Are my Koi sick or healthy?

  • #1
Hello my fellow fish loving friends. I'm Lisa from Minnesota, and I've just recently taken up Koi keeping. I've always loved Koi, always dreamed of having my own Koi pond someday, and for my birthday (mid-September) my husband bought 2 little Koi (about 2.5" each) and a 29 gallon tank. We talked to the person working the aquarium section of the pet store & got everything we *cough* thought we needed... including a Penguin Bio-Wheel designed for a 50 gallon tank. We got some Koi food (Tetra Pond flakes & a pellet type food), gravel, silk plants & brought it all home. I hopped online & researched what I should do next... first mistake? Not "cycling" the tank - never even had heard of it before. So, I put the bag of Koi in the water & let it sit about 20 minutes (after washing the inside of the aquarium, gravel, plants & filter down with cold tap water & putting all that in there, too). Then I just dumped the fish in there with the water from the bags...

Everything was fine for about a week. Then, dummy me... went to Wal-Mart & saw they had Koi, too! Ugh! I couldn't resist 2 little butterfly Koi & 1 standard... so I brought them home. I felt sorry for them & thought I was rescuing them. One didn't look healthy to begin with but I thought I could help... he died the next day so I brought him back & got a refund & took the last butterfly Koi in exchange. *sigh*

So, they are all fine & dandy... no clamped fins, no red or pink gills, no holes, ulcers, etc. I put salt in their water, upgraded to a "better" food & now feed them HikarI Staple small pellets that float. They love it & I have one of those sad little Wal-Mart Koi eating out of my hand.

After about 10 days of having the fish & doing gravel vacuuming & partial water changes every other day (worked from 10% to 30%), I noticed white stringy very fine stuff floating from the silk plants... so I removed them, washed them in plain tap water & put them back. Next day, same thing! Eww... so I got rid of them completely. Decided I couldn't stand NOTHING in their tank, so I went & bought a live bamboo plant from a different pet store aquarium. Washed it off in cold tap water as well & stuck it in there & buried it in gravel at the base. It lasted about a week - the Koi just kept digging in the gravel & "uprooting" it. LOL So, not it's in a shot glass on my windowsill.

Three weeks into this ordeal, I notice this fine white/clear slimy "algae" on the tank walls, but I see it nowhere else. So, I do more water changing & bought an aquarium scrubbie thing/sponge & wiped it all down. I also replaced the filter cartridge EVERY week or more, til I finally just started "hosing" all the gunk off of them with my faucet sprayer & tap water. I also bought some water treatment that removes chlorine & chloramine. (Originally, from about a week in, I was using Prime to lower the ammonia level - I thought my readings were higher than they should be - not the lowest yellow, but the greenish yellow on the test strips - so I used that). Seemed to work great! THEN I realized that fancy schmancy Bio-Wheel was supposed to be taking care of the ammonia. Ugh! So, went out & bought a pH & Ammonia & thermometer all in one "meter" that stays in the aquarium all the time now.

Everything has been great with these Koi, except the slimy aquarium walls EVERY day, and then the "scratching" they've been doing for about 3 weeks now. I started using the salt more & doing even more water changes, and quit using the Prime water treatment & started using "Start Right"? With Allontoin? Anyway... now my water has been cloudy & I can't get rid of it.

Their Aquarium has NOTHING in it anymore - even removed the gravel cuz it was hiding poop & the vacuuming wasn't getting it all & I read that it's not necessary. Still cloudy... still slimy.

After much research on the lovely web, I decided they had parasites. Then my mother came to visit & I asked her what she thought of these hardly noticeable white/clear spots on a couple of the Koi's tail & dorsal fins - she said the was SURE it was Ich. So, bought medicine for that at yet ANOTHER pet store - the kind with copper in it - Mardel? So I measured that out, and added it to (another water change) their aquarium. Nothing. No results whatsoever. Still scratching (usually only in the early afternoon and at night - but pH is stable) and THEN... I see a white/clear thing about 1 cm long hanging off my Platinum Ogon Koi (one of the Wal-Mart ones) head by it's gill!

By now I'm just frustrated beyond words. Back online for more research. Does NOT look like an anchor worm, but can't find a description of anything that looks like it or any pics (much like the white "algae" looking stuff on the aquarium walls). So, I net the little guy in the water and held him in my hand half in the water & took a Q-Tip & gently tried to get it off... to no avail! So, the fish is stressed so I leave him alone with this "THING" hanging off his cute little head. GROSS! And I'm ticked because the medicine has been in the water with NO water change for almost a week (cuz it says to leave for 30 days? - I can't compute how that will work with water changes & have a huge fear of overdosing them) and now a worm??? Ugh! MORE research... and back to the store for a different cure. *sigh* AND I bought an air pump & air stone/tube thing... I bought Quick Cure & Crystal Clear. I haven't used the Quick Cure - not without knowing whether that on top of the Mardel stuff would just be too much. I DID try the Crystal Clear cuz I was sick of not having nice clear water - didn't do anything either...

