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Aquatic Gardens

Ponds, Streams, Waterfalls & Fountains:
Volume 1. Design & Construction
Volume 2. Maintenance, Stocking, Examples

V. 1 Print and eBook on Amazon
V. 2 Print and eBook on Amazon

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Gill problem, pond       9/25/08 Hello WWM crew. Recently, one of my larger goldfish/carp feeder fish that grew too big got a gill problem. Yellowish ball shaped thins are clinging to its gills, making it look puffy. <Do need a photo here. Difficult to say what these might be. Are these "balls" on the gill covers (the plates on the outside of the gills that open and close) or the gills themselves (the bright red filaments inside the gill chamber)? Argulus are parasites the attached to the body and look like squished lice, being circle-shaped but with obvious claws. Gill lice (Ergasilus) are more maggot-like in shape, and attach directly to the gills. If we're simply talking about ulcer-like swellings, that's Finrot or perhaps Mouth Fungus, while waxy growths could be Carp Pox. Finally, you may have a fish with cysts or tumours.> But yet it seems alright, it eats regularly and swims as if there is nothing wrong. I'm concerned though, since it looks bad to my eyes. I even made a water change, but it didn't recede. What else should I do? Thanks again. - Gene. <Can't give useful advice without knowing precisely what the problem is. Do research the complaints listed above, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>

Exploding Goldfish 9/1/08
Hello, Upon going to my pond this morning, I found one of my gold fish dead. There was a protrusion of what looked like the oviduct and/or the colon from the anal port. I was horrified! My pond is well established, no sickness or problems, nothing which could have hurt the fish or mashed it. I have seen pictures of dead fish where an attempt of egg stripping, had gone terribly wrong, and this is what my dead one looked like. What in the world happened? Thank you, Carolyn
<Mmmm, don't know... you state there were/are no markings on the body itself? Otherwise I'd suspect a bird of prey here. I might try placing a screen mesh over the pond. Bob Fenner>

Re: one-sided bloat... pond goldfish hlth.   8/5/08 Dear Bob Fenner, <Hello again Laurie> The pond has been in existence for 12 years. It is 1500 gallons, three feet deep, has an external pump with skimmer, a waterfall and stream. I usually change the water by thirds, in the spring over a period of weeks. <I would change some every week... during the warm/er months... as detailed on WWM... Please learn to/use the search tool, indices...: http://wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/Pond%20Sub%20Web.htm I use Algaefix in the summer. <Mmm, this material... is problematical... Please do read on WWM re... and other, less toxic means of algal control> The water is non-chlorinated well water. The ph is normal, <?> and all the usual things tested with strips <Not a fan of this type of assay> are normal or negative. The pond is 2/3 thirds covered by water lilies and tall plants. <Ahh, very good... for many reasons, including this indicates that not too much algicide has been being applied> I have approx. 20 gold fish that have been in the pond for tens years. I have had babies born once and most disappeared or died. <Strange these fish have not reproduced more often> It seems for the last few years, there is always one of the larger goldfish that develops this abnormality and has one sided bloat usually on the rear half of body, (not including tail). Still has appetite. Sometimes chased by others, This is why I always assume at first it has eggs. <Mmm... again... goldfish are beset with many heritable issues... but there may well be water quality issues here that your testing does not address> I hope this is enough information for you to make an educated guess Thank you, Laurie Kross <Bob Fenner>

