Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My pump went out for a few hours, are my Koi OK? -Dave

Your Koi should be fine, unless you are very heavily stocked and its a hot day, then you should panic.

A couple of things happen when a pump stops pumping:
  1. The filter stops working and some ammonia will build up in the water. A few hours is not long enough for toxic levels of ammonia to build up. Your filter should remove any buildup shortly after you turn your pump back on.
  2. Another filter related thing, if your not pumping water and you rely on a biological filter to clean your water, your nitrifying bacteria that live in the filter are not getting any fresh food (i.e. ammonia, nitrite) or fresh oxygen. Don't worry, you won't lose any noticeable amount of bacteria in a few hours. The on;y reason you should be concerned over this is if your pump was off for half a week.
  3. The oxygen levels in your pond will drop, but only if you are relying on a waterfall to aerate your pond and you don't have an air pump/air stone to supplement it. During mild temperatures, a few hours won't hurt, but be cautious if its 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and your water temperature is 84 degrees Fahrenheit, you could run out of oxygen fast.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

What is the average life span of koi fish? -Leon

Most Koi live about 20-30 years. That is usually cut short due to an accident or a miss hap. There's a joke about how a Koi will live until the owner kills it. It is not uncommon to find a 30-60 year old Koi in some ponds around Asia.

The oldest Koi ever recorded was named Hanoko. Apparently, it lived to be about 226 years old and was kept in a natural pond in someones backyard in Japan. Hanoko was passed on down from generation to generation and even lived through many earthquakes. Hanoko was not a very pretty Koi, it was kept as a pet when the whole "selective breeding" thing just started, it was only a dull red color. Hanoko died back in the 1970's. The owners had the rings in its scales counted, like the tree rings in a tree trunk, to determine its age.

Are Koi fry usually born black and change colour wih age? -Eileen

All Koi start out as tiny dark fry after they emerge from their eggs. They soon start to develop their colors. Most will have a dull brown or just a single color, like orange. The reputable breeders cull out these and leave only the select few that have the potential to grow out into a beautiful fish.

Different varieties will turn different colors when they are small. Kohakus will turn an orange color with a pattern, Showas will remain black, metallic Koi will have a sheen, ect. As Koi grow older, their colors and patterns come out.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Koi Keeping

Hi, this is just an observation that I have noticed since changing from Gold fish to Koi and that is that Koi are very intelligent creatures. Mine are waiting at the same spot each morning for their food as soon as they hear me coming and they each have their own personalities. I have one fish, a medium blue with green markings and dark blue spots down his spine (not sure of the type) and I call him "Bluey" and when I call his name he will leave the rest of the pack and come over to me so they do recognise their owners. Others will also come over and take food from my hand, some are more reserved and hang back until the food hits the water. It is also true about their hearing being very sharp because they hear me calling them and they come a-swimming straight over. Absolutely beautiful fish, wish I could keep more. Maybe a bigger pond? -William

I believe that Koi are one of the most tame fish that you can buy. They are easily trained to hand feed. I've seen some that sit at the surface of the water and wait for their owners to actually put food in their mouths. Koi keeping is a great hobby.

How many times do small Koi have to be fed in a day? -Butters

Small Koi, i.e. under six inches, should be fed about two or three times a day during the summer. Since they are small, they won't need very much food. In the spring and fall, when your pond water is cold, you should only feed them one or two times a day.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Is there a safe wood preserve that I can use on my pergola, over my koi pond? -Dawn

I would start by going to a local hardware store, like a Home Depot or a Menard's, and asking a sales person if they carry any non-toxic wood stain. Tell them that you have a pergola over a fish pond and that you want to make sure that the stain will not harm your fish. If you local hardware store doesn't have any non-toxic stain, then check with a local paint shop. If any of these places don't have what you are looking for, then they should be able to point you in the right direction.

Koi and Plants

My Koi fish are well fed but as soon as I try to introduce plants into the water they destroy them, is this normal? I have floating plants on the water which are OK until they hang down close to the water and then the Koi jump at them to pull them down. What can I do to get some greenery down into the water? -William

It is normal for Koi to tear apart your plants. Koi are omnivorous, so they'll eat just about anything that tastes good to them, which, unfortunately, includes your pond plants. Another problem that many people have is their Koi uprooting their plants from their pots because they love to muck around in the dirt to look for things to eat.

You can try to wall off a small section of your pond with boulders, so that you create an area where the Koi can not get to so your plants will be safe. You'll want to make sure that the water flow does not get restricted, otherwise you might run into problems with anaerobic bacteria and hydrogen sulphide.

You can also try building a floating cage for your plants. Although, it may not be very aesthetically pleasing. Black is a good color.

Many people actually have a separate pond built just for plants. That way they can enjoy both their Koi and their aquatic plants without having to worry about one tearing apart the other. If you separate plant pond, it's a good idea to put a couple small goldfish or Koi in it to take care of any mosquito larvae.

Can you use roof slates for water falls? Will they harm my Koi? -Rob

I assume that you are talking about actual slate, and nothing like fiberglass or asphalt shingles. Slate itself is harmless to Koi, so you should be fine with using them in a waterfall. Absolutely make sure that there are no anti-mold or any other chemical treatments that are applied on the shingles. The chemical treatments could poison your Koi. That is not really the desired effect of a new waterfall. Here's the blurb from Wikipedia on roofing slate:

Slate can be made into roofing slates, also called roofing shingles, because it has two lines of breakability: cleavage and grain. This makes it possible to split slate into thin sheets. Fine slate can also be used as a whetstone to hone knives. Because of its thermal stability and chemical inertness, slate has been used for laboratory bench tops and for billiard table tops. In 18th and 19th century schools, slate was extensively used for blackboards and individual writing slates for which slate pencils were used.

