.
....................Questions & Answers...................
What size pond should I build? 
Filtration - what you need
What every pond owner should have
How Many Fish can I have in my pond
When to start and stop purchasing Fish 
They sold me a sick fish Ė What you did wrong
Doís and Doníts 
Stress
1.What size pond should I build? Well first I would say that depends on the number of fish you would like to have; but whatever size you decide on "Double it". Every Koi keeper without exception ends up building a larger pond. If you plan on raising, lets say 10 Koi build it for 20. You'll be glad you did and you will save a lot of work and money. You should pay special attention to the depth of you pond especially if you plan to over winter your Koi outdoors. Ponds should be dug at least a foot below the frost line and have a minimum depth of 30" with 4-8 feet being average.
2. Filtration - Filtration is one of the most important aspects of keeping your koi healthy. You can never have to much filtration. Calculate the volume of your pond and make sure that your pump can handle at the minimum, of turning over the complete volume of your pond every 2 hours, 1 hour is even better. If you need multiple systems then the investment is well worth it. Remember that they are living in there own toilet bowl and us humans need to regulate that water so that it is as free of waste and detrius as possible at all times. There are many different filters and pumps that you can purchase. Most tell you what volume of water they will handle but beware that they are usually wrong. Most of them do not handle as much as they say they will so over filter by all means.

Each system is two fold, they are designed to catch all the waste that fish produce and other dead plant life, leaves and sludge. It is deposited in  various medias depending on what type of filter you buy. They also build good bacteria's creating a biological filter to keep your pond running balanced. Once the waste products are caught in the filter they begin to rot and build bacteria's. These good bacteria's are essential  to a balanced system. However you do need to clean off the excess of detrius that builds within the filter media. It is in your best interest to clean off the outer layers of sludge that build and leave the inner portions to be deteriorated by the bacteria's that are building. Never wash out filter media with tap water as you will also be washing out all the good bacteria within them. Use pond water to rinse the filters as necessary. This way you will cycle your system a lot faster. If your filters begin to smell foul like rotten eggs or sulfur then that is not a good sign and means that you have not cleaned them enough. It can be a tricky balance. 

When looking for a filter system keep in mind that you want it not only efficient but easy to clean. You will have to search around a bit to find out what will work best in your particular system. Make sure that it includes a backwash feature and a drain off for sludge. 

3. What every pond owner should have There are certain things that every pond owner is going to need without exception. Nets to catch your fish, the best being a sock net so that trauma to your fish is  minimal. You can use a regular net to coral them and then scoop them up in the sock for transport or removal. A floating bowl for taking a close look at a fish that may have an injury or is sick. By placing the Koi in the bowl and not removing it from the pond is less stressful on them. You are going to want a net to cover your pond completely to avoid predators problems. Blue Heron are notorious for finding your pond sooner or later and can wipe out your pond in a couple of days. Although the net may seem unsightly, its worth it instead of the lose of a very expensive Koi. A good aeration pump and air stone is an absolute must for your pond. Purchase a good strong quality one, not a small aquarium air pump. Air added to the water is vital to the health of your Koi. Not to mention lack of it will kill them. Keep some standard medications on hand. See our Medicine section. Sooner or later you will probably encounter a problem be it small or major. An inflatable pool or holding tank is invaluable to the pond owner in case of emergencies. If you somehow get a leak in your pond and it empties you need to put your Koi somewhere. If you have a bad ammonia spike and need to empty the pond or if they come down with a bad sickness that is effecting all your koi you will need to remove them all and clean out your system. Be sure to add air to your holding tank should it come to that. Microbes and good bacteria are also needed to jump start and maintain your biological filter along with Koi Zyme for fighting aeromonas. You should also have salt on hand. Each time you change your water you will need to replace what you have taken out. If you have city water you will need De Chlorinator. A skimmer net is always useful for removing leaves or anything else off the top of the pond water.
5. How Many Fish can I have in my pond? The general rule is one Koi per at least 200gallons. Remember, they are going to grow. If you have super filtration, keep the water clean and feed reasonably you can push these numbers a little. 
6. When to start and stop purchasing Fish In climates that have a winter it is best to wait till about May or when the water temperature reaches 55 degrees. Ideally your pond should be cycled but at least have the preparations of a freshly cleaned pond, microbes and bacteria's to jump start your filters and Koi Zyme already added to your pond. Stop purchasing about 1 month prior to the weather change. This would generally be in October. The Koi need to acclimate down in order to ease the transition through the winter. 
7. They sold me a sick fish There are times when you are sold a sick fish but most of the time that is not the case. The trick to keeping your new fish healthy is to first have clean cycled water in your quarantine tank. It is best to keep them from your main pond and treat with preventive treatments such as Malachite Green or salt and stress Coat when they arrive. After the fish has been with you for about a week it would be a good practice to de-worm the fish unless you are assured that this has been done.

When you bring home a new fish it is not used to your water. You must acclimate the fish to your existing conditions to make a smooth transition. When you bring the fish home float the bag for at least 20 minutes to regulate temperature then slowly add some of your own water into the bag. Repeat adding your water into the bag for about 4-5 times approximately 10 minutes apart. If your bag gets to full dispose of some of the water but not into your pond or quarantine system. Once you have adaquately adapted the fish to its new water, pick the fish up with your hands or use a sock net and place it in your system. Dispose of all the water in the bag.