Convalescence, pond goldfish    7/26/08 Dear crew, Beatrice, the Sarasa comet, disappeared from 5/5 to 5/16. This is my third and final note about the fish. <Hello Max,> I didn't say then---our pond is only 1000 gallons; do you call this clear water? There are many rocks placed to create a Byzantine network of passageways (in spite of which, we have no surviving fry this year.) <The key to Goldfish fry surviving seems (to me) to be thick tangles of thread algae -- not what every pondkeeper wants! Goldfish prefer to spawn among plants, and the fry instinctively stay among plants where they will be safer than out in the open.> The pond is right outside the door, and still fascinates me. It contains three floods, so I'm out there several times a day, right up until 10:00 at night, when the lights time out. I feed the fish lightly and often, as many as 4 or 5 times/day. B. was not seen from the night of May 4th until the morning of May 16th. Period, paragraph. <Oh?> B. looks a lot better now. Even two weeks ago, there was a boil on the left operculum, looking like a staph infection. <Interesting.> Btw, I shot these with a Sony Cyber-shot DSC V-1 by floating an aquarium in the pond, with a couple of bricks in it. My fear that the tank would confuse my camera's rangefinder was unfounded. <Amazing pictures! I for one would enjoy seeing a write-up on your method. Perhaps you'd consider writing (for money!) in the WWM magazine, 'Conscientious Aquarist'. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/CA_Welcome.htm I suspect many other pondkeepers would like to try this themselves.> Thanks for your good advice. All I did for treatment was monitor the (3800 gph) pump house and add bio-clarifier whenever foam appeared, just three times in the interval. <Sounds like a good plan. Glad your fish is healthy, and your pond giving you such pleasure.> Max <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Convalescence Dear Neale, I'm flattered that you find my set-up worthy of publication. <It's a clever idea!> It seems so simple, now that I did it, but I've been working on a more elaborate design for months, and was stuck on the rangefinder issue: the camera would focus on the glass and not the subject. The aquarium was an elegantly simple solution. I'll put something together in a few days. <Look forward to it.> One half of our pond is, by mid-summer, a jungle of lilies, pickerel weed, and parrot feather, q.v. (Notice both frogs!) Last year, with only six adults, we had fourteen spawn survive. We brought six indoors, and with comings and goings, we had thirteen in the pond come May. The fry haven't stood a chance. Not that I mind. I must clean the filter every day, as it is. It's a good population, about 100 inches of fish in 1000 gallons. <Sounds/looks a nice tank. Does sound as if your tank has reached a sort of carrying capacity where there are now so many adults the juveniles can't survive.> <Cheers, Neale.>

Annual Report to Bob Fenner 05/03/09
Dr. Bob, almost a year after she disappeared (see "Whoever wrote "I enjoy being a girl" wasn't a goldfish,") you can see in the attached that Beatrice, the Sarasa, is doing just fine. Beatrice and nacreous Ginger are both nearly 4, and are a foot long or a fraction less. The other four in the photo are second-year offspring in the 6-7" range. It's just that I continue to have my doubts about Beatrice. Beatrice definitely has the heavy body of a female, but she is androgynous as it gets - she chases at least as much as she is chased,
<Mmm, had to look this word up after the daily crossword... "hoyden"... for tomboy>
but I have yet to see her involved in spawning (although presumably that's how she got her scars last year.)
<Quite common>
She's the most avid egg-eater. We're in a Zone 6 climate. Friday the 24th, the water temp crossed 75 degrees, and the next morning was the first spawning of the season. As usual, Beatrice watched, and then dined. She's healthy, though.
Thank you for your wise counsel.
<And you for this report. Bob Fenner>

Butterfly koi lockjaw disease 7/17/2008I have had this butterfly koi (golden). for over a year. I have a 4000 + gallon pond and added some more butterfly koi about 3 months ago. The golden one was kind of scrawny and never ate much until we bought other butterfly koi and then it became quite the eater and aggressive fish when it came to eating. <Mmm, Koi/carp (both Cyprinus carpio) are social animals> today I came home and it has some kind of lockjaw thing going on. <? A deformity... likely genetic, ontogenetic> ugh. what do I need to do. I was going to leave him in the pond over night and if he doesn't get any better, <?> I was going to pull him out and look in his mouth. I don't know if it ate too much food or sucked up a rock or just what the heck happened. Help. Goldenboy is a favorite. Thanks. Lenn R. Neal <Mmm, I would carefully net this fish, see if a stone or such might be stuck in its mouth... otherwise I'd do nothing... Is not "catching". Bob Fenner>

