Policies and Procedures for new Koi
Quarantine and bio security is something we take very seriously around here. Great lengths are taken to ensure any possible parasites or viruses are not spread to my existing koi in inventory and to your koi ponds at home. Tens of thousands of koi are imported every year from breeders in Japan and the US and strict protocols have been put into place to contain any potential problems.
The quarantine procedures actually begins several days before the koi arrive. The tanks need to be cleaned, salted and prepared for the new arrivals. A tank is prepared for each breeder I have purchased from. By keeping the koi from each breeder separate, it is much easier to isolate any issues to one breeder.
Once the tanks are ready the koi can arrive. The koi are picked up from the airport after they have cleared US customs. They are quickly loaded up and taken back to the shop. The bags inside each box is removed and floated in the tanks for at least 30 minutes to an hour. The reason for this is the koi are already stressed from their trip, the last thing we want to do is add temperature shock to the mix. Equalizing the temps in the bag and in the tank is imperative.
After they have floated for awhile the bags are opened and the koi along with all the water is emptied into a large bowl. The koi are quickly counted, inspected for injuries and hand lifted into the tanks. Great care is taken to make sure none of the dirty bag water is allowed into the tanks. That water can quickly foul the quarantine tanks. Soon after all the koi are released large amounts of koi clay is added to the tanks. This will cloud the water for awhile which calms the fish and reduces jumping.
After this the koi will be allowed to rest 3 or 4 days. No food or water changes will be done and I will try to limit even going near the tanks as this just adds to the stress. Once they have calmed down, I will take random samples from the different breeders. The samples will include scrapings from the slime coat and gills. These scrapings are viewed under a microscope to check for any parasites. I will almost always find something. Parasites are very common and when receiving large shipments I would be very surprised and recheck my instruments if I didn't find some sort of parasite. Once a determination is made as to what type of parasite(s) they have the treatment is given. Usually this just involves high levels of salt for about 2 weeks, but sometimes additional treatments are needed. After about one week of treatment, a second set of samples is taken to check for parasites and make sure the treatment is working and changes can be made if needed.
After about 2 to 3 weeks of parasite treatments its time for KHV testing. KHV or Koi Herpes Virus is a very deadly and contagious virus. Once it breaks it will usually kill 70% to 80% of all infected koi. Any koi found to have the virus are destroyed whether it they are showing symptoms or not. Great lengths must be taken to make sure any KHV infection is contained to its own quarantine tank. It must not be allowed to spread to the rest of the facility or to the general public.
Currently the best testing method available to us is Serology testing. This involves drawing blood from each fish, spinning the blood in a centrifuge to separate the serum, and then sending it to a lab for testing. Simi Koi currently sends serum samples to UC Davis and the University of Georgia. These are the two best facilities in the country. Serology testing is not 100%. False positives and false negatives are still possible, although uncommon. That is why multiple tests and retests must be done to be sure the koi have not been infected.
If the weather is cool and the temperatures are not warm enough to trigger a KHV outbreak, several koi will be isolated in a separate tank and heated up to 75 degrees. for two weeks and then tested. This is called "heat cycling". KHV is more likely to show itself in the test after being held at the warmer temps.
Once two sets of samples are taken and test results have come back negative, the koi are now released for sale. The entire process will take at least 4 to 6 weeks in total.