Sunday, December 03, 2006

Winter, Winter, Winter .... KOI Care

Winter is the coldest season of the year. Cold weather can be a serious problem to koi. If you live in the nether regions, then you probably get snow and ice. Even though koi are very hardy, it is not worth the risk of letting your koi go uncared for over the winter. Koi go dormant in winter, so they do not eat or produce any toxins. You must take appropriate steps to insure your kois’ survival. Do not feed your Koi if the water temperature is below 50°F. Food will sit in your Koi's stomach and rot.

If you live in an area where is may get so cold that the entire pond freezes, then you must create a temporary indoor pond. It is a good idea to keep a space open in your pond for gas exchange. Carbon Dioxide needs to get out of the water and fresh oxygen needs to get in the water. This can be done with an aquarium powerhead and/or an airstone. You may use a kiddy pool or multiple tanks to keep each individual koi in. These should be kept in a room such as a basement, or the garage.

Since this will be a tight environment for your koi, you must keep them very inactive to insure that the pH or ammonia levels do not rise. You will probably notice your Koi sitting on the bottom of your pond. This is normal, Koi are Poikilothermic (cold-blooded), so their activity level coincides with the water temperature. To keep your koi inactive, have the room fairly dark and cold. Have it drop no lower than 45 degrees (f) and no higher than 60 degrees (f). In the winter, Koi will go to the warmest area. Since water is at it's densest at 39.2°F, the warmer water will be at the bottom of your pond.

Make sure your water temperature doesn't drop below 34°F. If it does, ice crystals will start to form on your Koi's gills. Remember that one koi needs at least 60 gallons of water. You can drop it to 40 gallons if you have a good filtration/aeration system set up. Ice crystals can kill a Koi. Don't add any salt to your pond in the winter either. Salt lowers the freezing point of water, so if you add some to your pond, it could possible kill your Koi because the water temperature could drop below even 30°F. Each week change 25 percent of their water. Constantly test the Ammonia and pH levels in the tanks, and adjust them when necessary.

It is also a good idea to shut off any waterfall. The only thing a waterfall will do in the winter is lower the water temperature. Feed the koi only if they appear slightly active, or hungry. Otherwise, do not feed them at all. During winter koi naturally go into hibernation (if the conditions are right) and do not need to be fed. A waterfall could even freeze up, causing all of the water to pump out of your pond.

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