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Thread: Winter Preparation

  1. #21
    Honmei Brutuscz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasPR View Post
    Correction? The key to avoiding bacterial infections is to keep the fish strong AND the count low. Carp live in mud scavanging for food- the bacteria count IN and AROUND them can be very high. But they are 'healthy' so the many defenses nature gave them- scales, slime coat, natural 'antibiotics', an immune system in general all work to keep the fish harm-free.
    'ulcer disease' is not a bacteria of great power. It the meeting of bacteria with a weak animal in bad water or stressful conditions. A perfect storm , if you will.
    If you think of koi disease as an environmental problem due to koi's intimate relationship with it's world, you will be way ahead of the game. Brutus, I know with your training you are far beyond all this basic stuff about disease but for the casual reader, never try and 'kill' the bacteria in your pond to end chronic ulcer disease. Rather, find the cause of the aeromonas excess production and the reason why your koi are so weak as to allow bacteria to enter their bodies unchecked. Sometimes this is driven by parasites as a mechanical vector and other times it is pure environmental stress on the koi. - JR
    All true JR. But the one thing beyond our control is koi have terrible immune systems. I really believe all the inbreeding, line breeding have affected their health in a terrible way. Infusing the blood of magoi and wild carp back in to the mix is one way the breeders can try and improve this(I read a few articles on this). I stopped beating myself up over ulcers a few years ago after reading some articles in Bito magazine. The Maruyama showa had an ulcer the size of a thumb at the base of it's tail. The winner of the wakagoi young show had a pus filled abscess that was incised and drained prior to the show. These are koi kept in the best of conditions by top breeders...and look what happens anyway. We do the best we can...but, a lot of the health issues are inherent to the breed of fish we are keeping. I look at my reef tank...same yellow tang for 3 yrs..no ulcers!!!
    When I had my winter issues this season..It hit my showa more than any other type of koi. They handled it terribly. More inbreeding in showa?? I don't know. But, It wouldn't surprise me at all.


    If your desire to succeed is greater than your desire to fail, then you will succeed.

  2. #22
    Nisai Bobby's Avatar
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    My pennies worth, between seasonal changes. Feed garlic, honey and more garlic, no health issues.

  3. #23
    Daihonmei
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    Actually they have terrible immune systems relative to humans. But they are tremendeously gifted survivors! Cold blooded animals are often viewed as 'inferior' to mammalian systems. But physiology text books are written by -- MAMMALIANS! So they are tainted in that they do not give enough respect to a design that has been around for a long long time and is all about surviving in a particular environment. So it is actually man's failings in keeping that make the carp's immune system look so weak. Remember when inbreeding is not an issue, CARP can live easily in environments that our immunes system would be useless in. The adaptative abilities to extreme cold in cold blooded animals is remarkable.
    So it is true the that the price to be paid for the ability to go into a a state of stasis is high in that when the 'submarine powers down', all 'non-essential services are put on hold.
    The secret in koi is usually not about absolute temperature as much as it is about duration at low temperatures. Low immune response at low temperatures is usually taken out of context with the environment that koi are in while experiencing vulnerability. And secondly we usually judge koi immune strength AFTER the fish has been in a state of G.A.S. for a considerable amount of time. Ironically long before we see the ulcer the fish has been suffering all the cascading effects of physiological imbalance caused by G.A.S. This includes high blood pressure, low sugar levels, kidney malfunction, vascular/ circulatory changes, white count exhaustion ( also common in mammals).
    - JR

  4. #24
    Oyagoi gcuss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasPR View Post
    Preparation for winter begins around the end of June. A koi becomes very strong and healthy over the summer months and adds to it's length and overall body mass. This is preparation for the times ahead. So it is our responsibility to make sure koi are not stressed or set back during these important months.
    But once the nights begin to get cool and the water cools, and once the lighting begins to change ( if you have delicate plants like ferns they will tell you that the seasonal change is beginning) the fish will also change.
    They will become very interested in feeding again with a sense of aggressiveness, and colors will improve on the fish ( this is another reason that koi shows are held in the cooler autumn weather).
    Just look at the koi as always being 'a season ahead' internally. You'll notice that your koi tend to put on girth in the autumn and the skin becomes noticeably whiter. This is the final run to winter stasis.
    If a fish is not progressing well during that time period ( typically late September to mid November) then that fish must come in. And of course all tosai should be brought inside if the water tends to freeze over more than a few weeks where you live.

    Because koi are seasonal fish they are also 'plan ahead' fish! And in the autumn and they are also preparing their reproductive organs for next springs egg production. Winter will cap that process off and spring diet, water changes, lighting changes and temperature changes will direct all nutrition to waking up and development of reproductive organs. That process however actually begins when most folks think they are only preparing their koi for winter! And remember if you wait until a month or two before winter to prep koi FOR winter, it is really too late. So think ahead, like your koi do, and begin to prepare your koi for winter starting June 30th! Feed them well, keep the water quality up and stable and make sure they are healthy and fit. Continue that pace as they enter autumn and then slow the feeding as the light and water temps change ( 50 F). - JR
    JR:

    I've got mostly nisai, and some tosai that make up my collection. Last winter we moved the koi into the garage and kept it heated through the winter. Over the course of the summer, my wife and I have made some changes in the garage and moving them in isn't an option this year. Up until this thread I had thought they would all just do winter outside. My winters are about 4-5 months with water in the 40's. Will get down below forty if uncovered quite easily. In spite of my willingness to cover the pond and keep a hole for gas exchange, I don't think it's realistic that I'll have less than 3 months with ice on the pond. Last year at it's peak, the ice was 14" thick.