Slate tiles are often used for interior and exterior flooring or wall cladding. Tiles are installed and set on mortar and grouted along the edges. Chemical sealants are often used on tiles to improve durability and appearance, increase stain resistance, reduce efflorence, and increase or reduce surface smoothness. Tiles are often sold gauged, meaning that the back surface is ground for ease of installation.

Slate is often used as a decor in freshwater aquariums. Slate will not alter the chemistry of water {except in the slate containing feldspar which may leech silicates into the water resulting in excess diatom growth in marine aquaria). When broken, slate produces a natural appearance while remaining relatively flat and can be easily stacked. Silicon glue adheres to slate, creating a non-toxic bond to secure it. It is also used in stairs and pathways for the same reasons.

Slate. (2007, February 18). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:26, February 19, 2007, from

What's the meaning of the colors that Koi have?

Here's a bunch of translations of the color names:
  • Ai - red
  • Aka - red
  • Beni - red
  • Budo - purple
  • Cha - tea or brown colored
  • Gin - (pron. geen) silver
  • Hi - (pron. hee) red
  • Ki - (pron. kee) yellow
  • Kin - (pron. keen) gold
  • Midori - (pron. meedoree) green
  • Orenji - (pron. orenjee) orange
  • Purachina - (pron. pooracheenah) platinum or metallic white
  • Shiro - (pron. sheeroh) white
  • Sumi - (pron. suemee) black
  • Yamabuki - (pron. yahmahbookee) metallic yellow

How do you tell a male from a female koi? -Dave

There are a bunch of subtle differences that male and female Koi have. They have different shaped fins and a different body conformation. Here's an in depth article on the subject:

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Goldfish & Koi

Is it possible that a 2 years old carassius (A goldfish) could kill a new 4 month old koi? They lived together in a 1000 gallon open outdoor pond. -Troppls

Both goldfish and Koi are docile, they will not eat or damage each other in anyway. There are a few things that may have happened to your Koi:
  1. It may have been eaten by a predator.
  2. It may have gotten sick and died.
  3. It could have had an internal defect and died from it.
  4. It could have jumped out of your pond and then flopped itself under something, hidden from view.
It's usually a good idea to cover your pond when you introduce a new Koi into it. They tend to be skitterish when they get new surroundings.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Black Spot

I have two Koi and two goldfish in a 600 gallons pond with a 1200 pump mag-Drive and a Jebao PF-3 Bio Filter with 11 Watts UV. This morning one of my goldfish had a small black spot on the side of the belly. I have been doing water tests weekly and I don’t see anything wrong with the water. I don’t know what could be wrong. Any Ideas? -Patrick

The black spot on your goldfish is probably a small cosmetic flaw, caused by a bad gene. Koi people usually call it Shimi. It has nothing to do with water quality and it does not affect their health.

There is a small possibility that it could be a parasite, like a fish louse or an anchor worm. But it's unlikely and you'd notice that your goldfish would probably be acting funny.

How many Koi can one can safely keep? -William

The standard that most people go by is this:
One Koi for every 150 gallons of water in a pond, or 1:150.

150 gallons of water per Koi will give them plenty of room to swim around and plenty of space to grow out.

Some people go much higher than 150 gallons per Koi, some go up to 1,000, 1,500 or 5,000!

Many hobbiests do get concered if they have 22 or 23 Koi in a 3,000 gallon pond. They don't need to worry, it only lowers the ratio by a few gallons.

The amount of filtration that you have for your pond is far more important than a gallon ratio. Being underfiltered is far worse than being overstocked.

Bakki Showers. What do you know and are they a good way to filter the water? -Cam

Nitrifying bacteria in ponds need three things to thrive:
  1. Water
  2. Food (Fish Waste - supplied by your Koi)
  3. Oxygen
A Bakki Shower is a wet/dry filter.

A Bakki Shower is basically a bunch of boxes (chambers) with perforated bottoms that are stacked ontop of eachother and then filled with filter media. Water that is taken from the pond is pumped up into the top chamber, where it then proceeds to fall down through the rest of the chambers and then back into the pond. When the water falls and hits the filter media, the nitrifying bacteria that live on it do their thing by converting the toxins that Koi produce into Nitrate. Also, the water hitting the filter material creates a large amount of agitation, making it absorbs a lot of oxygen, which both Koi and Nitrifying bacteria need.

The Bakki Shower will filter your water and aerate your pond at the same time.

There are a few of downfalls for this type of filter:
  • A Bakki Shower provides no mechanical filtration.
  • A single Bakki Shower is only good for a small to medium sized pond. A large pond will require several Bakki Showers, which will increase the overall price of a pond and the overall noise level.
  • A Bakki Shower will create some noise. If you prefer you water feature to be peaceful and quiet, this may not be a good choice for you.
Bakki Showers are good for filtering a pond. They are relatively easy to install and easy to maintain.

Is There A Way To Enhance The Fishes' Colors, ie Food ect. But In A Cheap Way? -Kevin

The easiest way to enhance a Koi's color is by letting it get plenty of sunshine. Good old vitamin D will really bring out the color in your Koi.

You can also give your Koi food with carotenoids in it. Carotenoids are what give Flamingos their nice pink color. When a Koi, like a Kohaku, eats food with carotenoids, it enhances their red color. Although, you also don't want feed it too much to them, because their white color will start to turn pink.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Koi Q & A

Koi Questions and Answers was launched today. We're looking forward to everybody's questions. If you look to the right, there is a message box to type your questions in.