KHV - Copley Ohio Pond

goodkarma_(5b)August 24, 2006

From the Akron Beacon Journal today:

This from the Akron Beacon Journal today.

Area koi collectors think virus killed fish

Massillon college student, Copley couple fear ponds contaminated with herpes

By Connie Bloom

Beacon Journal staff writer

Area koi collectors were grieving this week over nearly 100 blazing orange pet fish killed by what they believe is the koi herpes virus.

A Massillon college student and a Copley Township couple both said they had healthy, established fish communities that were contaminated recently when they added new stock.

Bryon Jones, a student at Kent State University's Stark Campus, built a 5,000-gallon pond for his mother, Norma, six years ago and stocked it with the showy Japanese fish. They've lost 84 fish in the past three weeks.

``Mom's heartbroken,'' Jones said. ``We have shed tears over this. We had just bought her fish for her birthday. She had names for all of them.''

He sent one of the fish to a University of Georgia lab for testing, and ``it came back positive,'' he said. ``It got to the point where I could tell which one would die next.''

The virus, a cousin of the type that affects humans, infects only fish in the carp family, said Spike Cover, director of Project KHV for the Associated Koi Clubs of America in Fountain Valley, Calif.

It has infiltrated virtually every country that raises carp, including the United States, and at least a few natural waterways, he said.

``It's too late to stop it,'' Cover said. ``Overkill won't stop it in its tracks, which works when the disease is not widespread.''

Vickie and Ashley Morris have lost nine nearly 30-inch-long koi over just a few days, with 11 more faltering in their Copley Township pond.

Ashley Morris raised the fish from 2 inches long. ``They were my pets to me. I had names for them all,'' he said.

Relatively little is known about KHV, which was first formally described in Israel in 1998, according Erik Johnson of

Signs of illness include white and/or brown lesions; sudden, quirky movements; and languishing under waterfalls, a sign they're not getting enough oxygen. Despite the high mortality rate, some fish survive, usually younger ones, but will still carry the virus.

Jones and the Morrises said their problems started after they added new stock they bought directly from a southern Ohio hatchery that maintains its fish are not infected. They have filed complaints with state authorities.

The Morrises met Jones by accident at Hoffman's Garden Center in Green, where both families went to see if owner Bill Hoffman had any advice.

Hoffman, who has been working with koi for 10 years, fears there may be more than one source of infected fish. Meanwhile, the families want to warn other owners while they grieve their emotional and financial losses. Large Koi sell for as much as $700-$1,200 each.

Hoffman worries the virus will be spread by waterfowl into local lakes and reservoirs and other water gardens. ``We're pretty sure there's another pond in southern Ohio that has this problem,'' he said.

The virus incubates in colder water such as springs, becoming active at about 70 degrees, said Hoffman.

``KHV is hard to recognize, and we haven't seen a lot of it,'' he said.

``It doesn't become active until it reaches a certain temperature. Springs at 50 or 60 degrees may not get warm enough to activate the virus. People who have koi and want to protect them... should quarantine them in other new tanks for two weeks. We as suppliers are doing more of this.''

The virus is asymptomatic in carriers that appear healthy but carry the viral DNA, which is transmitted through fish-to-fish contact, urine and objects such as fish nets.

Once the virus is introduced to a pond, the fish are exposed. There's no taking it back. When active, the virus reproduces and attacks epithelial cells, especially the skin and gills. The fish stop eating, can't breathe and die a slow death.

``All your efforts are futile,'' Jones said. ``It's horrific to watch.''

The koi collection at the Akron Zoo hasn't been affected, and director Dave Barnhardt said the chances of the virus affecting the koi there are slim because the zoo quarantines new fish.

Hoffman recommends anyone getting new fish quarantine them in water brought up to 70 degrees or higher to watch for problems and to recognize that, as a hobby, fish ponds bring unique challenges because of ``a lot of things that can go wrong.''

``Water gardening is a lot of fun, but it is more complex than a lot of other hobbies and activities,'' Hoffman said. ``That's what keeps it interesting.''


Reach Connie Bloom at 330-996-3568 or


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zinniachick(southwest Ohio)

Goodkarma, thanks for posting this. Sobering. I guess no new fish for me this year.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 3:21PM
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ccoombs1(7B SC)

Good article for the most part. I strongly disagree with the part that recommends QT for 2 weeks though. QT should be a minimum of 4 weeks (from trusted suppliers) and up to 8 weeks for other suppliers. I would never say that we should not buy koi for a while. I went to a koi show earlier this month and came home with 10 new ones. 5 came from trusted breeders (Quality Koi, Lotus Land Koi Farm, Hammock Koi Farm). Those koi have been in QT for nearly a month now and will go into my pond in another week or so. I also got some koi from dealers that import koi. Those koi are in a different QT a long way from my pond. They will remain in QT for at least another month....maybe longer. We don't need to fear buying new fish, but we need to be VERY careful who we buy from! I would not buy from Ebay (except from Richard Rombold Jan Jonquin koi). I would not buy from any pet store or most water gardening stores. I would not trust the dealer to QT my fish....that is MY job. IF we use our heads, buying new fish can be perfectly safe and won't endanger our existing koi collections.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 8:39AM
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