Koi Club of San Diego

Volume 23 Issue 11



November 2023

We’d like to welcome all of our Koi Club of San Diego Members to our new Facebook GROUP!

Koi Club of San Diego has a Facebook PAGE and a Facebook GROUP.  Below is the explanation of the differences and how to join (you have to have or create your own Facebook account first):



Who is it for?

Members and general public

Only current members


To inform public of our Koi Club, brag about it, promote and share our events.

For members to communicate and collaborate, ask questions, request help from other club members and post photos of their koi ponds.

Why should I “Join”/”Like”?

“Like” and “Share” to promote our Club to other koi enthusiasts or possible sponsors. Please “Share” with anyone who might be interested!

Join for the reasons stated above. This GROUP is for YOU!

Who can post?

Admins only, but others can comment

All current Club members can create, comment and share posts, plus upload photos.

You will be asked three questions when joining the GROUP and your current membership status will be verified. The answers to the questions will help us with club operations, free surveys, sign up lists, and the list of members willing to host meetings and/or volunteer.

We hope to see you on our Facebook GROUP!


Photos from the October Club meeting at the home of John and Nikki Schultz

by Bill Newell

November Koi Club of San Diego Meeting

November 12th, 2023

Social hour - 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm

Meeting begins at 1 pm

Potluck, bring your own chair


Steve and Alexa Ford

164 Parnassus Circle

Oceanside , CA 92054



by Lenore Wade, photography by Bill Newell and Steve Ford

Steve and Alexa Ford

We all have our Koi ponds for different reasons. Steve built his 4800-gallon kidney shaped pond simply because he has a great love of water. He remembers falling into a fish pond at the age of 8 and although being scared, he was mesmerized by the fish swimming around him. Being a Native Californian, he has never lived much more than a few miles from the ocean. He is an avid boater, fisherman, diver, and surfer.

Steve and his wife, Alexa, met 16 years ago while he was volunteering with his Rotary Club in Ensenada where he worked in a 1000 Smiles Clinic. Alexa is from Ecuador and lived in Mexico where she became a doctor. Because of regulations of our government, she is not allowed to practice medicine here. But she keeps her love of medicine close by working as an EKG specialist at both Kaiser and Tri-City Hospitals.

They bought their home in Oceanside about 10 years ago and proceeded to scrape clean the very large backyard. It is now a yard filled with 14 different fruit trees, 20 palm trees and many other creations beside the pond. Before buying the home, Steve who spent 35-years as a mortgage banker, had a palm tree farm with over 2000 trees. He cheerfully explained that it was “just a

hobby”! (You will notice that the front yard also has 20 palm trees which compliments the beautiful fountain.)

They have a collection of beautifully hand-carved furniture from Mexico in their yard, patio, and inside the house. Near the koi pond, there is a unique table that has not weathered well. So, Steve has invited friends to carve their names or designs into the table top. There is even a clever etching of his most recent boat, the Amor.

As he aged, Steve realized the need to replace his 34-foot sailboat with a 35-foot trawler. Although he loved sailing and teaching others how to successfully become sailors, the work on a sailboat never ends. Now, the trawler can almost steer itself so Steve can spend his time fishing which is his greatest love. (His father, also an avid fisherman, used to let Steve skip school to go out fishing.) Steve keeps his boat at the Oceanside Yacht Club, where he served as Commodore for two years. Alexa also loves being on the boat and whenever possible she goes out with him. He tries to go fishing at least once a week, weather permitting.

Not everyone considers koi as “pets”, but when you love God’s creatures, you make exceptions. When you visit, you will be greeted by 8-month-old Sochi, a little fluffball that loves to run around the yard. (The dog’s name is from a Mayan word that means Water Lily.) Picasso is the house-cat that peers out the windows to check out the visitors. Bella and Romeo are the 20-year-old tortoises that amble freely around the yard, and you can’t miss the buzzing of the hummingbirds that fight over the feeder. Be sure to take a peek in the house where there are two beautifully colored fish mounted on the walls. The Dorado is in the living-room and the Blue Fin Tuna is in the kitchen.

