[an error occurred while processing this directive] Pond Health Issues

     Pond Health in Your Pond
  PondStuff! Monthly Pond & Water Gardening Newsletter



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 the problem. 

            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?)
  • Have any 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?
  • Have you 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. 

Good pond 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. 

By feeding 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 surprisingly fast.

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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