Re: butterfly koi lockjaw disease  -07/18/08 Hey Bob... I did catch the fish with a net and put it in a separate tank, we did look for a stone or any kind of obstruction while it was in the net, but seen nothing of the sort, just tissue you would see of the inside of it's mouth. <The jaw is likely dislocated or broken. Sometimes happens with Koi and Goldfish, supposedly because they inhale some gravel or similar solid object. No idea if that's true or not, but in any even if the jaw moves freely but the fish can't keep its mouth closed, that's the problem. Some vets may be able to help relocate dislocated jaws (telephone around for your nearest Koi specialist) but otherwise this is very difficult to treat. The problem is that fish jaws bones are incredibly delicate, far more so than our very primitive solid jaws. As such, it is very difficult for the non-specialist to "man handle" the bones back into position, and on anything smaller than an adult Koi practically impossible even for a vet. If the fish can't feed, it will obviously starve to death, so this *is* a life-threatening injury. It is also possible that the jaws are surrounded by swollen tissue, and this is forcing the jaws open. This is a luckier scenario, because prompt treatment with a broad spectrum, systemic antibiotic such as Erythromycin can help (e.g., Maracyn) by reducing the swelling and allowing the jaws to get back into alignment. But this is quite an uncommon reason for the symptoms you are describing, and would normally be present along with other signs of bacterial infection, such as Finrot or white, stringy faeces.> The next day after being in a separate tank it's lips are turning a blackish color, and it's basically just sitting at the bottom of the tank being mellow, I have tried putting a few pieces of small food, but it isn't interested, I have it in a tank with Mela Fix fish all purpose medicine. <Melafix is completely useless in this situation, and arguably useless is most others as well, so hardly an "all purpose medicine" any more than a stiff shot of whisky is for humans.> I don't know what else to do... Thanks for Your Help Lenn <Call a vet. Your options for home therapy are limited. Cheers, Neale.>

Missing gill cover on Koi 7/6/08 We recently purchased a home (about 2 month ago) with a large pond 1600 gal that has both Koi and goldfish. one of the smaller Koi 10" or so has a missing gill cover. I don't know for sure when this happened I noticed the red mark a couple a weeks ago. My question is what do we do, and will the cover grow back or is the fish doomed? Currently he is eating well, not being picked on by the other fish and doesn't seem to be acting different from the other fish. To help you see what I am talking about regarding the missing gill cover I am attaching a few photo's. Also the water level are normal expect the ph is 8 (I know high, but even with treatment we can't get it to come down) and am afraid to change to fast since the other fish seem fine. Per a suggestion at the pond store we have given the fish a salt bath for 4 consecutive days. This did not seem to impact him at all good or bad. Do you need any other information? Thanks for you help Crystal <Hello Crystal. Sometimes fish are born without opercula (gill covers). It is quite a common birth defect among very inbred (and consequently genetically weak) ornamental fish varieties, particularly things like Angelfish. Opercula can also be lost following secondary infections or (more likely with outdoor fish than aquarium fish) damage caused by predators such as cats. In any case, opercula don't grow back (so far as I know). On a healthy fish the operculum serves a number of functions, and while not having opercula won't kill a fish, it will be weakened to some extent. The delicate gill filaments are more sensitive to mechanical damage, for example when you are netting the fish. The opercula are also involved with ventilation, so this fish will find breathing a bit more difficult than otherwise. The main problem is really to ensure that any damaged tissue heals completely before secondary infections can set in. These sorts of wounds, if wound it is, can become septic or fungused very quickly. Salt baths can help deal with keeping wounds clean to some extent, but if the wound does become infected (i.e., you see necrotic (dead, white) tissue and threads of fungus) then you will have to step up the treatment to something suitable for such infections. Hope this helps, Neale.> <<This one looks like it was excised... perhaps a jump against a very sharp edge? RMF>>

