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Thread: How to React to Weather Extremes If Keeping Koi for Show?

  1. #1
    Nisai
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    Oct 2004
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    Camby, Indiana
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    How to React to Weather Extremes If Keeping Koi for Show?

    After some of the issues we've gone through and reading JR's post on water changes and skin quality, it makes me wonder what we could have/should have done differently (if anything) so that our show fish did not lose their color (if they have lost it from stress/environment).

    Our normal maintenance schedule before all this happened was to change out about 20-25% per week through 3-4 times of flushing prefilters/backwashing. This has been our routine for the last 4 years without any issues on the fish. We do know from preliminary numbers that we have .0047ppm of copper going into the pond even after it's attached to a carbon filter. This may explain why the hi on our fish has never been as good as we would want it, but still okay.

    BUT, this is where the real question lays:

    Given weather extremes such as 10" of rain in one day and 22" of rain in one month, and a massive hail storm on another day during that month, what should/could be done to prevent color loss on show fish and to keep the fish as healthy as possible?

    Short of building a room over the pond or enclosing (NOT an option), to maintain the best possible environment for the fish to both thrive and not lose color? Because if the fish have lost their coloring due to the stress and the increase in water changes during June, I still don't know what we could have done differently to keep our fish in good shape.

    Then, add in a fluke episode during the exact same time as all the rains, what does one do? Not treating adds stress to the fish; but treating adds stress to the fish because the treatments are getting diluted with 10" of rain and they still have flukes.

    We know the pond going into all the rain was healthy with ideal water parameters that were stable and the pH of the rain was not much different than the pH of the pond (.1 difference) and the pond was well buffered before the rains.

    Because if there isn't anything we could have done differently, then how to avoid this issue in the future?

    Looking for solutions,

    Tamara
    NMZNA Koi & Goldfish Show and Pond Expo - Indianapolis
    June 19-21, 2009
    Season's Gardens in Fishers, IN
    www.nmzna.net

  2. #2
    Fry
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    6

    Happening to me too ...

    I live 30 miles south of Tamara and Marc. I am now having the same problem with my koi. I have a different water source. I have a showa who has lost some beni already and a vivid red sanke whose beni is starting to fade.

  3. #3
    Nisai
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    Oct 2004
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    Camby, Indiana
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    A Clarification - Asking for Water Chemistry Information

    Let me clarify what I am asking. We all know water quality is important for the health of our fish. When an extreme weather event hits your pond, what are the immediate steps after we should take? My first thought is water changes, should one measure their water parameters first? I wish I would have to know if the pH was off or not. I've tested the rains since, but don't know about the first initial rain.

    Should one worry about getting the pond back in shape before trying to finish treating for parasites if one is treating when the event happens?

    Major water change after major water change can remove the trace minerals, etc that the fish need, how do we know for sure? These are the types of things I'm wanting to find out.

    Thanks

  4. #4
    Daihonmei PapaBear's Avatar
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    These are not the opinions of someone with the knowledge base of some of our resident guru's like JR, Dick, Mike, etc... (and I mean that as a sincere compliment to them), but I have noticed some things that may be food for thought.

    We have a few nice Kohaku and Bekko's that have held up very well over the past 2-4 years in spite of going through extreme heat with NO rain in 2006, all time record breaking rainfall all year long in 2007, and 2008 has played ping pong between heavy rain periods followed by heat and dry conditions. The beni and Shiroji on the Kohaku's has remained rock solid, the sumi and shiroji on the shiro bekko's has not deteriorated, and the Kin Aka Bekko looks the same as she did when we first got her 4 years ago as a sansai only now much bigger.

    Since we were complete novices early on, dumb luck has been our friend as we have learned along the way, but a few things we have observed that may make a difference include in-situ mineralization from the lithaqua in our filtration as a source of kh and to a lesser degree gh stability, and the exposed rock on our waterfalls being a passive mineral source as well. Early on our water changes were sporadic at best, but the fish were none the worse for wear in spite of it. As time passed and we became more aware of the water needs our water changes were only in response to what we could observe about the water itself via testing and more importantly, the look of it.

