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  1. #1
    Senior Member Rank = Rokusai Koiz's Avatar
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    Unhappy Blisters On Heads - NPS or Something Else?

    Hi folks. Would really appreciate feedback regarding blisters that have appeared on the heads of my Sanke and Showa in the last few of days. These are the only red pigmented fish in my pond (my baby Showa having died earlier this year during my Costia saga).

    I’ve been having fun and games with NPS since returning my fish to their pond with a new filter setup on 24th June and, despite fish-less cycling the new media beforehand, I have been getting fluctuations of Ammonia up to 0.5, Nitrite consistently around 0.25 (sometimes 0.5 and up to 1.0 at its highest), and Nitrates averagely around 60, but up to 80 (they are 20 out the tap).

    I’ve been carrying out so many water changes I wish I had shares in the water supply company, and I’ve withheld food for two days, and now commencing small, low protein feeds (lettuce, cucumber, soaked wheatgerm) as Ammonia has been at zero for 3 days. API readings today are: Temp 20.2C, pH 8.3, GH16, KH10, NH3 0, NO2 0.25, NO3 60. There is zero chlorine tested with DPD4.

    Only additives to water have been Vitalize (to help buffer against NPS), Oase Biokick Start Premium (for the media), Kusuri Dechlorinator (for water changes), and 380g of AquaSource Resolve on 31st July to nip some blanket weed in the bud (which it did!). Interestingly, around the time these blisters appeared, I’ve been getting some foam on the surface when I turn on my airstones, but not from the water blade. I’ve got the ingredients to make up 6 Biocenosis baskets arriving this week which I will be placing on the shelf in my pond (I don’t have an option for an external anoxic or veg filter, nor a Bakki shower or river), to work alongside my Oase ProfiClear that has 60L of HelX13, K1 and PondPads giving a 537g/day food processing ability. I have been feeding no more than 200g / day, and averagely 125g. All the media is new, but has been boiling well for many weeks and looks to be maturing nicely with a tea colour on everything. My system is 'clean' - ie no build up of debris anywhere in the pond, pipes or filter that would be harbouring any nasties, and a new growth of green now covering the pond surfaces that the fish are grazing on.

    I have not scraped yet as none of my 9 fish (ranging from 75cm to 25cm in 11,440L) are showing signs of stress, flashing, gasping, clamping and given the opportunity – are eating with gusto. It is only the red-pigmented fish that have this issue on their heads. The blisters first showed up on my Showa on Friday morning. I sedated and topically treated with Roccal wound cleaner, anti-bac iodine then propolis, but the blisters came back the following day, despite them popping and releasing clear and pink tinged fluid initially. Then on Saturday morning, the Sanke presented with a blister on the nose, which burst within a couple hours and now shows as just broken skin.

    Could this be a reaction to an Ammonia spike I did not detect (I'm testing twice a day)? Is it Nitrite exposure between 0.25 to 0.5 over several weeks? I'm sure it’s not the Nitrate which is high, but not toxic.

    My research has turned up very little in the way of actual ‘blisters’ on koi, as these are definitely not ulcers - yet! I have come across this post that was talking about too much aeration in a pond being a possible cause of blistering on heads, as a precursor to gas bubble disease. Could this be the issue?

    Could it be sunburn, though I'd have thought the Shiro would be the one to show signs of that! My pond has areas of shade all the time throughout the day from the walls as the sun moves around.

    Would really appreciate any input as I’m not at all well again at the moment, so struggling to deal with the water changes, let alone sick fish!
    Many thanks,
    Wendy

    Showa & Sanke Head Blisters.JPG Showa Head Blisters 01.JPG Showa Head Blisters 02.JPG Sanke Burst Head Blisters.JPG


    Last edited by Koiz; 10-08-2020 at 01:31 PM.
    11,440L Raised Pond, BD, Oase ProfiClear, Bitron 55W, 2x10k Aquaforte Varios, Skimmer to Waterblade

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Rank = Grand Champion RS2OOO's Avatar
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    Picture 4 is exactly how my Sanke looked when it started developing Hikui.

    So that would be my first guess.

    But to happen on 2 koi at the same time does seem unlikely and would naturally make you wonder if there's environmental factors at play.

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  5. #3
    Senior Member Rank = Rokusai Koiz's Avatar
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    @RS2OOO That was the only thing I could find that inflicts koi with hi, but it didn't seem to match the presentation of actual blisters. Did yours have blisters initially? Did you treat it successfully?

