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     Fish Emergency (Part I)
  What To Do if Your KOI or Golfish Fish Get Sick.



Fish Emergency Part I (Cont.)

The first thing to do when treating sick fish, is to correctly identify what is bothering them or making them sick.

The best resource I've found for correctly identifying koi and pond goldfish ailments is Doc Johnson's book 'Koi Health and Disease' which you can find on his website at www.koivet.com.

In my case, I had identified the fish as suffering from Nitrite Toxicity, from overfeeding my pond in the early Spring.

As you can see from the test tube at the top of this page, my Nitrites were well into the 'Unsafe Change Water' range and very close to the 'Deadly Change Water' range.

The very best and first thing you should do if you find that you have elevated Nitrite levels is to add salt to your pond!  Adding salt, or Sodium Chloride, to your pond water greatly reduces Nitrite Toxicity. Something to do with the Chloride preventing Nitrogen absorption in the fishes gills, but you'll have to read the book for the details.

What I did is start raising my pond water salinity from .1% all the way up to .6%, while I also stopped feeding entirely. I didn't want to keep adding to the problem by creating more fish waste, and the fish weren't really eating at this point anyway.

You can buy rock salt in bulk at Home Depot (water softener salt) but make sure it's free from any impurities..  Or you can buy our Pond Salt which is made from only evaporated sea salts (best) here

I recommend only raising the salinity .1%-.2% in a 24 hour period, so best to raise it slowly over a couple of days, unless it's an emergency like this, in which case I raised it over a 2 day period.

To monitor and test my salinity, I use and recommend a digital salinity meter like this one.  It's fast and easy to read, but a little bit expensive. 

There is also an inexpensive liquid salinity test made by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals that works pretty well also, which is pictured at the right.


Either way, we definitely recommend the use of salt in your pond either as a disease preventative or at higher levels for bacteria and parasite control, or to de-toxify Nitrites.

Once I got the salinity raised, and the Nitrites under control, I immediately noticed that the fish started looking more alive and feeling better..

Had I not quickly identified the real cause of their distress, and treated them appropriately 'the right way', I might have started losing fish and had a very bad start to this pond season.

This is another reason it's essential to have a good water testingTetra Pond Laborette Test Kit kit, to monitor your water quality. This is the first thing you should test in case of a suspected fish health issue, and is a good idea to test regularly anyway.

For more information about our test kits, click here
 

In next month's issue of PondStuff, we'll continue with Part II of 'Fish Emergency' where I'll go through what to do in case of an expected bacterial infection (including more on how to inject your fish with antibiotics!)

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