It is very important to test your pond water each month or more to make sure that your pond water is of a high standard. Keeping a good check on your water will help keep your Koi happy. Good water management is so important as it can help prevent your Koi picking up illnesses and infections. Koi’s bodies are so closely associated with the water environment they live in, that they will react quickly and dramatically to changes in the water conditions. If your water is chemically incorrect this is felt quickly by your Koi. The chemicals go through the thin membranes of the gills to the blood and then in turn affect almost any organ.
It is important to have a test kit, so you can test your water regularly. The test kits will consist of 4 tests.
1. Ammonia tester
Ammonia is primarily a metabolic waste product excreted from the gills of the Koi. It is also produced by excess food and decomposed organic matter sitting on the floor of your pond. If the ammonia level is over 0.5ml/l this will have a negative effect on your Koi. If you test your water and it is over 0.5ml/l then you need to do a 50% water change and retest a few days later.
2. Nitrite tester
Ammonia is converted into Nitrite by the nitrifying bacteria that chemically changes the ammonia into Nitrite. If you have just started up a new Koi pond then the bacteria that change nitrite only start to grow after about 6-8weeks. After 8 weeks you should have nitrite in your water, which will then be converted into Nitrate.
3. Nitrate tester
Nitrate is the last conversion that occurs. Nitrate can build up in your pond if you do not do regular water changes to keep it within acceptable levels. When changing the pond water, use the old pond water to water the garden as this way the garden gets to be fertilized and then add fresh water to your Koi pond with a dechorination product and both your fish and plants will benefit. To help a bit with high nitrate levels a pond that has being built to incorporate a water garden with lots of aquatic plants can help to keep nitrates lower, but small water changes still need to be done.
The ph tester will show you how acid or alkaline your pond water is. Koi like a ph of between 7.2 and 8.5. If you are having troubles with low ph you can add some bicarb of soda for a sort term effect. However if it seems to be an on going problem, place some bag of extra coarse coral into your filtration system. This will help to increase your ph levels in the pond. Often Koi react very badly to acidic water and this can be rectified so quickly if you have a test kit that makes you aware of the problem. Symptoms of low PH are Koi not eating, slight milky appearance on their skin and general unhappiness.