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Spring is a crucial time for waking up your koi pond
Koi and goldfish swim around in a Gainesville resident’s small pond behind their home. As the weather warms, it becomes a crucial time for outdoor fish, who become susceptible to bacteria.

Spring is the time for the flowers to bloom and everything to come back to life.

But for a koi pond, spring is a time to keep a watchful eye on the exotic fish and the small body of water they call home.

The vibrant orange, black and white Koi are cold-water animals, and with the mid-range temperatures of spring bacteria abounds and diseases can easily emerge, according to the self proclaimed "Pond Doc," Cecil Ferguson.

"You want to look at them and check for any kind of diseases," said Ferguson, who owns Pond Doc’s World in Dahlonega. "They’ll get ulcers, which is like a human would have a red sore on their skin. And that’s because basically at 50 degrees water temperature the bad bacteria really starts growing, but their immunity system doesn’t really kick in until the water temperature gets around 70, so they are prone to get disease more in the early spring because they don’t have an immune system yet."

To protect your fish and their home, start by cleaning the filters well.

"You need to clean your filters real good," he said. "And if you have an ultraviolet light, put a new bulb in, go ahead and turn it on and start feeding."

During the winter the koi’s system slows down and they don’t eat very much, so during spring an easily digestible diet is key, Ferguson said.

"You want to feed them a wheat germ-based food, which is basically a food that is low in protein and its very easily digestible," Ferguson said. "You have to be careful what you feed them because they won’t pass the food through their system as easily until the water is warmer."

After the water temperature gets to about 60 degrees you can start feeding them regular protein food again.

This year, temperatures might force koi owners to hold off on the feeding for a few more weeks, he added.

"We are having a late spring, but normally by the last of April the temperature is normally getting close to 70," he said.

Right now the koi pond Rachel Taylor has in her Gainesville backyard is relatively clear and the fish are starting to move around a lot more, she said.

"They are really dormant in the winter, you don’t feed them ... you wait until the water is consistently over 50 degrees," she said.

Taylor installed the pond two years ago, and she included two goldfish and a mosquito fish to her pond for variety and function.

"It (the mosquito fish) eats the mosquito larvae," Taylor said. "They lay the eggs in the water, so the mosquito fish eats the larvae and reduces the amount of mosquitoes."

When Taylor and fiance Lee Bremby installed their koi pond, they picked a spot near the back patio to enjoy the feature — which it what Ferguson suggests.

"There’s drawbacks to full sun, there’s drawbacks to being in the shade. So the perfect place to put a koi pond would be where you can enjoy it the most," he said. "Often an area where it would be seen is a deck, a window or something that you would get to enjoy it by looking out at the fish, but that would be the main criteria."

The pond Ferguson enjoys houses about 45 koi in 15,000 gallons of water.

"Some of them weigh as much as 24 pounds and (are) 30 inches long," he said. "Koi have been known to live — if they are kept in good water — they’ve been known to live 30, 40, 50 years. But what we tend to do as a hobbyist, we tend to overstock the pond."

Some of the koi in Ferguson’s pond are 15 years old.

And, he has names for them all.

"One of them is Michael Jackson," he said. "It’s the type of fish that is a black-and-white-fish and it’s always changing from sometimes a lot of black to sometimes a lot of white."