Examining the environment

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Being unable to chose the environment in which they live, captive fish are dependent on the environment and quality of water provided. Optimal conditions vary according to species but must be correctly balanced to minimize stress, disease and to maintain health. This chapter explores general considerations, water appearance, aquatic plants, filtration and husbandry.

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Figure 10.1 Outdoor pond with overgrowth of surrounding vegetation. Wood preservatives from various structures such as the wooden bridge and decking may run into the pond during heavy rainfall. Runoff from the soil may pollute the water with suspended solids and fertilizer. (© W.H. Wildgoose.)
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Figure 10.2 Overhanging tree with berries. Little is known about the harmful effects of many potentially poisonous plants in fish. The flowers and fruits are seasonal, and may not be present when visited by the veterinarian; some botanical knowledge is required. (© W.H. Wildgoose.)
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Figure 10.3 A badly neglected pond with serious overgrowth of plants. This preformed plastic pond was quite unsuitable for large koi and had an inadequate filter system. (© W.H. Wildgoose.)
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Figure 10.4 Aesthetically pleasing environments are not necessarily healthy ones for stocking with fish. Large metal fountains may pollute the water with toxic heavy metals. Large aquatic plants provide shelter from sunlight, predators and veterinarians. (© W.H. Wildgoose.)
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Figure 10.5 Examine the facility for any submerged objects. Some seemingly innocuous materials may leach harmful substances. Open-weave bags of barley straw are used to control algal growth in outdoor ponds but anaerobic decomposition of the straw can produce toxic by-products. (© W.H. Wildgoose.)
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Figure 10.6 Algal bloom with proteinaceous scum and uneaten food on the surface. Poor visibility made it difficult to catch the fish or see into the water; a net was used to dredge the bottom for sediment. (© W.H. Wildgoose.)
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Figure 10.7 In some homemade systems it is difficult to appreciate the direction of flow of the water and see if sediment is collecting in the bottom of the filter chambers. It is often necessary to examine the pipework and chambers manually to assess the build-up of debris. (© W.H. Wildgoose.)
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Figure 10.8 To inspect the filter system, take off the covers, identify the relevant pipework and assess its functionality. Single-chamber external filters such as this one have a layer of foam on the top, which frequently becomes blocked by sediment. This causes the water level to rise and drain through the overflow on the right hand side, bypassing all the filter medium below. The foam must be rinsed clean on a regular basis. (© W.H. Wildgoose.)
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Figure 10.9 In multi-chambered filter systems, only the first chamber should contain debris. The black brushes act as a mechanical filter and remove suspended solids. They must be cleaned regularly to avoid becoming blocked with debris and algae. In this case, the water started to channel past the brushes and deposit debris in the subsequent biological chambers. (© W.H. Wildgoose.)
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Figure 10.10 Standard water quality parameters should always be checked by the veterinarian. Regardless of the appearance and design of a filtration system, the result of its functionality is that it should be able to provide good water quality. (© W.H. Wildgoose.)
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