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Genesee Valley

Pond & Koi Club Newsletter

Volume 7 Issue 5                                                                                                             May 2003

Ponds of the Genesee Valley 

This month features the pond of Sam Contreras.

Date Constructed: June 8, 2002

By Whom: Sam Contreras

Inspiration for Pond: Sam wanted to incorporate a water feature in his landscape, with its unique sounds and plants:

Dimensions: 13' x 8' x 2'

Approximate # of gallons: 850 gallons

Pond Type: 45 ml EPDM rubber

Filtration: Pondmaster 700 water pump with a 12" x 12" prefilter

Water Plants: HWL Berit Strawn, HWL Doll House, Black Magic Taro, Pickeral Rush, Thalia delebata, red stem parrot's feather, Aztec Sagittaria

Fish: 4 Sarasa Comet & 4 Shubunkin

Comments: Sam wishes he could have dug it bigger and deeper. More plants in 2003!


Fish of the Month

Sarasa Comet and Shubunkin

Carassius auratus

Sarasa Comet: Red and White Comet with long fins; single-tailed.

Shubunkin: The Shubunkin is of Japanese origin with a calico coloring (red, white, blue and black) and nacreous scales (mix of transparent and metallic scales); single-tailed. Shubunkins are also available in sky blue and midnight varieties. American Shubunkins have long, pointed forked tail and longfins. Bristol Shubunkin has a moderately forked tail with rounded lobes like the letter B. The London shubunkin has short, roundtail and fins.

Size: Up to 12 inches

Comments: Both varieties of goldfish are hardy and make desirable pond fish. They tend not to uproot plants and are a moderate size. They do spawn readily and can over populate a pond!

According to William Innes in Goldfish Varieties and Water Gardens, 1947, " The first of the long single-tail breed appears to have originated in the ponds of the Fish Commission in Washington in the early 1880s. Mr. Hugo Mullertt either secured his own stock or originated his own. At any rate, he was the first to place them on the market in quantity. The Comet is a long of body and fins, the tail in particular being very free flowing. In movement this fish is the most graceful of all the fancy goldfishes and it can swim with rapidity when necessary. This activity has made it easy for the fish to revert to its ancestral tendency to leap out of the water."

Trivia: A Jikin is a rare Japanese variety hardly ever available outside Japan. It has a long, cigar-shaped body that is white, with red lips, fins, and gill covers. Jikin are not born with this coloration. They are "made" by removing red scales when they are still young. Jikin grow to be about 9 inches in length.

Nau Hear This!

This has obviously been a very bad winter and we are still struggling to get through the last remnants of it, especially with the recent spring storms. I hated to call off last month's meeting, but as the storm continued, we thought that it would be in the best interest of everyone's safety to cancel it. Carole has promised to work with us and try to reschedule for fall or next spring so we really haven't lost out on the presentation. 

According to Larry N. one of the more frequent topics that people brought up to him at GardenScape was the problem of fish losses this winter. It seemed that about 113 of the people lost all of their fish arid another 113 had lost a number of fish. The final 113 thought that they had no losses and that their fish were doing quite well already.

This may have changed slightly with the power failures resulting from the ice storm. Fortunately, we had probably lost enough of the ice cover and the water should have started to turn over and release some of the toxic gases and absorb some additional oxygen. The people that I've talked to so far did not have any fish losses during the ice storm or because of the power outages that resulted from it. I hope that this is especially true for all of our members as well.

Since I haven't received any alternative topics or additional suggestions for the May meeting, we will discuss spring preparations for opening the pond. This will be an open format so that members may offer comments about their-successes and failures so that we can all learn from them. A side discussion on starting seeds and plant cuttings will also be attempted, if time permits. If you are interested in obtaining plants from alternate sources the Genesee Land Trust will be holding a native plant sale on Saturday May 17 from 8:30 am-2 pm at the Brighton Town Hall, 2300 Elmwood Ave. The RCGC will also have their Proud Market Plant Sale on Saturday May 31 from 8:00 am -until plants are sold (usually about noon). Finally, we will have our plant auction at the meeting on Friday, June 6th. If you have extra plants or are making divisions please consider donating some to the club. The more everyone is willing to share the better the variety of plants that we will have to offer.

This year's LilyFest will be June 7-8 at Bergen Water Garden And Nursery. We would like to have a club display and information table to help answer questions about the club and water gardening, koi and goldfish keeping. If you can help as a volunteer or have plants, photos or other materials that we could use for the display please call Larry H.

Larry N. is in the process of finalizing plans to have Charles Thomas as the featured speaker at LilyFest on Saturday June 7th. Mr. Thomas is well known for his books and lectures on water gardening and directed Lilypons Water Gardens. He founded the International Waterlily and Water Garden Society, has collected aquatic plants from around the world to enhance offerings for water garden enthusiasts and has received plant patents for several of his water lilies. He spoke to our club about six years ago. It would be a great opportunity for those who have joined since then to learn more about waterlilies and water gardening and to talk to him and show our enthusiasm for water gardening. I'm sure that this will be another great LilyFest and we will all be able to benefit from it.

