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Thread: Koi (shusui) has scale issues

  1. #1
    Tosai
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    Jul
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    15

    Koi (shusui) has scale issues



    I think my koi in question is a Shusui. It is white and scaleless except near its dorsal area. I have him and a Sanke for about 18 years. They live there summers outside in a small 200 gal concrete pond and are wintered inside ( southern NY state). This spring I installed a 1500 gal pond for them along with 7 goldfish. The Koi are approx. 20" long. They were happy in there new home for about 2 weeks then I notice the white one flashing and Jumping. This was after a heavy rain storm and suspected run-off from the surrounding mulch may have been the culprit. I changed approximately 15% of the water and tested the water for KH, Ammonia, Copper, Phosphate, PH and Nitrite all were fine.

    The koi was getting worse had red streaking on his fins and body along with a raised red infected scale on his back. I started to consider parasites.
    At this point I remove both koi and returned them to the concrete pond for treatment. I inspected them and did not see Anchor worms or lice however I think there was a black worm under one scale I tried to remove it and it fell apart. Looking back now I suspect it was pond debris.
    I treated the small pond with Tetra pond fish treatment. In 2 days he was better. I retuned both to there new home this past Saturday 7/25/, by Tuesday the raised infected scale on the white koi's back re-appeared in the same spot. This seems to be the only issue now he is eating and swimming normally. I hate to have to stress him again with another move. Cannot figure out what is going on. I was hoping to keep them in the pond this winter.
    Was wondering if anyone may know what this can be?

    Thanks

    Doug
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Koi (shusui) has scale issues-white-koi-before-treatmentimg_8674.jpg   Koi (shusui) has scale issues-white-koi-injury.jpg   Koi (shusui) has scale issues-white-koiimg_8666.jpg  

  2. #2
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    The photos show red streaking in the fins and along the side of the body. I am guessing that the photos were taken when he was worse??

    It is not possible to give you a diagnosis via the internet. All that can be done is to give you some guesses that might help you figure it out. My first suggestion is that you check for a koi club near you and see if the club has some members who can check out the fish in person. Most clubs have a member or three who enjoy visiting and helping figure out health issues.

    My guess is that the move to the new pond resulted in ammonia issues. New ponds usually do. The goldfish likely carried some parasites. Pet shop goldfish usually do. The flashing by the koi could have been caused by water issues (ammonia/nitrite or even pH adjustments) and/or parasites. If it was parasites and the koi was treated in the old pond without the new pond being treated, there would still be parasites in the new pond to re-infect. You say the water tests were 'fine', but do not say what the readings were. Any detectable ammonia or nitrite is detrimental. Since you have had the koi for so long, you likely know this, but I point it out just in case. It is often said that Doitsu koi are more sensitive to water conditions than scaled koi. I do not know if this is really true, or if it is a matter of Doitsu showing symptoms more readily. In either event, the reddening of the fins often coincides with water quality problems. It can also occur as a result of rough handling, reaction to parasites, bacterial infections.... even the koi flashing.

    You do not mention how the other koi was doing. I am guessing that it was fine throughout. If so, it would cast doubt on parasites being involved. Some koi seem to be more susceptible to parasites than others, and Doitsu are often the first to show signs of a parasite infestation, but it is rare for parasites to attack only one koi and leave the others alone.

    Assuming the red truly has gone away and only one scale is now affected, it sounds as if the koi could have a bacterial infection at that scale. It could be the result of an injury from flashing or running into something. There are topical treatments that could be used, but applying them requires sedating the koi. Without sedation, there is high risk of causing more injury. If there is still reddening of the fins, there might be an internal infection involved. If the reddening includes red flushes on the abdomen, an internal infection is likely. If the red discoloration is gone from the fins, It sounds as if the koi is improving and no intervention is necessary, just watch the scale carefully and act if it does not improve.

    If you conclude that a bacterial infection is involved and that sedating a koi is beyond your capability, you will need to use an antibiotic. The best approach is injectable antibiotics, but if you are not ready to take on sedating a koi, injecting antibiotics is not going to work either. Your best choice would then be to use one of the medicated koi foods per the directions. There is much that is negative about medicated foods.... not controlling the dosage, sick fish not eating as much as healthy ones, etc., etc. But, it is an easy way for the ordinary pondkeeper to deal with an infection, if the koi is eating. There is a Blackwater brand medicated food that is reportedly as effective as any, more reasonably priced that many, and readily available from the major internet koi supply outlets... Webb's, Foster & Smith, etc.

