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One of my koi acting weird after I finished feeding them, I know fish tend to gulp for air at the surface if there isnt enough DO available to them. I have p...

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Comment by Jon Parr on December 10, 2012 at 2:22am

Sorry to see that poor fish having trouble, Glenn. You've had some good advice here, and the first thing I would do is set up a quarantine tank. It doesn't have to be big or fancy, just a barrel or a kid's wading pool, or a 55 gal aquarium off of craigslist (I get free scratched acrylic tanks all the time) and a growbed will do, and fill the growbed with media from your other system, and water from you other system. Then you can transfer this troubled guy over immediately with no additional shock from changing water chemistry. 

The other fish do appear fine, and you mentioned that the Koi in question has returned to normal? Perhaps you are through with the worry, though it is always a good idea to have a treatment tank, with system water in circulation when all is good, and bypass-able when treating a fish, or when adding new fish.

I know John C's advice is solid for treating fish, although in aquaponics I avoid anything that is not safe for me to eat, whether or not it is effective at treating fish. My health and happiness, and that of my friends and family that I feed from my system, is paramount. A single sick fish should be observed, treated safely for it and myself, and ultimately gets fed to the cat if I can't make it better. No great loss, circle of life. 

This is a good read for everyone

I have linked it before, and is the simplest lesson in water chemistry and fish culture that I know of. Glenn, RO water is fine for topping off, or for hydroponics, or even total water supply if you are willing to be the chemist and replace all that is lost. Rainwater is about the same. I personally think you are better with tap water through a faucet filter or hose filter designed to remove chlorine and choramine. Either way, remember that bacteria health is foremost in aquaponics. If you keep your bacteria happy, all else falls into order, more or less. One thing commonly overlooked in AP is the water requirements for bacteria health are actually more strict than fish or plant health, specifically system stability and hardness. A new system builds a large bacterial population from nothing, and hardness (actually carbonate hardness CaCO3) is very important. I have always assumed that since I have hard water, that I would never be in short supply. That is not true. A recent hardness test was all over the place for each of my systems. Most were in plenty, some freaking high, and one at virtually zero. The one that was zero was crashing when I tested, and was the reason I even got the test kit. It was my newest and largest system, 2200 gallons of water, and had at that time recently been installed, cycled, and pumped out the best produce I've ever seen. In the process of building an incredible bacterial population, I must have depleted my carbonates, and had to add some back at the brink of disaster. It is still low, but recovering. I now test weekly, and maintain general hardness between 150-250, and carbonate hardness 100 plus. 

Glenn, about KCl, I salt all systems now to a total of 1 ppt, using a 50/50 blend of KCl and NaCl, strictly for the health of fish and plants, and I increase that to 3-4 ppt in the event of treating fish. I leave it there, by the way, unless there is someday a need for fish treatment again, in which case I reduce salt back to 1 ppt by water changes. For those of you who swear that salt inhibits plant some homework. Hydroponics is ALL salt based nutrients, and that should be enough to end that argument. Some plants are sensitive to salt, so far in my experience strawberries and nasturtiums. Most of the gorgeous pics of lettuce on my site were grown in a cycling system, with catfish being treated for ich by salting to 3 ppt.

Comment by John Cubit on December 2, 2012 at 2:54pm

I am not sure about Kcl or Hcl, hopefully you are mixing with water prior to adding to tank.  Have you done a Phosphorous test?  You numbers look pretty good so I am skeptical of much else, I do not mean to be alarmist but I always lean to the worst most common problem the species has but do keep an eye on them.

Comment by Glenn Davis on December 2, 2012 at 12:31pm

I was doing some reading and I think my problem for the onset of this behavior is some rapid changes in my water chemistry. I had 2 water over flows in the same week, where I lost 400 gal of my 600+ gal system and had to add back all RO. I added things like KCl for a general tonic and disease prevention, I've been adding HCl to adjust my water Ph, started at 8.2 and been slowly working my way down where I'm at 7.4 now. Raised the temp from 58f to 70f over a week or so. So I think all those changes may have caused this behavior. I'm going to monitor the rest of the fish and the koi to make sure I don't see anymore of this behavior developing.