So, today... we are at the Pet Store again looking for a medicine for internal and external parasites cuz they have ALL been having clear zig zag looking poop that really look like worms to me for about 2 weeks now. Bought medicated food for the internal buggers (parasites) - and they WON'T eat it. They suck it up & spit it right back out. We also bought a SECOND filter - a 3 part one to supplement the Bio-Wheel once we have it fixed (making funny noises & the wheel is not turning like it did the first 4 weeks we had it).

I did a 30% water change today, treated the water appropriately for our tank size with Start Right stuff, and dosed with the Mardel stuff AGAIN - this time the right amount (I miscalculated my first dose because I thought we had a 20 gallon tank - realized today it's a 29 gallon tank), and removed the Bio-Wheel completely & installed & set up the new filtration minus the carbon filter part. I didn't know this until recently when looking at all the medications that ALL of them EXCEPT the Mardel say to REMOVE THE CARBON from the filter before treating. Figured my first dose of Mardel didn't work because I didn't remove the carbon? But with the Bio-Wheel cartridges it's all in one piece and the carbon is inside the sealed cartridge! Hence why we bought the Whisper filter with 2 or 3 parts, and simply omitted the carbon part until SOMETHING gives...

So. Now I'm up at 3:00 AM, worried about my Koi. I really do love them & their behavior keeps changing. I don't know if it's their personalities, or if they are really sick?!?!? Tonight, the small Orange Butterfly Koi JUMPED out of the water & hit his/her head on the hood 4 times in less than 5 minutes! It was a pretty loud thunk each time & made me jump! Another white standard fin Koi with the orange spot on his head goes up & down fast & vigorously with his FACE/NOSE against the walls by the corners... been doing this for DAYS!!! It looks like he's either trying to get out or he's fascinated with his own reflection... bizarre! And the little orange butterfly (the jumping is new tonight) does a LOT of flashing & fancy swimming & darting around... always has, though. And the one that eats out of my hand? RARELY scratches/flashes... and is always the one getting chased by the other Koi - round & round in fast circles.... but I've never seen any of the "beating" or mating behavior otherwise. Even put "breeding grass" in there to SEE if that's what they were doing... nope! They just like to stick their faces in there & grab occasional straggling gravel pieces & put them in the grass... LOL I attached one of the "grass" things to the wall of the tank thinking they could scratch on that since there's really no gravel for them to rub on anymore... they only stick their faces in that too & put rocks in it as well.

So, what should I do?

Here is a list of the stats on my little meter/monitor:

Temp: 70º
pH: 6.6
Ammonia: 0.00 ("safe")

Also, it has the Mardel Coppersafe (which I just read tonight that Copper can be harmful, and Formalin is safer? Formalin is the ingredient in the Quick Cure - the cheapest thing I've bought yet for them! But haven't used yet) in it, salt, and Start Right with "Allantoin".

COMPLETE list of EVERYTHING I have for the Koi & the Aquarium:

Mardel Coppersafe

QuiCK Cure (Formalin & Malachite Green)

Jungle brand Anti-Parasite Medicated Fish Food for Internal Parasites (Active Ingredients: Metronidazole, raziquantel, levamisole.)

Start Right with Allantoin

Prime (not used in weeks, may be present in the tank still in trace or dilute amounts?) did a 50% water change after I removed the gravel about a week ago.

Crystal Clear (tried with NO results)

Laguna Goldfish & Koi Food (All Season - Small Pellets)
Satori? Koi Food (Made by Kaytee - used to feed my birds Kaytee brand pellets - not sure about the quality of this food either)
HikarI Staple (Small Pellets) - currently only using this - until the medicated food started today...

I have also fed them fresh organic spinach (washed in plain tap water, froze for 30 minutes & then clipped into their tank) , fresh orange (pulled apart pulp & just let it float & sink for them), and multi-grain Cheerios. They LOVED all of them! They haven't had any in over a week though since I've been trying to get the water clear...

Today I bought fresh organic snow peas & snap peas to give as a treat - but have to use the medicated food 3 days in a row exclusively... hopefully they get hungry enough to eat it!

Penguin Bio-Wheel (for 50 gallon tanks)
Whisper Filter (Large?)
Whispter Air Pump - dual outlet, but only one in use and attached to an air "curtain" tube/hose?