    Before going overboard on spending money on medications, however, I would suggest going back to basics first. Be certain there is no detectable ammonia or nitrite whatsoever. If in doubt (and many color strip tests leave lots of room for doubt), apply an ammonia binder to take care of any ammonia and add some salt (0.1ppm is enough) to help protect the fish from nitrite. And, be sure to perform water changes every week. My recommendation is a minimum 20% water change weekly. (If you are careful to avoid large fluctuations in pH/temperature, a weekly water change of 30-40% is good). Be sure to neutralize chlorine. And if chloramines are used in your water, use a little ammonia binder. Whatever may be the cause of your koi's problems, having excellent water goes a long way in helping a fish heal itself.

    I hope these guesses and thoughts help you find a solution. good luck!

  3. #3
    Tosai
    Join Date
    Jul
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    15
    Thanks for your advice. Yes! these were before and after pictures. The wound near his dorsal fin is a concern.
    The goldfish were born in the old pond and are as old as the koi . All are doing well except the Doitsu. I have had the water professionally tested as well as by myself. The ammonia and nitrite are not detectable. I will do a full test later today and note the results.
    I take the water from the bottom of the pond thinking this would probably have the highest concentration of containments. I used water from the tanks that they were in for the winter and let the pond acclimate two weeks before introducing the fish. The Doitsu was fine up to the time we had a major rainstorm.
    I am feeing him medicated food but ,as you said, they are all eating it. Keeping an eye on him. May try taking him out and trying a topical treatment. Otherwise he is eating, dorsal fin is up and he is interacting with the other fish. Was concerned about anchor worm.
    I do water changes but am concerned because it is "city" water and is chlorinated and has fluoride added. I do the changes in smaller increments and remove it from the bottom of the pond. Hard to remove 160 gal+. Have to syphon the water out.
    Buy the way the pond is about 1575-1600 gal. The deepest point is 36" ( 30" recommended in my area for wintering) It is approx. 11' x 8' with (2) shelves for potted plants ( koi had fun with these).
    It has a skimmer and 2 tier water fall and under gravel filter (perforated tubing below, pumped through gravel deposits the water near the skimmer, I know not the best. The installer swears by this system been doing this for 20 years. Told me that it would need a major cleaning every 5 years, (do not believe this). I will add an external filter next spring.

    Thanks again,

  4. #4
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Do not worry about fluoride in the water. It may actually be as beneficial for the koi as it is for people. Chlorine is readily neutralized with sodium thiosulfate, which is very cheap when purchased in bulk dry crystals.

    The undergravel filter concept was popularized in the aquarium hobby in the 1960s. You will not see it much used for aquaria anymore because it resulted in the gravel becoming an anaerobic source of harmful gasses. All waste, uneaten food and debris is trapped in the gravel where it decomposes. This can work in a water garden with no fish or just a few goldfish, but it quickly becomes a source of harmful toxins when there are many fish or the level of feeding required for koi. When you can, it will be best for you to eliminate the gravel, install a bottom drain (retro drain units are available) and rely on external filtration where all of the waste and debris can be trapped and removed frequently. There are many pond installers in the U.S. that build ponds and then put a layer of gravel on the bottom. Having the undergravel filter is better than what is generally done, but it has proved to be far less successful than using external filtration with a clean pond bottom.

  5. #5
    Tosai
    Join Date
    Jul
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    Hi Mike,

    I hear you. Just installed the pond in June. Was planning on changing over to a reto bottom drain next Spring. I would have to have the installer remove the gravel and under gravel plumbing. I was considering just shutting off the pump and abandoning the under gravel system for the winter, now I think that is a bad idea. At least it will keep the toxins below the gravel. Just concerned about the water temps. I want to leave out the Koi, and some of the goldfish. I will be taking in my Calico and two others that have breathing issues (jumping for air) These guys were born that way and exhibited the same issue inside since birth.

    So far I see no problems water seems fine. Though my Doitsu still has that raised scale or infection issue . Not getting any worse but not getting better. He is eating and swimming normally, having fun pulling all the plantings out.
    I will post the water data and possibly more pictures later today or early tomorrow.

    I appreciate your help.

    Thanks again

    Doug

  6. #6
    Tosai
    Join Date
    Jul
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    15
    Mike,

    A follow up. Did a water test this evening.

    Ammonia 0 ppm
    Phosphate between .5 and 1
    Nitrite between o and .25
    PH. 7.5
    KH 143+
    Some of these a boarder line I will try again in the AM. Did a water change on Saturday but also added tetra pond fish treatment. This may have changed the numbers. Problem I am not sure of the exact number of gallons. due to the "kidney" shape and (2) shelves set approx. 16" below the surface I figured between 1500 and 1600 gal. so dosing can be an issue. In any case it did not work this time.


    Thanks

    Doug

  7. #7
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    The only reading that causes me any concern is that there seems to be some detectable nitrite.

    The best way to determine gallonage of the pond is to start with it empty, turn off all water usage in the house, and then use the house water meter to measure how much it takes to fill the pond (noting before/after readings at the meter).

