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  • August 09, 2017 7:33 AM | Gerald Ellison (Administrator)

    Summer is in Full Swing and I hope all of your Koi are enjoying the Warm weather. If you missed last month’s meeting, it was another terrific meeting high atop Point Loma... Thank you Carl and Shirley Elswick for hosting. If you don’t know, Shirley has been involved with our Club for many years and is a very dedicated member. She has served as our President and is very active with the Japanese Friendship Garden as a Docent. 

    Our July meeting had our very own Galen Hansen as our guest speaker. It is always a treat to listen to Galen speak and gain valuable knowledge from him. I encourage all of our members to attend our monthly meetings. Some of the benefits of attending the meeting are:

    1. Get to interact with people of similar interests

    2. Share and Gain knowledge of Koi Keeping

    3. Great Food

    4. Great Venues

    5. Terrific raffle/drawing

    Get to Relax and treat the meeting as a mini vacation ....maybe I’m exaggerating.......
    There are some events coming up in the next few months that you might want to attend and or participate in.

    We have our annual Koi Show Pin contest. Anyone that is an Active KCSD member can participate. The winning design must incorporate last year’s KCSD’s Grand Champion Koi. Entries will be accepted via E-mail and or hard copy. You can turn your entry to me at the August monthly meeting or e-mail me Entries must be submitted to me by the August meeting or simply bring it to the meeting. Just take a look at last year’s winning koi on our website and sketch your entry on a 8.5 x 11 piece of paper. The winning design will grace the front of our Koi Show 2018 T-Shirt.

    On September 16th we will have our Japanese Friendship Garden Filter Cleaning Extravaganza.....It’s a great way to support the Club, the JFG and a great way to see the inner working of a Norm Meck gravity Koi Pond filter...Please contact Linda Pluth (619-200-4146) for more info, or go to our website

    September 30th.....If you didn’t hear, our Annual Koi Auction is back on. Same location as last year in Escondido. If you have Koi you would like to have Auctioned, or if you’re interested in purchasing a koi at a huge discount, this is the event for you... We still need volunteers. Please contact Tamsie Pierce for more details on volunteering.

    All these events don’t happen without your support, I hope that you sign up or attend one of our events. Remember our Club relies on Volunteers, and any help is much appreciated.

    Hope to see you soon,

    Scotty Yee

  • August 08, 2017 12:28 AM | Gerald Ellison (Administrator)
    Tribute Pulled from the K.O.I. Website

    Ken Austin passed away on July 28, 2017

    Ken was the Chairman of the Board here at K.O.I., and was the Instructor for Construction, Transport, Pond Modifications and Show Water Quality - all of which he helped write. He was our go-to guy for research, and had an extensive Koi library and an un-ending thirst for scientific knowledge. He brought professionalism to everything he did. No job was too big or too small. He jumped in and helped with all K.O.I. projects, and was the driving force in setting up the Drupal version of the K.O.I. web site. Ken loved teaching and sharing his enthusiasm for Koi pond science. Ken developed and ran a hands-on learning session about Koi anesthesia at the K.O.I. lab held at PNKCA in 2015. Ken engineered his own pond and many others in the El Paso area. He loved his pond and Koi, and built a Japanese-style pagoda of his own design to serve as a lovely place to sit and drink coffee and feed the fish. Several years ago, he decided he wanted to learn more about aquaponics, so he set up a hoop-greenhouse, and grew a fascinating array of pond plants and few household vegetables using the nutrients from a tank of Koi he had rescued. He frequently gave away (or sold for pennies) his extra Koi and plants to local Koi club members. Ken hosted club meetings yearly, and along with his wife Susie, they provided an amazing food extravaganza, and a wonderful garden to visit. He was famous for raiding his own stash of supplies in order to measure out a correct dose of a medication and deliver it for free to a pond owner in need - just because he could help. Ken was a master with his Big Green Egg, and started a BGE club in El Paso where other enthusiasts could share recipes and techniques. Ken generously shared his time and knowledge of all his hobbies with his friends, neighbors and Koi club members. He has left a legacy that few 'experts and Koi professionals' can match - because he actually researched and accomplished projects rather than just pontificating about how things should be done. And he did it all with good will, humor and a joy in learning that was unequaled. Thank you Ken! Karen Pattist