Under ideal conditions you should ask what type of environment the fish had been living in when you buy it. In other words, is it city water, what is the temperature, what is the PH level etc. You probably won't be able to re-create the living conditions that the fish has been in so you must get your fish used to its new environment but do it slowly. The fish should remain in quarantine for at least 2 weeks to rest before adding it to your main collection. This way you will not risk infecting your existing fish and the new fish will have time to adjust to its new living conditions. If at all possible buy at least two fish to keep each other company in a quarantine system. Koi do not like to live alone and will sulk about it. It can not be stressed enough to put a net over the entire quarantine system to avoid the fish jumping out when it first arrives. For that matter, a net should be over your main system for these same reasons and also to avoid predators from coming in for a visit. Fish are looking to go home and will try all angles to do so. They are under a tremendous amount of stress with the move. 

The first stressor is being netted. Fish just are not used to being out of water. That can effect the total system of a fish and send its immune system into shock therefore being susceptible to many illnesses. When transporting a fish it should be caught in a sock net to minimize damage and trauma. If at all possible pick up the fish and move it rather than net it. Also the new water is carrying bacteria's that your fish may be used to but the new fish has never been exposed to. You need to destress the new fish and make it as comfortable as possible so that its immunity has enough strength to ward off any new bacteria's that it may come in contact with in its new environment. Once you see over a period of 2 weeks that your fish has not succumbed to any illness you can safely add it to your main system. 

8. Doís and Doníts Ė Feeding & Emergencies what to do Don't put sharp objects or rocks in your pond. The fish will only get injured. Don't over medicate, use medications only when absolutely necessary and know the volume of your pond so that you do not overdose. Don't over feed your fish nor start them off  in spring on high protein food. Don't feed them high protein when you are shutting down for the winter either. Feed your fish the proper foods for the season and water temperatures. Don't change all the water in your pond all at once. Don't change the temperature of the water during changes up or down more than 10 degrees. Don't use Salt with certain medications See Medicines. Don't put Salt in your pond if you are using Zeolite as a filter media. Don't leave your UV light on when medicating or adding bacteria's. It will defeat the purpose. You can turn it back on in 24 hours. Don't buy baby fish late in the season if you live in seasonal climates. 

Do be vigilant about using preventive measures as in the case of using Koi Zyme for combating aeromonas. Do keep your water clean with good filtration. Do test your water regularly for ammonia and nitrites. Do inspect your fish everyday to be sure there are no problems brewing. The behavior of your Koi will let you know that something is wrong. Act quickly if a problem arises. Do add strong aeration to your system by way of air stones or waterfalls. Do add plants to your pond for a better balanced system but beware that Koi LOVE to eat them. Large smooth pots are the best set up on a shelf to minimize the damage to them by the Koi. Do have a bottom drain installed in your pond. 
 

9. What is stress to a fish We have all heard over and over about a fish being stressed and one of the main reasons for them to die. But what exactly does that mean? There are many things that are extremely stressful to a fish so let's go over them. 

Netting is dangerous, harmful and the most un-natural thing for a fish to endure. It also takes a toll on one of there best defenses, that being there slime coat. We do of course need to catch them some how but there are proper ways to do so. The technique is to come up under the fish slowly and life them into a bowl that is floating in the water with them. From there they can either be lifted out to a transport bag with your hands or by using a sock net. The sock net is much less harmful and injurious to them than lifting up out of the water in a regular net. Fins don't get caught and they literally slide out into there next destination. If you are not bagging them for transport than they can be carried in bowl or bucket to another water source. 

Putting a fish in water that it is not use to also causes a great deal of stress. They are used to the water chemistry of where they were living. Every time a fish is moved to another water source the chemistry can be drastically different. It takes them time to adjust and build up immunities to the bacteria's in that new water, rebuild any damage done to there slime coat and to feel at home.

The chemistry of fish is that of flight or fight. In the wild they have to be aware of predators, they are aware of sounds around them that warn of danger. Fish do startle and when that happens they release adrenaline just as we do as humans but the only difference is that we can settle our chemistry down in a short period of time. A fish can not do that. It takes a fish many hours to reduce the adrenaline in their bodies and while in this state they can go into shock. This can kill a fish. Cracking ice on a frozen pond above them, chasing them with nets, being over crowded, taking them out of their water to medicate them, and even transporting them all cause a chemical imbalance. All this creates a stress factor.

When fish spawn or breed, that is also a great stressor. The male chases the female so much that he can actually exhaust her out to death. That is why brood stock should be in excellent condition to endure the breeding process. Time needs to be spent afterwards to de-stress the fish or they will become ill.

A fish's best protection is there slime coat, a good diet and healthy water. If their slime coat is down and there is bad bacteria in the water, or if they have an injury and stressed it all sets them up for a major problem. They will get sick. Nature has its ways of protecting and preparing the fish for all kinds of conditions and it is us humans that are usually the culprit in making them sick. We should be more concentrated on keeping there conditions, water and environment healthy than on the fish themselves. When we are the keepers of the water our fish will thrive.

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