    When that is not possible, try the 'salinity test' put forward many years ago by Norm Meck. An article by him explaining it:



    For any pond treatment, it is necessary to know the amount of water in the entire pond system fairly accurately. Unfortunately, most pond keepers do not use a water meter when initially filling their ponds and therefore end up with a guess as to the actual amount. If the pond system is made up of regularly shaped features, the volume can be calculated with some degree of accuracy. This article provides a procedure that can give a quite accurate measurement of the amount of water in the pond. The procedure entails measuring the current salinity of the water in the pond, adding a known amount of salt, determining the change this addition made to the salinity, and, with those figures, computing the amount of water.

    Step One is to measure the current salinity of the pond as accurately as possible. An electronic conductivity meter or titration salinity test is the best approach. It is suggested that three (or more) readings be taken at various locations in the pond and average them together. A hydrometer is not accurate enough to provide this measurement. If the initial salinity reading is 3.0 PPT (parts per thousand) or greater, postpone the measurement until normal water changeouts have reduced it to a lower value.

    Step Two is to add an accurately weighed amount of salt to the pond. Based on the current best estimate of the pond volume, add approximately two pounds of salt for each one hundred gallons of estimated water in the pond.

    Step Three is to allow the pond to circulate for 24 hours without any other changes (i.e. no water removed or added, and nothing else added) and run the salinity test again.

    The Final Step is to calculate the amount of water knowing the change in salinity caused by the known amount of added salt. The simple formula for doing this is as follows:
    P = (120 * S)

    (T2-T1)

    Where P is the pond volume in gallons, S is the number of pounds of salt added, T1 is the initial salinity test reading measured in parts per thousand, and T2 is the final salinity test reading also measured in parts per thousand. The accuracy of the computation is entirely dependent upon the accuracy of the weight of the added salt and the initial and final salinity test measurements.

    For example, the pond owner believes his pond to hold around 2000 gallons. The initial salinity test reads 0.25 PPT. After adding 40 pounds of salt and circulating overnight, the final salinity test reads 3.05 PPT. The actual amount of water in the pond is:
    P = (120 * 40) = 4800 = 1714 gallons

    (3.05 - 0.25) 2.80

    This pond keeper had probably been overdosing his pond by about 15% with any previous treatments.

    In most situations, the resulting computation should be within 5%. The larger the change in the salinity, the higher the accuracy of the result but we don't want to overdose the pond with salt. As such, if the salinity is a bit higher than desired after the final salinity reading, a water changeout may be in order. Note that in the example above, if the weight of salt is known plus or minus one-tenth of a pound and the salinity measurements are plus or minus 0.01 PPT, the worst case error analysis shows that the pond is between 1698 and 1731 gallons (within about 1%). However, if the weight of the salt is only known plus or minus one half pound and the salinity measurements are plus or minus 0.05 PPT, worst case error analysis is that the pond is between 1635 and 1800 gallons (about 10%). Measurement accuracy is important.

    For those who are interested, the basis of the formula is just that one part per thousand is one pound of salt added to 1000 (actually 999) pounds of water. Our pond water weighs approximately 8.33 pounds per gallon so one part per thousand is one pound of salt in (999 / 8.33) or 120 gallons of water.

  8. #8
    Tosai
    Join Date
    Jul
    Posts
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    Hi Mike,

    I tried looking for a Koi club, as you suggested. There is a tri state club ( NY. NJ, CT). It appears the closest in on Long Island about 3 hrs away.
    I asked the pond installer how many gallons the was. He indicated about 1500 not taking in to account the water in the skimmer, plumbing and in the gravel. I use 32 gal garbage cans to measure the water I remove when I do a change. I did add salt upon start up but had concerns about this lowering the freezing point.
    I re tested the water I removed from the bottom of the pond and the phosphate was bet .5 and 1 and the nitrite was between 0 and .25. The sample I took yesterday was near the skimmer at the top.
    Koi no better or worse this AM. Did a water change this AM. I will remove him Thursday and treat the wound as an ulcer if I do not see improvement soon. Just a pain to remove need neighbors help, he is a big fish.

    You have been very helpful and appreciate the time you have invested with me. I will send you pictures of the pond and the other guys in the near future.

  9. #9
    Tosai
    Join Date
    Jul
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    15
    Hi Mike,

    Follow-up,

    Been using MelaFix for the last 3 days and the red (ulcer?) area has reduced in size significantly ( telling me that this was probably a bacterial infection). It looks like The Doitsu is healing. Did purchased "Ulcer Aid" just in case I hade to remove him. The 2 koi were moved twice a year and I know they hatted this. Did not want to move him if at all possible, anyway he is too large for one person to handle.
    This will be their first winter outside. Keeping my fingers crossed. Will be purchasing an air pump and a pond de-icer. Will be keeping a close eye on them.

    Thanks,

    Doug

  10. #10
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Glad to hear he is improving.

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