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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22616
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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one of my koi is alive but floating on its side but looks dead,

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one of my koi is alive but floating on its side but looks dead, it swims momentarily when touched, what is the problem please, there are no obvious signs of injury

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

Have you checked your water parameters (ie pH, ammonia, nitrates, nitrites)?

When were these tested and what were your findings?

Does he or any other fish have elevated respiration (gill movement)?

What kind of oxygen support does your pond have?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

there are 15 other koi and one sturgeon in the pond, all are fit and healthy, the pond is oxygenated by waterfall and fountain

Thank you John,

I am glad that you are not seeing any other fish affected, but I do need to warn you that it is not uncommon to have a sensitive soul show signs before the others start to succumb. Therefore, we do need to proceed with caution.

Now if you are sure that your oxygen levels are within normal range for the fish, then hopefully this is not an issue. If you have any doubt, notice reduced activity or fish staying near to the filter and waterfall, then you may want to consider adding further supplementation.

Otherwise, we would need to focus on the next major trigger for floating at the top of the water column without obvious buoyancy issues (which the normal swimming with stimulation rules out) or external disease. This would be our water quality issues. Now you have not listed any information regarding my query on the water, therefore I would strongly advise checking your water parameters (pH, nitrates, nitrites, ammonia). If you do not have the ability to do this, then you can take a sample into your local aquarium shop and this can usually be tested for you free of charge. If anything is abnormal (nitrates and ammonia being two big culprits on our differential lists), it needs to be addressed with partial water changes +/- chemical binders for the elevated parameter.

Further to this, since this fish is the only one affected, you may consider relocating it to a hospital tank for closer monitoring and so that you can provide clean water for it. Hospitalisation will allow you a better opportunity to observe it to ensure there are no other issues that are perhaps making it more vulnerable then the rest. It will also allow you to better monitor appetite, abdominal distension, and check for any external signs you have not appreciated while in the communal pond. As well, isolation reduces the risk of any internal infectious processes that may be afoot here spreading to the others.

Overall, these would be our major concerns for the signs you have described. Therefore, if you can rule out oxygenation issues, then the next step would be check your water parameters and isolating this fish. That way you can keep an eye on his situation for other issues and limit any risk of exposure to the others if he has an underlying infectious issue that he is not yet giving signs of.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )

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