As I said in my article, we have members all over the county. I hope you will make the effort to go for a drive and visit Steve and Alexa on Sunday, November 12th. It is an easy drive to 164 Parnassus Circle where there is plenty of parking.


by Lenore Wade

A huge thank you to all of you who attended our last meeting at the home of John and Nikki Schultz.  Nikki was not feeling well and John had both hands bandaged following a recent surgery.  Many of you stepped forward to help our hosts, as well as, me. Not feeling well, myself, I regret that my part of the meeting was not what I had hoped for.  Yet again, members came forward to help.

It was so nice to have Koi Jack back in the fold.  As usual, he had words of wisdom for us concerning the upcoming months and the needs of our ponds.  We had a lively discussion on the methods each of us use when feeding our fish.  I never dreamt there were so many options and opinions.

After the meeting, John took members around his property giving them the history of Bliss Ranch.  He is constantly working to restore the buildings and the western feel of the area.

Many of you members might not realize the time and effort it takes to fulfill our obligations to the Japanese Friendship Garden on a weekly basis.  If any of you have empty time and would like to help, it would be greatly appreciated.  Please, just send me a message and I will put you in touch with the coordinator. (lenorewade@yahoo.com)  Thank you!!!

At our last steering committee meeting, we did some brain-storming to try and find some interesting program topics.  It is much more fun and advantageous when you learn something new or exciting at our monthly meetings.  If you have any ideas, please send them on to me.

On this same note, it is important that all members know that the steering committee meetings are open to everyone.  No invitation is necessary.  Our goal is to be transparent to all members.  We meet on the second Wednesday of each month at 7:00pm at Denny’s Restaurant at Navajo and Fletcher Parkway in La Mesa.  We have our own private room where we meet and the staff is welcoming.

Our November meeting will be at a home that is new to us.  Steve and Alexa Ford live in Oceanside and have invited us on Sunday, November 12th.  Their address is 164 Parnassus Circle in Oceanside.  It is important that we remember that our membership extends throughout the county.  Some meetings are closer to us than others, but everyone who offers to host us, deserves a good turn-out of the members no matter where they live.  Every pond we get to see enriches our knowledge of koi.

I hope all is well in your world and that we will see you in Oceanside!


We are looking for a member who can help us at the Japanese Friendship Garden on Monday mornings around 8:00am.

Before there was a koi pond in the upper Garden area there was grass. That’s all. We suggested for years that we would take care of the filter system if they would build a koi pond which would become the central jewel to the Garden (there was no canyon Garden at the time). Norm Meck of our club designed the pond (with a few modifications) and Voila! we have a koi pond. We have been taking care of and cleaning the filter system since 1999 really as a community service to Balboa Park.

We would appreciate any help even if you can’t commit to every Monday. Being able to lift 35-40 pounds is necessary to open each section of the deck where the filter is located. AND you get to pick the brain of our KHA/Show Entrant Chairman, Koi Jack, who has been overseeing the fishes health since 2005

If interested, call me and leave a message at 619-200-4146 and/or email me at lpluth@cox.net.

Linda Pluth
Japanese Friendship Garden Liaison



Wednesday, November 8th

at 7:00 pm

(earlier if you are ordering food)