Gravel (black AND natural)
Glass cubes & large beads (from the craft section) Could that be bad? Even though I washed them?
Decorative Dragon, Skull, Treasure Chest
2 large silk plants
1 live Bamboo plant
3 plastic plants

Scrubber wand with soft sponge & scrubbie (interchangeable) and squeegee
Vacuum (siphon - not electric)
Glass Magnet
Aquarium Sponge
Flourescent "Natural" light in the hood/top
2 nets (large & small)
Mardel Live pH & NH3 monitor *6 week use* (Need a new one in November)
Ammonia test strips - the kind with just one indicator that can go from yellow to dark green

They are not gasping for air, but I do see them trying to eat bubbles and they always seem SO hungry! I feed them 1 - 2 pinches of the HikarI pellets one to two times a day normally... they always gobble it up SO fast & wait for me!

There is no clamping of their fins, no hanging out at the bottom of the tank, no pinkness of the gills, mouth, butt, or ANYWHERE. There is one fish that is missing a couple of scales it looks like - he's also the one that scratches the most (another reason I removed the gravel & other things with sharp edges). Will they grow back?

My problem is whenever I think there MIGHT be a problem, I get online & research, research, research! I find SO many contradicting statements, even from veterinarians & hobbyists!

OH! And I also have a Microscope! I bought a cheap kids' one (National Geographic) like I used to have when I was a kid. I looked at the water about 20 times now, & also the slime from the inside of the tank walls, and even performed a successful "skin scrape" from 2 of the Koi... I found NOTHING! I could see spots & debris & a hair (from my own head) here & there, and could even see the "rivers" of water in the fish mucous, but NOTHING moving!!! So, if there are parasites, they died REALLY fast & I couldn't see them, or my microscope is ! I tried comparing what I saw to this site with videos & slides of the microscopic pests, and the only thing that was dead on was the normal mucus! Ugh!

Starting to think maybe everything I read is wrong & I should have left the fish alone. The "Ich" my mom says they have, looks nothing as severe as the pictures on diagrams on the web OR on the box of medicine. I'm talking like 5 tiny, pencil spot type translucent white/clear flat spots at the MOST on the fins of the fish. Nothing on the slides. No response from the meds (yet), the spots are all still there, but none are spreading - the fish have had them since we got them. The scratching/flashing/rubbing isn't constant - twice a day for a few minutes at a time - some do it more than others.

The only changes since we got them (have had them over a month now) is the pH & Ammonia seem to be ideal, but now we have cloudy water. The one orange fish is JUMPING, and the wormy thing on the Platinum's head - which is gone BTW... was only there 2 days, and then after I unsuccessfully tried to remove it, it disappeared a day later.

Most things on the web I find about Koi apply to ponds & large Koi. I don't have a pond yet (working on it over the winter! ) and my Koi are so little! Three inches TOPS from nose to end of tail fins.

If anyone can give me some helpful advice that might clear up these issues, aside from telling me what I SHOULD HAVE DONE (like cycling the tank & not adding fish til the cycling was complete), and aside from telling me Koi don't belong in Aquariums, I'd REALLY appreciate it.

I now know what I should have done... unfortunately I already have the fish & their aquarium & all this "stuff" NOW & can do things right in the future, plus conflicting ideas all over the web and am just stumped. We plan to get a pond to accomodate their eventual size, but now must wait until Spring to do an outdoor one (budget won't permit a fall/winter project like that) and can't afford to do the indoor pond (and haven't decided on a design that will fit ours & the Kois needs) RIGHT at this moment. I am currently shopping larger aquariums though, at least to tide us over until we can do something bigger and better... kinda scared to do TOO much not knowing the fate of my beloved Koi. *cringe* I love them SO much. My hubby is starting to think I'm a little Koi crazy cuz I sit & talk to them & just watch them for hours... and now the hand feeding - EVERYONE thinks that's a riot! Anyway...

Oh, and my hands are ALWAYS chemical free & clean... I'm pretty much allergic to everything, so I only use very mild hand soap, and always rinse with cold tap water before sticking my hands in their tank for ANYTHING. And I don't use ANY cleaning products to clean their stuff... I was considering those wipes for aquariums but am really kind of scared to put any more chemicals in there...

Enough rambling for tonight. Thanks for any advice you can give! I will post pictures tomorrow of them, if anyone is interested. Is there a special place for that? Or should I post here so you can see the spots I am talking about? Thanks again in advance! I love this site already!


