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~Fish Health~
August 20, 2009

Fish Health

Welcome to the 35 new subscribers.

The key to successful treatment of your Koi is correctly identifying the problem. There are many excellent remedies, but they are ineffective if the diagnosis is wrong. Buying healthy specimens from a reputable dealer is the first step to a Healthy Koi.

A regular inspection of your fish at feeding time will often alert you to the first signs of a problem. Fish may look listless or have difficulty breathing. There may be physical signs of ill health or a fish may not appear at feeding time. Recognizing these early signs as potential problems mean you can swiftly implement the appropriate treatment.


Testing your pond water

Good water quality plays a major role in maintaining the health of your fish, so test the pond water regularly, particularly for ammonia, nitrite and pH levels. If fish are showing signs of stress or distress, testing the pond water should be your first course of action. Listless fish or fish gasping at the surface may be suffering from a lack of oxygen or a high nitrite level, both of which can be rectified without adding chemicals to the water.

Water quality problems should be eliminated before proceeding any further. If there is no problem with the water, you can begin to consider other options.


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Hygiene and Safety

For your own safety, do not handle fish if you have any open cuts or abrasions. Whenever, testing water or performing maintenance around the pond, make sure that you thoroughly wash your hands after handling fish. Diseases such as fish TB can be passed to humans and will result in severe discomfort.

To prevent diseases spreading from a quarantine tank to the pond, avoid using the same equipment for both ponds. Keep nets separate and be sure to wash your hands after handling sick fish. If on occasion you need to use the same equipment for both the treatment tank and the pond, clean the items using one of the many proprietary disinfectants available from your local pond supplier.

Fish Disease

I will briefly discuss some of the skin parasites here. If you would like more information on this subject click here for the Koi health page.

White Spot: is the most common skin parasite and easy to treat if recognized early. Diagnosis is simple, the skin and fins of the fish will be covered in small white cysts, almost like a dusting of grains of salt. The cysts measure up to 0.04in (1mm) in diameter and spread rapidly across the fish if not treated. Ask your pond shop specialist to recommend a proprietary white spot treatment and be sure to administer the full course of treatment.

Although cysts quickly disappear from the host fish, the treatment must be allowed to affect the free swimming parasites. Or you could leave the pond without any fish in it for 7-14 days. This is usually enough time to ensure that the cysts die off, as there are no hosts to which they can attach themselves.

Slime disease is caused by a multitude of parasite infections and usually manifests itself by causing excess, grayish mucus on the body of the fish. They may rub against rocks or other rough surfaces in order to rid themselves of the irritation. Treat the pond with a proprietary anti-parasite treatment.


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Disposing of Sick Fish Humanely

On occasion, it may be necessary to destroy terminally sick fish. If you find the prospect distressing, consult a veterinary surgeon, which will ensure that the fish has a painless death. Should you have to destroy a fish yourself, the quickest and most humane method is to decapitate it using a sharp knife (or a sharp pair of scissors for very small fish.) Larger fish should be stunned first with a blow to the head.

If you keep your pond water healthy the chances of your fish staying healthy will be far greater.

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