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Thread: Quarantine Protocols

  1. #1
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Quarantine Protocols

    A post on another board got me thinking about quarantine protocols used by folks. When I went searching for what could be called a 'standard' approach, I did not come across anything I would put forward as 'standard'. There is huge variation. And, it is clear that what a lot of folks recommend to others is not what they do themselves.

    In the 1990s and even into the early years of the 21st century, koi boards were all about diseases and treatment. In the U.S., the most popular koi discussion forum was Koi Vet, which tells you that keeping koi alive was the challenge. Until the focus shifted to preaching water quality, health issues were common among nearly all hobbyists. With that health focus, the constant mantra was: 'Quarantine, quarantine, quarantine!' The rise of KHV underscored the point. Lately, we do not hear much about quarantining. Has it become so common a practice that the issue does not arise?

    Here are two approaches posted on this board in past threads that indicate what I think are the extremes:

    Kntry's Quarantine Process: My QT is quite lengthy but I'm anal about my collection. I just received 3 new koi about 3 weeks ago. They went into QT, covered tightly, and will stay there till next Spring. They will go through our hot Louisiana summer and then winter and Spring in QT. I'm relatively certain they are KHV free but one can't take too many chances. In another month or so, I'll add a fish from my pond to stay with them till Spring. All ponds have different bugs that the inhabitants are "immune" to so mixing in one of your fish with the new ones, in QT, will help everyone adjust and let you know if there are any problems with the new fish. 2-3 weeks is not enough time to tell you anything. Most people usually do about 3 months of QT. They also have a short summer so the fish can go through a heat/cool cycle within that time. Our summer starts in March and ends in December.

    RicShaw: I am not anal and have never quarantined a Koi in over 30 years of Koi keeping! Did I mention that I still have one of the first three Koi we bought 31 years ago? Why? Because I am basically lazy and I know that more Koi probably die in inadequate quarantine tanks than from some disease they got from some new fish. But it would be very irresponsible, especially with KHV, to not encourage others to ALWAYS QUARANTINE NEW FISH BEFORE PUTTING THEM IN YOUR POND. Yes, I have had some disease problems over the years, but I doubt that a quarantine tank would have help. I also have had two ponds for most of the 31 years I have kept Koi so I do have a way of separating fish if needed. For example; this year I bought 4 small "grow out" Koi from three different dealers (I trust). I put all four Koi in my main pond. I also bought a Koi at the SoCal ZNA auction. I "quarantined" this Koi by putting it in my smaller 1200 gallon pond, just in case it was harboring KHV.

    Let's be frank. Hardly anyone is going to quarantine for nearly a year like Sandy [Kntry] does. Indeed, hardly anyone is going to quarantine for the 3 full months she posted as being what 'most' do. (I don't think most do, Sandy.) So, what is a 'standard quarantine protocol' that is practical ??
    Last edited by MikeM; 07-02-2014 at 09:22 AM. Reason: spacing

  2. #2
    Daihonmei dick benbow's Avatar
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    Well if we look at human behavior and what has happened because of our convenient use of anti-biotics ( stop using once you feel better,not taking full precription. thus causing resistant bugs) convenience can cause problems. So Sandy's concept is a little overkill but if you must error, maybe better to the extreme. I can also see Richard's point. He's been sucessful thru careful practices as to whom he deals with. Trouble with most viruses is that it can lay dormant till triggered. I do agree that most folks do not put the investment or expertise into building a proper QT tank. When you look at the perolous journey fish make from Japan where they are not feed, mixed, not fed, divided again for orders, they have gone thru a lot to get here.

    Ultimately you owe yourself, your fish and the hobby should you choose to QT, to follow accepted protocol which involves 6-8 weeks of isolation (2 or more fish, nothing alone) and temperture range adjustment to provoke a possible trigger. News of pond kills is a negative factor in the hobby for recruiting more interest.

    In a perfect world the dealer has such a fabulous regiment and facility so that purchases go out properly prepared
    Dick Benbow

  3. #3
    Sansai
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    My opinion would be that, I don't think you can have a standard protocol of methodology

    You can have a standard of ideology that you should quarantine.......and what measures to consider and why with regard to differing variables....

    but until you know all the ins and outs of each persons own pond, filtration, water, stocking rates, climate, environment, source of the koi themselves, koi ages koi sizes, time of year, etc, etc.....not sure how much of a "standard" protocol can be put into place.....

    What works for me, my pond, my koi, certainly will not work for someone in Oregon, etc....

  4. #4
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dick benbow View Post
    In a perfect world the dealer has such a fabulous regiment and facility so that purchases go out properly prepared
    Trusted dealers may not have fabulous quarantine regiments, but many (most?) hobbyist in So Cal take purchased Koi home and put into their ponds without quarantine. I have seen a change in attitude towards Koi club members putting plants and/or Koi from private collections into their ponds.