The NFKPC will have their Koi Show and product display June21-22 at Masterson's Garden Center, East Aurora, New York. There will be vendor displays, presentations and many Koi available for your viewing pleasure. The plant and product auction should start around 1:00 pm. on Sunday. 1 will try to have more information for the June newsletter.

Member to Member Maureen Lynch has an extra copy of "The Tetra Encyclopedia Of Koi". This is the hard cover edition (suggested retail price $32.00). She is willing to sell it for $15.00. If you are interested you can call her at 394-8201.

Spring may finally and really be here even though it is snowing as I write this. The spring flowers that survived the ice storm are now opening quickly and are a welcome sight. If you have spring flowers around your pond, why not take some photos now. We can definitely use photos for the newsletter and if we get enough support we could use them and others from the coming months to show seasonal views of what ponds and water features can be like throughout the year. This approach might encourage others to try similar things and extend the times and seasons in which we can enjoy our ponds and fish too.

It is not too early to consider putting your pond on this year's tour on August 16th. Now that the date for the tour has been selected and if you have already volunteered to be on this years tour, please reconfirm your desire to have your pond included. We also have some new and non-members who have recently volunteered their ponds. Please call Brian Nagel or Larry H. to confirm your offer or to add your name to the list. I would like to have the full schedule of ponds finalized by the end of June so that we can prepare the maps and other details. We are also planning to end the tour with our usual picnic.

Since spring is a critical time for our fish, pay close attention to them so that you can treat any diseases or injuries before it is too late. If you are adding new fish be sure to quarantine them for an extended time to make certain that you will not infect your existing ones with Koi Herpes Virus (already present in some US supplies) or Spring Viremia of Carp (not fully confirmed as a US problem).

Injury healing is another story. The following information and suggestions were derived from an article in KOI USA by William Wildgoose.

Wound healing has a high priority among a fish's body functions. Depending on the extent of the damage, it is possible to improve the natural repair processes and hasten the overall recovery process by providing the best possible environmental conditions such as:


Reducing the bacterial load in the pond by removing the injured or diseased fish to an isolation or quarantine tank for treatment. If you do decide to add an antibacterial treatment to the pond itself, do so carefully since some of them may be harmful to the desirable filter bacteria. 


Identify the cause of the injury and, if possible, correct or remove it. For example: test and correct poor water conditions, remove sharp objects, minimize or prevent possible injury from outside critters and remove potential sources of infection.

Next, protect the fish.


Protect the wound itself by adding salt to the water to minimize water infiltration into the wound Salt also helps the fish to tolerate less than ideal conditions resulting from elevated levels of ammonia and nitite that may be present.


Some benefits can also be gained from the use of various medications that can be applied to the open wounds to make them more water resistant.


Increasing the water temperature, when and where possible; will increase the metabolic rate and thereby speed recovery. 


Feeding the fish a good commercial diet with a supplement of fresh foods will ensure good nutrition. Foods should have added supplements of vitamins A and C which improve healing in some types of fish. Some products may also have a yeast extract additive that works with the natural immune system to help in the recovery from infections.


In some severe cases, it may be necessary to clean the wound to remove damaged tissue, scales and debris. This should only be attempted or performed by a specially trained hobbyist or professional. These severe wounds may also include bacterial infections, which may require further additional antibiotic treatment.

The early stage of healing is very difficult to see since the new layer of cells that cover the wound are thin and transparent. It is all to easy to think that nothing is happening and attempt to reclean the wound thereby removing the healing layer that has started to form. In this initial phase, the best approach is to keep an eye on the progress of the wound to verify that it does not deteriorate or look clearly worse.

In the weeks that follow, the inflamation of the surrounding tissue diminishes and the lesion itself becomes more opaque as the repair layer thickens and the defect area fills in with new tissue. With time, some color may return to the affected area but deep wounds may not recover completely. They often heal as a smooth white scar with a marble like surface. Furthermore, scales may not re-grow in areas where there has been really extensive damage and the loss of scale pockets. After all of this discussion about healing, you might wonder how a fish can survive a wound. Fortunately, skin wounds on fish will often heal on their own. After all, they have survived for thousands of years without our intervention. But we must remember that these are our pets and we are keeping them in an intense and somewhat artificial environment. It is important, therefore, that we understand these challenges and that we take the steps necessary to help them survive and to be with us for as many years as possible.

Some spring reminders: 


Do not feed your fish until the pond water is at least 50 degrees for several days.


Start with a winter type food or cereal and start with fresh food. Some of the necessary vitamins and other additives may have deteriorated during storage if already opened.


Give your perennial water plants a healthy start by pruning out last years faded growth.


Start your waterlily and water plant fertilizer program to give them the boost that they need to break out of their winter dormancy.


Remove excess debris and sludge build-up from the bottom of the pond.


Add a starter dose of beneficial bacteria to start breaking down any remaining accumulation of winter wastes and to create the desirable layer of bacteria in your filter bed.