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Spring Cleaning Your Koi Pond & Equipment - Part 2: Water Temps and Koi Health
BELLMORE, NEW YORK - Most koi pond enthusiasts are in the final stages of preparing their ponds and cleaning their koi pond equipment for spring opening.
"A thorough spring cleaning and water conditioning are the basic steps for opening your pond," says Shawn Rosen of Koi Market, a leading pond supplies retailer. "We need to finalize the opening with essential treatments to ensure koi health."
Once the temperatures begin to rise, your koi will begin showing signs of hunger. "Be sure not to feed your fish until they are ready," warns Rosen. "If a fish is hungry, he will come to the surface looking for fish food."
Koi tend to go dormant and do not eat during the winter months, he says. Do not overfeed your fish or leave uneaten food in the pond. Remove any uneaten food with a pond net or vacuum.
Overfeeding will cause excess ammonia to be excreted and your biological filter is not ready to handle the minimal amount of ammonia created, let alone ammonia in abundance. The leftover food will provide additional nutrients for algae to thrive and colonize the pond. A guideline in feeding your koi after you open your pond is to keep an eye on the weather, Rosen says.
When your water temperature reaches a constant 50 degrees, you can start feeding your koi a wheat germ based diet, which cleans out their digestive tract. Once water reaches a constant 60 degrees, you can change to a protein based food.
"Koi fish do not have stomachs," says Rosen, "so when water temps drop, a form of dormancy sets in and the food will spoil in their digestive tracks."
This is an invitation for fatal infections in your koi. Unfortunately, spring is the time of year that koi are most susceptible to bacterial infections. "In the fall season your koi are not affected when temps drop the way they are in the spring," Rosen says. "Koi enter their dormant stage with a high-functioning immune system in the fall. However they wake up in the spring with a weakened immune system due to their dormancy."
Parasites and bad bacteria thrive in cold water. The koi becomes defenseless and more vulnerable to these threats.
Following are the changes which take place as the water temperature rises:
- 40° No Bios Established No bad elements to be concerned about.
- 48° Aeromonas Bacteria Ulcer disease begins to develop.
- 50° Danger Zone Begins Cold-water parasite "Costia" thrives. Flukes begin to grow and reproduce.
- 52° Nitrobacter Nitrobacter, the good bacteria that converts ammonia to nitrites, is slowly growing.
- 60° Nitrosomonas Nitrosomonas, the good bacteria that converts nitrites to nitrates, begins to grow. Your fish's immune system wakes up but it is not fully developed yet.
- 62° Parasites Thriving Other parasites like trichodina, chilodinella and ich thrive.
- 65° Danger Zone Ends Immunity system on fish is kicking in, still not 100 percent. You can now start using beneficial bacteria to seed your biological filtration. Make sure your pond has proper aeration to feed the beneficial bacteria.
- 74° Out of the danger zone
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