Spring is here; time to enjoy our ponds again. It is also the perfect time to spring clean your pond. As the weather outside warms up so does the water in the pond waking up the anaerobic bacteria and parasites that feast on the decaying leaves and muck that have accumulated on the bottom of the pond. Anaerobic bacteria will cause fowl odors, yellow or foamy water. Off colored water is not the only reason to spring-clean your pond, your Koi’s health depends on it. There are several signs that Koi will exhibit when water quality is bad or if there is a parasite problem. Here are just a few signs to watch for that is not normal Koi behavior.
Laying Over, setting on the bottom acting lethargic:
Fish seem to be lying on their sides until you disturb them, then they will swim a bit but go back to lying over or if they stay at the bottom this is a sign of stress. It could be parasites but most likely, it is poor water quality. Best treatment is a water change (be sure to add dechlorinator) and salt treatment.
Hanging or Gasping at the surface
Another sign of stress, as with a too low pH or not enough dissolved oxygen. If you see the fish hanging at the surface or if they have a milky film over them perform a major water change immediately, the pH is too low. The water change should bring the pH level to normal but you may need to add a stabilizer or pH puck to keep the pH level consistent. Gasping at the surface usually means there is not enough dissolved oxygen in the water. Poor water quality will also affect oxygen levels. Once again, a water change and salting would be in order, adding bubblers or a pump to help circulate the water.
Flashing, jumping and scratching:
You know your fish, if they do not normally display this kind of behavior then you can assume there is a parasite issue. Perform a water change and add salt. If the behavior does not change an over the counter parasite medicine should be added to the pond.
Swimming by itself, swimming head down or popeye, bloated fish
These are signs of a bacterial infections. If you see a fish swimming alone staying away from the rest of your fish, not eating or swimming with his head down these are early warnings of an infection. Treat the water with an anti-bacterial medication and get antibiotic food to him. If you notice the eyes bulging or the entire body bloated, the scales seem to be sticking straight out then it is most likely too late for this fish. Remember an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, in other words clean your pond, perform a water change or at the very least test the water before your fish starting acting up.