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Thread: Optimal Oxygen Level For Koi

  1. #1
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Optimal Oxygen Level For Koi

    A discussion on another board commenced with a question of what is the optimal oxygen level for koi. The quick answer was, of course, saturation level... which really did not answer the question. Saturation at 100F is not going to keep a koi alive.

    I have been wondering about optimal oxygen levels for some time, but do not have an answer. My thinking began with the oft-observed problem of koi beni degrading in warm climates to a greater degree than in cooler climates. I have observed how pigments take on a bit of a worn look in the heat of Summer and regain lustre as the temperatures moderate. In cool water, the colors always seem brighter. I have thought of these effects as directly related to temperature. Some months ago, however, I began to think about the indirect effects of warm water in the form of lower oxygen availability. I have checked around on the internet, but have not located any literature that has helped me. Of course, I've not spent the time to do the sort of thorough research into pigment that is probably needed to focus on the pieces and parts that might answer my question.

    My thinking is that strong, vibrant pigment (if the genetics are in place) requires efficient utilization of nutrient in the skin layers, and efficient elimination of wastes from the individual cells... not just color cells, but also in respect to guanine and the like. The important aspects would be the nutrition the koi are receiving (and I do not mean 'color food') and the oxygen necessary for efficient utilization.

    We could approximate the optimal level by choosing, say 73F as an optimal temperature and then using the oxygen saturation level at that temperature. However, is the optimal temperature 73F or is it 76F? Or, could it be 68F? And, what makes a particular temperature optimal? Could it be that it varies according to the oxygen level actually experienced? That is, in one pond perhaps a temperature of 72F is best, while in one with lots of aeration continuously maintaining saturation levels of oxygen, a temperature of 76F is best?

    Perhaps if we knew the optimal level of oxygen for the metabolic processes within the skin of a koi, we could better 'fine tune' our koikeeping. Or, at least know more about those summertime blues getting them down.

    In the meantime... more aeration.

  2. #2
    Daihonmei
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    A discussion on another board commenced with a question of what is the optimal oxygen level for koi. The quick answer was, of course, saturation level... which really did not answer the question. Saturation at 100F is not going to keep a koi alive.

    I have been wondering about optimal oxygen levels for some time, but do not have an answer. My thinking began with the oft-observed problem of koi beni degrading in warm climates to a greater degree than in cooler climates. I have observed how pigments take on a bit of a worn look in the heat of Summer and regain lustre as the temperatures moderate. In cool water, the colors always seem brighter. I have thought of these effects as directly related to temperature. Some months ago, however, I began to think about the indirect effects of warm water in the form of lower oxygen availability. I have checked around on the internet, but have not located any literature that has helped me. Of course, I've not spent the time to do the sort of thorough research into pigment that is probably needed to focus on the pieces and parts that might answer my question.

    My thinking is that strong, vibrant pigment (if the genetics are in place) requires efficient utilization of nutrient in the skin layers, and efficient elimination of wastes from the individual cells... not just color cells, but also in respect to guanine and the like. The important aspects would be the nutrition the koi are receiving (and I do not mean 'color food') and the oxygen necessary for efficient utilization.

    We could approximate the optimal level by choosing, say 73F as an optimal temperature and then using the oxygen saturation level at that temperature. However, is the optimal temperature 73F or is it 76F? Or, could it be 68F? And, what makes a particular temperature optimal? Could it be that it varies according to the oxygen level actually experienced? That is, in one pond perhaps a temperature of 72F is best, while in one with lots of aeration continuously maintaining saturation levels of oxygen, a temperature of 76F is best?

    Perhaps if we knew the optimal level of oxygen for the metabolic processes within the skin of a koi, we could better 'fine tune' our koikeeping. Or, at least know more about those summertime blues getting them down.

    In the meantime... more aeration.
    Absolutely right on Mike. And like everything in koi, there is a 'lite' answer and a deeper more thought out answer. As you know Mike, I often bering these conversations of 'koi needs' back to the gradations of husbandry. That is, kept alive/survive or flourish.

    As it happens, Koi are carp and carp don't require a lot of oxygen compared to species of fish. I recently bought 10 baby cardinal tetras to add to my school of cardinals and the kid netting them bagged and boxed them without me watching. It was a twenty minute ride home and when I got to 'tanks side' and unpacked the plastic bag, 7 of the 10 were dead! The netter had not put any oxygen or air into the bag and closed/elastic band it 100% full of water. When stress somes on those fish need oxygen!

    studies have shown carp surviving in muddy water conditions with as low as 1 ! And our friends in the Rockies know how low their oxygen and ORP are due to altitude. And those hobbyists keeping fish on balconies in south east asia also have 90F water with next to no oxygen in it! True they have plants in the puddles but plants TAKE oxygen OUT of the water at night time! Yiks!!

