• June 28, 2017 8:25 AM | Gerald Ellison (Administrator)

    KHA Korner: So what’s the plan for your koi and pond in the coming year(s)??? 

    I was reviewing the koi part of my annual hobbyist plan (developed each year between mid-Jan to mid-Feb, when my koi are not fed) and thought I might update a two year old article on this same subject. As a koi hobbyist, I think you owe it to yourself, your koi and your pond to review at least once a year what’s happened around your pond in the past year and what you want to accomplish in the coming year. With that in mind the following is not necessarily in order of priority but is intended to help you get started.

    1) Are you happy with your pond? – Make a list of the good things, okay things and the not happy with things.
    2) What kinds of things could you consider to improve the items on the okay or not happy wish list? If you’re anal like me, you even think about making the good list even better – this is where I get myself in trouble LOL.
    3) How are your pond parts working? Pond design, drains, pre-filter, bio-chamber, returns –waterfalls and TRPs, UV, pumps (age and backup), power supply, shade and anything you want to change, add or subtract.
    4) What, if anything, do you want to do about your water quality? So think about things like pond clarity, temp, pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, oxygen, ORP, alkalinity, and pond volume turnover rate to get you started. Any issues with these things in the past? How old are your water test kits? I recommend you replace the basic kit items annually.
    5) What’s your total system water volume, and with existing filtration system and how many koi would it support? Better question is how much koi weight will it support? If you have too many koi – what are you going to do? Don’t forget the club koi auction is usually in May; however this year we lacked the volunteers to conduct the auction.
    6) Are you happy with your koi? If you are going to add koi – what about quarantine and can your current pond system handle the additional fish load? And, yes what colors do I need to add or increase to improve the pond’s total looks. Red (hi) is considered the base color for most koi pond collections.
    7) What changes would you like to see in your koi and what nutritional items would assist in those changes? Feeding schedule? It is just great to observe an improvement to the shiro (white), hi (red) and sumi (black) of the koi swimming in your pond – and what and how often you feed your koi plays a major role in this respect.
    8) What, when and how (the plan) to do what you want to do around and in your koi pond over the next 12 months. What maintenance schedule do you want to try and maintain?
    9) What do you want to do that I forgot to put on my list?
    10)A written plan in your pond journal will more than likely help you to evaluate your changes as the year unfolds so you can schedule the general date you would like to do this again in 2017/18. 

    Yes, this could go on forever, but I wanted to keep it to just 10 items before you lose interest while touching on the main areas for your hopefully annual consideration on this subject. 

    In closing, I’ve noticed lately we seem to have the same small group of dedicated club members doing about everything and a few are showing signs of stress from overload so when you do the above exercise and you answer question number 9 – please think of something you would like to do that the club needs volunteers for or ask if you could help with something. Trust me you only have to be able to spell koi to be qualified for 95% of the club’s need-to-do list. 

    r/koi jack

  • June 08, 2017 2:39 PM | Gerald Ellison (Administrator)

    One of the most unique koi ponds you will ever see belongs to Jeff & Judie Lincer of La Mesa. What started out as a 9 foot deep, 35,000 gallon swimming pool is now home to around 45 koi, 3 Chinese Hi Fin sharks, a couple of large Plecostomus and a pair of red eared slider turtles. Those are just the main characters of this natural habitat. Let’s not forget the rosy red minnows, killifish, platys and pacific tree tadpoles (hopefully frogs by now!). Of course when you create an eco-system like this you can expect the unexpected such as hatching out dozens of beautiful dragon flies and the occasional visit from a Snowy Egret, Heron or Osprey! 

    Jeff, a semi-retired Wildlife Biologist and Judie, a former Special Ed Teacher and Naturalist Educator started dreaming of this home eco system years ago, became members of the California Native Plant Society and are very active with the Audubon Society. Their home has been featured in the Union Tribune and many Audubon publications. Wildlife flourishes in every direction now! 

    The pond is undoubtedly the main attraction but Jeff and Judie’s landscape is completely surrounded by native plants, rain collection systems, vegetable gardens and of course a major bio-filter for the pond which doubles as natural wetlands for critters of all types. An Ultima II serves as the mechanical filtration coupled with a large variable speed pump to provide circulation and oxygen. A conversion project such as this requires lots of research and Jeff and Judie spent lots of time doing their homework. Once the decision was finalized, they started by eliminating all the nasty pool chemicals and within two weeks the pool… correction pond started turning green. There was no going back now! They joined the Koi Club of San Diego and picked up a few rescues from Vagabond Koi and the new fish began to thrive. As you can see from the photos this is one special koi pond! 