    I've now acquired some really nice koi (really nice for Grant that is), and I don't want to have trouble so I'm starting to lose the confidence I had in some poly wrap. And am now considering constructing a small insulated shed with some clear panels on the the wall that faces the sun. I won't be heating it unless it's necessary, but due to funds and the temporary nature of the project, I'll probably end up with about 1200 gallons of water for 8 fish. Considering they won't be fed in either location am I better off leaving them in their big pond with 6K gal. but much colder? Or should I get the hammer swinging?

    Thanks,

    Grant

  5. #25
    Daihonmei
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    Hi Grant,

    Well you are there so you know better than anyone else what you are up against.
    But a couple of things to reflect on;

    1) carp have 100,000 young for a reason- NOT all will survive. Predators, winter freezing and associated spring disease, water quality and system crash in the wild, all take their toll. So fry and one year old fish are at greatest risk in winter. Mother nature only needs a few breeding pairs to carry the species on. The rest are faddor for the cannons! Only the strongest will survive.

    2) koi are highly inbred mutations of the common carp. And by definition line breed and intensively inbreed fish are weaker than the wild types ( see point #1! )

    3) when we keep tosai koi outside in a long winter we need to appreciate the difference between SURVIVAL ranges of parameters and OPTIMIAL ranges for flourishing. Survival ranges will mean that 'most' of your fish will make it thru the winter if kept in those ranges. Optimal ranges means that no koi will die and most will reach their maximum genetic potential when kept in those ranges.
    You are considering testing survival ranges and leaving the area of optimal ranges. So I'm sure the majority will make it thru but you have to expect to have some issues next spring. Its just the way it is after a long winter.

    4) Tosai are vulnerable for one simple reason- they are small and can only store some much in way of reserves. And being carnivore based on 3/4 f their life so far, there gut length is shorter and their metabolism is higher. This works against them in a long winter. The glycogen levels simply are not adequate to last a 16 week winter under ice. Basically it is cold stress and physiological exhaustion that gets a young koi in late winter, Feburary thaws and early springs when the rains come and dilute pH.

    Your call my friend. If you do go ahead with the winter thing- ice is not all that bad- especially as an insulator so you need to decide if you will go iced over or ice free. Then always have a back up for the detressed floater that often turns up near the side of a pond , reddened and in total exhaustion. This is a tricky transfer but the fish needs to be moved inside and SLOWLY brought up to warmer temperature and higher water quality.

    Hope this helps? JR

  6. #26
    Oyagoi Lam Nguyen's Avatar
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    My outdoor pond temp is 70-72 degrees F right now. I am still feeding a combination of Saki Hikari Growth, Saki Hikari Color, and Blackwater Creek Gold. I plan to cut back on the feeding and start mixing in Hikari float and sinking wheat germ. By October, depending on the pond temp, my goal is to switch totally over to Hikari wheat germ.

    I also plan to stop my bakki showers sometimes in October. The frequency of the feeding will be dependent on water temp and koi appetite. My plan is to keep my sansai and older koi outdoors this year while the nisai koi will be moved into the QT inside the garage.

  7. #27
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KoiKisses View Post
    As I live Louisiana, our winters are not harsh (and cooler than Florida), so would I still make frequent water changes? Say weekly?

    Last winter I did them once a month. I didn't have any problems with the koi come spring time.

    Not that I've learned more on keeping water,, I would like to continue at least a weekly waterchange over the winter months, provided this wouldn't cause any undo stress on their overwintering.

    What do ya think?
    The only concern I would have is the same as applies to all water changes.... The purpose of a water change is to maintain stable conditions, not to create roller coaster changes in water conditions. If the temperature of source water is much different from the pond, in most situations it would be best to keep the changes small. For example, last winter we had a cold spell where my pond temperature dipped to 55F a few days. The source water was nearly 10 degrees warmer. I did a smaller than normal water change that week.

  8. #28
    Oyagoi gcuss's Avatar
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    Thanks JR!

    I think I'm going to go with the insulated shed for now. I'll be able to control the environment a bit better and I'll be able to keep the water 48 degrees or more. How long can they go without eating at 48 degrees? I'll be looking at 3 months or so I believe.

    Grant

  9. #29
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Grant: I have no experience regarding real winterkeeping, so need others to reply to your question. I fasted for 7 weeks last 'winter'. The water was at or above 60F all but a few days. You'd hardly notice the little weight loss. Of course, there was algae for whatever calories they could squeeze out of it.

  10. #30
    Oyagoi gcuss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    Grant: I have no experience regarding real winterkeeping, so need others to reply to your question. I fasted for 7 weeks last 'winter'. The water was at or above 60F all but a few days. You'd hardly notice the little weight loss. Of course, there was algae for whatever calories they could squeeze out of it.

    Thanks Mike. I imagine they'll be fine. I'll give them wheat germ/manda fu up to about 52 degrees or so... Should only ("only" LOL) be about 3 months with no food...

    Grant

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