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Water Quality (PH) as related to Type of Koi Kept

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  • Water Quality (PH) as related to Type of Koi Kept

    I have been reading a lot of differing opinions regarding ideal water keeping norms. Question: If you have differnet varieties of koi for development, at what levels does one work to keep water balances? I have read that different varieties require different (PH) Harder water for bringing out sumi quality and soft water for other varieties. Any insight on this issue would be much appreciated.
  • #2

    Water hardness becomes a confusing term so its better to talk about alkalinity. If you have low pH, you probably have depleted the alkalinity reserves - or never had any alkalinity reserve. Alkalinity buffers fluctuations in pH and keeps it at or above neutral (7.0). Low and fluctuating pH is bad for the fish. It decreases the amount of oxygen the blood can transport while increasing the toxicity of ammonia. Running low alkalinity is dangerous because it can let the pH "crash" (abruptly decline). If you have low alkalinity you need to monitor frequently to avoid the crash. Alkalinity is replenished using water exchange or keeping a source of alkalinity such as oyster shell or coral rock in the system.

    I believe the dogma is that low alkalinity promotes better beni and higher alkalinity promotes better sumi.

    Now that the drought has broken, alkalinity in our tap water is down to 40-50 ppm. Two years ago, it was 140 ppm. Our water comes from the Punalu'u wells but I'm not sure about the source for Lilipuna. It tells you on that annual water quality report the Board of Water Supply sends around. The 40-50 ppm is good as long as you keep an eye on it and don't let it get any lower. The 140 ppm is a little high, but not too bad.



    • #3

      What about nature? Do natural rivers/streams have their own balancing features already built into the ecological make-up. Do mudponds get the same attention towards PH levels?


      • #4

        Akai-San: I agree with Bekko, except on one detail. Ammonia becomes less harmful as the pH goes acidic. But, don't go there. Koi are very adaptable, but pH below 6.5 is not generally recommended.


        • #5

          Akai-San: There is a great deal of study done on the use of lime in mud ponds. One of the uses is to counter pH collapse. Another is to lime the soils of emptied ponds to kill parasites and counter the effects of anaerobic decomposition on the soils. The pH is enhanced somewhat by these practices once water is returned to the pond. I expect Brett has extensive knowledge on the subject.

          BRETT: Are you lurking?


          • #6

            Oops. sorry. Mike is right, I goofed on the ammonia thing.



            • #7

              While you await your post from Brett, I'd like to throw something out.

              koi were developed in japan over the last 200 years and seroiusly for the last 100.

              instead of trying to find something that pushes red or black to your own interests, why don't you learn from the japanese. create water like them.
              If it takes 8 years for the black to come out in your showa maybe your red and white will be georgeous too! Why rush the proven path and try harder water to
              push the blacks. Koi keeping is not the destination but the journey. take your time.

              in my quest to develop the perfect water for asagi I wrote a japanese breeder who was kind enough to answer me. I asked him what the BIG SECRET was and pleaded with him to tell me. After he got done laughing, he said there was no secret. you bred you koi in the water God gives you. If you raise go sanke and asagi they all get THE SAME WATER. They don't treat them any different!
              That said If you study you water at home how it compares with water in japan, then I think you have something. I think the japanese are more patient than us westerners and we could learn something there as well!

              now you know why I have been looking at RO water and being able to get my water down closer to the standard. In the UK, under the direction of Mike Snaden, several top end hobbyists have been doing very well with this method. I also know of some top dealers there that are also working with the water they have unadjusted to see what they can accomplish by genetics, stocking loads and other considerations.
              Dick Benbow


              • #8


                RO? Are you talking about RUN OFF water? If so, I guess you have a huge collection system solely for your pond. Interesting, free water straight from the skies...I like it, the water has to be good...oops unless you live in LA (acid rain). How much water do you require to maintain your ponds during the year? Do you run this water through a separate system? Or I think I remember you saying you try to trickle fresh water through your system 24/7...Hardcore!

                This concept is relatively easy to accomplish in wet climates...I live in Kaneohe, Hawaii (relativelly wet area)...Hmmmm I know all rainwater is different from area to area...but has anyone taken tests and obtained significant differences in water table water and sky water? Has anyone out there have studies regarding rain water quality and the effects on rearing koi?

                This seems feasible because in Hilo on the Bid Island, a majority of the outlying residential areas are solely living off catchment water...interesting?


