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Thread: Reconsidering Quarantine of New Koi

  1. #1
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Orlando, Florida

    Reconsidering Quarantine of New Koi

    It is as firmly established as religious dogma. All new koi should be quarantined in a separate quarantine tank. Folks may debate whether the quarantine should be a few days, one week, two weeks, six weeks or even six months, but there is no allowable doubt that quarantine is essential. When Peter Waddington had the hubris in Koi 2 Kichi to suggest QT'ing a new koi might be skipped, the internet boards heaped huge amounts of scorn on him. At the risk of taking a lot of arrows, I have come to the conclusion that only a few hobbyists should quarantine their new koi in a QT. Those few hobbyists are the ones who have established permanent second ponds (or tanks equivalent to ponds) for isolating new koi. Such isolation ponds are equivalent to a fully operating pond, being 'secondary' only in the sense that they are not the main pond where the hobbyist displays his/her beloved koi. An isolation pond may be small, as long as big enough to permanently keep koi of the size being isolated. If a person only gets tosai, it might be just a few hundred gallons. If moderate sized nisai are the biggest new koi one ever gets, it might stay under 1,000 gallons.... but multiple new nisai, together with permanent isolation pond residents that keep it fully functioning, will likely require a rather good sized pond. If a hobbyist sometimes acquires large koi, then the isolation pond better be fairly large. If the hobbyist cannot/ does not / will not establish such an isolation pond, then I think the better course of action for most hobbyists is to place the new koi directly in their pond after assuring themselves the new koi presents no serious risk of carrying disease. If the hobbyist lacks confidence in the health of the koi, don't acquire it.

    My thinking on this pushes all the 'wrong buttons', so I will explain.

    I have recently been following the travails of a fellow who purchased what were for him large koi... three of them. He set up an Intex-type pool to quarantine. A biological filter was installed. After more than three weeks, one is dead, one is in a decline spiral unable to maintain balance, there are signs of external bacterial infections that were not present until weeks into the quarantine, small physical injuries have occurred. The koi are in far worse condition than when they arrived. The bio-filter was inadequate, leading to ammonia issues. The pool being aboveground, the water temperature fluctuates up and down in Summer heat. Despite overhead shading, photos show sun shining directly on the side of the pool. Daily water changes have had to be performed to try to deal with water quality. The fish have not been fed for weeks. One additive or another keeps having to be dosed. A very well-intentioned effort to quarantine has become, IMO, a torture chamber assuring the decline and demise of the koi.

    The above is but a recent example of failed quarantines. There are so many more. No doubt an isolation pond for new arrivals is a good thing, but even among true kichi it is rare to find one.

    There are two reasons to isolate new arrivals. One is to allow the new koi to recover from the stress of transport, restore the slime coat and allow the immune system to re-balance. A restful environment is needed for this purpose. The temporary QTs set up are not stress relievers. They are under-sized, typically have inadequate bio-filtration, are subjected to greater temperature fluctuations, are often noisy and generally have people/pets hovering over the new arrivals like fish-eating osprey.

    A second reason is to avoid disease/parasite transmission. The typical temporary QT is as likely as anything to bring about disease and encourage parasites to explode. The fish can be treated less expensively in a small volume of water than if the outbreak occurs in the main pond, but I think that is the only benefit in the absence of KHV. There are a number of dealers who prophylactically treat their fish for parasites before placing them for sale. Patronize one of them and the parasite worry is low. If still worried, teach yourself about performing an intense salt bath (hands-on for seconds)or a PP bath (minutes). I do not recommend most hobbyists to do these, but they are quite effective when done by experienced hands. KHV is the horror hovering over things. As I have posted elsewhere, the best prevention for KHV is patronizing only dealers who follow a bio-secure protocol with determination. The surest way to get KHV is take in the free/cheap koi rescued from some stranger's pond. If quarantining for KHV, you really need a multi-month quarantine and that requires an isolation pond, not some jerry-rigged temporary QT. If you limit your purchases to bio-secure dealers who acquire only from bio-secure breeders (or buy direct from a bio-secure domestic breeder), you are not likely to accomplish much good by throwing together a temporary QT.

    Now for full disclosure.... In the past dozen years I have acquired new koi from only a few sources. Except for an old gal that hatched in my lily pond over 20 years ago and a nearly 20-year old Showa purchased from the late Ray Abell, all koi currently in my pond were acquired from 3 sources: a California dealer in whom I have confidence regarding all matters of health, and two domestic breeders who I know to be fully bio-secure. I do not quarantine or isolate new arrivals. They go straight into the pond after floating to adjust temperature. The pond is a quieter, more restive environment than anything I might otherwise provide. I observe closely for any signs of a parasite outbreak, but in the past dozen years have not had any occur within the first 6 weeks of adding new arrivals. I have had parasite outbreaks in the late April/ early May timeframe after adding new koi in early March, but outbreaks have occurred around then in years when no new fish were acquired. Outbreaks of the 'usual suspects' do not cause me deep concern. They did when I was a newbie confused by all the different beasties and treatments. Anymore, it is not a big deal to treat with Pro-form C and perhaps Prazi if flukes are present/suspected. I prefer not to treat, but I know the signs that call for action. I realize not everyone recognizes the early signs of parasitic infection and are at risk of more difficult bacterial infections when treatment is unduly delayed. But, I think the newbie risks in that situation are no greater than the newbie risks involved with a newbie QT. Prophylactic treatment of the newbie's pond when adding new koi is probably a better approach than relying on a newbie QT.

    In sum, I am all in favor of isolation ponds. If you have one, you have done well and I'm sure your koi show it. Otherwise, I'd replace the mantra of 'always quarantine' with 'never acquire from an unknown source' .

    .....and now I march away, fist raised to the sky, shouting: End The Torture Chambers!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Orange Park, Florida, U.S.A
    Reconsidering Quarantine of New Koi

    AMEN!! For me, I'm down to acquiring fish from only ONE bio-secure domestic breeder, and, no matter the cost of the koi, the time of year or the temptation to shop other sources, the koi goes directly in the pond, following a reasonable temp-adjustment float.

    coolwon and milaz like this.

  3. #3
    Jumbo jnorth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Yeah I would tend to agree with you. Hobbyist qt's aren't all they are cracked up to be.
    My personal koi page Updated 7/8/07
    ZNA Potomac Koi Club

  4. #4
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Southern California
    I agree too.

    If a hobbyist buys from a trusted dealer who quarantines properly in an establishedquarantine tank/pond... what is the point of stressing a new purchased Koi in an inadequate quarantine tank?

  5. #5
    Oyagoi HEADACHE6's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Good Stuff!

    I've questioned the QT thought for awhile. But as what has already been said, you trust who you're buying from. Now for the Hobbyist who goes to a Show and buys from every dealer, that's different Stuff.

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