It is that time of year again: hurricane season. While most of you have an emergency plan for your family including your four legged family members, those of you with Koi may not have given a second thought as to how to prepare your pond for a hurricane or other emergency.
What would you do if the electricity went out for days? If you lose power for an extended time, your fish may not have enough oxygen to survive. One of the best things to have in a power outage, of course, is a gasoline generator. If you do not have a generator, a back up battery aerator will help to increase the dissolved oxygen levels in the pond.
What if a branch or other projectile were to puncture the pond liner? An above ground holding tank would come in handy in this situation and could double as a hospital/quarantine tank if one of your Koi were to become ill at any time of the year.
Did you know during heavy rains water treatment facilities add extra chlorine and chloramines to the water? If you need to add municipal water to your pond, make sure you double the amount of dechlorinator after a heavy rain.
It is also a good idea to keep a pond first aid kit handy, not only during hurricane season, but all year. Your kit should include dechlorinator, a water-quality test kit, beneficial bacteria, medicated food, liquid Band-Aid, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal medications and a few household items that help with some of the most common pond ailments. Remember the key to healthy Koi is healthy pond water.
Here are a few household items you should include in your first aid kit:
- Hydrogen Peroxide: If your fish are gasping at the surface, you may have low dissolved oxygen levels. To raise levels quickly add 1/2 to 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide per 100 gallons of water or using a spray bottle, add about 60 squirts per 100 gallons under the water away from the fish. This will buy you a few hours to fix the situation. ALWAYS test the water before adding any treatment to your pond to rule out high ammonia levels or other issues.
- Baking Soda: used in case of a pH crash. The pH can crash without warning. Add 1tsp to 10 gallons of water to raise pH to 7.5. Always test your pond to see what your pH level is and raise slowly. Do not just dump the entire box of baking soda in the pond!
- Crushed Oyster shell: ok, this one might not be something you have laying around the house but it is readily available at any feed store. If you are having difficulty keeping the pH at the proper level, you need to first add a buffer (like baking soda) to raise your pH to 7.5. Add a net bag of crushed oyster shell in the pond under the waterfall. This will keep your pH at the proper level. You will need to change bag every few weeks.
- Plaster of Paris: pH Pucks. This is also used as a pH buffer. Create a pH puck by mixing the plaster of paris as directed on the box. Pour into small pie tins and let dry for a few days until chalky. Add to your pond. One 9" puck will buffer up to 1000 gallons for about two weeks. We always keep a few of these on hand just in case.
- Solar Salt: This is a preventative treatment. Use 1 cup of solar salt (not table salt) per 100 gallons of water. This will bring the salt to about .1ppm, at this level it will help keep parasites from attaching to your Koi, heal wounds, will keep the Koi from taking ammonia in through their gills and will help replenish lost slime coat due to stress.
- Water: This is the most readily available household item on the list and can do wonders for lowering ammonia and nitrite levels in the pond. If your fish are acting unusual, gasping at the surface or hanging at the bottom, a quick 25% water change will usually perk them up. Remember to clean the filters regularly and to add dechlorinator when adding fresh water from the tap.
When a storm threatens, follow these important tips to protect your Koi:
- Add more submerged oxygenating plants to the pond
- Lower marginal plants to the bottom of the pond
- Turn off anything that will allow water to blow out of the pond if windy
- Trim any branches over the pond
- Remove any decorative items that may fall in the pond
- Stop feeding fish immediately
- Unplug any cords that are not on GFI outlets
- If you use algaecides, discontinue use during power outage.