    So koi are a weak version of carp. And depending on age, size and stocking levels can with stand fairly low saturation levels and still be alive in the morning. But IF stress becomes too great or the fish is a new important, they might not be alive in the morning!
    I have seen fish die coming to koi shows but there is usually a reason beyond just oxygen-- chlorinated water, or water doses with formaldahyde compounds ( dopey bottled porducts)

    But if you are at the level of pursuing 'flourishing' of a collection-- staturation is the goal and the temperature range is 68F to 82F in high summer.
    For the hard core master hobbyist, ORP becomes the advanced way to see oxygen as we soon learn to get a good ORP reading without cooking the pH reading you do need a great oxygen level. But I digress-- JR

  3. #3
    Sansai
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    A discussion on another board commenced with a question of what is the optimal oxygen level for koi. The quick answer was, of course, saturation level... which really did not answer the question. Saturation at 100F is not going to keep a koi alive.

    I have been wondering about optimal oxygen levels for some time, but do not have an answer. My thinking began with the oft-observed problem of koi beni degrading in warm climates to a greater degree than in cooler climates. I have observed how pigments take on a bit of a worn look in the heat of Summer and regain lustre as the temperatures moderate. In cool water, the colors always seem brighter. I have thought of these effects as directly related to temperature. Some months ago, however, I began to think about the indirect effects of warm water in the form of lower oxygen availability. I have checked around on the internet, but have not located any literature that has helped me. Of course, I've not spent the time to do the sort of thorough research into pigment that is probably needed to focus on the pieces and parts that might answer my question.

    My thinking is that strong, vibrant pigment (if the genetics are in place) requires efficient utilization of nutrient in the skin layers, and efficient elimination of wastes from the individual cells... not just color cells, but also in respect to guanine and the like. The important aspects would be the nutrition the koi are receiving (and I do not mean 'color food') and the oxygen necessary for efficient utilization.

    We could approximate the optimal level by choosing, say 73F as an optimal temperature and then using the oxygen saturation level at that temperature. However, is the optimal temperature 73F or is it 76F? Or, could it be 68F? And, what makes a particular temperature optimal? Could it be that it varies according to the oxygen level actually experienced? That is, in one pond perhaps a temperature of 72F is best, while in one with lots of aeration continuously maintaining saturation levels of oxygen, a temperature of 76F is best?

    Perhaps if we knew the optimal level of oxygen for the metabolic processes within the skin of a koi, we could better 'fine tune' our koikeeping. Or, at least know more about those summertime blues getting them down.

    In the meantime... more aeration.
    Hi Mike:

    Without measuring dissolved oxygen (DO) content at multiple points in a system, I find the whole notion of assuming "saturation" a little premature.

    I think the bubbling "hot tub spas" that breeders are growing their fish are likely near O2 saturation. But I don't see many folks measuring their ponds/tanks etc... especially at multiple levels or multiple sites. I do recall a hobbyist measuring DO and KH at their bead filter inlet and outlet and finding a significant difference in both.

    Philosophy stops and science starts when things get measured.

    -t

  4. #4
    Tategoi hewhoisatpeace's Avatar
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    Don't forget, Mike, the bacterial requirement for O2. The more biological conversion area available, combined with the stocking density of the pond, will determine the level of nitrifiers that are pulling O2 from the water. The nitrifiers will get the required O2, and the fish will get what's left over. I have heard the numbers 3-4 mg/L thrown around, but doubt that applies too rigorously when stocking density and biological conversion is high. If the water gets to 80oF, I start to panic a bit.

  5. #5
    Daihonmei
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    Quote Originally Posted by hewhoisatpeace View Post
    Don't forget, Mike, the bacterial requirement for O2. The more biological conversion area available, combined with the stocking density of the pond, will determine the level of nitrifiers that are pulling O2 from the water. The nitrifiers will get the required O2, and the fish will get what's left over. I have heard the numbers 3-4 mg/L thrown around, but doubt that applies too rigorously when stocking density and biological conversion is high. If the water gets to 80oF, I start to panic a bit.

    true. But as long as water is moving, gas exchange/transfer from the atmosphere will happen. Indeed, try and stop it! You can't.