dead Koi 06/26/08 <... Please... fix your English if writing us> the weirdest thing happened , this morning I came out to check out my Koi pond, they were all dead including a goby and a goldfish I have, yet none of the suckerfish are dead. they had no lesions ,cuts, nothing I checked the ph nitrite and nitrate they were perfect. the Koi themselves were sort of inflated and mushy inside it looked like there innards were gushy and one of females um hole? was open and red and it looked cut. one of the males looked like it had a long round balloon coming out of his belly. yesterday they seemed fine nothing really bad to mention. the water seemed clouding and white , and it looked like oil had been spilled in the water and looked like white little pieces of junk was in the pond. can you help me out??? ? ????????????????????? it's so weird, and it was so sudden please help me!! <... Something happened... tis the season... likely either an oxygen depression during the night, and/or a die-off of microbes/algae... need to read and heed re dynamic equilibrium in pond maint., redundancy in filtration, circulation, volume... where? On WWM. Bob Fenner>

Sarasa comet gasping for breath? Pond Troubles - Water Quality 06/08/2008 Hi Crew, <Hello, Amanda! Sabrina with you today.> I hope that somebody is able to help. I have just recently set up a new pond with just over 3000 litres and a waterfall. <Approximately 800 US gallons, for metrics challenged folks> I am using a Hozelock Cyprio Bioforce UVLC 8000ltr filter and an Oase Aquamax 3500 pump. The pond had been up and running for about 3 weeks with plants etc. before I did a first water check to be able to introduce some fish. The levels were pH 8.5 and nitrite .1. <Wait, wait! What about that all-important, deadly toxic compound, Ammonia? Please, this is urgent.... Do be testing for Ammonia and Nitrate in addition to pH and Nitrite. Ammonia and Nitrite in ANY concentration should be treated as toxic or deadly. pH should remain stable - goldfish are very tolerant animals - though closer to 7.0 would be nice, stability is far more important than precision. I would prefer not to take goldfish above 8.0 if possible, but again, stability is far, far more important here. Nitrate you'll want to aim to keep as low as possible, probably with plants and a low stocking density as water changes in a pond aren't necessarily easy or fast.> I gave these levels to the aquatic centre and they assured me that it would be fine to introduce some fish. <.... Did they not question the presence of Ammonia?? I would be VERY cautious here.... Dead fish mean you'll buy more fish. I am not saying your local shop is unscrupulous, just that some very few are. Further, even some great shopkeepers can forget new hobbyists' lack of knowledge or experience and recommend courses of action that they, in their experience, might be able to handle but which a new hobbyist maybe just doesn't have the experience or knowledge to deal with.> I bought just 6 fish to start....2 Sarasa, 2 canary yellow goldish and 2 red comets. Everything seemed to be going fine. 10 days later I decided to introduce some more fish...I did another water check and levels were much the same...nitrite slightly higher (between .1 and .25), <Dangerous, here.... this *needs* to be zero to be considered "safe".... Please do NOT add any more life to this system until this "cycling" is under control. There is much information on WetWebMedia regarding establishing the "cycle" that will keep your livestock alive and well. Please start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm .> ...think I may have overfed the first fish slightly. so I reduced their feed to help lower the level. I also checked nitrate which was 10mg/l. <This is a safe/appropriate level.> I gave the levels to the same centre as before, who again said everything was okay to introduce some more fish. <Whaaaaaat?? All that fish "want" in life is a proper environment, a bit of food, and maybe some pals to spawn with. Focus on the proper environment, and you'll do very well. Again, in short: Ammonia and Nitrite must be ZERO, Nitrate less than 20ppm (ideally - a little higher may not be too bad, but can lead to trouble), pH *stable*, and ideally closer to 7-ish (once more, stability is key - if 8.0 is easy to maintain, then 8.0 it is.) Please know that Ammonia or Nitrite in any concentration can lead to real issues. Further, Ammonia is "more toxic" at higher pH, so this is even more important in your case.> This time (yesterday) I purchased 7 fish...(2 Sarasa, 3 golden tench and 2 Shubunkin) all fish around 2-3 inches long. <Do please be concerned.... and begin changing water right now, if you can.... and please, no more fish until this environment is much, much more stable.> The smallest Sarasa almost since being introduced (after a couple of hours) to the pond, has been at the surface 'gasping' for breath, he is also not moving around that much....at times it almost appears that he is in a trance and just 'floats' with his the tip of his head out of the water. <Trouble.... Symptoms of a problem (Ammonia or Nitrite) in the environment.... Do not add medications for this; rather, *change some water*. Good water quality is of the utmost importance here. Be sure to dechlorinate new water. Keep that waterfall running for good oxygenation.> I have read some of the FAQ on suffocation and can only assume that it might be parasites as none of the other causes seem to be relevant. <This is more likely environmental than pathogenic. I would work first on correcting the environment. Even if there IS a parasitic complaint as well, the environment must first be safe and stable before you tackle treating a pathogen.> I just wondered if this might be correct because I don't want to lose the fish, however, I do not wish to give unnecessary medication or introduce anything to the pond that might affect the other fish. <Gooooood job, and kudos to you!!> If it is parasites, is there anything that I can clearly look out for to help diagnosis? <Certainly! Observe the animal as closely as possible. Fix the environment before taking any other actions (e.g., do some water changes). Look at the fish's skin; look for any "obvious" parasites, as well as other abnormalities.... Streaks or inflammation in the fins and body may well be attributable to simple poor water quality (again, presence of Ammonia and/or Nitrite). Trust your gut instinct, do not add medications or other chemicals to the water until/unless you *know* you have a real pathogen to battle. You might do well to remove the little Sarasa and quarantine him separately from the others, in case there is something communicable present. I still rather suspect that this is just environmental.> Also, if this is the case, would it be infectious to my other fish as currently they all appear to be fine. (The Sarasa both came from the same tank at the aquatic centre). <Coming from the same tank doesn't necessarily mean that he can't have something the others don't, but really.... chances are that this one little Sarasa is, for whatever reason, more susceptible to poor water quality than the others. You mention that he's small; young fish often show problems sooner than older fish. Test your water, get Ammonia and Nitrite to zero with water changes, and you'll be off to a great start.> Sorry to be so long-winded, but I wanted to give as much background and information as possible so that you might be able to help. <Don't apologize for this, please! You did very well to provide the information that you have. Thank you for being detailed.> Thanks in advance, Kind regards, Amanda <Best regards to you and your fishy pals! -Sabrina C. Fullhart>

