The reasons electricity fails are numerous. Think of a bad storm, a grid problem or equipment failure. During a power loss, most pet owners only suffer the annoyance of sitting in the dark, or missing their favourite television program. However, koi keepers dread a prolonged absence of power. Koi need electricity to survive. Without it, equipment stop working and water conditions deteriorate. When fish die, the loss is not always purely emotional. The death of valuable koi can cause a sizable financial setback.
The prospect of keeping your fish safe during an emergency could feel overwhelming. When the lights go out, remember that your main concerns surround only two things; making sure there's enough oxygen and that water quality doesn't deteriorate.
When a pond goes sour, so to speak, all your eggs are in one basket. Remove your koi and divide them up between several show tanks equipped with battery-powered pumps and heaters. It's important that you store enough tanks, pumps, heaters, batteries and dechlorinating products. The amount of each item depends on how many fish you own.
The koi community understands that problems like disease, a cracked pond or a power loss can strike anyone. If you are lucky enough to have a network of fishy friends (and they're not affected by the blackout), ask if they could temporarily house your koi can in their show tanks. This is a good option when you have few or no tanks, or something prevents you from directly dealing with the situation, like an illness. Always provide any health concerns. You'll lose friends should they lose fish because one of your koi contaminated their shoal.
One of the worst mistakes beginners make is to feed their fish during this time. It won't be easy to look away when your koi want food. These wonderful fish quickly associate humans with snacks, and then they gather en masse to beg near the edge of the pool or tank. Koi can go a week without eating. When you feel your resolve weakening, remember that when they feed, koi release large amounts of nitrates and ammonia. This is exactly what you want to avoid.
Keep a record book and test kit handy. Check for ammonia and nitrates and write down the levels on a daily basis. It's critical to control these twin devils. The moment you notice either heading for dangerous levels, take the necessary steps rectify the situation. The quickest way is to perform a 30 percent water change. This dilutes both ammonia and nitrates. As a bonus, you'll also provide your fish with fresh oxygen. For this reason, do a 30 percent dechlorinated water change every day as long as the power is out.
Another way to dilute nitrites is to add salt. All you need is ordinary kosher salt, around 10 pounds per 1,000 gallons. You must keep your salt levels around 1 percent; use a salt meter or a specially-designed kit. Don't use salt when, for some reason, other medications are added to the water.
When it's better to keep your koi in the pond, consider a standby battery system. There are many portable models available, some elaborate enough to run everything from pumps to filters. Look for an easy recharge option and avoid the cheap type that falls apart after an hour. Purchase one with a guarantee and put it through a proper test run to make sure the system can support your pond.
The worst case scenario—the death of all your fish—is completely avoidable. The only thing that gets your koi through a dark patch is proper preparation. The good news is that even the novice owner can gather all the “ingredients” and effectively manage this type of emergency. Don't think a prolonged power cut won't happen. Sooner or later it does and when you have a safety plan, your koi will survive.
© 2018 Jana Louise Smit