    Thank you so much for sharing your home and your Ponder Profile! 

    John Svelan
    Membership Chairman 

  • June 02, 2017 8:50 AM | Gerald Ellison (Administrator)

    If you didn’t hear, we cancelled this year’s Koi Auction. I hope we can gather our strength as a Club and hold one next year. As for a replacement event, we held a monthly meeting at my house. It was “kind” of a last minute thing, but I hope all that attended had a good time. The meeting was held Saturday May 20th and a bit earlier in the afternoon 12pm to be exact. We had a fine turnout, and we also had a special surprise for those who attended. Koi Jack Chapman was kind enough to bring Five of his prized Koi to my house to have an impromptu “Auction.” Wow, what a treat to see and possibly win one of Koi Jack’s Koi. The “Impromptu” Auction was a BIG success. The Koi bidding was hot and heavy and pretty fun. I know the folks of the Winning Bids were super excited to take home show quality koi. The Five Koi auctioned brought in over $1100.00, and half of the proceeds going to the Club. Can’t thank you enough Jack for your kind donation. 

    The attendance wasn’t as big as some of our meetings but the food folks generously brought could have fed the entire club!!! Thank you to all of the club members who continue to support the monthly meetings with your generous Potluck specialties and drawing items. I was happy to host and even sparked up the BBQ and served some Hotdogs. 

    June is also the Month that we elect new Officers for the Club. If you are interested in holding a position within the Club, please contact Linda Pluth at 619-200-4146 and she can add your name to the Election Slate. We don’t take proxy votes, so please attend the meeting on June 11th at the home of Jeff and Judie Lincer in La Mesa and cast your vote. 

    Some inside information: we are updating our Website, our newly appointed Webmaster, Gerald Ellison is heading up the project, so be on the lookout for an e-mail announcing the “New” site. I also hear Gerald is heading up a Club Growout contest for Club members Only. And it’s going to be a pretty cool event. Who can GROW their koi the largest and if your koi doesn’t get big, there will be a beauty contest in conjunction with the Growout contest. At the time of this article, Gerald has secured Koi from Shawn McHenry of Mystic Koi. 

    Shawn, who happens to be our guest speaker at the June General Meeting, is supplying the Club with Koi from some famous Japanese Breeders at a great price. So if you ever wanted to own Japanese Koi for a reasonable price, be on the lookout for the Club’s Growout event. Last but not least, it’s not too early to be thinking about our 2018 Koi Show! Our first show meeting will be on Wednesday, June 21st and we would love to see you in attendance. Also, please start thinking about your unique design for our 2018 Show Pin! The contest is normally held at the August General Meeting so you’ll be hearing more in the very near future. Hope to see you at our next meeting. Scotty 

  • May 15, 2017 9:00 AM | Gerald Ellison (Administrator)

    This was a rare opportunity to peek into the “Bat Cave” of our Club President Scotty Yee. His 5,000+ gallon pond with state of the art equipment is the home of 14 of the most gorgeous koi you will ever see in one pond. His collection has consistently produced award winning results at the Bakersfield and our own San Diego Koi shows in the last few years. To list all the awards would take more space than we have but just to name a few would include Adult Champion in 2016 and 2017, Young Champion B, and lots of Best in Size including Kawarigoi and Long Fin! When pressed, Scotty revealed that his favorite koi dealers for his collection include Genki, Mystic, Russell Peters and breeders include Matsui and Torazo. 

    Holy Carp Batman, Look at that filter System

    The concrete crystal clear pond is over 6’ deep with two bottom drains and no niche skimmer that feeds an equipment room that any koi keeper would envy. This is a ‘redundant’ system with practically two of everything running in parallel. Two Zakki Sieves serve as the mechanical pre-filters feeding two 1/3 Hp Artisian Pro pumps, a huge bead filter loaded with top secret media, a large UV sterilizer and finally a Zakki shower that removes any nitrogen gases before passing through several cubic feet of Cermedia bio filter media and back to the pond. Needless to say… the fish are definitely quite happy! 