PS Sorry about the lengthiness & redundancy... just wanted to make sure I covered EVERYTHING, cuz I know there will be questions... LOL
  • Thread Starter
  • #2
PSS - In the beginning (before the white slime on the tank walls) I had the light in the aquarium on ALL day. When I thought it was some sort of algae I started only having it on maybe 6 hours a day? And they aren't in any sunlight where they are either. I DID find other posts from people with questions about white algae, but mine didn't look like any of the pictures of possible things... snail eggs, algae or anything else that was given as a possible cause. Maybe it IS green algae or some other color but I see it before any color shows? There IS green algae on the glass under the light every week that I clean off... bright dark green stuff, but I see none in the tank. And the first time I cleaned the bio wheel filter system there was "furry" looking white & brownish red algae slimy looking stuff on the water output part. After I cleaned it off & put it back, my Koi grew a sudden interest in wanting to be by the water output part ALL the time? Don't get it! They seem like they try to eat EVERYTHING! Am I not feeding them enough? Ugh. I've read "as much as they'll eat in X minutes"... and that number has been anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes. I also read that fish only NEED to eat as big as their eye? So, what's right? Anyway... forgot to mention those 2 things. I'm done! LOL
  • #3
I will leave most of this to Butterfly, Dino, or one of the other long-time keepers. I will simply say that 5 koi in a 29 gallon tank (if I read everything right, sorry it is early and I may have misread or misunderstood something) is too much. Even at small sizes koi produce a lot of waste. And life-expectancy is commonly 25-35 years on koi, but some are currently alive in Japan that are over 150 years old. They get to 3 feet normally, but have been reported as big as 5 feet long (the older ones). Koi should be kept in ponds unless you could seriously devote a monsterously huge tank to them. Bioload-wise they chould probably do about 100 gallons of water per fish at adult size, but to have enough room to actually move around length-wise you'd need over a 200 gallon tank.

I am glad you seem to research quite a bit. Butterfly or Dino will be along sometime this afternoon and are two of the smartest fishkeepers I know, they can probably help.

  • Thread Starter
  • #4
We plan to do a pond in the spring... probably an indoor pond at some point over the winter. UNLESS we could find a huge tank, because I personally don't mind viewing them from the side. LOL We knew they would need something bigger eventually & that they produce a lot of waste when we got them... that's why we bought the 50 gallon Bio-Wheel filter for the 20 gallon tank, and now the supplemental Whisper filter... also why I was cleaning & vacuuming (when I had gravel still) a lot.

I've seen the bigger ones many times in our local Asian Buffet Restaurant... they have a nice indoor corner pond with big Koi in it (2 feet I think is about the average size of them). That's what made me fall in love with Koi. I just never knew there were small versions... I don't know why I thought they were all BIG... maybe cuz that's all you ever see pictures of online?

Still even today, knowing there are young small ones (cuz I have my own) I can't find pictures or much info about young little ones. I have NO clue how old they are. No clue how fast they grow. They do seem a little rounder & their barbels seem slightly longer since we got them. Upgrading to the better food with less filler seemed to decrease the waste produced - and feeding them less (instead of when they "seem" hungry - which is ALWAYS) has also helped. They are only about 3 inches maximum long at present. I am hoping they stay small enough at least over the next month or two to not need the huge pond right yet. I do keep the tank as clean as possible with what I have... and the ammonia & pH levels are ideal (I think?) for Koi. I just don't get the cloudiness.

Well, thanks for your reply & I look forward to hearing from others!

Here are pics of the Koi:

First Pic - the 2 original Koi, on day 2 after we brought them home & set up the tank.

Second Pic - all 5 Koi, about 2 weeks ago, in cloudy water.


Third Pic - Closer up shot of the three standard fin Koi (in cloudy water 2 weeks ago)

Fourth Pic - Closer up shot of the 2 Butterfly Koi (same water conditions & time as the two above pics)

Sorry for the poor quality of the pics. You can't even see the white spots OR the white slime on the glass in any of these pics... of course, the cloudy water doesn't help at all. Plus, my fish are scared of the camera red light that lets me know when it's focused. LOL Then they dash off.

You can KIND OF see the faint little white spot (just one) on the dorsal fin of the Orange Butterfly Koi in the bottom pic... he also has a few of them on his tail fin - I can see these faint spots on the fins of ALL the fish EXCEPT the Platinum (white) Ogon standard fin... his fins aren't as thin or translucent as the others... you cannot see through them at all. He is very shiny & metallic & white/silver!

