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What is Wrong With My Fish

     Sick Fish?
  PondStuff! Monthly Pond & Water Gardening Newsletter

What Is Wrong With My Fish?

“My fish are jumping, scratching themselves, not interested in eating!  I think they must be unhappy?  Or are they sick??  I don’t know what would make them act this way.  Usually, they are happy to see me, eager to eat, and swim nicely with each other in the pond.  Could they be fighting?”

            Koi do not fight.  They are extremely social fish.  Most likely your fish have either 1) parasites, 2) poor water conditions (possibly high TDS), or 3) are spawning.  It IS NOT normal for koi to jump.   They don’t “jump for joy”—they try to escape an undesirable situation in their pond.   Koi are good jumpers, so they can jump out and die before you find them.  It IS normal for an occasional fish to scratch itself (flash) against the side of the pond or a rock.  It IS NOT normal for ALL the fish to do so, however. 

            Koi jump because they need to get more oxygen into their gills, if they have parasites or gill filament damage.  So, don’t automatically assume it is parasites.  Koi also jump when the pond has too high TDS levels, lots of heavy metals or other irritating materials in the water that make it undesirable to live in.  Koi hate copper in their water and will sometimes do a death dance when levels reach toxic range.  Even chlorine will burn the sensitive gill filaments and tissues, making it difficult for your fish to breathe.

            You can easily rule out spawning unless this behavior is accompanied by foaming on top of the water and you can see eggs, if you look closely.  In this case, the reason they are not hungry would be obvious.  They will eat later.

            When my fish began to swim erratically, do some lifting of heads out of water (not entirely jumping, but looked like an effort to jump), and flash against the sides and bottom of the pond, after much research I found the problem to be high levels of Total Dissolved Solids.  This was easily rectified with Barley Straw Pellets.  The Barley Straw Pellets take up more than algae-feeding nutrients.  They tie up heavy metals as well.  Within a day, my fish were back to normal.  Microbe-Lift Aqua Xtreme is an answer to water problems, and I would use this before I caught and scraped fish or took gill biopsies.  It is much less invasive and will not further stress your poor fish.  Usually, attention to the water will resolve fish behavioral problems, the easy way. 

           

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