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Thread: Weather, Water & Koi Behavior Rambling

  1. #1
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Weather, Water & Koi Behavior Rambling

    March has been a strange month. We began the month with very warm temperatures. The koi were eating normally as the pond temperature edged into the lower 70sF. Then I began fasting my koi in advance of the Central Florida Koi Show. The weekend of the show, we had an unusual chill and unprecedented winds hit. The fish not at the show were fed and acted rather shy ... about as normal as could be expected with several pondmates 'gone missing' and the pond temperature dropping to the upper 60sF. The pond, however, became a magnet for all the leaves dropping from our live oaks and laurel oaks. Nitrate levels doubled over a period of two days. Their appetite decreased.

    After the show, as the water quality challenge brought on by the oak leaves got met, the fish returned to normal eating habits. The pond temperature rose to 72F and then the koi went into super-ravenous mode, consuming nearly double the normal daily amount. I've never had them eat so much at a time and so eagerly. I don't get feeding frenzies, but that's how they were behaving. After several days they were easing back into a more normal eating routine.

    Everything was becoming normal for the season, and then there was unseasonably warm temperatures and more windy days,littering the pond with oak pollen and the bloom tassels shed in huge quantities by the oaks at this time of year. Usually the shadecloth over the pond prevents most of the tassels from getting into the water, but this year the winds drove the debris right into the pond, keeping the skimmers busy. And, the water became stained. The koi went off their feed again, consuming less than half their normal ration, and a couple could be observed to flash on occasion. That challenge got addressed with larger than normal water changes. This past Sunday the koi were eating normally and Monday evening they were ravenous, eating at 150% of normal consumption. And, from the algae turds caught in the skimmers, it seems they are grazing on algae at an unusually high rate.

    Now, an overnight cold front has dropped temperatures into the 40sF in my neighborhood, and brought freeze warnings to the outlying areas around Ocala...records in the 1940s may have been broken. The koi were happy this morning and as eager as ever for their morning meal of sinking wheatgerm pellets, but not abnormally so. The pond temperature had edged just below 70F. Our daytime highs will be only in the 60sF for a couple of days, so pond temperature will be declining. However, the forecast for the weekend calls for highs in the mid-80sF. I'm expecting something unanticipated will occur to give one last March challenge.

    Weather reports from around the country show that I've had it really easy. No floods, no late snows nor days of unending rain. But for the koi, even these comparatively mild roller-coaster weather challenges upset their habits. The koi are healthy, but not happy about the sudden changes in temperatures and water quality.

    Best wishes to all whose challenges have been far more serious. March 2008 will soon be over, thankfully.

  2. #2
    Honmei
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    Mike,
    This may sound, at first glance, kind of silly, but have you ever considered a heater? While we were in Dallas, it wasn't the severe cold temperatures that I worried about (the ambient water temps never got below 50 for very long and never below 47), but the wild temperature swings in the fall, and especially in the spring months. I sdimply set the temp for 10 F about the season water temps until they leveled off at 75.

    Just an idea and some may say, "overkill" for your region.

    Steve
    The views presented are my personal views and not that of any organization that I may belong to unless otherwise specified. [email protected]
    CKHPA

  3. #3
    Jumbo 111whalen's Avatar
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    I'm certainly not an expert on Florida. Do you worry about your filters operation. With that much fluctuation I would worry about amonia. The fish can respond more quickly to the water change. In So Cal I plan to take it easy on food for another several weeks. Temp in the pond is about 63 but the forecast says cooler by this weekend. I want that "floor" to be above 65 before I hit the fish hard with food.
    Each year is different and I try to respond to the actual conditions instead of the month of the year. Watch for hole disease, with the muck in the pond and the temp swings (and flashing) you could be on the edge...
    I hope not.
    Full Time Koi NUT
    SoCal beats NorCal KOI UNIT
    Mark W
    CKHPA

  4. #4
    Daihonmei
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    Mike
    Mick and I have been talking everyday about the odd behaviors we've seen in our koi the last three weeks....
    Flashing, spawning, jumping, eating great one day and nervous the next, and lacadaisically most of the time.
    It can't be temperature extremes because I'v e had to keep my well throwing 2500 to 3000gph 24 first to fill my pond back up and lately to take surface oil out of the lake (more later on that).
    but our koi have been doing similar stuff a couple of hundred miles from each other , with you in the middle.
    I've been putting the lack of strong feeding on the fact that I have spawning occurring and felt everyone was dining on Koiviar.

  5. #5
    Tategoi
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    Keep in mind that besides the temp swings affecting the fish directly, it would also be affect the efficiency of the bio-film. While you may not catch/get an ammonia spike; the ambient levels maybe affected, thus effecting the fish.

    Then if the males have a gleam in their eye...that adds another variable

    G

  6. #6
    Honmei KoiCop's Avatar
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    Does barometric pressure jumping and dumping effect their behavior, too?

  7. #7
    Tategoi
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    ancedotal...yes

  8. #8
    Oyagoi kingkong's Avatar
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    Barometric pressure no...hormones yes.

  9. #9
    Daihonmei dick benbow's Avatar
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    Mike, I think in all parts of this country ( actually the world) weather is going to the extremes.
    Winter is colder with more snow, transistional months in spring and fall are inconsistant and summers are getting hotter. I think that has us "fudging a bit " on our feeding regiment just to make sure we're feeding light enough to make sure we don't get our koi in trouble during transistional months. I really do think that more and more, suggestions like Steve made makes more sense. let's face it, koi management is about control. When we give that up, we face the consequences
    Dick Benbow

  10. #10
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Luke: Glad to know it's not just me. We all know that koi are sensitive to their environment, but sometimes it takes a strange period like this to really bring home how sensitive these hardy fish are... very much in tune with their surroundings.

    SteveC & Dick: Actually makes sense...and so would a chiller to get 4 or 5 degrees lower in January. Hmmmm.... but I think I want to get a softener first. (I'll let HenryC work out how to get a heater/chiller combo to work cost effectively & then maybe I can copy him. )

    Don & KK: I have observed behavior changes when the barometric pressure changes are relatively sudden, such as when tropical lows come through or just before a thunderstorm pops up, but the behavior changes pass fairly quickly. There have been a lot of strong fronts crossing the peninsula, which may contribute to the erratic behavior.

    Whalen: No ammonia or nitrite detectable at any point. ... I've never had hole disease on any koi owned more than a month or so. But, now that you've mentioned it, I'll be looking closely! I believe the bit of flashing I saw was from the irritation caused by the oak contamination and not parasites.

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