Helpful Tips for Great Koi Care
Learning the basics of good koi care is important if you want to keep your fish healthy. While koi are resilient fish with strong immune systems, poor or inadequate care will make them susceptible to disease, sub-optimum breeding, or even death.
This article briefly examines water filtration and oxygenation, feeding, handling, and Koi Diseases. The correct oxygenation, filtration, and water temperature are critical tools for koi care and are essential for the survival of your koi. Always make sure that before you stock your pond you have made doubly sure that the proper environment has been created for your fishy friends.
For proper koi care, your pond will need plenty of clean, good-quality water. Ponds should be filled with at least 1000 gallons of fresh water and the bottom should be made of a substrate of smooth gravel and a variety of rocks and plants. Koi are able to withstand cool (not freezing) climates but may not cope well in very hot weather. Your pond should be at least three to four feet deep. This is so that they can find cool water at deeper temperatures during summer.
Because koi were bred to tolerate brief, cold winters such as those that occur in Japan they are vulnerable to cold shock. Good koi care should make allowances for the fish to adjust to temperature changes so they must be handled with care when adding them to or removing them from your pond. New fish should always be placed into a pond in the bag in which they were purchased to allow them to adapt to the water temperature in their new environment.
What about koi care for icy areas? In areas where water freezes, koi can be kept outdoors providing the water does not freeze too deep. If you get a 6-8 inch thick ice cover over a 3-4 foot pond your fish will survive if there is enough surface water available for gas exchange. Using a bubbler will circulate water and avoid freezing in cooler areas. If it gets very cold you will need a de-icer if you want to keep your koi outdoors.
Good koi care means learning how to provide good-quality, well-oxygenated water. If you can afford it, installing a waterfall or fountain is ideal. What about water quality? During summer the amount of waste in your pond increases. Test your water for high ammonia or nitrite and if you uncover a problem increase the oxygen levels and do a partial water change.
Good koi care and adequate filtration go hand in hand. Mechanical and biological filtration is important to keep the water clean and healthy. The best ponds bottom drain to make changing the water and removing debris and waste easier.
Feeding your koi a good diet is part of any koi care program. Koi need to consume a good quality pellet or flake food that does not exceed 30% protein. Supplementation will help them to grow faster and bring out their beautiful colors. A typical diet should consist of wheat germ, protein, fruits, vegetables, plankton, shrimp, and color-enhancing foods. Spirulina and carotene make their colors brighter.
Because koi don’t have true stomachs and cannot store fats, overfeeding causes an excess of nutrients in the pond. This may cause algal overgrowth and poor water quality. Don’t feed your fish if the water goes below 50 degrees. Proper koi care will ensure that your fish don’t eat too much or too little.
What types of illnesses affect koi? Koi diseases can be categorized into four categories. They may be bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic in nature or origin. Bacterial diseases include fin and tail rot and hole-in-the-side. When a fish contracts a bacterial infection these bacteria eat away at the skin and leave the fish vulnerable to even more diseases. Top-notch koi care means you need to learn how to recognize the illnesses which may affect your fish.
If your fish has a hole-in-the-side its scales will stand on end and eventually fall off. The skin that was protected by the scales then begins to peel and leaves the fish looking as if it has a gaping hole in its body. Bacterial koi diseases are treated using acriflavine, nitrofurans, oxytetracycline, kanamycin, chloramphenicol, sulfonamides, and salt either as a dip, topical, injection or in their food. Learn these techniques as part of your koi care program.
Parasitic koi diseases are probably the most dangerous and should be treated right away. Parasitic diseases include fish lice, gill maggots, and anchor worms. These are treated by external swabbing, dips, baths, keeping them in a sick tank, or with drugs in their food or injection. Proper koi care means you need to know how to protect all the fish in your pond and this may mean placing fish in quarantine until they are better.
It is critical that you implement the correct koi care at the first signs of disease. Koi diseases are easily spread to other fish and could destroy all your stock and make conditions undesirable for new fish. If you care for your koi and their environment properly most diseases can be avoided.
This is partly because your fish will have healthy immune systems and partly due to health conditions that don’t support the growth of bacteria or parasites. However, there are instances of fish developing koi diseases even in the cleanest environments. It is a good idea to consult experts to correctly diagnose problems in your fish.
Koi care also allows for companionship. Koi fish live for a very long time – usually between twenty-five and thirty-five years. In time they will come to know you personally and feed from your hand if you let them. Taking care of your fish will ensure that they stay alive for a long, long time.
See more: An Introduction to Koi Fish