I will try to take better pics tonight... maybe even a video of their behavior if I can capture it well. Better do it while the sun is still up!
  • #5
Koi will grow as fast as you feed them. Laguna and HikarI are both ok to feed (I use Laguna). My parents always fed them quick oats and let them eat the algae in the pond. 5 Koi, even baby ones, in a 29 gal is too many fish. Definitly have extra air bubbles going in the for plants, Koi like to eat green stuff, they also like to rearrange the furniture (aka plants and decorations) on occasion. I have my pond lillies in mesh bags with 3-4 small stones to keep them from floating. My goldfish can move them around all they want without digging them up. You may want to put in some of the plastic plants for the fish to swim in and around just so they don't stress too much (think of how you would be in a room with no furniture, just four blank walls). As for medication, melafix is pretty good and handles a wide variety of symptoms. I think as long as you have so many fish in that size tank, you will have the white slimy stuff. I had that problem when I had 2 goldfish in a 20 gal tank for 1 week. I was changing the water twice a day, had two filters (a 20 gal and a 29 gal) on it and had an air pump going in it, and it was still cloudy and white. Mainly because it is impossible to keep the tank clean when it is that overstocked. a 29 gal tank is ok for no more than 2 koi that are less than 2" long because of the waste factor. Also, Koi need higher oxygen levels. 5 Koi will be great for a small pond (200 gal or more). The water should be at least 18 inches deep and the more spread out space they have the better. Also, a waterfall will help with the aeration and the filtration. You may also have to look at pond heaters for the winter...Koi can take cooler water than tropical fish, but not as cold as goldfish can take...Do you have any pictures of your fish? of the slimy stuff? Hope I have helped some.
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
I posted some pics above, and just took some more. I can't get any of the white slimy stuff - in fact, today there seems to be none (I did a 30% water change yesterday before we added the new filter). I did put the 3 plastic plants back as well yesterday, and their new filter has a little "cave" thing - it's molded to look like a tower of rocks - that one of the PetSmart Koi likes to hide in. I decided against the live plants in the aquarium - didn't want them fighting the Koi for oxygen. The air pump that I bought is for a 30 - 60 gallon tank and I cut the "curtain" tube to fit the width of the tank... a couple of the standard fins seem to like to play in the bubble curtain. Also, both filters produce a little waterfall at the output parts - hence the green algae on the glass light cover (it splashes up there). I tried lowering & raising the water levels so that it wouldn't splash too much, but the lower it goes, the more it splashes, and the higher it goes, then there is not enough water movement.

At PetCo in a nearby town they have a very large Koi tank with just 2 Koi in it... but they don't have aeration, they have a filter in one corner, and a thing that just moves the water in the other corner (it has two output spots & sits under the water and aims down & into the tank). I really like that thing, but didn't see any for sale.

We are considering a 270 gallon indoor pond we found on craigslist a couple weeks ago. It comes with an 8x8 foot base... but space is limited in our house, so we're not sure if something that wide would work, but have found no other alternatives aside from the big feed trough type tubs at the livestock store.

For an outdoor type pond we thought an old clawfoot tub would be cool, but they are expensive - unless they are beat up. I have NO clue how many gallons one of those holds, either, or if the porcelain or whatever they are painted or coated with is safe for fish. As far as a real outdoor pond, installed & built right with all the pumps, filtration & fountains & skimmers? It will not happen until spring. We are just not in the financial spot to do that right now - even if we did it ourselves. I have pond "plans" all printed out for my hubby & I to try to build for the indoor one... we just haven't decided on the best "fit" for our needs.

This is the one we are looking at buying.


It's 7' long, 6' wide & comes with a 1500 gallon pump, for $85.00. We would have to drive 4 hours round trip for it. It seems like a decent buy... IF we can make time to go get it AND figure out where to put it. I wonder if it could go outside on our back patio? Is there some sort of water heater we could put in it or under it for the winter? Something that wouldn't melt the plastic? And the base - worried it would rot outside - it's made of plywood. I really like the looks of it, and it seems ideal for these little guys. I REALLY want it in my house - get rid of our TV & stick it right in our living room!!! LOL But hubby doesn't want to ruin the hardwood floors in our 50+ year old house. Basement is an option, but it would take up valuable storage space.

Any thoughts?

Their water has gone down to 68º (or lower) - that's as low as the thermometer reads. I'm kind of scared to house them outside with them being so small & with our harsh Minnesota winters - even with a heater or de-icer.

Here's a pic of MY favorite & my first, "Old Yeller"

And this is new today on him... *cringe*

This is the white/clear "spots" my mom said is Ich on the Orange Butterfly Koi I call "Rusty". LOL All the other fish have at least one or two of these type spots, too except for the solid white Platinum Ogon (who I refer to as "Snowball", "Snowflake", "Frosty", "Blizzard", etc. - how cliche'...)