2691 Navajo Road

El Cajon, CA 92020 

View in Google Maps


Vu Nguyen & Gregg Dotzman


Buck Buckles


by "Koi Jack" Chapman


I talked about pH induced stress (sometimes daily) at our latest September club meeting for a few minutes.   Today, I noticed that it’s been sometime (2+ years) since I wrote about pH and I’ve had a couple pH discussions with club members during the past hot summer season.   I made some changes/updates to my last article on pH and will expand on my club meeting remarks to explore deeper this important koi pond parameter.  To quote Duncan Griffiths “The parameter that will cause the most immediate stress in a relatively short time span is pH.”  I will set out to keep it simple and not go too deeply into the chemistry side but some basic concepts are needed to better understand what’s going on in your pond water and how it affects your koi.  Before I start to lose readers, I want to start with an important recommendation that you not get caught up in any effort to be constantly buffering your pond water to achieve and maintain the established ideal pH range for koi of 7 to 7.5 and some report the upper range to as high as 8.  And that’s so true for those of us in southern California with the average pH for local water districts having a pH of 7.8 to 8.2.  It’s just less stress on your koi to simply adjust to local water pH than to be dealing with daily larger swings in pH due to buffering chemicals to reduce local pH levels. 

Now to the science stuff – I’ll skip the chemistry jargon and go with simply that a pH reading is a ratio of the base or alkalinity component to the acid component and when they are equal in amounts the pH will be neutral and measured at a value of 7.   pH values greater than 7 are base/alkaline positive and values less than 7 are acid positive.  Sorry I just can’t help myself – Why? – If you have more free hydrogen ions (H+) in your water it will be acidic and if you have more hydroxyl ions (OH-) your water is more basic/alkaline.  Finally, the pH reading is logarithmic so a change in reading of just 0.3 comes close to doubling the (H+) or (OH-) activity and a change in value of 1 is a 10 fold change in (H+) or (OH-).  That’s the simple reason why pH changes need to be made slowly!  Done with the science – not too bad.

So let’s move on to pH and your koi.  Generally speaking koi can live and survive a pH range of 5.5 to 6 to 9.5 to 10 depending which author you read but all generally agree that 7 to 7.5/8 is optimum for koi physiology, and they can readily handle pH changes when done slowly.  Again depending on which author you are reading the daily swing in pH reading should not exceed 0.3 to 0.5 or your koi will experience pH change stress to include some late afternoon flashing.  How so? (back to the science) – First just know that the blood within your koi has a pH value and the pond pH affects koi blood pH chemistry.  When pond pH is and remains high the pH of your koi’s blood starts to suffer from alkalosis and koi losses are not uncommon or reduced life span due to continuous pH stress.  You will feel an excess slime coat and staying at the surface and gulping/pipping for air at the surface.  For the reverse, an extended period of low pH leads to a condition called acidosis within your koi’s blood system pH values with again the excess slime but koi become anorexic and will rest on the bottom of your pond and get red streaking lines in the fins which can lead to koi losses and/or reduce life span.  Why - Our koi are NOT water tight as water is constantly entering the fish and if this water is low in pH then the koi has to use its own natural internal buffers to raise the blood pH and they are quickly consumed leading to low blood pH or acidosis.

Special Note:  As our pond is a system, when I’m called about a high or most often a low pH reading in a pond – My first questions are almost always “What is the ammonia reading and the KH or alkalinity reading.”  For a low pH reading a condition called pH crash is well documented in articles concerning this subject and to just raise the pH by adding baking soda (calcium carbonate) you can inadvertently have higher fish loss due to ammonia poisoning as pH contributes to the toxicity of ammonia.  Just a little science – at a pH of 7.2 or lower the ammonia is mostly ionized (NH4) and much less toxic to the koi, but as the pH rises the NH4 converts back to NH3 unionized and is more toxic to the koi as it now can pass back into the koi through the gills and other exposed tissue.  And in warmer water the conversion rate is increased – it’s a system.  Got your thinking cap on - the conversion from NH4 to NH3 frees up a hydrogen ion and yes they will have a further reducing effect on pond pH.

I get asked a lot about rain - So what about rain water and your pond pH??  Got some general thoughts and not in any order of importance.