                • #9

                  Water Quality



                  • #10

                    Alkalinity is defined as the concentration of bases in the water. It is measured by titrating the sample from its initial pH to a pH of about 4.5 with a standard acid. The milliequivalents of acid consumed in the titration equal the milliequivalents of bases in the water. The milliequivalents of bases are then expressed in parts per million of equivalent calcium carbonate (CaCO3).

                    There are two primary alkaline earth carbonates, calcite (calcium carbonate)(CaCO3) and dolomite (CaMg(CO3)2). Feldspar (NaAlSi308) is also attacked by carbon dioxide to give bicarbonate but does no usually contribute much to alkalinity.

                    Alkalinity is derived mainly from carbonate and bicarbonate ions and directly reflects the buffering capacity of the water. Alkalinity is also called carbonate hardness or temporary hardness because it can be precipitated by boiling the water. This is why you get lime and scale build up in water heaters and shower heads.

                    Permanent hardness measures such ions as nitrates, and chlorides. Most of these other ions are not involved in buffering but some can affect pH.

                    Some think the term "hardness" should be avoided completely because it is so ambiguous unless the type of hardness is defined. In discussing koi water quality, alkalinity is typically the frame of reference and is the parameter which "speaks" to people.

                    While there is a close connection between water hardness and buffering, it is important to remember that hardness is a product of mainly calcium and magnesium ions while buffering is produced by bicarbonate and carbonate ions. The fact that the two are so closely related is due to the fact that most hardness is formed from calcium and magnesium carbonates. In most water supplies, general hardness and alkalinity (as ppm CaCO3) are likely very similar because carbonates usually predominate and the amount of permanent hardness is usually small.

                    Our tap water has a total alkalinity of 40-50 ppm and a calcium hardness of 30 ppm. During the drought our tap water had an alkalinity of 140 and a calcium hardness of 100. The spring water on our property has an alkalinity of 120 and a calcium hardness of 90. It seems like the calcium hardness value always equals about 75% of the alkalinity value after exposure to our rock strata.

                    I suspect that rain water always has alkalinity and calcium hardness of zero. For sure, with our rain water the titration end point is reached with the first drop of acid.

                    One of my kids did a science project on acid rain in Hawaii and found that the rain water is very close to 7.0 about 90% of the time. Occasionally it may be as low as 6.5 and there was some circumstantial evidence that the low pH rain was associated with eruptions of the Kilauea volcano. We average about 75 inches of rain per year.


                    • #11

                      R.O. stands for reverse osmosis. Sorry, I should have made that clear. One of the biggest concern breeders have in japan is acid rain. That's why theu use oyster shell so much to be able to buffer the affects of it. Run off these days carries with it too much excess baggage.

                      The water I was talking about is created by removing heavy metals, causing hardness to drop
                      and thus creates soft water similar to what is found in japan. It is accomplished by pushing the water thru a membrane separating the bad from the good. There are other methods for achieving this with water that is close to distilled. The difficulty is constant monitoring to keep water parameters in check. With alkalinity you want atleast a couple days of buffering for safety sake.

                      basically your running your water along the slim edge of good and bad.

                      If your the kind of koi keeper who doesn't like to flush filters daily andf run constant checks and be always fiddling with your pond then this probably isn't for you. It also helps if you've learned that understocking works out better in the realm of less is more. Less demand on water prameters more ability to regulate.

                      I think as koi keepers progress along the hobby they are looking for ways to constantly improve. this is one opportunity to do so. But like lotys of things in life you want to have things flow in a natural order and not jump ahead till you get the basics down. Kinda like building something out of brick, one layer at a time!
                      Dick Benbow


                      • #12

                        Oh my, all this water talk has made me thirsty...hahaha

                        Steve, Dick,
                        Have any of you worked for the Board of Water Supply. You both are very well versed when it comes to talking about water quality and how to rear it ideal...or, is this the natural progression of the hobby? In ten maybe fifteen years, if I'm still in the hobby and still the anal person that I am, will I progress to that level of water keeping? Just fascinating to see modern day science and technology being a factor for hobbiest.


                        • #13


                          Your take-home message for now is that you are fortunate to be starting with very good water. A constant small trickle of water exchange (from the tap) and normal filter maintenance will keep it that way. Some people have to go through a lot of effort and expense in rebuilding their water so it becomes more like what you get out of the tap.



                          • #14

                            I see said the blind man...looks like I'll be joining the water conservation crusade for the islands. Its those simple precious natural resources that we ALWAYS take for granted in Hawaii. I can see why some hobbiest are so knowledgable about the water that they keep for their babies (koi). Aloha.


                            • #15



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