    a poster pointed out that the oxygen levels were lower on the return of the bubble bead filter and that makes the point. Closed containers will 'exhaust' the ambient ammonia in a closed container IF biological activity and mineralization is huge within. But once the water is re-exposed to the atmosphere, oxygen will transfer to the low oxygen water so as to equalize. BUT if the pond is loaded with carbon dioxide ( which is also transferring to the atmosphere) and the water is warm ( saturation for temperature) you might indeed be near a crash. Stocking levels are of course, the key and source to 90% of these issues. Best, JR

  6. #6
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    An aspect of the factors I've been considering is the possible effect of certain amino acids in the utilization of oxygen in the metabolic processes within the skin, particularly when oxygen availability is reduced due to warm water temperatures.

    One is L-dopa or Dihydroxyphenylalanine. Some say it is an 'anti-nutrient' factor for koi because it can reduce efficient oxygen utilization. An old article touches on this:

    Effect of Phenolic Non-Protein Amino Acid L-Dopa (L-3,4-Dihydroxyphenylalanine) On Growth Performance, Metabolic Rates and Feed Nutrient Utilization of Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio)
    Aquaculture Nutrition
    Volume 8, Issue 1, pages 69–77, March 2002, P. SIDDHURAJU, K. BECKER.


    Two experiments (I and II) were conducted to evaluate the effect of nonprotein phenolic amino acid, l-dopa (l-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine) on growth, metabolism and feed assimilation of common carp. Six isonitrogenous and isoenergetic diets (diets 1–6 containing 0, 2.5, 7.0, 14, 28 and 56 g kg–1l-dopa, respectively) were prepared by replacing wheat meal in the feed with l-dopa. For experiment I (8-week duration), each treatment had two replicates with five fish each per replicate (mean initial body mass of 13.4 ± 1.0 g), whereas five groups of carp, each consisting of three fish, individually kept in respiration chambers, giving three replicates per treatment with a mean body mass of 25.0 ± 1.8 g were used for experiment II (4-week duration). Fish were fed six times their maintenance ration daily (3.2 g feed kg–0.8 day–1). No fish died during either experiment. In experiment I, the growth rate, feed conversion ratio (FCR), protein efficiency ratio (PER) and apparent net protein utilization (ANPU) of carp fed diets 1, 2 and 3 were similar but they were significantly (P < 0.05) higher than those in dietary groups 4, 5 and 6. However, no significant differences were observed with regard to body composition (moisture, protein, lipid, ash and energy contents) between control (1) and the diets 2, 3, 4 and 5. Fish fed diet 6 had reduced lipid and energy contents (P < 0.05) when compared with other dietary groups. In experiment II, l-dopa significantly increased the oxygen consumption per unit body weight gain in treatments 4, 5 and 6. The average metabolic rate also tended to be higher in these groups. The energy expenditure was similar in treatment groups, but the energy retention was significantly lower and energy dissipated significantly higher in dietary groups 4, 5 and 6. The cholesterol level in blood plasma between the control and l-dopa containing diets was not significantly different. It may be concluded that at higher inclusion rates (>7 g kg–1) l-dopa appears to be a major antinutrient and hence the protein sources of plant origin, containing high amounts of l-dopa (i.e. mucuna beans) should be used with caution as fish meal substitutes in carp diets.


    I am not aware of any koi foods using mucuna beans. However, other beans and vegetative protein sources in general have a tendency toward higher L-dopa levels than, say, animal protein sources. It is not anything I'd get too worked up about in most circumstances. I am thinking, however, that there could be a positive effect in warm water conditions in prefering marine animal-based protein over vegetative proteins in the foods selected. I do not think the L-dopa negative effects of using, say wheatgerm, would amount to much of anything in normal conditions. Perhaps in prolonged warm water conditions, when oxygen availability is reduced, it would be better to disfavor wheatgerm for a more pure marine animal based food.

    This is rather contrarian thinking, as we normally think of warm water as the time to limit protein intake due to inefficiency in the metabolism of koi at high temperatures. I am thinking that limiting total food intake may be appropriate, but with the food given being less vegetable-based and more animal-based.

    Just thoughts at this point. I have reached no conclusions.

  7. #7
    Tategoi hewhoisatpeace's Avatar
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    Nice study, Mike. Parallels my research, and reason for using 49% fish meal protein food year 'round. Just varying the amount, I think that is where the trick is.

  8. #8
    Daihonmei
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    An aspect of the factors I've been considering is the possible effect of certain amino acids in the utilization of oxygen in the metabolic processes within the skin, particularly when oxygen availability is reduced due to warm water temperatures.