And these are the missing scales on my hubby's fish "Spot" - can't remember the name of this variety with the orange on the head. He is the most vigorous "itcher" we have... he gets all into it! Worries me that a few scales seem to be missing though - will they grow back? *bites nails*

I just took these pics today... they are the only ones that remotely turned out & you can actually see some of what I am talking about with those spots.

The orange butterfly HAD a split on its dorsal fin a week or so ago, just like the yellow one has now, but it was longer... and then one day it was just gone! Can they "heal" that fast? And is "splitting" normal? What causes it? I don't have anything sharp in there, and they are not mean to each other??? *bewildered* It literally looks like something sliced a fine line right between the spines of the fin!
  • #7
In the pictures you provided you show 3 goldfish and 2 koi. The picture of all 5 fish the bright yellow in the top left corner is a koi as is the silver/white with no red on it in the bottom right corner, but the other 3 are comet goldfish, which will get to 1 foot in length, but nowhere near the length the koi get to (3ft+).

There is no 'small' koi breeds. The only small koi are juvenile koi, but will get 2-3+ feet in length when they are adult.
  • #8
(I will preface this by saying that I could not read your entire post. I just don't have the focus to do so right now. Sorry)
I'm not positive about this, but it makes sense that such easily damaged extremities heal quickly.
Honestly, I would suggest trying to find another home for at least a couple of your fish. Even with no ammonia, the nitrates in the tank are going to spike quickly after water changes.
If you have a wading pool, or can get one (probably tough by now), you can set it up with filtration for the winter. Otherwise, you might want to try to split them into two groups. This is not an ideal situation, but it would be an improvement.
I live in MN, and if you need, I have a tank (and even an extra filter) that you could borrow over the winter if you live near the Twin Cities area. It's small for koi (only 20g), but if you don't overfeed them, you could keep two in it as a very temporary measure.

In response to a few comments that I saw:
I, too, have seen huge koi in small areas in local Asian restaurants. One has a 200 gallon tank with multiple 12"+ koi in it. This tank also has absolutely no decoration/place to hide, and these koi are in a high-traffic area. They are beautiful, but I doubt they are happy.
While it's great to have a larger filter, there is a limit to how much filtration can clean from your water. In the end, the only thing that truly removes nitrogen from the water is water change, and with the amount of waste that koi produce (they are dirty little critters), the nitrogen will build up quickly. This is why I suggest that the fish be split for the winter.

If you got the pond, all you'd have to do would be get a floating heater (currently for sale at many pet stores and fish stores, since they're basic "winterizing" necessities up here in icy MN), and probably wrap some sort of insulation around the base (perhaps inside of the base), in order to keep the bottom of the water from freezing on really cold days. I would also suggest looking for a cheap canister filter from Craig's list or Freecycle in order to get them through the winter, as you won't be able to do proper maintenance during the frozen months.

Hope things go well. Don't take my message as all doom and gloom. I kept a butterfly koi and a goldfish (both about the same size as your koi) in a 20 gallon tank for several months before I got them their current 29g. As soon as I find space, they will be moving into a 200 gallon tank that I'm getting for a song and a few pirate costumes
  • #9
Another idea we just had.

Wal-Mart sells plastic totes near the kitchen supplies usually, some as big as 40-50 gallons for under 20 bucks. You can use those with filters, we've done it temporarily before with other types of fish. You could use large plastic trashcans that've not held trash, but preference should go to the totes as they have a larger surface area.
  • #10
Another idea we just had.

Wal-Mart sells plastic totes near the kitchen supplies usually, some as big as 40-50 gallons for under 20 bucks. You can use those with filters, we've done it temporarily before with other types of fish. You could use large plastic trashcans that've not held trash, but preference should go to the totes as they have a larger surface area.

Also, koi prefer horizontal space to vertical space. They'd live in the trashcans, but wouldn't be happy. You're right. The bin would be better. I just noticed a reference above to troughs/bins available at feed stores. Those would also be excellent. Either one would be even better if you can hang some sort of filter over the back.
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
"In the pictures you provided you show 3 goldfish and 2 koi. The picture of all 5 fish the bright yellow in the top left corner is a koi as is the silver/white with no red on it in the bottom right corner, but the other 3 are comet goldfish, which will get to 1 foot in length, but nowhere near the length the koi get to (3ft+)."

I was told comets don't have barbels, and the butterfly Koi do... all of mine have barbels. I also read that Butterfly Koi were some sort of crossbreed between a regular Koi & a fancy goldfish or comet? Regardless, they had comets and butterfly Koi in separate tanks and they looked identical to me except one tank all had "whiskers" and the other didn't.

