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Top 7 Tips to Protect Your Koi During a Power Failure

Jana worked in animal welfare with abused and unwanted pets. She loves sharing her hands-on experience regarding domestic and wild critters.

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Why Koi Are Vulnerable to Power Interruptions

Power can fail for many reasons. It might be 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 out on their favourite television program.

Koi keepers, on the other hand, dread a prolonged absence of power. Koi need electricity to survive. Without it, essential pieces of equipment stop working and the water conditions begin to deteriorate. When fish die, the loss is not always purely emotional. The death of valuable koi can also cause a sizable financial setback.

It's All About Oxygen and Quality

The prospect of keeping your fish safe during an emergency could feel overwhelming. but when the lights go out, remember that you only need to focus on two things.

  1. Proper oxygen levels must be maintained.
  2. The water quality must not deteriorate.

1. Stock up on Spare Equipment

When a pond goes sour, so to speak, all your eggs are in one basket. For this reason, it's important to have enough spare tanks, pumps, heaters, batteries and dechlorinating products.

When the power fails, you can divide the fish between several show tanks that are equipped with battery-powered pumps and heaters. In case something goes wrong with one of these tanks, you won't lose all your koi and you can remove the affected fish to other tanks.

2. Farm Your Fish out to Friends

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 same 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 that prevents you from directly dealing with the situation (maybe you are out of town). Always provide any health concerns you have regarding your pets. You will lose friends if you stay quiet and they lose fish because your koi contaminated their equipment.

Koi Can Soil Water Quickly

When there's no equipment to clean the water, things can go wrong very fast for these fish.

When there's no equipment to clean the water, things can go wrong very fast for these fish.

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3. Don't Feed Your Koi

One of the worst mistakes a beginner can make is feeding their fish during this time. It's not easy to look away when your koi want food. These wonderful fish quickly associate humans with snacks, and the moment they see you they might gather 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.

4. Test for Ammonia and Nitrates

Keep a test kit and record book handy. Use the kit to 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 to 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 for as long as the power is out.

5. Salt Your Fish

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 salt levels to around 1 percent so use a salt meter or a specially-designed kit. Don't use salt when other medications are already added to the water.

Watch for Low Oxygen

When koi gasp near the surface, it's a big sign that oxygen levels are too low.

When koi gasp near the surface, it's a big sign that oxygen levels are too low.

6. How to Add Oxygen to a Pond

  • Use an inverter (the kind that plugs into your vehicle's cigarette lighter). It is strong enough to run an air pump.
  • You can also use an inverter to power a 6-volt bilge pump. Place the pump outflow to run the water over a large piece of corrugated plastic before recycling back into the pond.
  • Solar-powered aerators are another option, but they don't come cheap.
  • A garden hose equipped with a mist nozzle can continuously spray water over the edge, allowing oxygen from the air to enter the pond that way (don't worry about dechlorinating the hose water if you're already doing dechlorinated 30 percent water changes).

7. Portable Battery

When your koi live in a pond and you do not want to move them to tanks, consider investing in 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. To avoid bad products, only purchase one with a guarantee and put it through a proper test run to make sure the system can support your pond.

The Good News

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 novice owners can gather all the necessary supplies to manage this type of emergency. Don't think a prolonged power cut won't happen. Sooner or later it does but if you have a safety plan, your koi will survive.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 Jana Louise Smit

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