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I try to keep my pond clean, but is there anything else I should do to prevent my fish from getting sick? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I try to keep my pond clean, but is there anything else I should do to prevent my fish from getting sick?

Q: I try to keep my pond clean, but is there anything else I should do to prevent my fish from getting sick?

April – Colorado Springs, CO

A:  Prevention really is the best medicine—and that’s true for humans as well as fish. Keeping your pond clean, filtered and well aerated is a great start at preventing disease, but there’s more you can do to ensure your finned friends stay happy and healthy. Here’s what we prescribe:

  • Vacuum Debris: Decomposing organic matter gathered at the bottom of your pond can be home to all sorts of parasites, fungus and bacteria. It’ll affect water quality and fish health, so use a ClearVac™ pond vacuum as needed to suck up all that sludge, debris and algae.
  • Add Natural Bacteria: In addition to vacuuming up debris, use the all-natural beneficial bacteria found in the DefensePAC® to help clear the water column, and break down and remove muck and organic waste.
  • Don’t Stress: When you do water changes in your pond, be sure to add some Stress Reducer PLUS to the pond to keep your fish stress-free. The water conditioner detoxifies heavy metals, chlorine and chloramines, and it promotes a healthy slime coat—which will keep your fish’s immune system functioning swimmingly.
  • Toss Them Some Salt: Pond salt, at low concentrations, will help soothe your fish, build their slime coats and improve their gill function. Here’s how to determine how much pond salt to add to your pond.
  • Add Aeration: Fish need fresh oxygen just like humans, and the best way to do that is with an aeration kit. It pumps O2 into the water and keeps the water moving—two things that ensure a healthy environment for your fish.
  • Quarantine Newbies: Before you add new fish to your pond, keep them in a quarantine tank for two to four weeks to be sure they have no infectious (or contagious!) diseases.
  • Knock It Out: Fish fungus, parasites and ick can be treated with KnockOut™ PLUS as a 7 day treatment or as a preventative measure.

If your fish are showing signs of illness, chances are good that it’s due to stress or water quality. Unless you see visible signs of a disease, test your water quality with a test kit and then do a partial water change (25 percent or so) to help relieve your fish’s stress.

If you do see visible signs of disease, like red patches, sores, white spots, odd behavior or anything else out of the ordinary, identify the problem using our Common Fish Diseases and Treatments chart and treat accordingly.

After you’ve identified any disease and begun treatment, take some time to reevaluate your pond routine. Did something change that caused (or led to) the illness? Sick fish are no fun. Do what you can to keep them healthy—but know what to do when they’re under the weather.

Pond Talk: Have you ever nursed a sick fish back to health?

Prevent Infection & Heal Tissue - Pond Logic® Stress Reducer PLUS

My fish has something red on its side. What could it be? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My fish has something red on its side. What could it be?

Q: My fish has something red on its side. What could it be?

Ted – White Marsh, MD

A: It sounds like your finned pal has a parasite called anchor worm. And they’re no fun.

These copepod crustaceans from the genus Lernaea bury themselves into the muscles of fish where they live and grow for several months, transforming into an unsegmented worm-like protrusion. Once developed, they make their way out of the fish, leaving behind bad wounds – which is the red area you’re seeing on your fish. Right before anchor worms die, they release their eggs and the cycle repeats over and over again.

A fish suffering from an anchor worm infestation will show the following signs:

  • Frequent rubbing or ‘flashing,’ which is when it rubs its body up against objects attempting to dislodge the parasite
  • Localized redness
  • Inflammation on its body
  • Tiny white-green or red worms in wounds
  • Breathing difficulties
  • General lethargy

Parasites like anchor worms can be introduced into the pond when new aquatic critters or plants are added to the existing mix. Unbeknownst to water garden hobbyists, the anchor worms hitch rides on the other fish or in the soil and roots of plants and establish themselves in their new home.

