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Thread: Volume of Water Per Koi Revisitation

  1. #1
    Oyagoi Lam Nguyen's Avatar
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    Volume of Water Per Koi Revisitation

    I, too, am a koi-aholic. But unlike Grant, I have been koi-purchase-free since this past May. The reason why I have been koi-purchase-free for so long is because I want to be a strict follower of the 1,000 gallon minimum per koi rule. Therefore, I have had 9 koi ranging in size from 15" to 22" in a 8,500 gallon (7,600 gal in pond & 900 gal in filtration) outdoor pond. The pond is filtered by 2 Nexus 300 (each with 150liters of K1 & 50liters of biochips per Jasper Kuijper's rec), one bakki shower out of plastic trays w/ feather rocks for experimentation, and two boxes of J-brushes each w/ containing about 60 J-brushes (I use the brushes mainly as biological). The pond is circulated once every 30 minutes. Here are my water parameters: pH 6.8-7.2, KH 80-100, GH 40-80, & ammonia, nitrite, & nitrate present d/t new pond syndrome.

    The reason why I am writing this thread is because I am starting to feel the "craving" to go and buy some more koi. My pond looks so empty w/ just 9 koi in a pond w/ an oval surface area of 21" long and 11" wide. It makes it even harder to follow the 1,000 gal/koi rule when I visit ponds that have "tons" of koi and I speculate that each koi gets anywhere from 200 to 500 gallons. You can't even see the bottom of some of these ponds because there are so many koi swimming around! Granted, I see some ulcerations in some of these koi, but they look impressive nonetheless.

    Furthermore, I have been a follower of Mike Snaden's theory of soft water producing massive koi growth. From what I gathered from his articles, it seems that koi do not need a large volume of water as long as there is ample filtration to take care of ambient ammonia, nitrite, & nitrate. Above all else, the water needs to be soft & pH low. And when I say soft & low, I mean a pH the may be in the acid range (6.8-7.4) and a very low KH & GH to the point where you are crossing your fingers and hoping that your water won't crash.

    So the question that I would like to pose to all of you gurus is: Is it possible to develop koi to their maximal potential in a water volume that is less than 1,000 gallons per koi? If it is possible, then what are the practices/parameters that it takes to achieve impeccable growth/quality from these koi?

  2. #2
    Oyagoi gcuss's Avatar
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    I struggle a bit with this too Lam. And I'm in worse shape considering I've only got 6000 gals to play with... Keeps me a lean mean culling machine!

    I've got a little (my 3rd) pond that I can use for the "less than bright future" fish I have leaving my main pond for my 6 fish....

    Anyway, to your question. It's been my understanding that the preferred stocking rate of 1000/koi isn't there for "elbow" room for the koi, it's in place to prevent peaks and valleys in the water parameters. Low stocking allows dilution of ambient toxins and a good turnover rate can prevent any spikes of any nature...

    I think if I were to ever go over that limit, I would want a water softener in place with a good constant flow that would possibly replace the entire volume of the pond every 10 days or so. This would keep the water as "fresh" as possible, keep the pheromones down to a dull roar, and hopefully prevent any buildup of ethyl methyl bad sh*t.

    It sounds to me like you've got a monster of a filtration system for such a small population... Have you noticed any improvements in your TDS or ORP since you put in the shower? I'm just putting together a parts list so I can get mine up and running. Figure I'll build it now, and season it in my indoor set up....

    Anyway, great question, and I look forward to our more experienced members chiming in here!!

    Grant

    (and for the record, I'm now at 7 fish, so I think if I can avoid falling off the wagon again, I'm still good...)

  3. #3
    MCA
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    Honmei MCA's Avatar
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    ... I see some ulcerations in some of these koi, but they look impressive nonetheless.
    What is impressive is that the owners have allowed that to happen!!!! Remember these are living creatures in our care. They are not inanimate objects. No level of illness is acceptable.

    Getting the most of your koi is not nearlly as simple or one dimensional as stocking rate. When the stocking rate is high...harder to achieve and maintain good water quality. So you need stable water chemistry, depth and room for exercising in both horizontal and vertical planes. That can not be achived in a small shallow pond....or one so crowded the fish can not swim freely.

    So the question that I would like to pose to all of you gurus is: Is it possible to develop koi to their maximal potential in a water volume that is less than 1,000 gallons per koi? If it is possible, then what are the practices/parameters that it takes to achieve impeccable growth/quality from these koi?
    Yes....but with far less probability as the water per fish decreases. Don't let your emotional need to purchase more fish compromise the environment of the fish you already have.
    Koi keeping is not a belief system; it is applied science with a touch of artistry.

