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Friday, June 17, 2011

The Role of Water Quality in Koi Health

     In maintaining healthy koi, water quality is the most important factor to focus on. Most of the health problems that arise in koi are directly traced to an imbalanced water quality state within the pond. In fact, 70% of fish diseases are directly related to water quality. Unfortunately, it is impossible to rid a pond of disease; however, the presence of pathogens in controlled amounts allows koi to build resistance to them.

     Similar to the purpose of vaccinating humans against viruses, a koi develops immunity to disease by being exposed to it in small doses. Moreover, it is crucial to realize that a volume of water is as much a unit for breeding disease as it is for keeping koi. If one koi in a pond has a visible infection, there will most likely be other koi in the pond that are infected. However, species of fish vary in their resistance to pathogens like bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses. To take the utmost precautions, the owner should still take action as if all the fish in the pond are infected.

     The contagiousness of a disease is determined by how proactive the owner is about checking the fish and restoring the water quality balance. Poor husbandry in relation to water quality is the most significant cause of illness in a koi pond. There are seven factors that allow for pathogens to thrive. The first one, lack of water circulation, states that stagnant or slow moving water is essential for bacteria. The second one, lack of water replacement, reasons that replacing a percentage of water on a controlled basis lowers the ratio of bacteria to water. The third one, overcrowding, includes the fact that pathogens will not have any trouble in finding a host where conditions are overcrowded. The fourth factor, unsuitable water conditions, figures that polluted water resulting from overfeeding provides for a prime breeding ground of bacteria. Transferring a koi from environments with different PH’s creates an extreme amount of stress on the fish. Stress, the fifth factor, is the most common precursor of illness. The sixth factor, inadequate nutrition, exemplifies the fact that poor nutrition weakens a koi’s internal defense mechanisms. The last factor, injury, states that secondary infection is likely in an injured koi. Once considering these factors, an owner may be reassured that water quality is something that is manageable

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