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Thread: Water Changes, Winter & Hormones

  1. #1
    Tosai Jeff R.'s Avatar
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    Water Changes, Winter & Hormones

    Some studies indicate that hormones can have an effect on the growth of Koi. This is oft cited as a benefit to weekly water changes of 10% or so. Aside from the obvious benefit of better quality water is anyone more familiar with this nebulous subject?



    Fo instance, as we are in the winter in my area, is there any benefit to continuing the normal summer regimen of water changes? Feeding has all but ceased, so the filter load is way down. Are these hormones also on the decrease? I realize that there are still things going into the biological soup from simple respiration. But, are these specific growth limiting hormones an issue in winter?

    Seasonal Felicitations!

    Jeff R. :lol: :shock:

  2. #2
    Jumbo
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    Interesting

    Jeff



    I too have read this on many occasions, it was always said that koi would only grow to the size of their given environment. I think there are too many cases where this is proven to be incorrect.



    I think the actual volume of water is less of a problem than not actually providing a big enough support system, i.e. filter and aeration. I have no real evidence to back this up however, it's just my opinion/hpothesis.



    Mark

  3. #3
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Hormones In Winter

    Great question and I have no answer. Have not seen anything on the topic in print. It seems sensible, however, that as koi metabolism slows the production of hormones/pheromones will also slow. As a result, I would think that water changes for the purpose of reducing the hormones would not be as important in winter in cold climate zones. However ....



    However, unless your stocking rate is very low, I'd consider 10% weekly water changes during growth periods to be much too small. I am a water change freak and would not suggest that everyone do as I do. (Minimum of 50% per week.) The recommendation of 10% per week comes from the aquarium hobby where recommended stocking rates are nothing compared to koi ponds, and that aquaria recommendation is a minimum 10%. Actually, it is typically a "minimum of 10% - 20%". If your goal is to maximize growth, then you should develop a regimen for frequent, large water changes, or partial flow through systems.



    At 10% per week water changes, assuming a constant rate of pollutants being introduced to the pond (nitrate, hormones, metabolites etc etc), you will have continuous build up of pollutants for approx. 30 weeks ... the equivalent of the entire growing season in cold climes. You will reach equilibrium at contamination levels ten times what is introduced during each week. At 25% per week, you reach equilibrium at a contamination level of 4 times the weekly input. In nature and mud ponds, the contamination level is virtually nil due to dilution and natural processes.



    So, if you are only doing 10% water changes, you might well want to continue during the winter in order to reduce the contaminant level in the pond so you are off to a good start when temps begin to rise. I can't think of anything positive about leaving fish in high level contamination for 3-4 months when their systems are weak and not being fed etc.

  4. #4
    Tosai Jeff R.'s Avatar
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    Thak You for the Input

    My pond is 2,880 US gallons including filters. During the heavy feeding months I backflush and change probably 10 - 15% of the water every two to three days. The fish were fed very heavily on HiSilk & Hikari Hi-Growth during the growing season. No problems with indications of poor water quality except for the occasional spike in Nitrite which was normally repaired within three days. The growth of the koi and the koi involved may be of interest. The following koi were introduced on May 28, 2003 and were measured again on November 1, 2003 during their fall checkup.



    Kohaku May 28 6" November 1 16"

    Kin Showa May 28 5" November 1 15 1/2"

    Sanke (Matsunoske) May 28 6" November 1 14 3/4"

    GinRin Ochiba May 28 6" November 1 15"

    Hi Showa May 28 7" November 1 13 1/2"

    Hi Utsuri May 28 7" November 1 15 1/4"



    Sanke acquired 7/3/03 17" November 1 20"

    Kujyaku acquired 7/3/03 15" November 1 18"

    Showa acquired 8/31/03 15" November 1 16 1/2"



    Additionally there was an algae problem in early June. This pond was new and so perhaps that was to be expected. Being a newby, I did not want to experiment with expensive Nissai & Sansai so I started with very small koi. I must say that I was gratified by the results considering that the design of my pond leaves much to be desired, i.e. - no bottom drains, Challenger #50 is main filter and etc. I added a Foam Fractionor in early October and have been satified with it's results.



    Admittedly the stocking levels were very low in the beginning and that probably has much to do with the growth results. The challenge will be to maintain water quality as they grow until funds can be had to re-build the pond. A challenge I suppose most Koi keepers face. This was what led to my original question of water changes and hormones. Perhaps there will always be more questions than answers, but I appreciate your sharing your views, opinions and empirical findings.

    Regards,

    Jeff R.

  5. #5
    Tosai Jeff R.'s Avatar
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    Mike M.

    Mike M.:

    "So, if you are only doing 10% water changes, you might well want to continue during the winter in order to reduce the contaminant level in the pond so you are off to a good start when temps begin to rise. I can't think of anything positive about leaving fish in high level contamination for 3-4 months when their systems are weak and not being fed etc."



    Sorry, I forgot to respond to this. I live in Dallas and our winter season is generally from December to January. I have backed off on the back flushes and water changes to about every ten days. As a result, the water quality may not be as bad as it first appeared. I certainly hope not! Let me know if I am missing something.

    Thanks,

    Jeff R.

  6. #6
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Dallas Water Changes

    Great growth rates I think .... about what can be gotten in central Florida!



    With two 15% water changes per week, I think most koikeepers would say you are doing it right. I'm in a warmer area than you, more like Texas' southern gulf coast, so I never stop water changes. Given the cooler temps in Dallas area, I can't say one way or the other. My bias is always in favor of more fresh water, particularly if you get a lot of leaves etc in the pond. Without bottom drains the water challenge is certainly greater ... I know all about those challenges.

  7. #7
    Nisai
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    I dont change water as such empty main vortex and flush the other 2 once a week twice in the summer works out at about 5% got a 600 gal q/tank in garage with 50 small koi growing on over winter do the same works out at 10% growth rates are good in both ponds. as are all readings.



    rick j

  8. #8
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    koi4all: I am hoping those 50 are really small ! Seriously, I think raising little ones to see what happens in their development is a fascinating part of this hobby. A weekly 10% water change may be just right or it may not. It is really not the percentage that counts. It is a question of what is needed to maintain water as low in contaminants as is practical. Nitrate adversely affects growth rates, but the culprit that has been studied a good deal in other species is the hormone/pheromone levels. Adult fish produce more, but all produce some. These hormonal contaminants retard the growth potential and are not filtered out by mechanical or biological systems. There is some indication that activated charcoal can help, and maybe more advanced research since I last looked into it. The only reliable means to control the hormone levels of which I am aware is to change out the water. Unfortunately, there is no test available for hobbyists to measure hormone contamination.

  9. #9
    Tosai Jeff R.'s Avatar
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    Dang, I thought you had a hormone/pheremone Tetra test kit to suggest. It is a shame that so much of what we do is based on experience instead of quantifiable analysis. Perhaps that makes us artists? (50 to go to catch up with Mark)

    Jeff R.

  10. #10
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Catch up

    How many water changes does Mark do? Or, do you mean he has a test kit?



    ..... You couldn't mean you want to catch up with his postings. In all things koi it is quality that counts, not quantity. Besides, he'll never let you catch up. (After oyagoi, will he die at the next spawning?)

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