Receiving Koi Quarantine
Many people purchase koi, float the bag for 30 minutes, pour them into their new home and don’t have a any problems. This method however, is sort of a game of roulette even in a pond that doesn't already have fish. The problem is koi can have diseases, parasites and bad bacteria. Sure, the problem can be treated and cured but you will be introducing it to your entire pond and filtration system which may be much more difficult to treat and fully eradicate. The best way to introduce new koi is with a proper quarantine process. The video at the bottom of this page shows my process for koi quarantine before I sell my fish.
A) You should have a quarantine tank set up with adequate gallons and filtration for your purchased koi with a pH within 0.3 points of 7.0 which is considered neutral. You will also need a bubbler and a small receiving tank just large enough to hold your purchased koi for the initial water adjustments.
Temperature, pH, ammonia and oxygen are the four most important things during receiving. A sudden pH change can kill koi. The oxygen level and pH in the shipping bag will be low. Low pH protects the fish from the toxicity of ammonia which will be high. Our goal is to remove the toxic ammonia and THEN gradually raise the PH to where it needs to be while keeping the water oxygenated.
B) Float the shipping bag in your quarantine tank for 30 minutes to match the shipping water to your temperature.
C) The most problematic part of receiving koi is that the shipping water will have a bad combination of high ammonia and low pH.
If you were to add your quarantine tank water to the shipping bag, it would rapidly raise the pH which will quickly bring the ammonia toxicity in the bag to fatal.
If you use an ammonia detoxifier such as amquel in the shipping water, it will reduce the already dangerously low oxygen levels in the shipping water and one dose of the detoxifier may not be enough.
Here is my suggestion.
D) Open the bag. Have a way to support the bag from tipping over or someone to hold it upright. And test the PH of the shipping water.
E) Fill your small bubbling receiving tank with your prepared de-chlorinated, well oxygenated, quarantine tank water.
Use a "pH down" adjuster to lower the pH in the small "RECEIVING" tank (NOT the quarantine tank).
These pH down adjusters have mixed results which depends largely on the total alkalinity of the water. If the alkalinity is good it buffers the water from pH fluctuations which is normally a desirable thing. All you can do is bring it down as much as possible as it is at least a little less of a shock in the change from low pH to the desired neutral pH.
F) Check to be sure the temperatures of the shipping water and receiving water are now the same then carefully remove your new koi and place them in the receiving tank. Cover the receiving tank with a net or cloth as soon as the fish are in because they will often jump at this point.
G) You now have your koi in ammonia free water at the desired temperature. The PH can now slowly and safely be brought up to the proper level. Just add a little bit of quarantine tank water at a time to slowly bring the PH up to the proper level of 7.0. Even if the pH has to be raised a bit faster than ideal due to the small size of the receiving tank, it is much better than the sudden shock from one to the other.
H) You can now move the fish from the receiving tank to the quarantine tank where they can get a much needed rest. Do not feed them for 24 hours. It is recommended that koi be quarantined after every move for three weeks.