Added on: March 9th, 2010

Spring Health Care

Spring care for your Koi
After the long cold winter for your Koi, getting your pond up and running in the spring can help your Koi come out of their dormant state successfully. Spring can be one of the worst times of the year for Koi, there are so many things to deal with. There are the water temperatures that have more ups and downs than a rollercoaster. Every pond will cool down and warm up at a different rate. The size of the pond, the surface area of the pond, the amount of shading around the pond is a few factors affect the ponds temperature fluctuations. I tend to keep my pond covers on till the night time temperatures have stabilised. An important tool for your pond is a thermometer, to monitor the water temperature.
If you are lucky enough to have a pond heating system, you can also use it to keep those temperature fluctuations in check.
Health Problems.
Check all Koi for health problems that may have occurred during the long hard winter (sores on the body, ulcers, wounds and damage etc). Look for any signs of distress, like an ulcer or if your Koi isn’t swimming right. A simple knock or cut can easily flare up into an ulcer, if not treated soon enough.
After the long cold Winter
As the water warms up you will need to keep an eye out for Parasites especially if temps are not stable. I will usually scrape my koi once my pond hits 13º C, as I will be able to safely treat at this temp should I find any Parasites.
Although the Koi may have seemed healthy going into winter, there is always a chance that they were carrying a low number of parasites. When the koi is dormant their immune system is at its lowest, also is the parasite activity. As the temperature starts to rise the parasites will become active before the Koi’s immune system is fully functional. If parasites are present it’s important to diagnose and treat as soon as possible. Many treatments for parasites have to be added when the water temp has reached 10º C. Knowing what you need to treat for, allow you to be ready to treat as soon as the water reaches temperature. By taking care of any problems early on, the parasite numbers will be at their lowest and there is minimum stress on the koi.
Koi Microscopy.
Having a microscope and learning how to identify parasites is very useful tool for every Koi-keeper. Having this knowledge allows the Koi-keeper to react quickly when a problem develops. When parasites are dealt with in a timely manner, the resulting effect the parasite has on the koi can be minimal.
When to start feeding the Koi in spring.
A good rule of thumb is: If the Koi are begging for food at the surface of the water, they are probably hungry and have decided for themselves that it is time to start eating. It is a good idea to use a Koi food that is high in wheat germ, as it is easy to digest.
The feeding rate of the koi should correspond with the growth of the bacteria in the filtration system. The way to track this progress is by doing water testing. Testing for Ammonia, Nitrite and pH will tell you if the filter is able to handle the waste load of the koi. If the testing is showing Ammonia, or Nitrite in the results, less feeding should be done until the bacteria count increases. By the end of spring the filter should be fully running and the koi will be ready for a more digestible diet of a high protein food. The best thing that you can do for your Koi is supplying them with adequate Oxygen and making sure they have as little stress as possible.
Filter Maintenance.
Help keep the waste load at a minimum for the filter as it starting to mature, you will want to manually remove (Hoover) any debris that may have collected in the pond over winter.
Do not neglect your weekly filter maintenance and water changes.
When the pond has reached a temperature in the range 15°C -16°C a liquid filter start would be a good idea to boost the biological bacteria in the filters.
Being patient and by allowing your pond to slowly start up in spring and being aware of any potential problems the pond might have as it comes out of winter, will help your koi successfully get ready for the summer season ahead.

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