    Ken was a thoughtful and effective worker for Koi Organisation International where he served as Chairman of the Board since the organization’s inception. He strongly valued truth and once said, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not to their own facts.” He was a mentor to his students, a lecturer at conventions and club meetings and a significant contributor to the advancement of the Koi hobby. And maybe more importantly, Ken was a nice guy. He will be missed.
    Spike Cover

    Ken was a very important member of the Southwest Koi and Pond Association. His title was Second Vice President and in addition to his VP duties, he designed and printed our monthly News Letter, which is circulated to all our club members each month. Ken was a graduate of the Koi Health Advisor program and an Associate member of the Koi Organization International (K.O.I.) where he served as an instructor in the training program. During his association with these programs, Ken became very knowledgeable of everything associated with Koi and Koi Ponds. He was a very valuable member of our Koi Club, where he served as our expert person to go to when Koi and pond problems occur. Our Club Members will really miss Ken as a technical resource and most of all as a personal friend to all our members.
    Don Harrawood, SKAPA

    Living in the UK, I only met Ken in person once, when my wife and I attended the PNKCA Convention in Spokane. I found him to be a very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful man, both in person and in the many emails we had exchanged over the years. Albert Einstein said, “The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.” Ken was a man who freely gave his time, enthusiasm and his considerable knowledge in order to help others and to help increase the general pool of knowledge in the Koi keeping hobby. He was a genuine person who gave, not because he had to, but because he wanted to. Sue also sends her condolences and regrets that we were not able to accept Ken’s invitation for us to travel over and stay with him. Rest in peace Ken, you will be missed and remembered.
    Syd Mitchell

    I very much appreciated Ken as an instructor as I went through the CKK studies, and I am learning all the time more about all of the behind the scenes work he did to help create and maintain our Organisation. I certainly extend my deepest sympathy to all of his family, friends, and loved ones, and will continue working to strengthen the organisation that he loved so much.
    Jeff Rasche

    Ken was the warmest guy or instructor I ever have. My deepest sympathy to his family. Words cannot express my sadness. May the comfort of God help us through this difficult time. He is Forever Remembered, Forever Missed.
    Tson Dang

    Ken was such a great, generous spirit! I'm glad I got to 'skype' meet him. Katy Shanafelt

    Even though I never meet Ken, I have been privileged to know him through all of the wonderful educational information he was able to give to us Koi kichi people. People like Ken don't come around often, but when they do, they make a wonderfully huge impact on those around him. His legacy will live in the minds and hearts of all that love these beautiful creatures called koi. My heart goes out to all of his friends and family. He will be very much missed in this community. Rest in peace dear friend.
    Barb Flowers

    All of us in the koi world will miss his knowledge.
    Diana Lynn Rehn

    Ken was my Koi mentor While I was trying to take the Certified Koi Keepers exams, he was very friendly and patient with me. He was also always available to address the issues we had with ponds in our local club. Ken impressed me with his advanced expertise in a lot of engineering applications, and his common sense and creativity to figure out how to improve our ponds. It was a pleasure to work with Ken on editing numerous publications for Koi Organisation International. We will miss him dearly.
    Marc Descollonges ¸.·´¯`·.´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸><)))º>

    I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Ken in Idaho when he was helping with the PNKCA Convention. Had a chance to sit across from him at dinner, and then had a chance to watch him at work during the wet lab. I also took the pond construction class from Ken, and can attest to his willingness to encourage and to be patient. This is a huge loss for the koi community, and K.O.I., of course.
    Nancy Moore

    Ken was very helpful in helping me pass CKK and solving a problem with my pond.
    Ed Broomfield

    Ken was very helpful in helping me pass CKK and solving a problem with my pond.
    Ed Broomfield

    On behalf of the Koi Club of San Diego, Ken you will be missed.

  • July 13, 2017 12:42 PM | Gerald Ellison (Administrator)

    What should you know about Ammonia NH3???

