Koi Ponds: Koi Medication: Treating Koi & Goldfish Health Problems

Page Summary: Treating koi health problems is really not for you and me. Even vets unless they specialise in fish disease will have difficulty helping a pond owner to successfully treat ailing koi or goldfish in a garden fish pond. To diagnose accurately koi disease or health problems microscopes at least are often necessary. A microscope of course can only be used when a koi or goldfish is captured and this feat alone creates tremendous stress for any fish koi, goldfish or otherwise. Prevention is better than cure goes the old saying and this is particularly true in a koi or goldfish pond. In practical terms this means installing a correctly designed pond bio filter. If you have a regularly cleaned working 24/7 biofilter it is rare that a serious disease will hit your fish pond. The biggest danger comes when new fish are introduced into a pond. That being said some people will still go ahead and start treating diseases themselves. If this route is followed then accuracy in pond volume measurement and medication rates is vital.

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Koi Medication: Treating Koi & Goldfish Health Problems

The extensive array of koi and gold fish medications and pond treatments on the market can prove to be quite daunting, especially when you’re faced with having to make a decision about treating your ailing fish. Even experienced koi keepers will agree that treating fish disease is no easy task. Maintaining a stable pond environment is challenging enough, but it’s often the slight changes in water quality that can have a knock-on effect and thus cause fish health problems.

Ulcers are quite a common fish health problem. An ulcer is most often a symptom of a stressed fish. Your koi or gold fish could be stressed for multiple reasons – perhaps they have had to acclimatise to a new pond environment or maybe the water quality is poor due to an overstocked pond. These causal factors should always be investigated before you decide to use pond treatments or medication. If you test your pond water quality and the results are poor, then you should definitely rectify the pond environment before treating your koi, otherwise you will experience reoccurring fish health problems. Don’t just treat the problem, treat the cause!

Furthermore, your ailing koi and gold fish will also have to recuperate from the inside out. You can treat the symptoms, but ultimately your fish will need to build up strength and recover in a supportive environment – which involves supplying koi with a good diet and stable water quality. However, when it comes to the nitty gritty of treating a specific disease or fish health problem, it’s best to consider a number of factors:

Addressing Fish Health Problems

Firstly, it’s important that you accurately diagnose the health problem in question. You may have first noticed that your koi or gold fish were suffering after witnessing behavioural changes or physical irregularities, but you won’t know for sure what to treat unless you can figure out which organism is causing the ailment. A sure way of finding out is to study a mucus scraping under a microscope. Once you’ve identified the pathogen that is causing the ailment, you can choose the best possible treatment.

Any fish or pond treatment that you use should be administered following the correct dosage and frequency instructions. This will inevitably entail working out your pond’s volume and making any necessary adjustments to your filter system. It is vitally important that you take proactive measures to ensure that your koi and goldfish do not experience any additional stress from the administration of medication. This could involve the addition of extra aeration and bypassing the biofilter for the period of treatment.

Once you have begun to administer a treatment, you should observe all of your koi and goldfish closely to determine if they are responding positively to the medication. If their health deteriorates, you should definitely get some advice from a trusted aquatic dealer and possibly explore alternative causal factors or different treatment options.

Treating Fish Ulcers

As mentioned, ulcers are a relatively common fish health problem. Most often, ulcers are symptomatic of an internal bacterial infection. Koi and gold fish become susceptible to bacteria when they are stressed. Unfortunately, ulcers can grow very fast and they are also communicable. Immediate isolation and instant treatment is recommended.

The first thing you should do when you notice ulcers is locate a reasonably sized, filtered area with good water quality where your fish can be quarantined. Once you’ve found a suitable recovery area, salt should be added to the water for its antiseptic properties and to prevent further fluid loss through the ulcer. A common pond treatment like malachite green or acriflavine should also be added to the water to combat bacteria. Depending on the severity of the ulcers, you may even need to anaesthetise your koi or gold fish and apply a topical antiseptic ointment to the infected area. A waterproof balm such as Orabase can be applied together with concentrated malachite green directly onto the ulcer. This topical treatment will need to be replaced just about every day until your koi or goldfish improve. Make certain that your recovery area is aerated as much as possible and that the water temperature is raised to about 22 degrees during this time.

Classifying Fish Medication and Pond Treatments

Most koi and goldfish medications can be classified according to two categories. The first group consists of medications that are called by their chemical name - like Chloramine T and malachite green - whereas the second group consists of medications that are named according to what they treat – like White Spot Treatment. The most important thing to remember when using any medication from these two categories is that they are not just toxic to the pathogen that they treat, but also to your fish. In this regard, it is imperative that you check dosage rates and follow instruction leaflets carefully. Keeping a logbook to document fish health problems and pond treatments can prove very helpful in the long run, as you will soon be able to see which medications work well.

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Colour-determining cells called chromatophores are located in the deeper dermis of a koi’s skin. Depending on the genes that koi have inherited, their colouring and markings will change and develop over time. A variety of colours are developed from corresponding chromatophores, while black markings are produced by melanophore which is found near the epidermis. In order to protect these intricately coloured creatures, you need to handle them with care. As koi skin is so fragile, it’s best to avoid handling your fish unless it is entirely necessary – and even when it is necessary, koi should be caught with very soft hand nets and should be held with wet hands.

If you suspect that your koi may be suffering from an outbreak or increase in pathogenic organisms, a mucus biopsy can be carried out to determine the cause. This too should only be done if it is entirely necessary, as there are additional risks involved with removing some of the protective mucus. A glass slide should be drawn over each dorsal flank in order to get a sample which can then be examined under a microscope.

Removing Loose Scales

In the same way that the age of a tree can be determined by counting the bands on its trunk, a koi’s age can be worked out by counting the bands on its scales. Each fish scale will have evidence of the seasonal periods of growth that your koi have undergone. If you ever have a chance to examine a fish scale on its own, you will see that it has no colour. The function of koi scales is to serve as another barrier of protection, overlapping each other to allow for flexibility.

Koi are not able to regenerate lost scales. They have a set number that develop in size along with their own growth patterns. However, if any scales come loose or are damaged through an unfortunate chain of events, you will have to remove them. The best method of removal is to use a sterilised pair of tweezers to extract the damaged koi scale in one quick motion. Afterwards, you should treat the extraction site with anti-bacterial ointment to prevent any infection.

Top Tips to Enhance Koi Skin

If you want to enhance the colouration and overall health of your kois’ skin and scales, it all comes down to diet and minerals. Koi are able to take in minerals through their diet and via the pond water. To ensure that they are getting sufficient minerals, you should increase the calcium and magnesium levels in your pond water.

Another excellent source of minerals is clay. Regular addition of clay will replenish the mineral content of your pond water, improving its clarity while also providing for the mineral requirements of your koi. Koi colouration can also be enhanced by making certain that there is enough carotenoid in their diet. A koi’s colours will become noticeably more faded if they are given a diet that is deficient in carotenoid.

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Dont stress over pond pH and Testing Koi Pond pH

Interpet Koi Pond Test Kit

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 ponds water. If you test do it reliably... Interpet lead this pond water testing field of the koi keeping hobby

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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 youre 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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

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