Energy deficiency syndrome ems of koi zooroyal magazine

The energy deficiency syndrome of koi is not a uniform clinical picture, but it is accompanied by a whole series of different symptoms. The causes are equally varied, but all always have a negative impact on the energy balance of the fish. When doctors call a disease a "syndrome", the disease does not have only one cause, but often many different factors are involved in it. In most cases, not all are known, or not all necessarily lead to disease.

Energy balance of the fish

Alternating warm creatures have a different energy requirement than warm-blooded creatures. In many ways, fish are "energy saving models" because they do not heat their bodies. The two most energy-consuming life processes in fish are respiration. Maintaining a constant level of salt in the cells of the body. The gills play a major role in both life processes. Breathing means oxygen uptake. Release of carbon dioxide. The fish gills have adapted perfectly to the low-oxygen environment in the water. They make very good use of the oxygen present in the water. The carbon dioxide to be exhaled is very easily released into the water environment. Circulation of blood through the body. Through the gills consumes most of the energy in the process.

Energy for the salt balance

Maintaining a normal salt concentration in the body cells is a complicated process in freshwater fish. The osmotic prere of the environment water leads to the fact that water constantly flows into the body. At the same time the cells lose salts to the fresh water. To prevent this and maintain a constant cellular environment, freshwater fish are so-called ion and osmoregulators. This regulation also consumes a lot of energy.

Other energy needs

Energy is also used for digestion, excretion and reproduction. Koi must expend energy to adapt metabolism to heating and cooling. The compensation of strong temperature fluctuations can cost more than 50% of the energy supply. This can then lead to energy deficiency syndrome and even death, despite good feed intake. Also too fast warming in shallow koi ponds can overstrain the metabolic adaptability of the fish.

Energy storage

In the form of fatty tie, energy is stored, so to speak. If the body fat content drops below 1%, death occurs. This loss of energy reserves is not necessarily accompanied by an externally visible emaciation. Likewise counterproductive are too large fat reserves: too fat fish can mobilize energy in cold water worse. Therefore they get sick faster from EMS.

Things to know about food components

Koi can digest and utilize carbohydrates well. This also applies to very low water temperatures below 8°C. A fresh Wheatgerm food with low protein and fat content and high vitamin content is just right for water temperatures below 10°C.

Digestion of fats requires high energy input and in cold pond, especially if oxygen levels are not optimal, can even cost more energy than it provides to the body. In spring and autumn you can support the formation of fat reserves with fattened food. The fat content of the feed must not exceed 8-10% in total.

Proteins are not as energy consuming as oils and fats in terms of digestion and absorption into the body, but they should be used primarily for building muscle. Since fish grow very slowly in winter, it is pointless to feed high protein levels above 40% during the cold season.

Symptoms of the disease EMS

energy deficiency syndrome ems of koi zooroyal magazine

Suspicion of EMS may arise when one or more koi lie on their sides in the pond and look as if they are already dead. However, they can swim away as soon as you touch them. The swimming movements are normal at first, but then they change into a turning or spinning movement and the koi lies down on its side on the bottom again. Some koi are clearly swollen, have protruding scales and goggle eyes. Others lie suddenly. Dead in the pond without warning.

Ponds at risk

EMS is often observed in unheated ponds, where the surface freezes completely or where the koi cannot rest because of constant disturbances. In the temperature range of 8-12°C the EMS sometimes occurs, when the Koi do their laps for months without food. Poor water quality (especially low pH and poor buffering capacity [KH below 3° dH]) also increase the risk of EMS. Also, severe temperature fluctuations in shallow ponds make koi susceptible to lack of energy at the end of winter and in spring. Ponds that are too tightly covered have poor gas exchange, which can have serious effects on respiration and energy levels.

Cause research

The cause of the energy deficiency is always an excessive consumption of energy to maintain respiration and osmoregulation.

– Lack of oxygen in the pond – Poor water quality, especially high ammonia and nitrite levels – Metabolic and swimming activity consumes energy – Poor nutritional status before winter – But also overweight: energy mobilization works poorly with fatty fish in cold water – Animals from the special offer, which still come into the pond in October/November, are not sufficiently prepared for winter – Poor water quality in summer puts a strain on the energy balance, no mobilizable reserves can be built up. – Feeding with unsuitable feed (silkworm fattening, corn or carbohydrates as main feed, overfeeding).

What to do if a koi shows EMS symptoms?

common salt (NaCl) is an important remedy for koi with energy deficiency. It facilitates the regulation of the salt content in the body cells. Relieves so the energy balance appreciably. Move the koi to an indoor holding area for treatment. There the water temperature is raised slowly. Too fast warming can mean the death of the fish! At first you should not raise the temperature above 12° C, after a week up to 16° C is possible. If the disease is still in the early stages, the Koi will appear much more lively after only a few hours at 2°C higher water temperature. In the treatment tank (min. 350 liters of holding volume for a 40cm koi) iodine-free table salt is sprinkled in a dose of 5g/l, but not dissolved. An aeration pump must be installed, those who have the possibility also attach a filter. Now you have to maintain the water quality by daily partial water changes. If 50% of the water is changed, then you must also add half of the original amount of salt. Be sure to seek the advice of a fish veterinarian if the koi is not better after 1-3 days!

Dr. med. vet. Sandra Lechleiter has been a specialist veterinarian for fish for more than 20 years, dealing with the keeping of all kinds of ornamental fish and their diseases. The beginning was a position in the fish health service with a focus on "edible fish". The desire to improve knowledge of ornamental fish care and health maintenance among fishkeepers certainly dates from this period. Therefore, an important focus of work in the fish veterinary practice is the continuing education and training of ornamental fish dealers, private keepers and veterinarians. Therefore, many articles in professional and hobby magazines and meanwhile five books, a koi diseases app and an online encyclopedia of koi medicine have been published. About 50 webinars and now four vetinars are a good addition to this job.

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