Are you equipped for koi keeping?
So what sort of equipment do you need? Although it
is not possible to draw up a list that covers every contingency we
can list some basic equipment that every hobbyist needs to
handle routine tasks and most common problems.
Water testing is an essential part of healthy koi-keeping and general
fish-keeping. Regardless of what type of water test-kit is used, it is
important that testing is undertaken regularly. It is also important to
keep a record of the readings. This gives a documented history of the
pond, showing up seasonal fluctuations, any anomalies and the possible
causes of any problems. As well as the results of each test, record the
date and time of day they were carried out. Testing should be carried
out weekly and more often if the pond is new, medicated or disturbed in
any way. The basic tests that all koi-keepers should carry out are for temperature, pH, ammonia, nitrite, dissolved oxygen,
hardness and nitrate. It is worth also noting any pond
treatments or introductions of fish and entering that with your
measurement results into a record book.
Capture and treatment
It is amazing how many koi keepers do not own a proper net. We all
need to catch our fish at some time. Taking a fish out of a pond is
potentially hazardous and everything possible should be done to reduce
the risk of stress and damage. I am all for economies where possible but
whatever you do don't try to economize when buying a net, buy the best.
The wrong type (too small, flexible or of poor quality materials or
design) makes catching koi a stressful exercise - for both you and your
fish. Worse still, it can lead to serious physical damage if fish are
knocked or fins and scales are caught. The net should be a shallow-pan
type of at least 24-inch diameter, with a long, firm handle that doesn't
flex when the net is moved through the water.
Koi should not be lifted out of the pond in a net - it is to be used
for confining and guiding them to the side of the pond where they should
be encouraged to swim into a floating bowl or basket. These can be
bought from specialist koi outlets although I have seen some effective
home-made ones. A floating basket confines the koi, allowing examination
without having to remove it from the pond. A koi sock-net, a long narrow
net with an open bottom, makes koi handling safe and easy!
If the koi has to be removed from the pond for treatment it is
important to have at least two large treatment bowls. Again, these can
be bought from koi specialists or, alternatively, round 25-gallon
cold-water tanks can be obtained from a plumbers' merchant.
An air-pump is essential as aeration is needed with most medications.
A small aquarium pump that can serve two air-stones is fine. It is bad
practice to use other people's nets and bowls as this brings with it the
risk of infection.
Even with the best-designed and managed pond there will be the
occasional problem. It is no good waiting until the problem arises and
then desperately running about trying to get hold of equipment and
treatments. Every koi-keeper should have a basic first-aid kit, which
should be kept out of reach of children. A baby's
changing mat makes an ideal treatment surface for koi, being
soft and less likely to remove mucus than a damp towel.
You will also need cotton buds, cotton wool,
towel or napkins, paper towels, a small and large pair of
sharp scissors and a pair of tweezers or forceps. Some
situations may require the use of an anaesthetic
such as MS222 (tricaine methane sulphonate). The first-aid
kit should also contain an iodine-based topical
antiseptic (eg Vetark Tamodine), a wound dressing e.g. Boots
Orabase) and Marinol Blue or Roccal for cleaning out
wounds. There are other products that are also suitable. It
is worth considering the purchase of a good magnifying glass for close
inspection of wounds. Last but not least is the good old stand-by, a big bag (usually 25 kg) of cooking salt.