    A properly size and prepared quarantine pond would be a luxury for most Koi hobbyist.

  5. #5
    Sansai almostgeorgia's Avatar
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    Wow, Mike, you really like to stir things up on a lazy, hot, summer afternoon, don't you? Next to recommended 'feeding protocols', I can't think of another Third Rail subject like Quarantine Procedures to bring out a lot of impassioned opinions in a hurry on this forum!

    OK, I'll jump right in with my dos centavos..... While never for a moment doubting the considerable fish keeping abilities of such experienced koi-kichi as Sister Sandy and the venerable Ricshaw, like most things in life, I like to think the sweet spot on this subject probably lies somewhere between a nearly year long quarantine regimen and a 'laissez-faire' program of straight-into-the-pond. In the end, I suppose the BEST program is the one you end up feeling comfortable with, and more importantly, have enjoyed the best results employing in your pond.

    As a starter for consideration, I would provide to the reader a well named 'Aggressive Quarantine Protocol' PDF penned by Noel Shaw back in 2007 and found in my prodigious search for information on this very subject when I first entered the hobby. Though I feel it is 'chemically' a bit heavy handed by today's standards, I personally follow much of it, especially the sought for temperature ranges and timeline suggestions:

    http://www.vskc.net/Member_Input/Q2-...T_PROTOCOL.pdf

    I would hasten to add, I certainly agree with Brother Ricshaw and his comments, above, in this regard, 'A properly size and prepared quarantine pond would be a luxury for most Koi hobbyists'. How many of us have observed a large koi, or large number of koi crammed into a too small, poorly filtered QT? A live fish coming out of some of these situations is truly an example of 'survival of the fittest'.

    I'm also personally equally aghast at some well intentioned, and well read koi-kichi I know who regularly bombard their new charges on the very first day in the QT with a veritable barrage of harsh medicines and chemical agents. All this with the idea that the process will certainly 'cure 'em of anything that ails 'em'. How many of us would willingly go to a new doctor for our first physical and let him/her start treating us with all sorts of exotic agents on the off chance we just might be in need of this or that particular drug treatment? The best advise I've heard in this regard is to first watch, wait and observe your new fish in a QT for a good, long period of time. This before you even think about treating with ANYTHING other than perhaps a general .3% salt solution. In short, No Indication, no diagnosis -- No DRUGS!

    As for the general Southern California philosophy of 'trust-your-dealer' as mentioned above, I'd certainly welcome other comments from that region to hear if that is now a generally accepted practice amongst the more experienced koi-cognoscenti in the area. It's true, an adequate quarantine system can be expensive to build and maintain, let alone taking up the space many of simply don't have enough of.

    But if you want to read a harrowing, and ultimately profoundly sad saga of what can happen when one doesn't follow a quarantine program, read no further than the epic 'Dang ol' Mango' thread right here on this forum. It's 35 pages long, and I probably needn't remind everyone of anything more than the general arc of the story. The original author purchased two fish from two different dealers he trusted at a major koi show and placed them both directly into his pond. The photos of the resultant wheelbarrow loads of very beautiful, but very dead koi going into the garden for burial should be enough for anyone presently without a quarantine tank to seriously give pause and think about setting something up.

    OK, getting down off my soap-box now...... Next!
    ricshaw likes this.

  6. #6
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
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    I like almostgeorgia's post!

    I also like Noel Shaw's "Aggressive Quarantine Protocol" pdf.

    Mr. Shaw and I agree that a quarantine pond should be a long term care facility.

    I tell people, if you can't keep one of your healthy Koi alive in your quarantine pond for 6 months, how can you expect a new stressed Koi to survive?

    In short, No Indication, no diagnosis -- No DRUGS!
    How does that work on KHV carriers?

  7. #7
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    The Noel Shaw protocol is as aggressive as I've ever seen. He acknowledges risking survival at the initial steps. I would not categorize it as practical. But, I'm sure the koi that survive the protocol will be as low risk as one could have.

    I agree with Ric about needing a fully operational second pond (which may be purely utilitarian) to have a truly effective quarantine protocol. The quarantine period to address KHV is simply too long for a temporary set-up. The simple quarantine tank is OK for a period of days/weeks; but when the quarantine is for months, it has to be a system that can promote the full development of the koi. Few people will have a second pond and have to rely on a more temporary set-up. So, their quarantine period will have to be comparatively short, or limited to very small koi that the set-up can allow to grow.

    Question: Is anyone actually quarantining new arrivals for KHV?.... using warming cycles, etc?

