How to Move Koi or Pond Fish Safely
Page Summary: Just like you and I koi or pond fish of any kind we don't like to move house. Over the years we become comfortable with our living environment. Everything is in its right place and we know where to go to get food. You can imagine that koi and goldfish in a trapped environment know the layout of the pond very well. They know where oxygen levels are best, where natural organisms congregate and thus a source of food. The koi or goldfish have also decided which parts of the pond they like best... eg just beneath the waterfall. Now you want to completely upset the koi and goldfish by first of all catching them and then subjecting them to a very stressful removal situation before introducing them to a foreign aquatic environment which is not the same at all as the environment they were used to. So take extreme care when moving your pond fish.
Moving koi, goldfish safely
Whether you are moving new koi or goldfish to your fish pond for the first time, or moving established fishy friends from one pond to another, you need to make sure they are safe and don't become stressed. If you are moving house this can be a special challenge as there will be many other things to move and worry about, particularly if you have other pets or livestock.
The dangers of koi stress
Transporting fish (koi or gold fish) can be very stressful for them. Pond fish don't like extreme changes in their environment and their bodies can be adversely affected if you don't take steps to prevent the koi or goldfish becoming stressed. Even moving koi directly from one body of water to another, without any major transportation, can promote stress. Koi don't do well if the quality of the water deteriorates; and they don't do well if they are handled excessively.
So take extreme care in preparing for and actually transporting fish from pond to pond.
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One of the greatest dangers of stress is that it makes koi – and goldfish – more susceptible to disease or infection. For example fungus infection is commonly caused by travel stress – as well as by fish overcrowding, drastic temperature changes, water pollution or too much handling of koi or goldfish.
Preparing to transport koi or goldfish
If you have the option, always move pond fish in cool weather when they are less active. In any case feed them less prior to the move. You won't do any harm if you don't feed fish for about a week before transporting them. The excretion rate of fish, particularly koi, tends to increase with stress (just as it is does with some humans), and this can result in excessive fouling of the water the fish are being transported in.
Of course you also need to make plans in terms of the containers you will use to move your fish. When you buy small fish (including goldfish) from dealers, they will usually put individual fish into a polythene bag filled with some of the water that was in the tank. This is also how many fish are exported to different countries. By using water from the tank where they came from you can keep part of their environment the same, minimizing stress. But large koi are a completely different story and you will probably need some type of tank to transport them in. Similarly, if you have a lot of fish you will probably want a tank of some kind that will accommodate several of them together.
Whatever containers you are going to use for transporting fish, you will also need nets to catch them. Make sure you have several people to help you, but avoid chasing the fish around the pond as this in itself will stress them. Alternatively you could buy or hire a floating cage net (if you can source one), and transfer the fish to bags just before you are ready to travel. If you do use bags, just remember the fish need oxygen in the bag to survive. In fact you only need fill it about a quarter with water.
Precautions when catching and transporting koi or goldfish
Being caught is one of the most stressful situations a fish can find itself in. There is also a real danger that koi especially will hurt themselves during the netting process. They will even leap out of the pond water if they panic. The secret is for you not to panic; and to keep as calm as possible throughout the process. Try to guide the fish towards the net gently.
Whether you are transporting koi or goldfish, keep the polythene bag (or other container) cool and dark during the journey. This will reduce stress. Also be absolutely sure that the bag or container is totally water-tight. Never rely on one bag; use two and then place the fish in a further container. If the bag bursts in transit, you're going to have a major problem – never mind the tremendous stress you will cause your fish or the mess you will make.
Finally, remember that while both koi and goldfish can survive in a partially filled polythene bag for many hours, you want to keep their time in the bag as short as possible. Both the excretion rate of fish, and respiration will increase in the bag, which will potentially cause the quality of the water in the bag to deteriorate.
Stocking the fish pond.
Ideally you need your new pond to be established prior to stocking it with fish. If you are buying fish for a new pond, you can obviously get this timing right without too much of a problem. But if you are moving house, there could be complications. The worst scenario would be that you still have to build the pond. In this instance either arrange to leave your fish at your old home for a month or two while you complete construction and planting, or find a temporary home for your fish.
When you are ready to release your koi or goldfish into the pond after transporting the fish, first float the bags on the surface for a while. Then open the bag so that the pond water and water from the bag mix together. Your fish will quickly swim out and make themselves at home. If you have used a tank for transportation, transfer the fish into a bag with a little water first, and then follow the same procedure.*******
Don't stress over pond pH and Testing Koi Pond pH
I will make a few very important points here which should be taken very seriously by anyone contemplating measuring pH in a koi pond and then TAKING ACTION based upon the measured result from testing the koi pond's water. If you test do it reliably... Interpet lead this pond water testing field of the koi keeping hobby
- pH of koi pond water will vary depending on time of day measurement is taken and especially if plants are in the pond. This means if you take a pH at 9am it will not be the same as a pH taken at 6pm. This single piece of information therefore must never be the information relied upon to make fundamental decisions
- pH is notoriously difficult to measure even in a laboratory with sophisticated instruments let alone in a koipond or fish pond using a piece of litmus type paper or a vial with coloured scales on it.
- If you must measure pond pH and this is a great part of the hobby then take the pond pH at the same time every day and plot the result on a graph. So now what you're looking for is not a single pondwater result but rather a pH trend in the pond water that you can use to sensibly consider a pH strategy.
- Very high pH in a koi pond is a serious threat to the well being of koi when levels reach about 9.5 because at this pH level ammonia which is a natural metabolic product of the koi and its existence becomes extremely poisonous
- It would be extremely rare for a koi pond to reach dangerous pH levels but could well occur in koi ponds with serious algae problems
My Very Best Pond pH Advice
Consider the testing of pH as a way of discovering the normal and natural variations that exist in every pond day in and day out. Tale a look at what happens in mid summer and the cold depths of winter. See testing of pH in a koi pond as another aspect of the fascinating hobby called Koi Pond Keeping.
While you're at it get yourself a complete testing kit and get into the habit of testing and recording your pond test results. Always remember one koi pond test is meaningless and potentially very dangerous to your koi and therefore your own stress level.
Most of all don't stress over pond "pH problems"... almost certainly there is no pond problem unless you added "stuff" you shouldn't have done in the first place.