One of your fish has decided to try his hand at being an air-breather.
You've found him lying there, gasping or maybe not moving at all. He's likely
to be covered with dirt and there may be a trickle of blood and mucus coming
out from under his gill covers. In short, Mr. Fish is having a really bad day.
What Causes It
Koi jump for a variety of reasons... Some of
these reasons seem to be known only to the koi themselves but others are
indicative of something different or wrong with the environment. I've listed a
few of the more common reason below:
- Gross water quality problem (pH, KH, ammonia, nitrite, etc)
- Disease (flukes, anchorworm, etc)
- Change of habitat (different pond, change of plants)
- Addition of a new fish
- Water agitation
- Mating games
- Leaping while chasing bugs
- Sources of light at night (porch light, window, etc)
- Just for the hell of it
Fish is out of water. Confirming Evidence
None needed. :) Recovery Protocol #1: Fish Momentarily Out
Of Water Conditions: Fish apparently just jumped. You either saw or
heard him go, he is still flopping and gasping strongly, and he hasn't really
Recovery Protocol #2: Fish Has Been Out A While Conditions:
Fish is limp, barely gasping, may have red streaks on his fins, slime coat is
getting sticky. Note:
- Put the fish in a temporary container of pond water while you get the
hospital tank set up. Work quickly, but don't injure the fish further. The
important thing is to get Mr. Fish back in the water.
- Fill the hospital tank with pond water and transfer the fish. He should be
capable of maintaining his balance in a minute or two. If this isn't the case,
you should be reading Recovery Protocol #2.
- Once the fish keeps his balance, drop in an airstone, cover the tank, and
just leave him alone for 6 hours. If you can arrange a constant water exchange
with the main pond, this would be ideal. After 6 hours, evaluate the fish. If
he's pacing, showing good color, and doesn't seem excessively fazed by his
adventure, you might elect to put him back in the main pond on the condition
you keep a close eye out for opportunistic infection for the next two weeks. If
the fish isn't ready to be put back in the main pond, (or if you have an
expensive fish and don't want to risk secondary infection), go to Recovery
Protocol #2. Skip the first two paragraphs and begin salting.
If you have access to injectible
drugs (dexamethasone), use them. Dexamethasone (2 mg/mL) is used to combat
shock in mammals and is equally useful in fish. Dosing is at the rate of 0.1 ml
per 3 inches of fish length.
Follow-Up For Jummpers
- Priority #1 is to get this fish back into the water and force oxygenated
water over his gills. If you can arrange it, hold the fish upright, open his
mouth (its usually open anyway), and direct a gentle stream of water into his
mouth. You should see the gill covers "float" a bit. Plan on spending anywhere
from 15 to 45 minutes like this. You should see tiny signs of life (a twitch of
the tail, a roll of the eyes, coughing, etc) in 15-20 minutes or so. Regardless
of what happens in the next hour, don't stop your resuscication efforts until
the 45 minute mark. Koi are remarkable in that "dead" fish often resurrect
themselves after 30-45 minutes. If an hour passes and its clear nothing is
moving... my condolances. You tried.
- Once the fish starts to rally a bit, put the fish in a a hospital tank
filled with pond water. Add an airstone. If you have access to pure oxygen use
it instead of air. Add 1 cc of hydrogen peroxide (drugstore grade disinfectant,
3% strength) per gallon. If the water temperature is below 60 degrees F, bring
the fish slowly up to 70-75F at the rate of not more than 2F per hour. For the
next 6 to 12 hours all you can do is let nature take its course. Generally, if
the fish survives the first hour, he stands a good chance of surviving. Resist
the temptation to "dust-off" dirt and leaves from the fishes slime coat. You'll
likely do more damage than good. Let the fish take care of this.
- Every 12 hours, add 0.1% of salt to the hospital tank until you reach 0.3%.
This acts to reduce shock somewhat, kill any opportunistic nasties which may
take advantage of the damaged slime coat, and improve regeneration of the slime
coat itself. Watch ammonia levels closely. The instant you have detectable
ammonia, do a partial water change with pre-salted pond water. Keeping the fish
in a darkened tank will help to keep him calm and reduce stress.
- Over the next 7 days, monitor the fish closely for signs of secondary
infection (usually fungus). Treat as needed. If the fish shows no sign of
infection or permanent damage after this period, release him back into the main
pond after five to seven days. Prior to releasing, begin diluting the salt
solution with pond water to avoid osmotic shock. Ideally, the fish should be
maintained at a zero salt level for 24 hours prior to release.
Jumpers need to be checked daily for up
to three weeks for late-breaking signs of infection. From what I've seen, five
days in salted water gives the fish ample time to recover and regenerate lost
slime coat... but this isn't gospel. If the fish is subsequently re-stressed,
any number of problems are possible. Your best defense is careful, daily visual
observation. Prevention Of Future Jumps
Fish which have
jumped may attempt to do so again. After correcting any environmental
stressors, consider netting the pond to keep the fish in for a few weeks. Some
fish simply like to jump so its entirely possible you will need to keep the
pond covered until this behavior subsides or is spontaneously terminated by the
fish. It may also be wise to add a small amount of salt (0.1%) and push the KH
toward 120 ppm. These actions will help osmoregulation and will stabilize the
pH, reducing stress and possibly enticing the jumpers to stay wet. During the
spring when winter emergence and mating behaviours are present, it is prudent
to net the pond regardless of past experience.
Reproduced with kind
permission from www.click2roark.com