    Scotty grew up in the Bay Area (SF not Mission) and admits that when he was a kid he got hooked on aquariums and tropical fish partly because his late uncle was a fish dealer. While traveling to Hawaii and points beyond he became fascinated with koi. When he settled in Mission Hills he built a 1,000 gallon pond and now in Eastlake this is his second and final pond… so he says. When asked what was the key to his success, his single word answer was “research.” While others were hurriedly building, Scotty was watching and doing his research and his pond certainly shows it! You won’t want to miss seeing this pond and beautiful fish. Thanks so much Scotty for sharing your Ponder Profile with us and we hope you Keep Koiing!

    John Svelan

  • May 08, 2017 1:00 PM | Gerald Ellison (Administrator)

    So as I reviewed my past KHA articles I noticed that I had not written anything about pH and as I’ve had several discussions during this spring’s pond visits we’ve talked about and dealt with a couple pH issues in local koi ponds. I will set out to keep it simple and not go too deeply into the chemistry side but some basic concepts are needed to better understand what’s going on in your pond water and how it affects your koi. Before I start to lose readers, I want to start with an important recommendation that you not get caught up in any effort to be constantly buffering your pond water to achieve and maintain the established ideal pH range for koi of 7 to 7.5. And that’s so true for those of us in southern California with the average pH for local water districts having a pH of 7.8 to 8.2. It’s just less stress on your koi to simply adjust to local water pH than to be dealing with larger daily swings in pH due to buffering chemicals to reduce local pH levels. 

    Now to the science stuff – I’ll skip the chemistry jargon and go with simply that a pH reading is a ratio of the base component to the acid component and when they are equal in amounts the pH will be neutral and measured at a value of 7. pH values greater than 7 are base positive and values less than 7 are acid positive. Sorry, I just can’t help myself – Why? – If you have more hydrogen ions (H+) in your water it will be acidic and if you have more hydroxyl ions (OH-) your water is more basic. Finally, the pH reading is logarithmic so a change in reading of just 0.3 comes close to doubling the (H+) or (OH-) activity and a change in value of 1 is a 10 fold change in (H+) or (OH-). That’s the simple reason why pH changes need to be made slowly! Done with the science – not too bad. 

    So let’s move on to pH and your koi. Generally speaking koi can live and survive a pH range of 5.5 to 6 and from 9.5 to 10 depending which author you read but all generally agree that 7 to 7.5 is optimum for koi physiology, and they can readily handle pH changes when done slowly. Again depending on which author you are reading the daily swing in pH reading should not exceed 0.3 to 0.5 or your koi will experience pH change stress. How so? (back to the science) – First just know that the blood within your koi has a pH value and the pond pH affects koi blood pH chemistry. When pond pH is and remains high the pH of your koi’s blood starts to suffer from alkalosis and koi losses are not uncommon or reduced life span due to continuous pH stress. You will feel excess slime coat and staying at the surface (gulping/pipping for air). For the reverse, an extended period of low pH leads to a condition called acidosis within your koi’s blood system pH; values will again create excess slime but koi become anorexic and will rest on the bottom of your pond and get red streaking lines in the fins which can lead to koi losses and/or reduce life span. Why? - Our koi are NOT water tight as water is constantly entering the fish and if this water is low in pH then the koi has to use its own natural internal buffers to raise the blood pH and they are quickly consumed leading to low blood pH or acidosis. 

    Special Note: As our pond is a system, when I’m called about a high or most often a low pH reading in a pond – My first questions are almost always “What is the ammonia reading and the KH or alkalinity reading.” For a low pH reading a condition called pH crash is well documented in articles concerning this subject and to just raise the pH by adding baking soda (calcium carbonate) you can inadvertently have higher fish loss due to ammonia poisoning as pH contributes to the toxicity of ammonia. Just a little science – at a pH of 7.2 or lower the ammonia is mostly ionized (NH4) and less toxic to the koi, but as the pH rises the NH4 converts back to NH3 unionized and is more toxic to the koi as it now can pass back into the koi through the gills and other exposed tissue. And in warmer water the conversion rate is increased – it’s a system. Got your thinking cap on - the conversion from NH4 to NH3 frees up a hydrogen ion and yes they will have a further reducing effect on pond pH. 

    You should have a way to measure your pond pH – dip sticks with a color chart or electronic pH meters. For dip sticks quickly reseal the lid after removal and buy new ones if older than a year. For pH meters – store upright with the probe always in storage solution and don’t let it dry out!!! Follow manufacturer directions closely for probe calibration and cleaning and change probe every couple years. Store both in cool dry area!!! Your pH will be lowest in early AM and can be expected to rise throughout the day, so early AM, maybe noon, and just before dark to get a reading of your pond’s daily swings. For established ponds you could go to weekly readings, and I like the day before and after my weekly big water changes to record effects of water changes. Yes, this info needs to go in your pond journal!!!

