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17 Small and large ponds. DIY and Custom Ponds.
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It is easy to get complacent about the water quality in our ponds during the winter. It is cold outside and our Koi pets are inactive. However, Winter can bring more than cold. Rain water is acidic, especially the first rains. Our Koi Health Advisers (KHV) often see water quality problems that can lead to the loss of Koi. The following excerpt is from an email that we send out at the beginning of each year. The only difference is that there is more rain in 2019 which adds more acid over time.
This is a reminder to check your pH and KH. It is a good opportunity to check your Ammonia if you haven't checked it recently. This is the reminder that we send out with the first rain of the season. We did not receive much rain in our area, but the first rain of the year can have the greatest acidity (lowest pH). This could affect the chemistry in your pond, especially if the KH is low (4 drops or less on most test kits, or less than 70 ppm). If your KH and pH are low, check your ammonia level BEFORE correcting the KH. Ammonia should be less than .25 ppm on the 5-minute test. If the ammonia is above .25 ppm, then do a 20% water change and determine why the ammonia is high (usually lack of filtration or high fish load). Once the ammonia is under control, then add baking soda, crushed oyster shells or a pH pill (see below) to increase the KH. We always recommend keeping a few boxes of baking soda at home. Baking soda will help stabilize the water.
Your pond has two chemical properties that are important. The first property is pH. For most of us, pH lets you know if the water in your pond is normal or acidic. Nothing more. The second, far more important property is Alkalinity. Alkalinity is the ability of water to neutralize acid and maintain a constant pH. Alkalinity stabilizes and balances the pH to hold it steady. Alkalinity does not remain constant. For most of us, it decreases slowly over time. If the Alkalinity in your pond is low, the pH of your water could be fine before the rain starts and become acid as soon as the Alkalinity is used up by the acidic rain. This is a pH crash. The pH of your water can swing from a neutral pH to deadly acidic levels in minutes.
Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of baking soda per 1,000 gallons of water now to help protect against a pH crash. The baking soda is safe and will not harm your Koi. Keep a couple of boxes handy at all times. Measure the Carbonate hardness (KH) of your water. A KH test kit should be one of the tools you use regularly. Some folks measure the pH in their water less frequently but regularly monitor the KH in their water. Add crushed oyster shells or a pH pill (made from Plaster of Paris) to help maintain the KH in your water. Read the attached article to learn more about alkalinity.
Mix Plaster of Paris and water and pour into an egg box or small disposable cup. Let it set, then remove it from the mold (might have to destroy the mold). This is a pH pill. It will slowly dissolve in your pond and increase the KH. If your KH is low, add a couple of these in fast running areas so they will dissolve more quickly. If your KH is okay, these will help maintain an acceptable KH level as they slowly dissolve.
The Camellia Koi Club has published a number of excellent articles about water. These articles are available through the CKC website. The link for the newsletter containing the article on alkalinity is http://camelliakoi.org/koi_ahoy/2013_02.pdf. The link for the newsletter containing an excellent article on the Nitrate Cycle is http://camelliakoi.org/koi_ahoy/2016_04a.pdf.
Please feel free to forward and share this message with all your friends that have wet pets.