And my understanding was that they are 3 standard fin Koi, and 2 butterfly Koi (the solid orange, and the tri-color). And all the fish in my tank have barbels.

So, now I'm really confused...

In response to the other posts, I do have a couple small wading pools (I have 5 kids, so we buy new ones each summer). Maybe those would be better in my basement until I can get the correct setup for an outdoor pond? What would they need to function properly? A submersible filter & pump? Any clue how many gallons those things hold? LOL I think mine are about a foot deep & 4 to five feet wide.

I can get another aquarium easily enough & split the Koi up if needed - I frequent craigslist often, and they are cheap enough brand new at Wal-Mart. Or I could do the tote thing - I almost bought one just for them last time I was there, but was concerned whether the plastic emits any toxins? All that plastic stuff smells kinda funky to me. LOL
  • #12
Koi have barbels (looks like a little mustache) and goldfish have smooth mouths (no barbels). the white one with an orange spot on the head looks like a sarasa comet. The preformed pond looks like a good size. the plywood base is basically to help support the sides and the shelves. I have a preformed that I built a block wall around and then back filled with dirt. That way the sides and shelves all have support and I have plants growing around the edge of the pond and a block wall to sit on. The dirt also helps to insulate it. Is your back patio covered? That would help to keep it from freezing too bad in the winter. I'm in phoenix az so our winters aren't too cold. Every once in awhile it will get cold enough to have a layer of ice on the top of the pond, the gold fish are just fine under the ice. We break the ice up so the water can circulate. I don't have a heater in my pond but you may want to look into one.
A kiddie pool is a good temporary home for the fish as long as you have a screen or something over it. Koi and goldfish both have a tendency to want to jump. I lost two goldfish because they jumped out of my pond. I now have a little wire fence along the edge with the plants so the fish can't jump out. If you use the rectangular tubs, watch for splitting. The weight of the water can make the sides bend out and sometimes the corners will crack or split. wrapping it with rope or wire to help hold the sides in will some times work.
You can put block or brick under the shelves to support them until you are ready to do a permanent install if you get the preformed pond. An external pressure filter with a uv bulb is great for ponds. the pump sits in the pond and the filter can sit outside and some can even be buried so all you see is the top and that can be covered with plants or a fake rock or whatever...
As for your fish missing scales - that could be caused by stress and yes they will grow back. my fish love to rub themselves all through the lily stems and in the moss growing on the sides of the pond. If I let my hand hang in the water, they will even come and rub themselves through my fingers.

oh, and just so you know...for $85.00 make the trip to get that pond. as long as it doesn't leak...cause that's a good price for that size pond (at least in my neck of the desert)...especially since it comes with a pump that is a good size for that pond...
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
Comets are goldfish, right? But comets don't have barbels do they? ALL five fish have barbels... even the white one with the orange spot - in fact his are longer than the others' barbels.

Now I just need to convince hubby to take me to Wisconsin to get that pond! Maybe this weekend, when his kids are visiting their mother & mine is with her PCA... then we can use the truck! Yay! I'll just have to tell him that experts say it's a good deal & we NEED it!
  • #14
I have been keeping both for 30 years.
CWC is correct in his post.
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
Which one? I'm confused. All the fish in those pics have barbels... all five of them. They don't show though very well in the pics (if at all) but they are definitely there.

So do comets have barbels? Or do they not?

I thought just Koi & Carp & Catfish have barbels. I will try to take close up pics to show you their faces & barbel whiskers... somehow. LOL When I bought them I looked at the tank labeled Comets, and the tank labeled Koi - only difference I saw was whiskers/barbels. In the store the ones labeled Comets had NO barbels. The ones labeled Koi had barbels. I bought the whiskered ones, labeled Koi. They still have their barbels/whiskers. LOL

Clarification, please?

Oh... and if comets have barbels & whiskers like Koi, then how do I tell the difference?

Okay, so I managed to get some "eh" quality shots of the white fish with the orange spot on its head. His/her name is Spot BTW. You can see the barbels in the pics. They don't show up on all the other pics because the barbels are white/clearish in color and I assume it's the flash that makes them disappear completely. So, anyway... here they are that I just took.

So, Comet? Or Koi? Or something else altogether?

Okay. Got clearer ones! Too bad about the cloudy water otherwise these would be AWESOME pics! LOL

Okay. So he/she has two of those things hanging off his face - one on each side. Pretty sure they're barbels like the other 4 fish. Or are they parasites/worms? *raises an eyebrow*

Okay... going to research fish identification now while I wait to hear something back.

