Even the healthiest of ponds can succumb to disease or toxic poisoning. The very nature of the pond makes it susceptible to infestation of one type or another or a build up of unhealthy toxicants at some time or another. Ponds are normally outdoors, therefore subject to the elements and the creatures that roam there. A squirrel that visited your pond could of left behind a germ riddled dodo as a present. That little bird that took a morning dip may have had some bacteria that got washed off. You might of unwittingly put in a new fish that brought along a strain of aeromonus salmonicida all the way from Asia.
The chemicals from your tap water can effect the health of your fish. Even the fish themselves do to their natural body functions contribute to toxic waste. The point being... disease and toxic poisoning can come to your pond and your fish from a variety of sources. The best we can do as pond keepers is to do all we can to start with and then maintain as healthy an environment as we can, so if some unforeseen bacteria or other health problem comes along our pond and the fish there can by the use of their own immune systems fight back.
Which brings us to the number 1 thing you can do to help your fish fight bacteria infections and poisoning...water quality. Common sense should dictate that the water in your pond is as important to your fish as the air you breath is to you. The main way you get a cold or the flu is from the air you breath and in turn the main transfer of disease to your fish is from the water they breath in. Also chemical and biological toxicants can be floating around in air and water. We are not going to go into all the different ways that an infection or the transfer of harmful bacteria or toxicants can occur, but what we want to stress is that it all starts with the quality of the water. As a pond keeper you need to start with healthy water and then try as best you can to maintain that healthy environment for your fish.
If you are starting a pond or already have an established pond, but do not have a water test kit you are inviting a tragedy to happen. The type of test kit we are talking about is a simple, do it yourself, kit that tests for at least four things: That being pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. The instructions that come with the kits will tell you why and how to test your water. Again we will not go into a long discussion here on each and every test and the reason for it other than to say if you test your water and any one of those tests are out of line your fish are in trouble. These kits are available at most stores that sell pond supplies and like we said are a must. If you can not find one in your area or need more information on the kits just E-Mail us.
Testing for toxicants as above is easier that testing for harmful bacteria and disease. The usual way you will find out that your fish are sick from some type of internal infection, harmful bacteria or parasite is you will notice them acting differently. They will act sick or dead. Dead is easy to determine, but the early forms of sickness are often hidden or difficult to detect until it becomes a major problem. How do you know if a fish is sick or not? The answer is that you need information. Something you should have on hand in your personal library is a good informative book on the subject of fish health. It seems we have read about a million or so of them and have come to the conclusion that one of the best is the one written by the KoiVet. Hey, with a handle like that he better know his business. His real name is Dr. Johnson and he takes a no nonsense approach to his recommendations and from our experience we know his advice works. A real good idea would be to bookmark his web page for reference: http://www.pondcrisis.com The reason we suggest that you keep a fish health book readily available is because infection, disease, and poisoning can occur very quickly. The faster you treat a problem in your pond the better. AND of course prevention is the best cure for any problem.
Let us give you an example of how things can go terribly wrong. We know someone who decided that it might be a good idea to test their freshly build pond and the water by putting in a few cheap goldfish first. The reasoning being: if they survived for awhile then better fish could then be introduced to the pond. BAD IDEA... let us explain why: These type of fish, normally sold as feeder fish, dimestore goldfish, etc. are most often hatched and raised in the worst type of conditions, with little or no concern for general health, much less any type of preventive immunization. They are raised cheaply so they can be sold cheap. What happened in this example was that one or more of the cheap goldfish had a bacteria infection and lived long enough to transfer that bacteria to the new pond, where it grew, slowly at first, but growing none the less. When new fish got introduced to the pond they also got introduced to the bacteria which was already there, they in turn infected others and so on, eventually all the fish became infected and died. The only cure was to start over.
Sure, at anytime, harmful bacteria can be introduced to the pond environment and just as surely buying expensive fish is no guarantee that you are buying disease free fish, but what we hope you get from this example is this... Hedge your bets... buy fish that you can be reasonably assured are healthy and free of disease.
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