I have received a ton of heartbreaking phone calls, that start with “My koi are all dead!” This is a compilation of the most common reasons that I’ve heard:
This is probably the number one way to eradicate your fish, both sick and healthy, in one fell swoop. Way back in the beginning of my koi hobby, before I knew much of anything, I asked a well-known koi veterinarian, “I don’t have to quarantine fish from Santa’s Koi Farm, right?”
He cocked his head, looked at me as if I were a VERY slow learner, (we had just spent 4 days learning why you ALWAYS quarantine), and said, “Yes. You should ALWAYS quarantine!” Riiiight…….lesson learned….finally.
The theory of quarantining was one that I, of course, had tested on numerous occasions, with dismal results each time. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, quarantine. I murdered my fish population several times, by not quarantining new arrivals.
I added fish from a stranger’s pond. I added fish from my friend’s pond. I added fish that I received as a gift from my loving family. I added fish from the local golf course that needed a home. I added fish from a pet shop. I added fish from a koi pond store. Each time, the results were the same….I brought in parasites, mostly flukes, that proceeded to kill off my favorite fish with joyful abandon.
Just quarantine! It is simple to do, the correct medicines are readily available, it is relatively inexpensive, and you will save yourself so much heartache.
This is, in my experience, the second my common way my clients have managed to annihilate their koi population, overnight. This is how it happens. You notice your pond is a little low, so you turn on the hose. You stand there for a few minutes, admiring your beautiful herd as they beg for food, and then your significant other calls you.
You hit the “Honey Do” highway for fifteen minutes, take out the trash, pick up dog poop, start the BBQ, blah, blah, blah. Then one of the kids, or the dog, or the horse, demands your attention, and you help with homework, pitch the ball, throw some hay, and then the barbecue is ready.
You grab those beautiful cuts of meat, and some sliced zucchini, and basted asparagus, and spend the next thirty minutes barbecuing everything to perfection. You sit down to a fabulous meal with the family, help clean up afterward, watch a movie, hop in the shower, and hit the sack.
At 4:30 am you bolt up in the bed, fling off the blankets, and race barefoot, and possibly scantily clad, to your pond. All of your sweet little lovelies are floating belly up from chlorine poisoning from the hose that you never turned off. Seriously, true story. I’ve heard it 37 times, at least. The entire pond, dead, all those sweet little lovelies floating belly up.
When you turn on the hose to top your pond off, tie a string on your finger, set a reminder on your phone, put a note on the bathroom mirror, write it on your forehead, or leave the car running with the headlights pointed at the pond!
Along the same lines as the previous attempt of, “how to make room in your pond for all new fish”, this involves chlorine. It is often overlooked because people get away with doing smaller water changes regularly without dechlorinating.
The amount of chlorine in a smaller water change can be absorbed, if your pond is larger, without apparent adverse effects to the fish. This leads people to mistakenly believe that chlorine doesn’t hurt their fish.
Then comes the one time that they do a major water change, and believing that chlorine is not an issue, they don’t use dechlorinator. They replace half the water with new, fresh, clean, fully chlorinated water, and pat themselves on the back for a job well done.
The next morning, they get up, walk out to survey the beautiful results of their efforts, and BAM, all those sweet little lovelies are floating, belly up.
This one kills me, and your fish. People do this all the time. And I can’t get them to stop. It drives me crazy!
Turning off the pump at night is a great way to terminate all fish life in your pond. Here’s the trick with this one. When your pond is new, and you don’t know any better, (after all, the swimming pool equipment shuts off every night, right?) your fish are small, there’s no debris built up yet, and you get lucky. You shut the pump off, and the fish live.
So, you keep doing it, and by some unbelievable twist of fate, your fish keep on living for some time frame that makes you believe it’s okay to shut the pump off. A week, a month, I’ve had people tell me they’ve been doing it for years, but I don’t believe them. Then one day you come out, and guess what? I know, you know, where I’m going with this; all your little lovelies are floating, belly up.
The thing is, accumulated debris, size of the fish, hot summer days, lack of oxygen because your filter wasn’t running, the list goes on. There are so many reasons this is a bad idea just waiting for the opportunity to wipe out your fish. Just stop it. Leave the pump on. Unless you’re looking for a reason to buy all new fish?
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