Koi and Goldfish: Moving Ponds & Fish

Page Summary: Ive moved house about 5 times in my life and it was a nightmare each time. But at least the immediate environment didnt change. There was still 21% of oxygen in the air and the air was still breathable and pure. Now consider a koi or goldfish and a move to a new pond. In this case the pond fish have to be caught first which is in itself stressful. Once in the net they are deprived of oxygen for a while. When placed into the transporting container there is a limited amount of oxygen in the water and no biofiltration at all. No wonder the possibility of koi or goldfish dying during transport or on addition to a new pond.. they are forced into a most stressful situation on more than a single front as well.

Don't stress out your koi or goldfish when you move

It is a widely known fact of life that death, divorce, debt and moving house are among the most stressful situations we all have to face. While divorce and debt don't feature in the world of koi or goldfish, moving house (so to speak) and death certainly do. So if YOU are moving house and taking your fishy friends with you, please take this fact to heart.

How moving can stress fish

Fish are creatures that develop an affinity with their environment. Once ensconced, they rely on a habitat that stays pretty well the way they like it to be. Koi and gold fish don't enjoy changes and koi, especially, don't tolerate change well.

Goldfish are more forgiving, but even they can get extremely stressed when moved.

It isn't only the moving process that will stress the fish. Even though you can get most koi to eat out of your hand, unlike other pets, they don't enjoy being handled.

Koi and goldfish also object to being netted, which is inevitable if you are going to move them.

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If you are going to prevent a spontaneous spawning event (which most serious koi keepers prefer), then this is the time to ensure that males are not in the pond with the females. If the males are separate (which they should be), then this will be the time to induce the female, and artificially release the fish eggs (or to call someone in to do it for you). Then you will also need to collect sperm from the male koi so that the ova can be fertilised.

Of course if the quality of the water deteriorates or changes suddenly – which it will if you transfer koi and goldfish to "fresh" water when you move them – this will also cause considerable stress.

How to minimise stress in fish when you move them

In a nutshell, you need to prepare for the move and then carry it out meticulously, according to plan.

Timing is important, and it is preferably to move koi when it is cool. The reason for this is that the metabolism of all fish is lower when they are less active. They need less oxygen when it is cooler, and are able to store oxygen in their bodies more efficiently. Not only will they be easier to catch (because they are naturally sluggish at this time), but they will not suffer as much stress. Since you can't always plan a move for autumn or winter, at least move the fish in the evening or early morning when it is cool.

You also need to plan the actual transportation of the fish. Professionals frequently move koi stock in fibreglass tanks that provide them with sufficient aerated water to avoid stress during transportation. This way the fish can also be moved en masse, together. The alternative is to transport them in clear plastic bags, which is what normally happens when you buy fish from a stockist. Bags need to be large and strong (use two together for safety's sake), and you will need a suitable elastic band to close the bag. Generally only about a quarter of the bag is filled with water; ideally the water they have been living in. The rest of the bag will then contain air, and the oxygen that they need to survive.

When professionals bag a large quantity of fish, they often use a large floating cage net to hold them once they have been caught. They then bag them quickly, just before they are transported.

If you haven't netted koi before, be warned that the process can quickly cause sediment to rise from the base of the pond. So make sure you remove sufficient water for bagging before you capture your fish. The process should also be undertaken as quietly as possible, to reduce the possibility of stress. Avoid chasing them around the pond because this will increase their respiration rate and they will need all the oxygen they can get to recover.

Another point to remember is that when koi get stressed, their excretion rate increases. Since they can survive without any food at all for about a week, rather reduce their food supply prior to moving them. This will minimise unnecessary pollution of the water by the fish.

Introducing koi and goldfish to a new home

Presuming you have taken steps to ensure that there is a suitable pond or pool at your new home, this process is simple. All you do is float the bag on the surface of the pond for at least five minutes, allowing the temperature of the water in the bag to match that in the pond. Then open the bag and allow the fish to swim into the pond. This is exactly what you would do if you purchased pond fish and were bringing them home for the first time.

You can float several fish on the water at one time, but don't try to introduce them to the pond en masse. Rather release them in small batches.

Keep a particularly careful eye on your new pond, and test the quality of the water more often than you normally would. If any of your fish appear to look unbalanced or don't want to eat, they could be suffering from stress. Alternatively they may have been injured during the move. Check for bumps and scratches, or missing scales. These can easily develop ulcers which will need to be treated promptly to prevent further damage.

Youll be amazed at how simple it can be to breed fish with the help of spawning brushes. Spawning BrushYoull need one mature female and at least two males.

Put the brushes one above the other at the edge of the pond. Spawning usually occurs in the early morning after a night of flurried activity and can take several hours. Most of the eggs will stick to the brushes which can then be taken out of the pond and put in filtered water of the same temperature. If the eggs are not separated from the adult fish they may be eaten.

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