  • 1.      You do not want rain water to run into your pond in any way--off a roof or from a hill side especially for what it may pick up on the way to your pond.  Good way to have a toxin introduced to your pond and can affect water clarity.  Change to water clarity may be first sign that you got something other than just the rain water.
  • 2.     Remember the smaller the volume of pond water the larger the possible negative effects of copious amounts of rain water could be to your water quality to include pH. 
  • 3.     You should have a pond journal with your past water quality parameters recorded.
  • 4.     Rain water normally has a pH of 5 to 6 so it’s soft water (acidic) depending on where you live in the good old USA.  SO – at 2PM on 4/10/20 in El Cajon CA with a heavy rain falling collected in a big clean koi tub the pH was 6.21.  I also checked the GH or hardness of the rain water and got little green at 2 drops or 35.8 – can you say very soft water.   So one could expect a drop in pH depending on the volume of rain water.
  • 5.     Now don’t forget rain water is devoid of calcium carbonate as the KH was zero at one drop and this will affect your water chemistry and further lower your pH to a point it could affect your biofilter bacteria – stops working around 40ppm and want pond to not be less than say 80ppm.  Oh, guess I should remind you your KH reading is the pond alkalinity measurement but you knew that.
  • 6.     As one might expect ammonia NH3, Nitrite NO2, and Nitrate NO3 were all zero.
  • 7.     The oxygen levels were a nice 11.9 to 12.1ppm, which brings me to the unknown, as rain water forms and falls through the air it picks up the STUFF present in the air which it is falling through – so the existing air pollution becomes part and parcel to the rain falling into your pond.  The pH is a direct result of this not to mention any nearby industry air pollution or agriculture spraying that can be found in rain water.  A club member who will remain nameless lives a little uphill and directly across the street from a large cement plant – the normal air currents passed directly over his home –you could on occasion taste and smell the cement components in the air and his KH and GH were CRAZY high.  SO solid roof cover (no run off issues) over pond as shade cloth would have worked until the first rain (I’ll let you figure that out LOL) and increased water changes and chose not to do continuous water changes.
  • 8.      After a hard rain or over an inch do some water quality testing and remember the solution to pollution is dilution – love it!

You should have a way to measure your pond pH – dip sticks with a color chart or electronic pH meters.  For dip sticks quickly reseal lid after removal and buy new ones if older than a year.  For pH meters – store upright with probe always in storage solution and don’t let it dry out!!!  Follow manufacturer directions closely for probe calibration and cleaning and change probe every couple years.  Store both in cool dry area!!!   Your pH will be lowest in early AM and can be expected to rise through the day, so early AM and just before dark is suggested to get a reading of your pond’s daily pH swings.  For established ponds you could go to weekly readings, and I like the day before and after my weekly big water changes to record effects of water changes.  Yes, this info needs to go in your pond journal!!!

So what affects your daily pH changes?   First, hard water (southern California) is more basic/alkaline and resists changes to pH and soft water is more acidic and changes quicker.   Little science – pH is reduced by oxygen consumption, production of carbon dioxide (big time), filter activity (nitrogen cycle), and decomposing waste in the pond.  Why’s – 1. Hard water has more buffering capabilities as it has a higher alkalinity (more dissolved mineral anions as in carbonates CO3, bicarbonate HCO3 and hydroxide OH-)   2. Carbon dioxide converts to carbonic acid (pH down).  3. Nitrogen cycle produces or frees up hydrogen ions (pH down).  The filter bacteria requires and uses the available alkalinity, as in calcium carbonate, which further reduces the pH.   Note:  If you have a lot of plants in your pond then the carbon dioxide produced after dark will further reduce your pH during the night.  Of course the reverse is true after daybreak as all the green stuff in your pond is now consuming the carbon dioxide and producing oxygen – thus the subsequent rise in pH.