    Water that is going "dead" has a look to it that is dull and lifeless and healthy water looks alive, but I have no idea how to explain what my eyes perceive well enough to express with a keyboard. "Clean" is not the correct term. "Lifelike" is more correct. JR waxed eloquently on this last fall (I believe) and if I can find the thread I'll link it up. (I'm not that good at finding old stuff, so you might want to do some looking on your own too...)

    Now we don't have the added complication of copper so I have no way to measure the influence that would have on our water, but the two of you having similar issues at the same time with "rain" and the subsequent "compensatory water changes" being the only true common denominators it takes me to the other conditions in the water chemistry.

    The more I observe in our own pond and fish, and then read about others trials, tribulations, and triumphs, the more I am convinced that having a source(s) of mineral stability incorporated into the system is beneficial to maintaining the smooth transition from heat to cold to dry to rainy with water changes of different sizes depending on momentary circumstances. The slow buffering effect seems to allow all situations to be smoothed out so that the ride is less bumpy no matter what the conditions may be.

    Consider the mudpond example. They can endure torrential downpours and long dry spell alike, with no deterioration of the Koi within. The mud itself acts as a giant buffer for the entire pond, even though the water is generally very soft with a relatively low ph.

    This is pure speculation based on anecdotal evidence and my own limited observations, but I thought I'd toss it out there to see what others may think.
    Larry Iles
    Oklahoma

  5. #5
    Nisai
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    Oct 2004
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    Larry,
    I appreciate it. When I go back and look at pics of our fish from a couple of years ago, I see some slight fading beni. At our show in Indy, when JR was judging he made the comment about two of our fish that he wondered if they were kept indoors. After judging we asked him about those two fish. They were two that grew very very fast (7-19+") in one year, but slowed down considerably since. Knowing the copper in the water now, I am fairly convinced we have found our problem there. We now know what to do for that.

    We've had heavy rains before and a couple of years ago when we were under the thought process that the kH on bead filters "had" to be above 200, every time we had a heavy rain, I was testing our water for kH and pH. After a heavy rain, we would always be right at 161-179 and so we would add baking soda to get it back up above 200. We stopped doing that and our kH remains steady, no matter what, at around those same numbers. Being in IN, our gH out of the tap is above 400 and as a result we were getting shimis on the beni of our fish. Last year we added a water softner after reading Sue's thread. We were hoping to achieve two goals: one to lower the gH to get rid of the shimis and be easier on the beni and two, hoping our pH would lower some as well since at that time we were consistently at 8.6-8.8. We achieved both desired results. Our shimis disappeared and our pH lowered to 7.8-8.0. kH never changed. We have a double waterfall with a lot of rock (not gravel) in the design. Until last year when we raised the rock out, the rock which was the top sat partially in the water. Over this last year our pH has slowly risen back to a steady 8.2 in morning and 8.4 at night and again, kH hasn't changed.

    Through all of this, other than lighter beni than we'd like, we've never had a problem with our koi and their colors. The last 4 years we've changed 25% of the water per week, sometimes more. The colors have held up well. Other than the occasional fluke, we've never had health problems on our fish either. Marc is really good at "reading" the water like you've talked about and has done a good job at getting that lifelike look.

    This year has been totally different. The fish had something going on with them all spring. Now that I know the water source was changed and we have copper, their behavior makes more sense.