Well, after many hours of research (again) I have come to the conclusion that all my fish are definitely Koi. All have barbels - not as long as others I've seen, but they are definitely there & noticeable - just not so noticeable in the pics.

The only other explanation I could come up with, but haven't found any data or facts to back it up, is that comet/koi hybrids may have barbels?

Also, the Butterfly Koi (the solid Orange & the "Calico" tri-colored one) have a one-piece tail, forked or almost heart shaped? - looks the same as the standards to me except that ALL the fins are longer & flowy - the tail fins are vertically aligned with their spines. The butterflies have smaller bodies than the standards, too... but are longer because of those fancy schmancy fins. Hope I've become one step closer to learning something!

Oh, and hubby is all for the pond we'd have to drive to WI for (I think!)... I had to ask him when he was half asleep but he said "Possibly" and "we'll see" which is promising for him! !
  • #16
Thank you for Gremlin for the reminder that koi and goldfish like to jump. I had forgotten about that. In larger wading pools, it's not as likely that they will jump out of the pool, but it's still a possibility, and one you don't really want to risk, so a screen across the top is a good idea.
  • #17
ok - comets are a type of goldfish - like a ryunkin is a type of goldfish. Koi and goldfish are part of the carp family - like poodles and boxers are part of the dog family. Koi have barbels/whiskers that are usually quite pronounced. Goldfish (including comets) usually do not. Other than that, koi and goldfish are very similar in body type, size, etc. butterfly koi generally have fancier/larger fins. I took some pics of a couple of my goldfish to show the difference between male & female - the all orange one is the male and the white with orange spots is a female. All of my goldfish started out as little 1 inch long feeder fish from WalMart or Petsmart. I put these two in a 2 1/2 gal holding tank to get pictures - I have had them just over 1 year.

The white with orange and black/blue markings is a female shubunkin that I have had for several years.

I also have one male that stayed black (not very common) You can see the orangey coppery shine on him. I have had him several years also.

Then there is pics of my pond - one showing the one of the rock walls I built. the external pressure filter is behind the bamboo screen to the left in the pic. The other pic shows the two waterfalls fairly well. My pond is about 150 gallons. With the two waterfalls there is good aeration for my fishies. I had about 30 in there when my friend gave me his fish but it was too crowded so I gave 8 or 9 to my sister. she has a larger pond and had plenty of room. They still had ample air, they just couldn't swim without bumping into each other!

The small greyish fish that you see in some of the photos are a couple of my mosquito fish. The bigger ones are the females the smaller the males. Yes, the larger of the two big ones is pregnant - again.

Hope the pics and info help.
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
Wow! Very pretty! Love your pond, too! I can't wait to get ours... and get it installed & established & functioning! LOL

I was trying to figure out if my fish are boys or girls, but then I read it's hard to tell until they are a couple years old. Of course, mine are pretty small, and I looked... none of them seem to have "concave" anal areas like I read that the males have. So, I assume I won't know for quite a while what gender they are. I do know that the orange butterfly Koi LOVES to chase a couple of the others around the tank once in a while. And I've seen the standard fins chasing the calico colored butterfly. *shrug* Maybe they are just playing? LOL

I also noticed this - the Koi that came from Wal-Mart are much friendlier than the ones from PetSmart. The two butterflies & the white/platinum standard (both from Wally World) don't scatter when my hand goes near them in the tank, and the two butterflies actually eat out of my hand. Wonder why? More people looking in Wal-Mart so they've had more human contact? The Koi from PetSmart were kind of in a weird spot... bottom row, far left, right next to their refrigerated fish & reptile food. The only reason I saw them to begin with was the yellow one caught my eye.

SO, tomorrow I am doing a water change - the water has the Mardel CopperSafe meds in it. Should I just change it out & forget the medicine & just dilute it? Or get rid of it altogether as much as I can? Or should I put more in there to compensate for what I've taken out? So confused with the medicine thing & don't want to overdose them, but want them to get rid of their itchiness as well. I have been using salt, BTW, but it never seemed to help. How long does it take for Ich to go away? Just wondering what the next step is. It says to leave the CopperSafe in the water for 30 days? How do I do that with water changes & cleaning? And how do I know if it's working or not? The spots are still there, and they are still itching twice a day. There hasn't been any more jumping though since the one incident - can't reall y explain that one.

Thanks! Will check in again tomorrow! Have a good night/morning!
  • #19

beautiful fish!!

Similar Aquarium Threads

  • Locked
  • Question
  • Locked
  • Locked
  • Locked
Top Bottom