October 28, 2005

Today's Pond Q&A

Today's Pond Q&A

In this issue:




Hi Carolyn,

I had been slowly cutting back on the amount of food I had been
feeding my fish with the onset of winter. Pond temperature is 58
degrees. Since everything I have read said I could feed them
until about 50 degrees I was continuing with a small amount
every couple days. Suddenly I had one of my small fish end up in
my skimmer.

At first I thought I hurt it removing it. A couple days later I
had another small fish show signs of distress. (Not being able
to swim) I took both fish to a place here I had bought them and
had them examined. No parasites or other obvious problems. A few
days later, they died.

I hadn't feed the rest of my fish for three days so I thought I
would give them a little. All most immediately my last small
fish (all about 8 inches long) started showing the same signs as
the others. Water quality is good and the remaining four larger
fish are fine. 2500 gallon pond, beaded filtration system, and

Question: Can the smaller fish just not eat at these

- Rick, Washington state

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Hi, Rick,

That is a difficult question to answer. It kind of depends upon
the type of food, the consistency, the ingredients, the size of
the pellets, how fresh it is, what the nutritional make-up is,
and stuff like that. I can't give a solid answer. I general,
small fish aren't any more susceptible to food than larger fish.
However there are some diseases which hit the smaller fish first.

I guess when you say you brought the fish in and had them
examined by the place you got them, the fish was already dead,
right? If so, there wouldn't be any parasites to find. You cannot
diagnose parasites on a dead fish. You need to examine a live
one, do a scraping and look at it under the microscope. If they
scraped and scoped a dead fish, they are just kidding themselves.
As soon as a fish dies, the parasites drop off.

Always, when you get a new fish, quarantine it (them) for at
least 2-3 weeks to make sure they are healthy before putting them
in with your other fish. My guess is the deaths had nothing to do
with the food at all. See about taking in a live fish or two (or
three) and have them scraped for parasites. Then you will know if
you need to treat the pond or not. My guess is you do. And I am
almost betting on costia.

Good luck.





I have been reading all the e-mails with instructions on how to
winter koi outdoors and felt it was time for someone to come up
with at least a few arguments for wintering your fish indoors in
cold climates.

I live in Saskatchewan Canada and have wintered my fish
successfully in my 3,000 gallon outdoor pond in the past. One of
the drawbacks I noticed right away is that hibernation or
dormancy also retards growth and I prefer to let my koi grow at
the rates they were intended too. The other noticeable problem is
that the koi seem to forget over a winter of dormancy who their
friend the "food guy" is and you can spend the whole summer
taming them again just in time to winter them.

I have now wintered my Koi in the basement of my home for 3
years. They grow year round, are extremely tame and are close at
hand for me to enjoy while active all winter.

If you have the space and the equipment to do so, I urge you to
consider wintering your fish indoors. There are cost effective
alternatives to pre-formed ponds and expensive liners that make
great indoor ponds. One of these is to use poly livestock troughs
available at most agricultural outlets and feed stores. They are
much cheaper than the pet store alternatives (I pay $85.00 US
funds for 150 gallon Rubber-maid stock troughs).




Todd, that is a great message! I have friends here in New York
that have been carrying their koi indoors every fall for years
and some have very elaborabe 6,000-gallon ponds in their
basements, complete with concrete structure, liner and
underlayment, high filtration and aeration, and large fluorescent
lights 12" above the water for correct lighting.

I have gotten feedback from other experts, pros and cons, about
heating ponds and keeping koi active year round. One drawback is
that this actually shortens the life span of the koi, perhaps by
half. It seems that the winter rest is not such a bad thing for
the koi.

By heating the pond outside one might save a little labor of not
having to carry koi, which can become quite heavy in time.
Saskatchawan, I imagine, has a short summer, so it would probably
be best for the fish to be able to get enough nutrition in this
manner. So, I'm with you on this.

I also like your idea of remaining friends with the koi by
keeping them awake during the winter.

As I haven't seen any real hard statistical facts about the life
span being shortened, I stand neutral on this. I would also
caution anyone bringing fish indoors to make sure they cover the
tanks to prevent the fish from jumping out, as koi are wont to

Thanks for the input!

- Carolyn

Happy Pondkeeping!

MacArthur Water Gardens

MacArthur Water Gardens
PO Box 3628
Alpharetta, GA 30023-3628

Posted by bfogle at October 28, 2005 12:57 AM