‘The moment a Koi leaves the breeder, it starts to deteriorate’ – Yes, this statement was often made and many resigned themselves to having to accept this as a fact.

And it will still continue to happen until the entire system responsible for this is improved and maintained correctly.

‘Spring Sickness’ and ‘Aeromonas Alley’ are one and the same nonsense terms intended to scare the living daylights out of Koi enthusiasts everywhere. As mentioned earlier, an individual who wished to offload his snake oil invented these terms.

He suggested that bacteria die away in winter (or go into hibernation) and when spring returns they are not in great enough numbers to populate our filter systems – but his expensive snake oil could do the trick in protecting the Koi whilst the bacteria had time to recover.

Of course, many did experience these problems in spring, and this only validated the truth of his statements with many others.

The bacteria does not die away and nor does it hibernate, because there’s always an ample supply of ammonia from the Koi by gill action alone.

However, bacteria do reduce in numbers when the ammonia supply reduces but this has nothing to do with water temperatures.

It simply means that the colonisation of bacteria on the few media surfaces in warmer times was so small it was already hanging onto a knife-edge.

The reduced amount of bacteria is now nowhere near strong enough to maintain this ‘knife-edge’ balance by supporting the reduced amount of bacteria. Thus the entire filter system ‘hibernates’ or ‘crashes’ and the entire pond water becomes anaerobic as a direct result.

This is not the fault of the reduced bacteria – it’s the fault of the filter system!

Enclosed recirculation systems, like our Koi ponds, rely completely on great filtration systems to constantly maintain the water quality.

In turn this allows all Koi in the water to thrive and produce their maximum potential irrespective of quality or variety.

A great filtration system produces much better water quality than any human can.

Incidentally, our filters systems must also be able to cope with our stocking rates.

Even the most lightly stocked recirculation system will need to cope with 30 times more than natural stocking rates.

For what we Koi keepers term as ‘normal stocking rates’ increase that end figure to over 100 times.

Ever wondered why natural parasites produce so many offspring in nature?

Ever wondered why very few fish die of parasitic problems in nature?

It’s because these parasites usually only have 24 hours after hatching to find a host (fish) to feed from, if they can’t do this they die of starvation.

If they hatch in even a moderately low stocked recirculation system, it becomes a luxury hotel for these chaps.

No filtration system in the world can prevent this.

I’ve mentioned before that no two Koi pond systems are exactly alike. For starters the source water make-up can vary dramatically, temperatures, feeding rates and stocking rates all play a part.

For those who wish to ‘change’ their source water make-up by adding chemicals, please remember that these chemicals will need to added constantly after daily water checks have been made first.

Carp (Koi) can adapt easily and continue to thrive in all manner of source water conditions such as high or low GH and KH and even brackish water.

As to growing them rapidly together with perfect body shape, this revolves around water temperatures, feeding rates and exercise currents.

In our individual recirculation systems, it’s important we learn to observe the behaviour of our individual collections as a whole, because the Koi will be the first to tell us if things are amiss.

I’ve used a method of checking if my Koi are in good condition or not for many years after a wise Japanese Koi breeder first pointed it out to me. By approaching the pond casually in a normal manner and watching the Koi for a minute or so, the Koi below should be swimming normally and some may be expecting food.

A rapid outstretch of an arm should immediately scatter healthy Koi in all directions and this indicates that they are alert. However if they don’t react to this sudden arm movement, it’s a good sign that something is amiss.

Periodic ‘flashing’ against the pond walls or base is to be expected from time to time as Carp often use this method to dislodge insect life from the algae.

‘Jumping out of the water’ however suggests there is a problem and Koi that become ‘loners’ and swim away from the rest of the shoal need attention.

Then is the time to take out the water test kits and the microscope.

Finally, if this very genuine article of mine comes over to the readers that it is simply another cheap advertisement for my filters, then it has failed miserably.

Peter Waddington, January 2013.

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