When treating pH issues, high pH is usually treated by dilution in the form of water changes with water of a lower pH value.  Lower pH is usually treated the same way but with water with higher pH and baking soda (calcium carbonate) is used to keep your alkalinity to between 80 and 120 parts per million (remember the filter uses it up during the nitrogen cycle).  For daily pH swings over .5 you can review the articles on placing crushed oyster shells in a water pass through container/bag in your pond system in a location with good water flow (it works) or a large plaster of paris pill (5 to 15 lbs - also works).   A clean filter will lengthen your pond waters buffering capacity – think weekly maintenance and water changes.   Lastly, you can think about adding waterfalls or aeration to help gas off CO2 (carbon dioxide) to reduce its direct effect on lowering pH and boost pond available oxygen – double benefit.   John commented during his article edit that I might want to consider adding a  Bakkie Tower and he’s right for the same double benefit plus some reported nitrogen degassing.   Repeat:  Use caution when raising pH and always deal with any existing ammonia by first using an ammonia binder such as ClorAmX, Prime, Ultimate, etc.

I’ll repeat my first recommendation – Please do not chase or try to maintain a pH of 7 to 7.5 with daily chemical additions to pond water causing large pH fluctuations and unwanted stress for your koi.  Koi will and do adapt to say a pH of 8.2 – especially when the daily fluctuation is kept at 0.3 to 0.5. 

When measuring your daily pH swings it will be best reflected if done very early AM (usually lowest pH) and just before dark.   Look closely at the skin in the white area on your koi for small red veining lines (not a general skin pinkness) as a sign of pH stress. 

Disclaimer – There are water quality monitoring systems that work 24/7 to maintain certain water parameters of which pH is one and if you’ve got the $$$ -they work, and at a lesser cost but still pricey a tank with one cubic foot of catalytic carbon in front of a water softener system followed by but not required a reverse osmosis system – the R/O system has a 50 percent water waste down the drain and the other half (virtually laboratory grade water) to the pond.  I only add the R/O unit to the daily water flow system for 4 months of the year during heavy feeding time.  During this period my water bill is $475 to $550 per month, otherwise $300 to $350.  Note: there is also a 1 micron Big Blue filter placed just before the source water goes to the R/O – which extends the life of the R/O filter.  My daily 24/7 water exchange system is set at .4 gallons per minute or 24 gallons per hour for a daily total of 576 gal.  That’s a 4.6% daily water change and yes, I’m anal and overdo it and my koi love it or so I think.  Yes, I still do weekly cleaning of prefilter with a 2k gallon water change for a 16% water change (1k during winter for 3 months).  So, the next time someone asks you just how anal is Koi Jack about water quality in his koi pond - you can answer – well his weekly water changes total about 6,000 gallons in a 12,300 gallon system for 9 months of the year and 5K for 3 months during winter.  And yes, I do understand that doing a 24/7 for 576 gallons daily does not account for a true 4.6% daily exchange of unwanted water contaminates due to the simple dilution factor – for the science nerds.  Yes, when it comes to water quality – I agree I’m out in left field and enjoy being there.   Bottom line my daily pH is normal at 7.2 to 7.4 with last year’s range being 7.12 to 7.55 

My goal here was to introduce the basic important issues concerning the subject of koi pond pH, and this article only scratches the surface of the subject.  I encourage you to refer to a web search on the subject or as usual read the articles/books written by D.V.M.’s Erik Johnson, D.V.M. Nicholas Saint-Erne, and Duncan Griffiths.   And of course my copy of Norm Meck’s water quality booklet is available upon request.   



Koi Person of The Year 2023 Julia Schriber



President: Lenore Wade   


First VP-Program: Matt Rhoades


Second VP-Venue: Dorene Dias Pesta

Secretary: Tamsie Pierce


Treasurer: Jill Rhoades





Newsletter editor/

Webmaster: Julia Schriber


Membership Chairman: Jill Leach


Koi Health Advisor/

Librarian: Jack Chapman


Club Historian: Dr. Galen Hansen


Property Manager: Al Pierce


Correspondence Secretary: Shirley Elswick


Japanese Friendship Garden Liaison: Linda Pluth



Koi Health Advisor/

Water Quality: Jack Chapman


To Host a Meeting: Dorene Dias Pesta

To Submit an Article: Linda Pluth


Program/Activities Suggestions: Matt Rhoades


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