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First Aid Treatment



A dead fish in the pond is not just bad news - it usually means there are  worse news on the way.  A koi doesn't usually just turn up dead in the pond.  It is more likely to be a victim of poor water quality, inadequate oxygenation, disease invasion, or a combination of the above.  Regardless of the cause of death, you can be sure that there are other koi affected.  Seeing a dead fish in the pond should therefore trigger you to act decisively and swiftly to prevent the death of more fish.



First aid treatment of affected koi can not happen unless the pond owner recognizes the tell-tale signs of an impending problem.  Fish gasping at the surface of the water indicates that the dissolved oxygen in the pond is inadequate for the fish population.  Immediately subject the pond to aeration to rectify the problem.  Aerators and bubblers are the proper equipment for this purpose, but agitating the surface of the water will help if none of these equipment is available.  Making the water returning to the pond from the filter splash onto the pond surface will create ripples that greatly promote oxygenation of the pond.


A change in the appetite of the koi is also an indication of a health problem.  Koi have big appetites, so you should become suspicious if they're not taking in those pellets as voraciously as they normally do.   Other signs of health problems that can't be ignored are:  1) sluggish or erratic movement; 2) strange position in the water;  3) labored breathing; 4) folding of the pectoral fins to the sides; 5) parasites or spots anywhere on the koi; 6) blood-streaked fins; 7) bloated abdomen; 8) discoloration; 9) popped eyes; 10)  raised scales; and, of course, 11) lesions or ulcers on the fish.


The first thing  you should do if you spot any of these symptoms is to check the pond's water quality.  Extreme ammonia, nitrite, or pH readings would necessitate an immediate 50% water change.  Some koi experts recommend boosting the pond's salt content to 0.5% to relax the koi until they recover.  Note, however, that there also koi experts out there who'd never subject their koi to salt.  Salt has some bactericidal properties, so this practice has merits of its own.


Net out the affected koi and isolate them from the main population. Examine these sick koi for lesions.  Lesions may be treated with potassium permanganate using a cotton swab.  Iodine may also be used as a substitute.  Be sure to keep all medicines away from the gills.



Figure 1.  Sick koi must be netted out

of the pond and inspected for lesions




Check the sick koi for parasites as well.  Most parasites can be destroyed by salt, so this is another reason why quarantine tanks are usually kept with a salt concentration of 0.5%.  Some parasites need special chemicals to be eradicated.  You may therefore need to call in your vet if you're not sure what your fish is infested with. 


Hospitalize your sick koi in the quarantine tank until they are totally cured before putting them back into your main pond.  Feed your sick koi premium koi pellets and natural food (such as shrimps and fruits) to hasten their recovery.  They should likewise be kept in properly-oxygenated and comfortably warm water (76-82 deg F) while under quarantine.






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