  4. #4
    Daihonmei dick benbow's Avatar
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    If your intently following Mike Snaden's advice, then you need to stick to it per his articles to see if his theory works with you. As MCA suggests, there are lots of different parameters that make Koi growth what it is. A thousand gallons is but just a suggestion.A rule of thumb. I really want Grant and Lam to consider what other's have to say but them to document it with your own understanding and application. So pick something and stick with it till you have decided you need a change.

    Old timers know there will always be another Koi available.....You might want to consider sumi mono types because the boredom of watching a set pattern like Kohaku, Chagoi, etc can mostly be evaluated by growth and body development. having sanke, Showa, matsukawabake, Kumonryu etc
    you can atleast experience some change as the black changes. I think our eyes get bored with the same static everyday observations and want something new to get excited about.Hence the urge for something new.

    When I first started with the pond i have now, I had at times 22-25 Koi in the 6 to 20 inch class. This summer 3 koi were in the same pond. They were big and elegant in their less hurried life style. It just proved that the theory of less is more, atleast for me is appreciated.
    Dick Benbow

  5. #5
    Oyagoi RayJordan's Avatar
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    There are several calculations that can and shoud be made to guessitmate the amount of koi each pond/filter system should carry. Even within these calculations there is a huge difference between keeping koi alive short term, long term, and have koi thriving and reaching most of their potential.
    Some of the perimeters to be considered are:

    Total weight of koi in system divided by gallons of water in system

    Cubic ft/surface area and type of biological filtration

    Water circulation rates thru biofiltration

    Maximum amount of food to be given in peak season

    Frequency of filter/pond maintanence

    Frequency and quanity of water changes

    % of oxygen saturation in peak growing season

    However once you have a system up and fully mature these calculations can be left behind. Now your pond system and koi collection become the real monitor for your over all system health.

    You might be able to add additional koi if all of the following conditions are met:

    Your koi have been totally healthy for four complete seasons without any infection or other issues except for minor parasite infestations

    Your koi are growing as expected

    You koi are developing as expected especialy in terms of body shape and red and white color development

    No significant fluctutions in water chemistry or buid up of DOC's

    Also plan to utilize a quarantine tank with excellent water quality to observe any new koi for a minimum of 4-6 weeks at KHV permissive tempertures with a companion koi from your current collection.

  6. #6
    Oyagoi gcuss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dick benbow View Post
    If your intently following Mike Snaden's advice, then you need to stick to it per his articles to see if his theory works with you. As MCA suggests, there are lots of different parameters that make Koi growth what it is. A thousand gallons is but just a suggestion.A rule of thumb. I really want Grant and Lam to consider what other's have to say but them to document it with your own understanding and application. So pick something and stick with it till you have decided you need a change.

    Old timers know there will always be another Koi available.....You might want to consider sumi mono types because the boredom of watching a set pattern like Kohaku, Chagoi, etc can mostly be evaluated by growth and body development. having sanke, Showa, matsukawabake, Kumonryu etc
    you can atleast experience some change as the black changes. I think our eyes get bored with the same static everyday observations and want something new to get excited about.Hence the urge for something new.

    When I first started with the pond i have now, I had at times 22-25 Koi in the 6 to 20 inch class. This summer 3 koi were in the same pond. They were big and elegant in their less hurried life style. It just proved that the theory of less is more, atleast for me is appreciated.
    Like you, I am going into a phase where I'm going to be looking at small improvements to my filtration system over the next year or so. I think I'd rather spend some money on improving my system, additional meters, and just generally getting my water quality solid as a rock. I'm building a DIY bakki in the next month or so and will run it on my indoor system and then move it outside next year with the koi.

    The sanke I am purchasing has been in the books since I lost mine much earlier in the year. I wholly intend on keeping 1000 gals/fish in my main pond until such time as I deem my pond "mature" enough to go beyond this figure. (I've heard it's about a 4 or 5 year process)

    You have an excellent point about some types of koi being a bit more... exciting? than others. I think I've got the excitement factor maxed out. One kohaku, one sanke, 2 showa, 2 shiro utsuri... Roller coaster ride in sumi ville!! I planned on keeping a low stocking rate in my pond and my selection of fish is no accident. I was lucky enough to look ahead and get the type of fish that can keep a new guy happy... Because, you're right. While I love my Kohaku, he don't change much (which in his case, is exactly what I want)


    Ray Jordan,

    Fantastic reply, and lots of good points to remember. Thank you for taking the time.