    We were not home when the heaviest of the rains hit. We knew my SIL was being hit by flooding but didn't realize how bad it was or that it would be bad around our house either. My FIL checked on our pond for us and informed us it was overflowing because the rain was just coming down so hard and furious the overflow couldn't keep up. By the time we got home and were able to check on the pond, the water was just junked. We didn't really have so much stuff washed into it, but it was dark and just didn't have the luster to it we'd worked so hard to get. I never even thought nor did Marc about testing or anything; first thought was water change, flush the filters, get the water level back down to normal. We did so and over the next week changed out quite a bit of water trying to get that luster and quality back. I did test after that and all parameters were stable and normal for our pond. The clarity of the water and luster of the water has not been the same since. Thinking back and trying to figure out if we should have done something differently, I just don't know. If the rains came like that again, my first thought would still be to do the water changes.

    Should that be our first thought? Two weeks after the flood, the day our show ended we had a HUGE hailstorm. We got home 1/2 hr drive from the show site and had a 20 degree temp difference lower, with an inch or more of marble sized hail laying everywhere. It took our hostas and literally shredded every leaf on them and some of our other plants. My in-laws said they've never seen anything like it. Hail has a lot of nitrogen in it. Should we have done something there?

    I know we can't avoid the extremes Mother Nature throws at us, but are there things we can do better to help minimize the stress the fish endure? If stress has been a contributing factor of color loss due to the weather issues, how can we lessen that stress?

    Chemistry is my weakest area; I'm a language person, not science. That's why I'm asking (please in simplest terms possible) to help me understand how all this works together so we can keep our fish as healthy as possible. Maybe my sanke would have lost some of her beni 4 or 5 years down the road; I could probably handle that because we know as fish age and hit their peak, they decline. But to have all affected within a month...? What could we have done differently? Should we have not worried about the flukes we had at the time and treating them until we got that luster back on the water? Is there a water parameter other than kH, and pH we should have paid closer attention to? Those are my questions.

    Thanks,
    Tamara

  6. #6
    Oyagoi kntry's Avatar
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    Tamara, you said you didn't have so much stuff washed into the pond. That tells me that flood waters went into the pond. Right? If so, that could possibly have had caused some of this.

  7. #7
    Nisai
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    Nope, no flooding got into either pond (mine or SIL's), both are higher than ground around. We had one little corner where a little dirt (nothing around but dirt) got into the pond (that's where we put the french drain in). The rain itself is what junked the pond. Dick Thomas in Lafayette (1 1/2 hrs north, lots of rain but no flooding) used the same exact terminology to describe his water at the end of the day. His pond is raised off the ground and has zero runoff. He has so much filtration on his, some that flushes automatically, that he got his water back by the next day or so. He hasn't had as much rain or the hail storm that we've had down here. We still don't have our water back in spite of water changes and flushes.

    Tamara

  8. #8
    Daihonmei PapaBear's Avatar
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    There are so many things at work here it really is a bit like a "perfect storm" scenario. The copper content still has to be dealt with but that is pretty much a stand alone issue that you already have a plan for, so lets look at the other issues apart from that.

    Your softened, carbon filtered water supply really can't be improved upon much from a kh/gh/ph standpoint, so that should not be an issue.

    Your filtration is overall quite effective as is your maintenance regime, which would be tough to improve upon. Even so, your water chemistry has not recuperated the same way you describe Dr. Thomas's, so what are the compositional differences between your system and his?

    His is more automated, but automation vs manually doing extra changes/flushes doesn't add up to a serious difference in my book. You worked your tails off to get the pond back to "your" normal, which in and of itself should have been adequate.

    That leaves other differences in "content".
    What is your biomedia vs his?
    What type of solids filtration do you have compared to his?
    What about differences in source water chemistry?
    What about the materials that the pond is constructed from? Are yours and his the same?

    The approach I'm taking is to try to basically "reverse engineer" the problem by isolating compositional differences between every aspect of your system vs. one that did not suffer the same long term problems.

    Somewhere along the way his system was able to maintain a stable symbiotic balance within the pond/filter/fish ecosystem that kept his "system" as Mr. Childers describes so well in good health. Pinning down the missing ingredient(s) may prove to be an important key to figuring this out.

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