    So from past articles and discussions at our club meetings, I hope you have a better understanding of how stress to our koi shortens their life span and reduces their growth with subpar coloration. With all other things being equal your koi normally get bigger each year placing a larger ammonia load on your pond filter, which can lead to an increase in the residual levels of pond ammonia. This results in added stress which can lead to the above mentioned items plus increased illness/disease and loss of koi. Strange as it may be, I think of ammonia sort of like diabetes in humans in that both can demonstrate harmful effects on just about any part or system of the physical bodies in question and both can cause serious problems short term and long term collectively both leading to pre-mature death!

    Yes, this is a serious water quality issue that needs your attention and constant vigilance. While I cannot cover the subject adequately here, I hope to get you started thinking about it and what’s going on in your pond and your koi with respect to ammonia. So let’s get started.

    Ammonia is the number 1 waste product of koi and is said to be excreted from your koi’s gills for about 75% of total production, while the remaining 25% comes from the kidneys. They are always breathing and as they get larger the production of ammonia is exponential – so a koi growing from 6 inches to 12 inches does not now excrete twice the ammonia but closer to 3 times as much as when it was 6 inches. At the same time, any organic matter in your pond that comes from a protein source will release ammonia as it decays in your pond (more on this later).

    To make matters worse ammonia is more toxic to your koi as the pH levels in your pond go up starting around 7.3 and at above 8 just about all ammonia will be in its de-ionized form and very toxic to your koi. Why you ask – at pH below 7.4 ammonia NH3 will start to ionize (pick up a hitching H-ion) and become ammonium or NH4. To put it simply it came out of the koi as ammonia NH3 but at a pH below 7.4 there is an abundance of extra hydrogen ions in the water looking for a home and NH3 becomes NH4. Now the important physiological fact – as NH4 it will not cross the gill membrane and re-enter the koi causing ammonias (ammonia poisoning). This is why in my opinion that any level of detectable ammonia (even trace – below 0.25ppm but not zero) in your pond needs to be addressed as long periods of even low level exposure is not without its consequences. Koi stress caused by ammonia will lead to gill hyperplasia (extra fluid around gill tissue – reduced oxygen absorption) and caustic burned gill tissue which, just to make matters worse at the same time, is a reduced immune response. Or as Dr. Johnson DVM has written “…depress the immune system (via the cortisol stress-response on vitally important immune fighter cells).” Yes, there is a chart based on pH/Temp/and your NH3 reading that will tell your toxic un-ionized ammonia NH3 level.

    Now to the “more on this later” above remark. Crazy as it may seem, your feeding practices may add to the pond ammonia problem. First, any undigested food excreted (nice word for koi poop) will add to the protein organic decaying matter in your pond while providing an additional food source for the disease causing bacteria and a lot of other things growing in your pond. It’s the excess protein you may be providing that is ammonia producing. When your koi don’t use or need the protein for growth or reproduction purposes then your koi will use the extra protein in the diet as an energy source instead of the available fats and carbs. When proteins are metabolized a resulting byproduct is ammonia due to protein having a nitrogen component. When a koi uses fats and carbs for energy no ammonia is produced as a byproduct. Dr. Nicholas Saint-Erne uses the term “… protein-sparing effect” when fats and carbs are utilized as an energy source. This may not be a major point for you but as pond size goes down and fish load goes up (along with other factors) this could be a larger player toward ammonia levels in your pond.

    I would suggest doing weekly ammonia testing for established ponds. Koi suffering from ammonia poisoning will most often develop redness at the ends of fins followed by visible red lines in the fins followed by fin clamping to the body and sitting on the bottom of your pond and a few will start to isolate themselves and upon examination have an excessive amount of slime. I’ve actually smelled the ammonia around koi tanks and smaller ponds with overloading of koi and poorly maintained water quality.

    So what’s a koi hobbyist to do? What’s one of my favorite sayings? “The solution to pollution is dilution” but this time it comes with a serious caution. You don’t want to change the temp or especially the pH that will result in the remaining ammonia becoming MORE toxic to your koi because your water change raised the pH resulting in higher levels of ammonia toxicity – but water changes are the number one treatment. Other important considerations: Temporarily reduce feeding schedule like stop feeding for a week or two – reduce fish load – reduce your pond water turnover time – increase your biofilter capacity – and a little salt might assist the koi in dealing with the ammonia issue. In worse case situations you may want to consider pH management (with chemicals) in the downward mode and chemicals to bind the remaining ammonia – but this stuff gets me to thinking a temporary holding tank to save the koi, while you correct the problems identified with the pond. 

