brown Blood Disease without
hurting the plants. But if the fish are really stressed or have
sustained injury, theyll need a higher concentration
so pull your plants out if they are salt sensitive: were
helping the fish, not the plants. They dont care about
nitrItes. (Note: the common 1 lb. of salt per 1,000 gallons
for 0.1 ppm is a nice, round number. If your pond
is 3,000 gallons or so, the difference is not that much. But
if you have a large pond, upwards of 5,000 the difference
in rounding becomes more pronounced.)
o If your KH is below 100 (5-6 drops), add baking soda at the
rate of 1 cup per 1,000 gallons. This will help to buffer your
pond from a pH crash in the event there is more rain. If you have
bead type filtration, you need to have your KH above
200 (remember to multiply the number of drops it takes to effect
the color change by 17.9 to get the proper reading. Dont
ask: its a German thing!).
- If you were not able to net the pond, get your fish/skim net
out and remove as many leaves and other debris as you can: decaying
leaf matter will rapidly consume oxygen, and thats the last
thing the pond needs at this time
- If you have plants, return them to their proper positions; repot
as necessary remove as much of the dirt dumped in the pond
as possible. If you have a bottom drain, make sure it isnt
clogged and is taking up the junk on the bottom of the pond. If
you dont have a bottom drain, vacuum the pond as soon as
- Chances are good that your pond water will be murky; at the
very least, the nutrient levels will be off due to
the excessive rain water. Now is a good time to add Koi Clay at
the rate of 3 Tbs. per 1,000 gallons, dissolved in pond water
and distributed around the pond. Thats triple the recommended
maintenance dose, but less than the remedial
level. You can use up to 1 cup per 1,000 gallons if necessary
(or more you cant overdose). The Koi Clay will do
several things for your water: the clay will act as a flocculent,
taking particles suspended in the water column to the bottom.
It will also replace minerals and trace elements that are required
by both your fish and your bioconverter.
- Hopefully your pond has not sustained any severe damage that
will require extensive work. If it has and you dont
have a quarantine facility available, consider getting a kiddy
pool to be used until the fish can be returned to their home.
These are relatively cheap and can remain boxed in your garage
until necessary. (Hint: keep these pools in mind at the end of
the season when theyre on close-out: they become
downright economical at that point!) If all else fails, call your
local club: show tanks work very well indeed!
Emergency supplies should include:
Ammonia test kit
NitrIte test kit
KH/TA test kit
Enough ammonia binding dechlor to do the pond 3x over!
Koi clay (calcium bentonite)
Net to cover the pond
Generator and/or Inverter
PVC pipe, fittings, glue, etc. to make repairs if necessary
Extra air stones and pumps (air and water, if possible), with
Reprinted from www.koiphen.com.
Originally printed in Koi USA.
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