    So what affects your daily pH changes? First, hard water (southern California) is more basic and resists changes to pH and soft water is more acidic and changes quicker. Little science – pH is reduced by oxygen consumption, production of carbon dioxide (big time), filter activity (nitrogen cycle), and decomposing waste in the pond. Why’s? – 1. Hard water has more buffering capabilities as it has a higher alkalinity (more dissolved mineral anions as in carbonates CO3, bicarbonate HCO3 and hydroxide OH-) 2. Carbon dioxide converts to carbonic acid (pH down). 3. Nitrogen cycle produces or frees up hydrogen ions (pH down). It also requires and uses the available alkalinity, as in calcium carbonate, which further reduces the pH. Note: If you have a lot of plants in your pond then the carbon dioxide produced after dark will further reduce your pH during the night. Of course the reverse is true after daybreak as all the green stuff in your pond is now consuming the carbon dioxide and producing oxygen – thus the rise in pH. 

    When treating pH issues, high pH is usually treated by dilution in the form of water changes with water of a lower pH value. Lower pH is usually treated the same way but with water with a higher pH and baking soda (calcium carbonate) is used to keep your alkalinity to between 80 and 120 parts per million (remember the filter uses it up during the nitrogen cycle). Repeat: Use caution when raising pH and always deal with any existing ammonia by first using an ammonia binder such as ClorAm-X, Prime, Ultimate, etc. 

    I’ll end with a repeat of my first recommendation – Please do not chase or try to maintain a pH of 7 to 7.5 with daily chemical additions to pond water causing large pH fluctuations and unwanted stress for your koi. Koi will and do adapt to say a pH of 8.2 – especially when the daily fluctuation is kept at 0.3 to 0.5. Disclaimer – There are water quality monitoring systems that work 24/7 to maintain certain water parameters of which pH is one and if you got the $$$ -they work, and at a lesser cost but still pricey a water softener system in front of a reverse osmosis system keeps my pH at 7.3 to 7.5, with a 50 percent R/O water waste down the drain and the other half to the pond. My water bill is $525 to $575 per month. 

    My goal was to introduce the basic important issues concerning the subject of koi pond pH, and this article only scratches the surface of the subject. I encourage you to refer to a web search on the subject or as usual read the articles/books written by D.V.M.’s Erik Johnson and Nicholas Saint-Erne. Our club website has Norm Meck’s water quality articles which also contain info on this subject.

    r/koi jack

  • May 02, 2017 5:11 PM | Gerald Ellison (Administrator)

    Hope you didn’t miss it. It was a beautiful day at last month’s meeting. We met at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. We had special guests attend our meeting, folks from the Bakersfield Koi & Water Garden Society, the Inland Koi Society, and the Southern California Water Garden Society all in attendance. We had a special presentation that recognized Mitch and Connie Lentz for one of their Koi entered in this year’s show.

    Their Koi, a Goshiki, will represent our Club as our nomination for the AKCA “Koi of the Year.” We also presented our new Koi Club of San Diego “Koi Person of the Year” award. That Award was presented to Dr. Bob Adler. Dr. Bob has been our Koi Show Chairman for the last two years. He has hosted our monthly Koi Show Meetings as well as hosting a Koi Club meeting. Bob is one of the folks that help make the Club Go!!! 

    As for making the Club Go!!! We continue to need Volunteers to help make our Club one of the best Koi Clubs in The USA. Our annual elections are coming up. Linda Pluth has been selected as our Nominating Committee Chairman. She will be soliciting names for nominations to fill the upcoming Officer positions. As of now we are in need of a VP of Program & Treasurer. If you would like more information and/or throw your name in the “hat” please contact Linda Pluth at 619-200-4146. 

    Sorry to say, our upcoming Auction has been cancelled, with that said, I think we might be able to help our members re-home their koi. There is always a possibility that Vagabond Koi Rescue might have space for them. We have also tossed around the idea of

    having an “auction/drawing/raffle” at our monthly meetings that will involve members bringing their koi to our monthly meeting and splitting the proceeds with the Club or donating all proceeds. That is still in the works, so be on the lookout if we decide to do that. 

    Instead of the Auction we will be having a May Monthly meeting on a Saturday! Yes, Saturday May 20th, not Sunday. I am opening up the “Batcave” and hosting the May meeting. 

    I hope to see you there. 


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