The definition of quarantine is: "A period of time, originally lasting 40 days, of enforced isolation or restriction of free movement imposed to prevent a contagious disease from spreading."

This idea of enforced isolation can be used on fishes moving from country to country and also from area to area within a country.


Quick Info

All quarantine procedures have two things in common.

When you purchase new koi -

  • ISOLATE them from your present collection for a period of time, even if the supplier states that he has quarantined the fish,
  • OBSERVE them until you are satisfied they are strong, healthy and free of disease.

You need a separate pond or holding tank with separate pumps and filters as well as good oxygen levels and facilities to change water regularly. Also separate siphon pipes, nets and equipment that should not be used on the main pond.

Covers may be necessary to prevent the koi jumping out.

Mature water is essential.

Add a low level of salt as a stress reliever.

Avoid high levels of salt as this will add to the stress the koi are already under.

Oxygenation levels are critical and must be high. Circulation, air stones, venturies, waterfalls etc.

The koi need to be rested.

You must know the capacity of the quarantine tank or pond. This helps if you need to medicate.

Any type of pond or container will do.

Avoid galvanised baths.

New ponds must be rinsed thoroughly.

To assist the new koi to adapt to your environment use water from your main pond to change the water in the quarantine pond. In this way the new fish will come into contact with the strains of bacteria etc in your pond.

On the quarantined pond there will be NO bacteria in a new filter no matter how large the filter is unless you have seeded the filter media beforehand.

Ammonia can build up rapidly when a large number of koi are kept together in a new pond system. This will add to the stress factor.

Ammonia and nitrite levels must be monitored every day in quarantine ponds.

Reduce ammonia levels with water changes and possibly zeolite or seed the filter with mature filter media from another pond.


Facts You Must Know

The temperature difference between the bags and the quarantine pond must be equalized to avoid any stress. Float bags if water temperatures vary more than 2 or 3°C between the bag and the pond.

The pH in the bags and the pond will be substantially different. A lower pH (more acidic) can be anticipated in the bags. pH must be adjusted SLOWLY over a period of time.

Water from the pond can be gradually added to the bags to equalise the pH.

The water from the bags must never be added to the pond as there could be parasites or pathogens in this water.

Discard this water onto the garden or add chlorine to it before throwing down the drain.

Most disease and/or parasite infections will manifest themselves with in 10 - 14 days. This is temperature related and virus infections such as KHV are only activated at temperatures above 18 - 22°C.

Internal problems brought about by the catching, bagging and transport of the koi may take months to reveal themselves.

Quarantine for as long as is necessary for YOU to be certain that there is no outbreak of disease or parasites amongst the new koi.

Several weeks is usually considered the minimum. Other koi keepers consider several months to be best.

Only add medications if necessary. If the koi are healthy let them regain their strength then treat for parasites as a precaution. Alternatively introduce them into the pond then treat the whole pond for parasites.

One of the main reasons for quarantining new fish, especially fish that have spent many hours travelling plus the stress of being caught and handled, is to give them time to rebuild their strength and immunity before introducing them into a collection.

Imported koi are very stressed because they have probably been starved for several weeks prior to shipping. They spend over 25 hours in crowded plastic bags. You must treat them carefully. Feed them lightly on a high quality food.

Let them rest and regain their strength.

Feed lightly once a day at first. This will keep ammonia levels down and gives the koi a chance to get their digestive systems going again.

Add one or two of your low quality "disposable" koi from the main pond into the quarantine pond for about 2 weeks before you want to add the new fish to the main collection.


If You do not have Quarantine Facilities

Be aware of the ever present risks of introducing new koi into an existing koi collection.

There are many koi keepers who do not have quarantine facilities so they introduce koi directly into their collections.

This is very risky but a common practice amongst koi keepers.

The whole collection and pond would have to be treated as a quarantine pond and the whole collection must be closely observed every day for the first few weeks.

Many koi keepers give new koi a strong bath of Potassium Permanganate or salt before introducing new koi into their present collections.

Note these dips will not stop KHV.

The koi must be observed at all times during the short baths. Never leave the koi to answer the phone or speak to someone. The few seconds between successes and disaster is very fine.

Move the koi gently from the dip directly into the pond.

At the first sign of sick fish - perhaps blood vessels showing in the whites of koi, extreme agitation, flashing, or becoming lethargic, fins clamped, koi lying at the bottom, koi hanging around the water fall the cause of the problem must be identified before action is taken.

The whole pond will have to be treated correctly.

Know your pond volume.

Have someone to contact quickly if you need assistance.


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