Re: Sarasa comet gasping for breath? Pond Troubles - Water Quality II - 06/09/2008 Hi Sabrina <Hi, Amanda!> Thank you so much for your information and help. <Glad to be of service.> I have checked on him first thing this morning and he is swimming around a little more, however, I will begin to implement all of your advice today <Excellent!> and do some more research, <Ahh, WONDERFUL. That's the best thing you can possibly do.> and let you know. Thanks again. <Any time.> Kind regards, Amanda <Wishing you well, -Sabrina> Re: Sarasa comet gasping for breath? Pond Troubles - Water Quality III - 06/09/2008 Hi again Sabrina <Hi again, Amanda!> Just a quick update and therefore a couple more questions...sorry! <Hah! No apologies, here. I mean, heck, you're capitalizing your sentences, using proper grammar/spelling, and researching about your livestock - what more could anyone possibly ask?? You're the ideal question-asker, as far as I can tell.> I tested the water this morning and the nitrite was .1 and ammonia was 0. Could it be this is just my new pond settling down? <Yes, this is *exactly* what is going on. If the little fellah is still having trouble, you might still try a water change or two over the next day or two. A cycling system - pond or otherwise - is, in my opinion, no place for a fish. Keep Ammonia at zero, and get the Nitrite down if you can. You'll probably see Nitrate going up a bit soon, which is expected and okay.> The Sarasa is moving more today so far...although does still appear to be coming to the surface far more than the others. I have been keeping an eye on him (as much as is possible in a pond), to see if I can see any parasites on him...nothing seen so far. <Good.> I have also looked into a live bacteria additive for new ponds and wondered if this might help...one that is safe to use with fish. <Quite possibly.> However, my concern with this is that it would push all levels up first as the bacteria is introduced before it began to actually stabilise the environment more...is this right? <Well.... In some cases, you would be right, and in others, actually, it's the opposite. Some products just speed up or induce the growth of new bacteria, by providing "stuff" for them to consume... some of these products will result in a faster increase in Ammonia and Nitrite. However, the very, very few "real" products (such as Marineland's Bio Spira, when that used to be available) actually contain the real bacteria that oxidize Ammonia and Nitrite, so you would see a pretty fast decrease in Ammonia and Nitrite.> I obviously don't want to do anything that might harm the fish. <Obviously, indeed - you are doing an excellent job thus far. Your fish would thank you if they knew how dedicated you are!> Thanks very much, and also many thanks for your very swift response previously. <You are very welcome.> Kind regards, Amanda <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Whoever wrote "I enjoy being a girl" definitely wasn't a goldfish  05/19/08 Dear crew, This is Beatrice. Beatrice is one of 6 that we rescued from a feeder-fish tank in May 2006. We named them George and Gracie, Fred and Ginger, and Beatrice and Benadick. (Know your Shakespeare?) <A bit m'lady> They all grew to 6-7" by that Fall, and another 2 to 3" last Spring in a 1000 gallon man-made pond, shown in a photo from last July. Turned out we were about half right - Ginger turns out to be the alpha dog and Benedick is the alpha female. Fred was the runt male but did join in spawning later last Summer. He flew away last September in the belly of a Great Blue. <Gulp!> 14 spawn survived into and through the winter. Bea's behavior was confusing, leave it at that. I still didn't know about Bea's gender, the only Sarasas, when she totally disappeared this May 5th Another casualty, we supposed. Odd, though, the rest weren't completely traumatized for three weeks the way they were last September... <Good observation> Imagine our shock when she reappeared May 16th, in this condition! I'm using the pronoun now because I infer that she was driven into a crevice by frenzied males, so far that she was stuck until she lost enough weight to wriggle free, and that struggle lasted more than ten days. <Yowch! Am running out of expletives> She acts healthy. She is as active and normal as any of the others. Water quality is good. I immediately dosed it with bio-clarifier, just to be sure. I installed an isolation booth - a large net - in the pond, but plan to let her swim free as long as the randy bucks leave her alone. <Good move> Will she ever replace those scales? What would you do? Max <Mmm, time going by is all I'd do... Perhaps isolating the sexes next warm season. Bob Fenner>


