Having a garden pond stocked
with koi places a certain responsibility on the owner. This
responsibility increases as the stocking density in the pond increases.
If there were only three or four smallish fish in your typical garden
pond, very little attention will normally be needed from the owner. The
koi will even survive an extended period without you giving them any
food because the pond will provide them with natural food. But as you
put more fish into the pond and the larger the fish become, the more
they will be dependant on you for survival.
A large collection of beautiful
koi will be fully dependant on their owner for their basic needs. You
will need to feed them on a balanced diet of fresh koi food. You will
need to fit pumps and filters to the pond to ensure that the their waste
is removed and good water quality is maintained. You will need to aerate
and circulate the water by some means in order for the koi and all other
life in the pond to breath. Failing this, things are sure to go wrong in
Parasite are enemy number one.
When fish are under stress due to overcrowding and poor water quality,
they become easy pray to parasites. But even in the best kept ponds
parasites can from time to time become a problem. There are a few early
warning signs. Your koi may scrape or 'flick' their bodies against
objects in the pond. They may swim slowly with one or both pectoral fins
clasped against the body. Sometimes they hide in the quietest corners of
the pond where the water
flow is at a minimum. Watch for fish 'sitting' at the bottom or hanging
near the surface at a angle and breathing heavily.
Pond keepers should make a habit
of observing their koi with care while feeding them. Those that do not
come eagerly for food, could have a problem. If a fish do not show an
interest in food for two or three days in row, there must be something
wrong and the pond keeper must resort to treatment.
It is important to give the
right treatment. The novice should get advice before attempting to
medicate his pond with something off the shelf.
Talk to your koi dealer or local S A Koi Keepers Society to
establish who can best diagnose your problem. Take a sample of your pond
water in a jar for analysis and if possible, a sick fish for microscopic
diagnosis. Treatment can be swift and quick if the correct medication is
used and will prevent secondary complications.
To transport your sick fish place it
in a clean plastic bag
(dustbin bag will do) in a bucket or cooler box and fill one third with
pond water. Put the fish inside the bag and close the bag with a rubber
band or knot in such a way that air is trapped inside. If the bucket is
kept in a cool place, the fish can quite easily travel for an hour or
more like that.
There are many books on the
market or in the library that can enlighten the novice about all the
fascinating aspect of koi keeping. Information is also available on the
Internet in the news group rec.ponds.
Written for Animal Talk magazine --
© Servaas de Kock & Ronnie Watt