The cure for anchor worms is a pond-wide treatment with an anti-parasitic medication like KnockOut™ PLUS. As soon as you see signs of anchor worm, pour the recommended amount in your pond daily for seven consecutive days. When the infection clears up, continue treatment for an additional three days to ensure the parasites are gone for good.

If you plan to add fish or plants to your pond this summer, you can also use KnockOut™ PLUS as a preventive. It treats a variety of other fish ailments, including ich, fungus and flukes. Simply add it to the water when you introduce the new pond inhabitants.

Good luck getting those anchor worms under control. We hope your fish feels better soon!

Pond Talk: Have your fish suffered from some sort of parasite? How did you get rid of it?

7 Day Fish Treatment for Anchor Worm - CrystalClear® KnockOut™ PLUS

How do I treat my pond fish for ich and other diseases? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: How do I treat my pond fish for ich and other diseases?

Q: How do I treat my pond fish for ich and other diseases?

Nadine – Okemos, MI

A: There’s nothing sadder than a sick fish—particularly when it’s your friendliest koi or most gregarious goldfish. If your underwater pal is looking a little under the weather, here’s what you need to do to nurse him back to health.

1. Water Change

Some clean, fresh water can make a big difference. It’s full of oxygen, and it’s devoid of pathogens that could be sapping his immune system and making him sick. So the first thing to do is complete a 25 percent water change to get some new wet stuff into the pond.

If only one or two fish seem to be affected, sequester them in an isolation tank. You can use an aquarium, a large plastic bin, a child-size swimming pool—whatever size is appropriate for your fish. Be sure to add pond salt to the water, which reduces fish stress, as well as an aerator and a net to cover the tank.

2. Inspect Your Fish

Next, you’ll need to get up close and personal with your finned friend. Examine him from head to tailfin. Do you see any signs of inflammation? Is there redness in his gills? Do you see cuts or scrapes? Strange parasites or spots? Make note of unusual findings to determine what illness your fish has. Some common diseases include:

  • Ich: Technically known as Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, ich is an ectoparasite that presents as white spots on the body, fins and gills. Symptoms include loss of appetite, rapid breathing, hiding, resting on the bottom of the pond or tank, flashing, rubbing and scratching against objects, and upside down swimming near the surface. If not treated, ich will kill your fish.
  • Anchor Worm: These copepod crustaceans from the genus Lernaea are parasites that latch onto fish and grow into an unsegmented worm-like protrusion. Visible with the naked eye, anchor worms cause localized skin redness and inflammation. A fish with anchor worm may frequently rub on objects or flash, have trouble breathing and appear lethargic.
  • Fungus: Unlike ich and anchor worms, fungal disease—scientific name Saprolegnia—is an actual fungus that grows on fish that are injured or sick. Appearing as a white coating or cotton-like growths on the skin or fins, the fungus will eat away on the fish if left untreated, ultimately killing the fish.

4. Treat the Disease

Once you’ve determined what ails your fish, treat him with an appropriate remedy. You can find a range of treatments on The Pond Guy® Fish Health page, but here are some popular choices:

  • MinnFinn™ is a natural, biodegradable, broad-spectrum treatment for parasites and fungal and bacterial infections. Many issues can be eliminated in as few as one to three treatments.
  • Microbe-Lift® Parazoryne specifically attacks parasites, like anchor worms, fish lice and flukes, on goldfish and koi.
  • Aquatic Nutrition Medicated Fish Food is formulated with four antibiotics that combat bacterial infections and disease while providing nutrition to your pond inhabitants. The soft pellets sink to the bottom of the pond where sick fish tend to hide.
  • CrystalClear® KnockOut™ PLUS treats just about everything, including ich, parasites, protozoa, bacteria and fungi, that affect koi and goldfish.

4. Reevaluate Your Routine

You know the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure …” Well, when it comes to fish health, most times it’s true. Prevention is key to keeping your koi and goldfish healthy, and that prevention centers on your maintenance routines.

We recommend routine water changes, use of pond salt in low doses (don’t worry: it’s safe for your plants), filter clean-outs and removal of debris from the bottom of your pond. Doing so will keep your pond clean—and your fish happy and healthy.

