WHY IS WATER QUALITY SO IMPORTANT ?
WATER IS A VERY COMPLEX COCKTAIL WHICH CAN DISSOLVE MOST MATERIALS. It is frequently called “THE UNIVERSAL SOLVENT”
It is certainly not in short supply as the majority of the world is covered in water, some 70% which, when viewed from space gives rise to the title of the BLUE PLANET.
Normally fresh open water is regenerated by nature and used OVER AND OVER again. It evaporates, forms clouds, condenses and returns to earth as rain. Pure rain water should be soft and neutral, free from contaminates, but is influenced by the nature of the atmosphere through which it falls. Polluted air will dissolve into the raindrops causing the pH to fall hence the term ACID RAIN. When rain comes in contact with the earth, it gains more contaminates, dependent on the nature of the materials upon which it falls, flows, and collects. Add to this industrial waste and the pesticides and herbicides used by our farmers and we have a complex liquor for the Water Authorities to handle. It is their responsibility to supply water from our taps fit for HUMAN CONSUMPTION that does not mean fit for KOI.
The Water Authorities screen, filter, add chemicals and finally disinfect the water supply with more chemicals before it reaches our homes. For disinfection CHLORINE and in some areas CHLORAMINE is injected into the supply to ensure our safety from such diseases as cholera. The concentration level will depend on how close you are to the injection point as a percentage is absorbed as the water travels to its furthest point. This means the closer you are to the treatment area the higher the chlorine/chloramine level. Because the human system can tolerate significantly greater levels of pollution than fish, the authorities only control to the recommended human level. This means our tap water may contain Chlorine; Chloramine; Pesticides; Herbicides; Metals; (salts of heavy metals / copper / lead / nickel / cadmium / mercury etc.). All of these chemicals are undesirable for our KOI, some are more dangerous than others.
All living things on our planet require water to a greater or lesser degree, plants, animals, humans and of course our beloved FISH.
A human contains some 65% water which is used to lower our temperature if required by means of perspiration, and to extract waste by urination. This level of water being maintained by eating and drinking. Humans also breathe in oxygen from the surrounding atmosphere and expel carbon dioxide.
Fish contain 80% water and are an open system taking in and giving out water with all their actions, they have a thin semi permeable membrane that separates the fishes fluid from the water they live in, some substances will pass through this membrane. They extract oxygen (via the gills) from the surrounding water which also controls their body temperature. This needs to be an extremely effective process due to the very small quantity of oxygen available in the water. A large proportion of the energy a fish produces is used to pass water through its gills just to stay alive. Fish like humans also expel Carbon Dioxide, but the main source of waste from the gills is Ammonia.
In natural lakes where the volume of water is so great compared to the number of fish, nature can take care of itself. Water quality is not usually a problem until chemical contamination occurs. Any change in quality of large volumes of water is usually a slow process which allows the fish time to adjust, or if localised to move away.
However, in OUR ENCLOSED SYSTEMS where stocking levels are usually high we have to control the environment for our KOI. ALL OF THE TIME. The KOI in your pond didn’t choose to live there, YOU CHOSE THEM. Therefore YOU are RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR WELL-BEING.
Consider the human and the air we breathe, if the oxygen level starts to deplete, we become hot, we start to breathe faster, it becomes progressively more and more uncomfortable, we would try to escape to a better air quality or we would lose consciousness and die.
FISH ARE NO DIFFERENT
If there is insufficient oxygen available for whatever reason, breathing becomes faster, they rise to the surface and mouth air and water, in a short time they will die. In a natural lake they would merely swim to an improved water quality area, but in OUR ENCLOSED SYSTEMS they are fatally trapped.
We can learn a lot about the quality of our water by watching our beloved KOI. Are they happy ? do they look healthy ? are they eating ?
But how do we know just how good the water quality really is ?
ANSWER - IT HAS TO BE GIN CLEAR doesn’t it ? everyone knows that!
WRONG WRONG WRONG
That is how we like to see it so we can view our collection of KOI.
The only way to be sure is to - TEST, TEST, TEST, THE WATER.
Test at least ONCE A WEEK in the summer and once a fortnight in the winter.
TEST EVERY DAY WITH A NEW POND UNTIL THE FILTERS ARE MATURE.
The quality of your pond water will change according to the following parameters,
VOLUME AND SURFACE WATER AREA, STOCKING LEVEL (Number and Size), FEEDING LEVELS, TEMPERATURE and VEGETATION.
Did you know 90% of all KOI HEALTH PROBLEMS are related to WATER QUALITY.
There is a direct relationship between water quality and your KOI, as water quality deteriorates so does your KOI’S HEALTH, GROWTH and COLOUR.
All are affected in some way, it is essential to test for AMMONIA, NITRITE (Not to be confused with Nitrate) and pH.
These are the minimum tests which need to be carried out. Many hobbyists fail to use test kits or get confused with the results. These inexpensive kits when used correctly allow you to be “ IN CONTROL” providing you respond to the results in the correct manner.
Ensure you know exactly how to carry out the test, because they vary for each element. Various manufacturers use different methods to attain the same results, some use liquids, some use tablets.
REMEMBER : READ AND FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS
Ammonia tests need to be carried out at a temperature of at least 20ºC to ensure the colour develops correctly within the time specified, if cooler, the true colour may still be developing when you make your assessment and therefore give a false reading. The colours cannot become overdeveloped by time or temperature.
REMEMBER : A KOI RUBBING OR FLICKING DOES NOT NECESSARILY HAVE PARASITES. LOW LEVELS OF AMMONIA AND NITRITE CAUSE IRRITATION AS WELL.
Always maintain a high level of OXYGEN in the system and be aware of the TEMPERATURE (this influences the amount of oxygen that water can hold)
OTHER TEST KITS WHICH ARE AVAILABLE whilst not essential are :- OXYGEN, NITRATE, HARDNESS, ALKALINITY, SALINITY and CHLORINE.