Looking after your koi in the spring

Spring is the time for new life and new growth. As the daylight hours increase and the ambient temperature rises, life in the koi pond returns to normal. Plant and animal will be rejuvenated after the winter chill and will start a new life cycle with vigour. The Koi will  become active and greedily follow your every move when you approach the pond. When the water temperature exceeds 12oC start feeding an easily digestible food. Feeding should at first be once a day and then increased to twice and even three times a day in small quantities.

But be warned. The biological filter will also take some time to get fully functional and overfeeding can lead to poor water quality and ultimately sickness and death. Monitor the ammonia and nitrite levels at least once a week. Should any of these reach toxic levels, partial water changes must be performed until the water quality is back to normal.

It is a good idea to give the pond two wide spectrum anti-parasitic treatments, 14 days apart. This will prevent a proliferation of parasites at a time the fish are most vulnerable.

It is time to critically look at the stocking density of your pond. One year has passed, the koi have grown from your generous feeding hand. The total mass of the fish might approach the maximum carrying capacity of the pond. If you do not do something now, nature will take its coarse and it will be your best koi that will probably suffer most and get ill first. If you are unsure about which fish to keep, get expert opinion or talk to you dealer. He might also assist you with finding a good home for those that did not made the grade. Rather invest in a few good koi than wasting valuable pond space on oversized and unattractive pond fish.

If pond keepers stick to these simple rules, they can be assured of a trouble free growth season for their koi.

Written for Animal Talk magazine 

 Servaas de Kock & Ronnie Watt