    Sent from my SM-N910F using Tapatalk
    11,440L Raised Pond, BD, Oase ProfiClear, Bitron 55W, 2x10k Aquaforte Varios, Skimmer to Waterblade

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  7. #4
    In relation to this thread, Wendy (Koiz) PM'd me a question about whether nitrite was less toxic at higher levels of pH as is sometimes quoted. Since this appears all over Social Media and koi forums, I thought it would be best to answer on here:

    It's true that, unlike ammonia, nitrite is less toxic to fish at higher values of pH but the mechanism for nitrite uptake by fish is very complex and depends on many factors so it's little wonder that it's poorly understood. This leads to the confusing statements you will see saying that nitrite is far less toxic at higher pH values.

    It's true that that nitrite becomes slightly less toxic as the pH rises due to changes in the way fish exchange sodium ions at the gills for the ammonia they wish to expel. However, in reality, the variation in toxicity over the koi keeping range of pH values is far less than many who give these warnings would have you believe.

    The sensible solution is to assume a fixed value of 0.2 mg/L for the maximum tolerable value as shown in my guide for acceptable parameters and action to take if they aren't in the acceptable range.

    If anyone wants a copy that can be laminated for future reference, there is one in the document library on my website.

    Follow the instructions at the bottom of this page to download and print:
    Ammonia chart




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  9. #5
    Senior Member Rank = Rokusai Koiz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manky Sanke View Post
    It's true that that nitrite becomes slightly less toxic as the pH rises due to changes in the way fish exchange sodium ions at the gills for the ammonia they wish to expel. However, in reality, the variation in toxicity over the koi keeping range of pH values is far less than many who give these warnings would have you believe. The sensible solution is to assume a fixed value of 0.2 mg/L for the maximum tolerable value as shown in my guide for acceptable parameters and action to take if they aren't in the acceptable range.
    Many thanks for clarifying that Syd
    11,440L Raised Pond, BD, Oase ProfiClear, Bitron 55W, 2x10k Aquaforte Varios, Skimmer to Waterblade

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  11. #6
    Senior Member Rank = Rokusai Koiz's Avatar
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    Thanks to @RS2000's suggestion of Hikkui, I've now combined that with the word 'blisters' and finally come across this description that seems to match exactly what I'm seeing on my Showa: "It looks and acts like blisters and will seem to "pop" and then the skin kind of melts off"

    The fact that this does seem to be what it is and has simultaneously afflicted both my 4 year old Yamamatsu Gosankes within 24 hours of each other is just utterly sh*t - which rather sums up how I'm feeling right now.
    Last edited by Koiz; 10-08-2020 at 10:43 PM.
    11,440L Raised Pond, BD, Oase ProfiClear, Bitron 55W, 2x10k Aquaforte Varios, Skimmer to Waterblade

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  13. #7
    Senior Member Rank = Grand Champion RS2OOO's Avatar
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    Whilst Hikkui can start as a blister it is not to say your koi definitely have it.

    There are several stress factors that can trigger Hi damage or Hikkui.

    For now I would just monitor them as it could be sunburn, but it could be possible that sun might be a trigger of Hikkui.

    Duncan's book describes how you can attempt to treat Hikkui topically.

    When mine had it, it started exactly how yours has. I just left it and the koi was fine, and still is fine 2 years later. But since it was a Tancho I lost interest in once it lost all the hi from the head and moved it on to a friend who still has it. It remains perfectly healthy in every other way.

    Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk

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  15. #8
    Senior Member Rank = Rokusai Koiz's Avatar
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    Thanks for this reply RS. It was exactly the little pep talk I needed to hear before going to bed. I'm at the end of my tether with health issues for my koi, my cats, my mum and myself so I'm just rock bottom low. Straw, camel, back

    I found and read Duncan's solution earlier so will keep that up my sleeve, but for now, I will treat them both topically as I did before to prevent bacterial attack and keep everything crossed that this isn't Hikkui, and if it is, that it will not effect them badly. My Showa has already lost most of the black that drew me to her (she had a stunning lightening flash over her head originally). She's rapidly becoming a Kohaku! I would dearly love my fish to remain looking as beautiful as they are right now, but if they don't, I'll still love them and they'll stay with me. I'm a walking collage of injuries and defects, so they'll fit in perfectly

    Once again, thank you for your replies
    Last edited by Koiz; 10-08-2020 at 10:45 PM.
    11,440L Raised Pond, BD, Oase ProfiClear, Bitron 55W, 2x10k Aquaforte Varios, Skimmer to Waterblade

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