    One is L-dopa or Dihydroxyphenylalanine. Some say it is an 'anti-nutrient' factor for koi because it can reduce efficient oxygen utilization. An old article touches on this:

    Effect of Phenolic Non-Protein Amino Acid L-Dopa (L-3,4-Dihydroxyphenylalanine) On Growth Performance, Metabolic Rates and Feed Nutrient Utilization of Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio)
    Aquaculture Nutrition
    Volume 8, Issue 1, pages 69–77, March 2002, P. SIDDHURAJU, K. BECKER.


    Two experiments (I and II) were conducted to evaluate the effect of nonprotein phenolic amino acid, l-dopa (l-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine) on growth, metabolism and feed assimilation of common carp. Six isonitrogenous and isoenergetic diets (diets 1–6 containing 0, 2.5, 7.0, 14, 28 and 56 g kg–1l-dopa, respectively) were prepared by replacing wheat meal in the feed with l-dopa. For experiment I (8-week duration), each treatment had two replicates with five fish each per replicate (mean initial body mass of 13.4 ± 1.0 g), whereas five groups of carp, each consisting of three fish, individually kept in respiration chambers, giving three replicates per treatment with a mean body mass of 25.0 ± 1.8 g were used for experiment II (4-week duration). Fish were fed six times their maintenance ration daily (3.2 g feed kg–0.8 day–1). No fish died during either experiment. In experiment I, the growth rate, feed conversion ratio (FCR), protein efficiency ratio (PER) and apparent net protein utilization (ANPU) of carp fed diets 1, 2 and 3 were similar but they were significantly (P < 0.05) higher than those in dietary groups 4, 5 and 6. However, no significant differences were observed with regard to body composition (moisture, protein, lipid, ash and energy contents) between control (1) and the diets 2, 3, 4 and 5. Fish fed diet 6 had reduced lipid and energy contents (P < 0.05) when compared with other dietary groups. In experiment II, l-dopa significantly increased the oxygen consumption per unit body weight gain in treatments 4, 5 and 6. The average metabolic rate also tended to be higher in these groups. The energy expenditure was similar in treatment groups, but the energy retention was significantly lower and energy dissipated significantly higher in dietary groups 4, 5 and 6. The cholesterol level in blood plasma between the control and l-dopa containing diets was not significantly different. It may be concluded that at higher inclusion rates (>7 g kg–1) l-dopa appears to be a major antinutrient and hence the protein sources of plant origin, containing high amounts of l-dopa (i.e. mucuna beans) should be used with caution as fish meal substitutes in carp diets.


    I am not aware of any koi foods using mucuna beans. However, other beans and vegetative protein sources in general have a tendency toward higher L-dopa levels than, say, animal protein sources. It is not anything I'd get too worked up about in most circumstances. I am thinking, however, that there could be a positive effect in warm water conditions in prefering marine animal-based protein over vegetative proteins in the foods selected. I do not think the L-dopa negative effects of using, say wheatgerm, would amount to much of anything in normal conditions. Perhaps in prolonged warm water conditions, when oxygen availability is reduced, it would be better to disfavor wheatgerm for a more pure marine animal based food.

    This is rather contrarian thinking, as we normally think of warm water as the time to limit protein intake due to inefficiency in the metabolism of koi at high temperatures. I am thinking that limiting total food intake may be appropriate, but with the food given being less vegetable-based and more animal-based.

    Just thoughts at this point. I have reached no conclusions.
    No, I think that is a really good point. We can look at koi skins on many levels-- as a 'canvas' for the pattern 'painting' or as an organ that processes and and holds metabolites from the body.
    It has been an understanding since the Japanese first started keeping koi that the skin would be 'drained' of 'impurities during winter fast or with the use of certain foods ( streamed veggies being a favorite- for another thread). This gave way to a ton of rituals and beliefs, some of which are now seen as myths.
    So pick your proof-- technical scientific papers or mystical rituals for cleaning the koi's skin-- all lead to one conclusion-- skin is a living organ of koi that has been modified with a series of mutation characteristics. But it fundamentally functions the same way carp skin functioned 40,000 years ago. The advanced koi student knows why serious koi shows are held in autumn and winter-- that is when water is cool, koi are eating lee and oxygen levels are HIGH. Cold water holds more oxygen. But in addition to this, the water quality is also higher in cooler water. This is because ORP is higher, oxidation is higher and biological activity is generally LOWER. Oppsss, another 'chicken or the egg' truth in koi! JR

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