Re: Whoever wrote "I enjoy being a girl" definitely wasn't a goldfish 05/20/08 Thanks, Bob. I'm keeping an eye on them all. I'm getting a little break this week, because we're experiencing a cool spell here in Media, Pa, that is suppressing the pond temperature to below 60, so the kids are quieted down. Have you ever seen such extensive injury? <Ah, yes... worse> I keep hearing Traffic:"...and the miller he served him worse than that, for he's ground him between two stones." (John Barleycorn) Max <Ahh! The rigors of reproduction (and its avoidance)... BobF> Re: Whoever wrote "I enjoy being a girl" definitely wasn't a goldfish 05/20/08 Thank you, Dr. Fenner. I do appreciate your responding. Max <Glad to assist you Max. BobF>

Re: Whoever wrote "I enjoy being a girl" definitely wasn't a goldfish  6/24/08Dear Prof. Fenner, <Heee, yes Max> I'm happy to report great recovery progress at the end of a month. Bea is healing well and always did behave normally. The scrapes on his/her (I'm still not sure) left side are much smaller, as is the black patch---I suppose it's a scab---on the left operculum. The scrape on the right side is much smaller and healed-looking. Bea is just over 3 years old and now looks to make it to 4. <Ah, good> Can you suggest a link to a complete fish anatomy? I would like to know more about the layers of the surface of the fish. Max <Have many good ref.s in print... Let me look: http://www.google.com/search?q=fish+skin+anatomy&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-Address&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7PCTA Nothing jumps out... Bob Fenner>

Aquatic Gardens

Ponds, Streams, Waterfalls & Fountains:
Volume 1. Design & Construction
Volume 2. Maintenance, Stocking, Examples

V. 1 Print and eBook on Amazon
V. 2 Print and eBook on Amazon

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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