Symptoms & Diagnosis - Koi Fish With Flaky Scales / Skin

Flaky Scales..

When introducing fish to a new pond it is very interesting to see how they are behaving and how they are settling into their new homes. It can be a very nerve racking and nail biting time for koi owners, especially if the cost of the fish was high in the first place. Sometimes the most prettiest and beautiful ponds are not neccessarily the best ones for fish to live in, and deaths may still occur when introducing new fish.

The most common answers that you will find throughout the internet is that there must be something wrong with either your PH levels in the water, or the way in which the water is being oxygenated (normally not enough), or parasites have entered your pond are eating the fish alive. Therefore you begin panic stations the moment you see your first fish behaving strangely and all sorts of things go through your mind. Perhaps these assumptions are little bit over the top.

Koi with Flaky Scales / Skin - Almost like flaky human sunburn.

This is one koi symptom that is very hard to get an answer for whilst searching the internet. You could spend hours searching koi diseases only to find that none match what you are seeing on your fish, and find that you are being recommended to change your water by whatever percentage per day!


Don't panic. When koi are moved from one environment to another they can become extremely stressed. The stress causes the following symptoms and behaviour :

  • Flaky skin / scales, like sunburn peel.
  • Fish swimming a few inches beneath the surface (not gasping for air, but struggling to swim down in general).
  • Breaking away from other fish in the pond.
  • Not feeding.
  • Shaking of the head when swimming, and gives a struggling appearance.


If your fish has these symptoms then he/she is more than likely to be suffering from new pond stress. This is normal and common - however unforunately it can go either way, whether as to the fish will survive or die.

There is no need to isolate the fish becase doing so will only cause more stress. There are no treatments and there is not a lot you can do. However at least you can be quite sure that you do not have a disease in the water/fish, and therefore will not be required to clean out the pond and start again. From personal experience I have found that around 2 in 6 fish will suffer from new pond stress, and 1 will probably die whilst the other survives.

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