Koi is among the most popular breeds of pet fish in the world. They are beloved for being elegant and graceful, as well as exceptionally hardy creatures. Koi are capable of withstanding severe cold, and other harsh conditions.
However, that doesn’t mean koi are completely impervious to problems. One of the most common risks to the health of pet koi fish is shock.
As a pet koi fish owner, you need to be able to tell when your koi has gone into shock. If you’re not able to do that just yet, don’t worry. This article will give you all the information you need.
What Causes Koi to Go into Shock?
To know how to take care of your pet koi fish when they go into shock, it’s important that you understand what causes them to go into shock in the first place.
The most common cause of shock among pet koi fish is rapid temperature changes.
As mentioned previously, koi are more than capable of surviving in harsh climates. That said, extreme fluctuations in temperature can still endanger the lives of your pet koi.
In most scenarios, koi don’t experience shock on their own, but rather because of human error.
As a responsible pet koi fish owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure you never submit your koi to drastic temperature shifts.
When cleaning the water, or separating your koi for any reason, take the necessary precautions to ensure that you are placing them in water that is the same temperature as the water they’ve been living in.
If you do need to change the temperature of your pet koi fish’s water, it’s recommended that you do so gradually to give your pet koi fish the time they need to adjust to temperature changes.
Other causes of shock in koi fish include a rapid loss of oxygen. This means that if you need to decrease the level of oxygen in your koi pond, you must do it gradually so that your pet koi remain unaffected by the change.
Koi can also go into shock if they get tangled up in a net, plant matter, or other such obstacles.
On one hand, there should be enough media within your pond so that your pet koi fish can feel safe, but they should also have adequate space to move around freely, without feeling trapped and thus going into shock.
A koi may even go into shock if it is handled poorly. While some koi might nuzzle into your hand when you dip it into their pond, it’s important to be careful.
Grasping a koi and yanking it out of the water suddenly may cause your koi to go into shock. We recommend only trying to grab a koi and pulling it out of the water if necessary.
Just like cats and dogs get fleas and ticks, similar parasites can infect fish as well. Koi are especially susceptible to getting infected by flukes and anchor worms.
It’s important to regularly check up on your koi to make sure they stay parasite free.
Pesticides can induce shock in your pet koi fish too. Most koi fish raisers know that they can’t put pesticides in their fish’s water, but accidents do happen. This is especially true in the case of outdoor ponds built into gardens.
Pesticides used on the plants can find their way into your koi’s water. If this happens, remove your koi as quickly as possible, and check for signs of shock before cleaning the water and returning your fish to their rightful home.
Being introduced to a new pond can also send a koi into shock, especially if it is already populated by larger koi which it is unfamiliar with.
When introducing a new koi into your pond, stress is almost always unavoidable. However, it’s your responsibility to be patient, and help your new koi adjust.
Some expert koi keepers advise that you need to acclimate your new pet koi fish. This means setting up a tub or smaller tank with water from the pond. Place the koi into this tank for a few minutes.
This will allow your new pet to get acclimated to the temperature and composition of the water. Once its body has had time to adjust, you can relocate your new pet koi into the pond with the rest of its new friends.
Being accosted by predators can cause your pet koi fish to go into shock out of fear. It’s very important to take the necessary measures to prevent predators such as birds and stray cats from attacking your pet koi.
We recommend installing a border around your pet koi’s pond, or cameras that will allow you to keep a watchful eye over them, even from inside the comfort of your home.
The final potential cause of shock has to do with old age. Being old won’t send your koi into shock in and of itself. However, a koi’s age will determine its physical constitution, and its resistance to shock and other ailments.
Simply put, younger koi are less likely to experience shock. As your koi ages, you will need to take extra precautions and handle them with even greater care.
How To Tell If Your Koi Is in Shock?
Now that you know what might cause your pet koi fish to go into shock, it’s equally, if not more important, to be able to identify what a koi in shock looks like.
As mentioned previously, the Japanese koi is a fairly sturdy specimen.
This means that it can be harder to tell when a koi has gone into shock, compared to other fish species. Although the symptoms may be subtle, they are still noticeable. You just have to know what to look out for.
Symptoms of Shock in Japanese Koi Fish
- Your pet koi fish may swim around frantically and haphazardly, without purpose.
- Your pet koi fish may randomly twitch or make jerking motions with its head and tail.
- Your pet koi fish may try to swim to the top of its pond, only to repeatedly crash to the bottom.
- Your pet koi fish may vigorously rub itself against the gravel and dirt edges of its pond.
- Your pet koi fish’s fins may appear stiff, locked in close to its sides.
- Your pet koi fish may exhibit a weakened appetite. Don’t try to force-feed them.
If you have any reason to believe your koi could be suffering from shock, we highly recommend that you seek the help of a vet immediately.
As a koi owner, it’s important to remain vigilant in case of accidents or ailments, that’s why you should always have a reliable vet on hand.
A skilled vet who knows how to treat koi might be expensive, but that’s the cost of keeping your koi healthy and happy.
How to Help Your Koi Recover from Shock
The fact of the matter is, raising your very own koi fish is a fairly niche hobby. Most vets are only equipped to take care of cats, dogs, other small mammals, and perhaps the occasional reptile.
Koi fish require specialized care, and sometimes it’s going to be impossible to find a vet who can save your pet koi’s life.
That’s something you need to be well aware of before you commit to raising a pond full of koi. However, all hope is not lost. You can still learn how to take care of your pet koi fish, all on your own.
The first thing you’ll need to do when your koi goes into shock is to get it out of the cold water, and into warmer water immediately. Or, if possible, increase the temperature of their pond.
Next, you want to increase the filtration and aeration of your koi’s pond.
This will help filter out any harmful contaminants from the water, while also replenishing oxygen to healthier, more optimal levels.
If oxygen levels are exceptionally low, you may even need to increase the pond’s oxygen using external sources. Some expert koi raisers recommend keeping oxygen tanks in your home, just in case you need them at some point.
If your pond doesn’t feature mechanisms to increase its internal temperature, you will need to remove the water currently in the pond altogether and replace it with warmer water.
This step will be necessary anyway, in case the water has been contaminated.
Finally, don’t make the mistake of feeding your koi immediately after they recover from the shock. This is because their metabolism may not have fully recovered yet, and they will have difficulty digesting their food.
What Do You Think?
Now that you know more about how and why koi fish experience shock, what do you think? Did you learn something new from this article? Or are you an expert koi raiser?
If so, have any of your koi experienced shock before? What did you do to help them recover?
If you’re new to the hobby of raising koi, we hope this article proved helpful. Be sure to read our articles to learn everything you need to know about raising koi.
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