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  1. #1

    Sleeping disease

    Hi everyone, looking for help, lost all my fish again, Had a 2500 gall block built pond and lost all fish within 3 weeks of putting them in the pond april 2021. I buy them small and overwinter them and grow them on until the spring.I got an autopsy done on the last fish and it was sleeping disease.
    Renewed the pond to a plastic 1500 gall pond with first filter tank with brushes and jap mat cartridges for solids cleaned and flushed twice a week, 4 barrels 25gall , 2 static k1, 1 moving bed k1,1filled with jap mat. Pond has centre drain with airstone on top, gravity to first tank 25gall with cartridges in then pump 800 gall hr.
    I got another 5 fish to overwinter then put in pond last april, fish were great all year and grew to about 15". Went into winter with polycarbonate sheeting covers, fine until before christmas 2 died quickly, salted the pond and the others died within a month, Slowly swimming then on their side and dead within a couple of days pond temp at this time 6 c. The tank I use to grow them on is only 110 gall so too small to put the fish in to raise the temp and keep them until the spring again which is the only way to treat sleeping disease, think I would have been too late anyway!
    I had already bought another 5 small koi to grow on for this year, had left the pond running but emptied and cleaned it all and refilled fresh water which has chlorine in but gases off with the airstones and tests clear after a day or 2. Had dropped the temp on the growing on tank slowly from after the new year to now down to 11c and put the fish in the pond 10c within week the fish were slowly swimming around no obvious distress but cold, next morning 3 smallest 8" dead on the bottom. The 2 larger 10" same dead the next day.
    I can only think the virus was still in the filter media, I had thought the chlorine would have killed anything left when refilling the pond etc. The pond was tested and the only thing I could find was a low PH at 6. Everything else was 0 amm, nitrite, hardness around 3 soft water up here, Scotland.
    I want to start again but want to completly sterilize the tank and media I have Virkon but want to nuke everything possible. This will be my last year keeping koi if this happens again.
    I feel terrible to lose the fish, not the loss, but feeling I have killed them buy my stupidity.
    Thanks in advance Graham Keir.



  2. #2
    Senior Member Rank = Supreme Champion RS2OOO's Avatar
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    Am I right in assuming you've been doing this for a long time successfully and these events are a recent phenomenon?

    Are the koi all British bred?

    I've had my own home bred koi go through sleeping sickness and whilst it can be touch and go I've never actually lost one. It seems extreme for you to be repeatedly losing multiple koi, more so if you are properly disinfecting the system between buying new batches.

    In all honesty the symptoms read like pH crashes to me, but I don't know your competence level or if you have regimes in place to know whether this could be the case or not.

    pH of 6 is absolutely pH crash territory which also aligns with your reported pre-death symptoms.

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  4. #3
    Hi yes been keeping koi for about 20yrs, but had a topup ballvalve fail 3 years ago which killed all my fish!
    The first lot of 5 where British the last 2 lots of 5 were Japanese. The autopsy on the first 5 had stated sleeping disease.
    I has always wondered how they had died so quickly, so think you are correct regarding the Ph crash! I do test the pond regularly when starting feeding but stop after the pond settles down.
    To disinfect the pond I use Virkon 6 tablets in 1500 gall then flush out after a week, is this strong enough??
    Thanks very much for your help. Graham

  5. #4
    Senior Member Rank = Supreme Champion RS2OOO's Avatar
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    Off the top of my head 6 virkon tablets should be adequate for 1500 litres, though I normally use the powder and chuck in loads of it for sterilisation purposes, and then PP as well for luck!

    All Jap fish are supposedly put through sleeping sickness before being exported so are immune by the time they reach our shores. Its quite rare to have Jap bred koi suffer from it in the UK, but not unheard of.

    Also if you mix a naive british bred koi that hasn't been through sleeping sickness you might see some symptoms in the jap fish when the british fish goes through it, but the British fish will be hit much harder.

    For the amount of Jap bred fish you have lost, I'm not at all convinced Sleeping Sickness was the cause of those deaths.

    It is either something else, or my belief is that your soft water is resulting in pH crashes. Multiple things point to this, not least the fact you are growing on young fish in small volumes of soft water which is the fastest way to deplete KH.

    With water as soft as yours I would be inclined to measure KH regularly and dose with bi-carb to maintain it at 3 or more.

    GH (General Hardness) is not important, just KH alongside maintaining a stable pH (both go hand in hand).


    As a sidenote about KH, I was raising just 4 home bred Koi in 400 litres. KH out the tap was always between 9 and 11. They were being fed 6-8 times per day typically and I was having to do 50% water changes every other day to avoid pH crashes. Once they got over 30cm at about 8 Months old I had to change water daily. The KH would literally drop by the hour.

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  7. #5
    Senior Member Rank = Nanasai Naoki Atsumi's Avatar
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    There was a specialised thread here. I had overlooked it.

    To be honest, it seems that only the name ‘sleeping disease’ is prevalent there and not linked to the actual condition.
    In Japan, it is already recognised as a disease that affects almost all KOIs, and therefore it is common practice to infect and immunise people in advance.

    The fact that KOI farmers in the UK have not gone through such a process and no disaster has occurred is proof that some different factors are at work in the UK and Europe in the process of disease onset, don't you think?
    Last edited by Naoki Atsumi; 27-04-2024 at 08:57 AM.

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  9. #6
    Only the first 5 koi were British and had the autopsy done, The second and third lots of five were Japanese
    I buy them in Oct (4-5") to grow them on in large aquarium 120gall over winter, The media is fiushed every day (home made Tempest and moving bed filters) about 10 gall replaced with water from tank with airstone in which gasses off the chlorine before use. I do add 1 tablespoon of bicarb every other day in the grow on tank as I do see the ph dropping and this keeps it stable.

    I am now convinced that the 2 and 3 lots of fish were due to PH crashes and will have to up my testing for ph and kh throughout the year.

    Thanks again for the replies.

  10. #7
    Hi just a quick update, cleaned the pond and media, refilled the pond, Water test, pH 6.5 KH 0 . Tested tap water the same!
    I have added 5 large cups of bicarbonate of soda, pH now 7.5 and KH 5. Looks like I'll have to order bicarb by the lorry load

  11. #8
    Senior Member Rank = Supreme Champion RS2OOO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by keriwig View Post
    Hi just a quick update, cleaned the pond and media, refilled the pond, Water test, pH 6.5 KH 0 . Tested tap water the same!
    I have added 5 large cups of bicarbonate of soda, pH now 7.5 and KH 5. Looks like I'll have to order bicarb by the lorry load
    Try to keep any pH movements as slow and gradual as possible and once at your target level its important to maintain it without fluctuations.

    With the zero KH I'm convinced this has been the cause of your koi deaths.

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  13. #9
    Extreme Koi Member Rank = Supreme Champion john1's Avatar
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    Agree with Rs got to be your kh.
    Get a 25kg sack of sodium bicarb cheapest way,that's what I have to do as I am in the same situation.
    John

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