Pond Talk: Have you ever nursed a fish back to health? If so, what did you do?

Treat A Broad Spectrum of Illnesses - MinnFinn™ Biodegradable Pond Treatment

My koi are moving really slowly, but scatter when I get close to the pond. Is that normal? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

My koi are moving really slowly, but scatter when I get close to the pond. Is that normal?My koi are moving really slowly, but scatter when I get close to the pond. Is that normal?

Karen – Arlington, VA

When the water gets cold, koi fish get lazy. Okay. Maybe not lazy – but they slow down considerably as their bodies conserve energy to withstand colder temperatures. But despite their natural tendency to slow down in the off season, their survival instincts remain intact. Thus, when they sense motion from the outside world, they get nervous.

As denizens of the deep, it’s only natural for koi fish to assume that everyone out of the water is looking for a quick meal. With that logical perspective, it’s normal for them to demonstrate a brief burst of energy in the interest of self-preservation.

It’s also natural for koi fish to lose their appetite when things get chilly. During the winter months, both their mobility and their metabolism slow down to preserve energy until things warm up in the spring. That’s why we recommend our Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food for the months leading up to winter. This food is designed for easy digestion, and provides healthy nutrition until the water drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. After that, koi fish can subsist safely on available organic matter at the bottom of the pond. They’ll eat what they need, and no more, and resume feeding when temperatures climb above 40 degrees again in the spring.

Pond Talk: Are you fish still coming to the pond side to greet you or have they taken cover for the winter?

Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food

How do you spot a sick fish? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How do you spot a sick fish?

How do you spot a sick fish? Sharon – Romeo, MI

You treat your pets like children so it is easy to understand how upsetting it can be when one of them falls ill or does not feel well. While your children are able to tell you where it hurts, it is a bit more difficult to figure out what ales your fish. For this reason alone it is a great idea to focus on prevention instead of waiting to cure. What can you do to prevent fish illness and how can you tell if your fish may be coming down with something?

Keep your pond clean and healthy by providing adequate filtration, aeration, and regularly cleaning and adding beneficial bacteria to the pond. A DefensePAC® is a great tool to help maintain water quality and a Pond Vacuum cleaning your pond easier and more enjoyable. When performing water changes use Stress Reducer PLUS to detoxify any chemical or heavy metal contaminates in the water as well as reduce fish stress and improve their slime coat which makes them less susceptible to disease. Dosing your pond with Pond Salt will also help improve their slime coat and gill functions further ensuring healthy and happy fish.

If your fish still manage to fall under the weather the will almost always show some inconsistency in their behavior that will give you a clue as to what is going on. When fish are stressed or ill they will tend to be lethargic and less social, often just floating in one area away from your other fish. If they have anchor worm you will see them rubbing on rocks or the wall of the pond which is known as flashing. You can also visually inspect your fish for signs of illness. Deterioration of their fins, mouth or gills can indicate poor water quality or parasites. Look for loose or odd looking scale formations and sores on the body of the fish.

There are three steps to follow to nurture your sick fish back to health. First, since most illness is due to stress or water quality in their environment you will want to provide some temporary relief from the source. Start by performing a 25% water change in the pond to get some fresh water into the system. If only a few fish seem to be affected you may also choose to set up an isolation tank and treat just the affected fish. Next add salt and be sure both the pond or isolation tank has adequate aeration.

Step two is to identify the fish sickness based on their symptoms. Take pictures, examine the fish for and cuts, redness or inflammation in the gills and record their habits. Once you’ve identified the symptoms you can choose the next course of action which may involve additional medications or treatments.

The final step is to reevaluate your normal pond routines. Go back to see if there is anything you should change to prevent illness in the future. When dealing with sick fish it is always important to focus on preventing issues before they have a chance to ruin your ponding season so you can spend the majority of your season playing with your pets instead of playing doctor.

Pond Talk: What have your experiences been playing doctor? Have you avoided sick pets? How?


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