Temp: 70f

Ph: 7.4

Ammonia <.25ppm

Nitrite: 0ppm

Nitrate: 20-40ppm

Comment by John Cubit on December 2, 2012 at 12:22pm

Here are the quick tips on treating koi and goldfish includes Talapia.

We always treat the fish as if they have the gill flukes regardless as sometimes it is too hard to see if they are there. 

Emergency Procedures

  1. Insure that there is adequate aeration in the pond or treatment tank.
  2. Treat the pond for flukes if gill flukes are suspected.
  3. Treat the pond with BGDX - be sure to bypass the filter.
  4. Feed triple antibiotic food during both treatments.


Comment by John Cubit on December 2, 2012 at 12:18pm

If that was the issue the other fish would be having problems.  I see the other koi in the bottom of the tank is fine.

Comment by John Cubit on December 2, 2012 at 12:15pm

Glenn, you can also disconnect the tank from the grow bed  while treating the fish but all traces of the medication will need to be out of the water before re-connections.  We have in the past  taken two to three weeks to treat the fish.  I am not sure of the situation with you tanks and grow beds but, it can be treated if taken care of quickly.

As for the fish a quick look under the gill plate will show whether or not the gills are in trouble.  If the gills are torn, uneven, scarred, discolored or look like hamburger meat that tells us that the gills have undergone trauma and it also indicates bacterial gill disease.  Ammonia can cause "clubbing" of the gills which is permanent damage but bacterial gill disease will damage the gills much worse.  Healthy gills should be beet red, have even edges in perfect semi-circles and should not have spots of discoloration.  The edges of an unhealthy gill may look like the edges of a feather with chunks out of it and white streaks through it.  Grey spots are masses of dead tissue and you can see that illustrated in the picture above.  White on the edge of the gill indicate ammonia, nitrite or pH crash burn and isn't an indicator that the fish has bacterial gill disease.


Here is the best picture I can find with the procedure listed above

There is also the possibility of perforated gill, not fatal and usually heals fine.  That will cause gulping and what looks like distress.  That can happen for, and have seen this when some fish eat bees or other stinging insects and they get stung, or if food or debris gets caught in the gill filament  can cause an infection or tear but most fish will successfully expel the debris before damage.  I would keep an eye on the koi and think about keeping a nursery tank handy (aquarium) in the event they display they  same signs again.  Good luck, if you search for Bacterial Gill Disease you should find other info on causes that would effect the koi or goldfish the same way.

Comment by Glenn Davis on December 2, 2012 at 12:11pm

I also want to note that I use RO with my system as my city water has chloramines and I don't want to add that to my system. I know using RO isnt ideal because it strips the water completely. Could this be the cause of the respiration problem?

Comment by Glenn Davis on December 2, 2012 at 11:54am

In response to Growzay, and Ben, I have plenty of aeration in that tank. I have an AP-100 with 2 - 12in air stones I can make that tank rumble like crazy if I wanted to. I just turn the air off when I feed so I can observe.

John, thanks for your comments. I don't have any other tank set up to move the koi into. Was thinking of setting up a 50 gal in my garage but I don't have the funds for one right now. So if i had to treat this koi for BGD I would have to do it in a separate tank and use medication? I def don't want to use anything in my system that's going to kill my bacteria. If I do that, then I might as well start from scratch. What am I looking for on the gills? The koi is back to normal swimming and eating fine, that was the first time I've observed that behavior. Really hope this isn't what your thinking, the system was starting to take off nicely.

Comment by John Cubit on December 2, 2012 at 7:45am

I for got to mention that all the fish in that tank should be treated with for BGD.  They may need to be treated as damaged goods and require far more aeration than normal fish would require as the gills are now considered permanently damaged and delicate.

I know some are gonna argue with me but I have seen this at our hatchery and unfortunately I can only make a 100% diag by seeing the fishes gills but with the other fish swimming where they should be, it is obvious that there is a problem with that fish right now.

Comment by John Cubit on December 2, 2012 at 7:35am

I see your other fish appear fine.  I would remove that Koi and place it in a separate tank.  There is a possibility that the fish has BGD (Bacterial Gill Disease), it is contagious and fatal.  Very common with Koi although other fish do get it.  It is treatable but you should get that fish separated from the others and the grow bed.  You will need to treat the fish for Flukes, plenty of meds out there for it but it will kill you nitrifying bacteria.  Good luck.

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