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Old 06-11-2013, 08:30 PM   #1 
Nuij
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Koi questions

My roomie has a koi tank... And would love some advice on how to make sure they are happy with their habitat and anything she could do better, but hasn't had much luck with koi forums due to the people generally being a bit elitist.

Right off the bat, a bigger tank is simply not an option at the moment. She has them set up in a 55 gallon, and that's the largest we could get them to allow in our apartment. She plans on getting them transferred to a pond as soon as she finds a place to put one, but right now, that just can't happen. She has a pair, both are still fairly young, I'd guess somewhere between six and eight inches in length. Double filtered, heated, fed twice daily using either flakes, pellets, frozen omnivore blocks, or a block of frozen bloodworms. They have a decent amount of plant cover as far as I can tell, a bubbler, hidey log, lights... I'm pretty ignorant about koi keeping, but it seems to me like she has things set up pretty well.

Any koi experts out there who could give her advice beyond 'bigger tank' or 'pond?' True, she's got a limited budget to work with, but she really cares for her fishies, and wants to see them thrive.
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Old 06-11-2013, 10:40 PM   #2 
thekoimaiden
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Not really claiming to be a koi expert here, but I do know a few things about them after having kept a pond for 7 years. Honestly the reason you keep hearing bigger tank and pond is because that is the best thing for them. The koi forum people weren't being elitest; they were being realistic. If someone came here with a betta in an unheated 1/4 gal bowl, we would tell them they needed a bigger tank and a heater. It's not elitest to expect someone to be able to be able to supply the basic needs of a fish. And for large fish like koi, that includes large volumes of water.

That being said, small koi can be housed temporarily in 55 gal tanks. I overwintered 4 roughly 4 inch koi in one the winter before my pond was built. The second best thing for them is large, weekly water changes. I was changing out 75% a week. You don't want nutrients to build up or else you will get stunted koi. At normal indoor temps, they will grow pretty fast.

The other bit of advice I can give you is get the heater out of there. Koi are not tropical fish and prefer temps under 75F. This is easily maintainable in an aquarium in a modern house. Plus, at a warmer temp they will need more food to maintain good condition (right weight to length ratio).

It sounds like she has it down as far as food. I'd lose the flakes, tho. They aren't very nutritious compared to pellets. Kinda like the fish version of potato chips.
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Old 06-12-2013, 09:05 AM   #3 
Nuij
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Thanks for the advice, I'll pass it along.

The biggest thing wasn't so much insisting that they needed the larger enclosure as the tone of the advice in the other forums. It's one thing to try and correct someone, to help them out... But there were people acting like she had no business even owning one if she didn't have thousands of dollars to sink into it. I will definitely suggest the frequent water changes so they aren't stunted.

Is there any way to tell if a koi is happy with their habitat that I could pass on to either ease her mind or convince her to find somewhere to put them that would be more comfortable for them? That's one thing she was really looking for.
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Old 06-12-2013, 03:17 PM   #4 
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There is no real way to tell if a fish is "happy" or not because "happiness" is a human construct. It's not something we can apply to fish. Really all we can do is give the fish what it needs in terms of space and water quality and hope for the best.

There are definitive signs of stunting you can tell her to look out for. Curved spine, bulging eyes, and bent fins are some that I have seen happen before. This is an excellent article about stunting and what it does to fish.
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