    (not trying to hijack your thread Lam... sorry, but this is something I'm very interested in)


    Thanks!

    Grant

  7. #7
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Following on Ray's excellent post, I will add that a person should focus on Ray's points as guides for koi care, and not try to dissect his points to rationalize overcrowding their koi. It is very easy to tell yourself that you can add another koi because, after all, you just added more media to the Nexus, or you promise yourself to start doing mid-week water changes (that you just don't have time to fit in regularly), etc., etc., etc. There is no magic in the 1,000 gallon rule of thumb.... are those U.S. or Imperial gallons? The 'magic' is in an excellent water environment with lots of room for swimming. Don't fool yourself.

  8. #8
    Honmei
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    Interesting topic and one that I am somewhat familiar with.

    To understand the 1000 gal/koi benchmark, one must first understand all (or at least most of) the factors originally derived to set that benchmark. Back "in the day," turnover rates were typically anywhere from once every 1.5 hours all the way up to as high as once very 3 hours (typically based on geographic location). Massive vortexes were used along with multiple chambers of J-mat.

    So what factors come into play with increased stocking densities? More food = more poop. More poop equals more nutrients for the filters to process. So is increased filtration in and of itself the only factor that would be needed to support a higher stocking density (and maintain growth rates)? The simple answer is no. Ambient nutrient levels will increase even with additional filtration unless the turnover rate is increased at least proportionately if not even more. That then takes us to the next point...maintenance, The filters would then also have to be cleaned at least proportionately more often and water changes also increased at least proportionately more and more often. Of course, if airation was such as to maintain O2 saturation for a denisty of 1 per 1000, then airation would also have to be increased proportionally.

    There is one factor that cannot be overcome when increasing the stocking density and that is simply...the increased stocking density!

    Increased density can lead to a number of things that can be adverse in and of themselves. Flight response in a higher density increases risk of damage/injury to the koi. Also, increased density leads to icloser proximity that can lead to easier transmissions of bacteria and parasites.

    Soooo, its not that higher stocking densities can't be done, the system design has to be altered accordingly, the maintenance regime increased and vilgilence in monitoring becomes even more important.

    Steve

  9. #9
    Oyagoi gcuss's Avatar
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    Ignorance truly is bliss...

    Mike and Steve; Great addition to this thread. But! Back to my ignorance...

    I decided in Spring this year that I would maintain 1000 gallons per fish. NOT for greater development in my koi (let's face it, I simply don't have koi that are of such quality that volume is crucial). NOT because I realized a need in O2 saturation if stocking increased. NOT because I felt my filtration was at capacity. (total fish length in my pond is approx 58" for 6 fish) I actually decided to up the ante in the gallons/fish because I lost my favourite Sanke and I promised myself that I would get as close to idiot proof as possible... I'll leave "dancing close to the edge" alone for a few years and just enjoy losing electricity and not having a heart attack, having the kids "help out" by dumping about 2 days worth of food into the water, taking my kid fishing and missing my daily ritual of a 5% water change and so on...

    One drawback that I may have noticed however... My K1 is just a hint of beige, and not even close to other's brown media I've seen. I can only assume it's because I have way too much media and not enough waste... I'm sure as my fish grow, I'll enjoy a busier bio reactor

    Thanks again guys,

    Grant

    Oh, and Lam? Sorry man, your thread

  10. #10
    Honmei
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    Quote Originally Posted by gcuss View Post
    Ignorance truly is bliss...

    Mike and Steve; Great addition to this thread. But! Back to my ignorance...

    I decided in Spring this year that I would maintain 1000 gallons per fish. NOT for greater development in my koi (let's face it, I simply don't have koi that are of such quality that volume is crucial). NOT because I realized a need in O2 saturation if stocking increased. NOT because I felt my filtration was at capacity. (total fish length in my pond is approx 58" for 6 fish) I actually decided to up the ante in the gallons/fish because I lost my favourite Sanke and I promised myself that I would get as close to idiot proof as possible... I'll leave "dancing close to the edge" alone for a few years and just enjoy losing electricity and not having a heart attack, having the kids "help out" by dumping about 2 days worth of food into the water, taking my kid fishing and missing my daily ritual of a 5% water change and so on...

    One drawback that I may have noticed however... My K1 is just a hint of beige, and not even close to other's brown media I've seen. I can only assume it's because I have way too much media and not enough waste... I'm sure as my fish grow, I'll enjoy a busier bio reactor

    Thanks again guys,

    Grant

    Oh, and Lam? Sorry man, your thread
    My K1 is biege as well....not necessarily a bad thing

    Steve

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