    My impression is that those concerned about KHV acquire fish only from trusted sources, do not take unwanted koi from other hobbyists and never would allow 'rescue koi' on their property. But, do not have the facilities for KHV quarantining. I think there are a lot more who really exhibit no concern about KHV at all, although they may talk about it.

  8. #8
    Sansai
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    I am fortunate to have a (roughly) 2000 gal quarantine pond (kinda sorta), no I do not do the heat cycle, but on further thought I have only gotten fish from the same 3 sources over the years and I do trust them implicitly...

    I could do the heat cycles, as I also have a 265 US gallon hospital tank.

    The nice thing about that hospital tank and its capacity (264-265 US gallons) = a metric tonne or 1000L, which makes your dosing of medications and calculation of PPM, etc, a rather easy calculation and/or conversion (thanks to Steve Childers for drilling that into my thick skull)

  9. #9
    Jumbo Akai-San's Avatar
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    I guess I fall into the 4-6 month quarantine regiment, some times longer if the fish are small. Hawaii gets hot and cool, but does not have the temperature swings like the mainland. I guess our temperate climate is relatively the same all year long. Except for winter rainy season (Dec.-Feb). I do find it shocking if a good amount of Koi Keepers do NOT use QT facilities. Even locally, I have heard horror stories of our koi club members (experienced folks) losing almost their whole pond to bugs from a new fish. Sad, but the stories are true.

    With limited pond space, my QT is currently serving two roles. One as a QT and also as a temporary summer grow out for three Kohaku tosai. Having the spare 300 gallon tank with established biological filtration has been a great asset. I like to tinker with systems, so having two similar (but different) filtration systems has really taught me a lot about water keeping. Twice the amount of hands on learning for maintaining, treating and improving water quality.

    I am planning another test system for a aquaponics project with my son. Can this be used as a QT and growout for 3"-4" tateshita? Just looking for an excuse to building another home made filter.

  10. #10
    Sansai almostgeorgia's Avatar
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    Mike, I respectfully have to disagree with your comment that one needs a fully 'operational second pond' as a suitable Q system, but perhaps the devil is in the details of one's definition of a suitable set-up. I have seen elsewhere, and own one myself, a 400+ gal free-standing tank that is both biologically and mechanically filtered, and even arrayed with a UV lamp as necessary. Of course, even bigger containers with more volume are desirable and will certainly handle more fish. But including a bottom drain, aeration, and strong water return for vigorous circulation, I believe you could keep the appropriate number of fish in a similar set-up almost indefinitely. And such a set-up should be do-able and within a budget of $2,500 or much less, especially for the handy DIYer. A small investment indeed when you're talking about the risks, otherwise, to your entire fish collection.

    Perhaps most critical to this equation of such a relatively simple but effective QT is my assumption that the majority of us tend to bring in a few tosai/nisai, or the occasional 20" fish as additions to our pond each year. Assuming you are not buying a large number of fish simultaneously, a QT of this size should prove more than adequate for quite a period of time. As we are talking above-ground, this sort of set up works especially well, of course, in a warmer weather climate or a heated garage if necessary. If one is, however, importing numerous 65+bu new 'babies' into your pond, I believe a true second 'Quarantine Pond' is certainly called for. I also suspect if one's pocket book can cover the price of some high quality domestic and Japanese 'big girls' on a regular basis, one would also have the financial wherewithal and space to construct a fully functional and dedicated separate pond.

    But while I'm being so bold as to offer a differing opinion here on a couple of things, may I add that I also question the need for the overly lengthy quarantine protocols to intercept the KHV virus? We've all heard the horror stories of 'sleeper' carriers that introduce this deadly virus to a pond after many months or even a full year of quarantine. But most of the responsible and documented literature I can find on the internet (and there is a surprisingly great deal of material available out there) suggests keeping fish in the KHV sweet-spot, temperature wise, for just a few weeks will normally let you know if you are dealing with the virus under the vast majority of circumstances.

    In closing, I'm not trying to ruffle feathers or refute the considerable koi keeping knowledge and expertise some of the previous authors have brought to this important subject and thread. I just feel we might be doing a bit of a disservice to some readers who might come to believe a good, healthy QT is outside of their financial reach, or that it is not worth the work and time to build one. Should we discourage ALL quarantining against KHV because of the very slim chance that a hidden-carrier just might slip by even the most draconian and stringent of protocols, or has been reputed to do so? It's to the hobby's credit that KHV seems to have largely been brought to heal, but if nothing else, as DaleRG points out, keeping fish in a smaller, but suitably sized QT, provides better, more cost effective medicinal treatment and health control measures than doing so in full sized pond.

    Now, once again, stepping down out of the pulpit. And thus endeth the sermon on the 'goodliness' of righteous quarantining!

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