    I hopefully have covered most of the major points and given you some food for thought as to why ammonia is such an important issue for koi in the closed system of our koi ponds. A web search will provide a wealth of information on the subject and most koi books have something to say about the subject. If my crazy analogy between ammonia in a koi pond and human diabetes makes a little more sense now then my job here is done LOL. 

    "Koi" Jack Chapman

  • July 07, 2017 6:03 PM | Gerald Ellison (Administrator)

    It’s that time of year again!! Time to take apart one chamber of the bio-filter, squish out the gunk and replace UV lights. This is a good opportunity to come and see one of Norm Meck’s filter designs and rub shoulders with your fellow Club members. 

    We will meet on Saturday, September 16th at 8:00 am and finish around 10:00 am. Walk up the service driveway behind the Organ Pavilion, also the best place to park, to the back gate of the Garden and someone will let you in. Bring a towel and wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty or you can just watch the rest of us. 

    We usually take a picture of the crew that sometimes ends up in Koi USA so be there!! 

    Any questions, call Linda Pluth (619-200-4146) or email: We hope to see some new faces this year!

    Linda Pluth

    Directions to Japanese Friendship Garden

  • July 04, 2017 10:01 AM | Gerald Ellison (Administrator)

    Looks like summer is finally here!!! I’m sure your Koi are very active and begging for you to feed them? Talk about feeding, what a great spread of food at last month’s meeting. Thank you again Judie and Jeff Lincer for hosting our June meeting. What a great pond! I’m happy to report that I continue to see more and more people attend our meetings. I also like that I am seeing some familiar faces show up. Thank you for all who attend and help support the Club. If you didn’t make the June meeting, participating members selected koi for a grow out contest supplied by Shawn McHenry of Mystic Koi. 

    All who participated chose a Koi and will bring their selection back next year in hopes of having grown their Koi the most. If your Koi doesn’t grow that much, don’t worry, your Koi is still eligible to win the “Beauty” contest. Good luck to all contestants. It was exciting to see the number of folks who participated. Better watch out Koi Jack, I know a number of people are “gunning” for you. Right Matt Rhoades, Right Gerald, Right Dr Bob !!!! I even saw John Svelan in the mix. As for our Guest speaker, Shawn McHenry was kind enough to enlighten us about how to select “Young” Koi. 

    How appropriate, as we transitioned right into selecting koi for the grow out contest. Special thanks go to Gerald Ellison for putting the contest together. 

    June is also the month that we select our Club Officers for the year. Congrats and a BIG Thank you to the following Club Officers that stepped up and were voted in: 

    Jack Chapman-VP of Program
    Linda Pluth-VP of Venue
    Dr. Bob Adler-Treasurer
    Phyllis Spoor-Secretary 

    I will continue my role as President for another year. Wow that was a fast first year! 

    I would also like to announce that our Koi Auction is back on. Looks like it will be September 30th. Be on the lookout for more information. I do know we will need a number of volunteers in order to make it happen. If you’re interested in helping out, please contact Tamsie Pierce (619-581-8482) or 

    We have also selected our Show Chairman for the 31st Annual KCSD 2018 KOI Show. Congrats and Thank you to Dr. Bob Adler for stepping up and doing it for a third year in a row. Dr. Bob tells us that he has already reserved the Activity Center, Del Mar Fairgrounds for the first weekend in March 2018. 

    In closing for this month, we have a new look to our website. Please go take a look at it. It does have a members only area. Log in and create your profile. You can now Renew your membership, sign up your friends and participate in club events using your credit card. The members only section also has a cool Forum that Gerald created where you can discuss koi stuff or even buy, sell or trade fish and equipment. We think you’re really going to like it! Thanks Gerald for all your hard work! 

    Scotty Yee
    President KCSD

  • 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

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