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Allan
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Crystal clear water is not indicative of a healthy pond. A healthy pond can be crystal clear --- it can also be green. You can't LOOK at your pond's water and know how healthy it is; you only know how healthy it is by testing it!

Testing your pond's parameters is the easiest way to UNDERSTAND what's going on in your pond and keeping your koi healthy. Maintaining your ponds parameters at proper levels keeps their stress to a minimum. If you don't monitor them, it's only a matter of time (could be days, could be years) before your kol are dead.
When koi are stressed their immune systems don't function very well. And koi that are stressed by a poor environment are sitting ducks for most pathogenic bacteria and parasites that reside in your pond. All treatments are borderline useless in poorly maintained ponds as well. Most ponds that are maintained properly rarely suffer from any type of serious health problem. And if there is one, it can usually be successfully treated.

THE NITROGEN CYCLE
1 - Koi and other pond inhabitants produce ammonia
2 - One species of nitrifying bacteria convert ammonia into nitrite
3 - Another species of nitrifying bacteria convert nitrite into nitrate
4 - Nitrate is consumed by plants (especially algae)
5 - Koi and other pond inhabitants eat the plants

Both ammonia and nitrite are extremely toxic to koi. The bacteria that convert them to "relatively harmless" nitrate live in your pond. On the pond's walls, bottom, rocks, etc. But, if your pond's like most people's ponds, there's simply not enough of them there to make your pond healthy for koi.
These nitrifying bacteria like to have a lot of surface area, darkness, oxygen, water temperature over 70 degrees, and a KH (carbonate hardness) over 80 ppm (parts per million) to thrive. A biofilter serves this purpose. It can be as simple as a five gallon pail with a pump and some filter media or a more "state of the art" bubble bead system. It all depends on the amount of time and energy you're willing to spend maintaining it. They ALL require some maintainence.
It takes 4-6 weeks for most filters to become established with enough bacterial colonies to support the ammonia produced by the koi in your pond. Don't overburden a new system with an over abundance of koi. In a new system, you will usually see a rise (spike) first in ammonia, and then as the ammonia subsides--you'll see a nitrite spike. Never add new fish during one of these spikes. An established pond might stumble for a few days, but will catch up to the new demand very quickly.

PARAMETERS
Ammonia: You want a zero level at all times. If at any time your pond tests above 1 ppm, you
should make a 25% water change -- adding a dechiorinator as needed. This should be done every other day until levels are below 1 ppm. Higher ammonia levels require greater/more frequent water changes. Feeding should be withheld or at least minimized. It could take 2-3 weeks in a new system before the bacteria start sufficiently converting ammonia into nitrite.

Nitrite: You want a zero level at all times. Unfortunately, nitrite is not as easily reduced as ammonia
is through a water change. Initially, the level WILL drop. But, within a few hours, it will have bounced back to where it was BEFORE the water change.The safest way to weather your koi through this nitrite spike is with the addition of pond salt to your pond. Nitrite affects the koi's hemoglobin's ability to carry oxygen. At the time of a high nitrite spike, your koi can literally suffocate. Salt relieves these symptoms temporarily. When it's added to the pond at a rate of 0.1 % to the pond, the beneficial effects are seen.
Once again, all feeding should be ceased or minimized. It usually takes a new biofilter an additional 2-3 weeks to convert nitrite into nitrate.

Nitrate: Once you start showing nitrates when you test you water, you know your biofilter is
functioning. To what degree, depends on your other parameters. You can still show ammonia or nitrite, but "the cycle" has begun ( or completed---depending on how you look at it). Plants and algae use nitrate. Most ponds will have a nice coat of algae on the walls and bottom. This usually keeps most ponds in the safe zone for nitrate. If readings go above 40 ppm, a water change is recommended. Levels of 0-40 ppm are desired. Higher levels are believed to stunt the growth of the koi and are an added stressor on the koi. Nitrate, however is not as directly toxic as are ammonia and nitrite.

Ph: Koi prefer a rang
e of 6.8 to 8.6. They can tolerate lower and higher, but will be more subject to
stress. Daily fluctuations in pH are even a greater stessor. The nitrifying bacteria colonies in your biofilter prefer a pH above 7.4. You want your pond's pH to be between 7.4 and 8.6. For the most accurate pH reading, you should test in the morning (the earlier, the better).
A higher pH is more critical when your pond is showing ammonia or nitrite. They become more toxic at higher pH values.
A lower pH is usually a sign that your biofilter is about to or has died. And the fish will soon follow.............
In ponds where the the biofilter has "crashed", the pH will often rise tremendously during the course of the day (could be 5.0 at sunrise and 9.0 at sunset). If you were to test at 10 am, your pH may read 7.6 (which is a good reading) giving the APPEARANCE that everything is fine---when in reality, it's NOT. This is why the early morning reading is SO important.

KH (also called Carbonate Hardness or Toatal Alkalinity): Technically, KH is the measurement of the
carbonate ion in the water. The level you want in your pond is 80-120 ppm. Your biofilter "eats" ammonia and nitrite. It uses carbonate ions in the process. If your KH is low (below 50ppm) or nonexistant, your biofilter is either struggling to do its job or it's dead. (How many crackers can you eat without having something to drink?)
Some water sources have an ample supply of KH. Most don't. Test your water source also to find out the KH level you're adding when you do water changes.
Raising the KH in a pond is relatively easy. You add sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) dosed at 1/4 cup per 1000 gallons per day, testing daily, until you reach your desired level.
When your KH levels test at 80-120 ppm, your pH almost always tests at between 7.4 and 8.2. This is a good thing!

TEST KIT TIPS:

--Never use your finger to cap vials. Two reasons. One is that you may alter the test results. Two is that the chemical may be harmful to your skin. Read all directions on pamphlet enclosed with each test kit for possible hazards.

--Vials and caps should be thoroughly rinsed after each use-----------not right before you're ready to test.

--Never empty contents of test results into pond.

QUICK REFERENCES FOR USING OUR TEST KITS

Ammonia-Add 8 drops from bottle #1 and #2. Cap and shake for 5 seconds. Wait 5 minutes
Compare to color chart.

Nitrite- Add 5 drops. Cap and shake for 5 seconds. Wait 5 minutes. Compare to color chart.

Nitrate- Add 10 drops from Bottle #1. Cap and shake for 5 seconds. Shake Bottle #2 for 30
seconds. Add 10 drops from Bottle #2 to vial. Cap and shake for 1 minute. Wait 5 minutes. Compare to color chart.

KH- This test requires a color change from blue to yellow. You add one drop at a time, capping
and shaking between each drop. Count each drop as you're doing this. When the water in the vial turns from blue to yellow, this is the number of drops that you use to calculate your carbonate hardness. Each drop equals 17.9 ppm. Readings less than 3 drops are reason for concern. 5-7 drops are ideal.

Salt- Shake both bottles for 30 seconds. Add four drops from Bottle #1. Cap and shake. Add 1
drops at a time from Bottle #2, capping and shaking between. Counting them as you go. When the water sample in the vial turns purple, compare your count to the chart provided with the test kit to determine your salt level


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A bit of information for all our customers
216 River Rd, Manorville
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