Category Archives: Feature

All The Link Exchanges

There has been some confusion about where to sign up for various link exchanges and then where to find the listings. The MAIN thing is that Google finds the listings because then YOUR site shows up faster and higher, not mine per your link.

Find One:

“Find A Koi Club”

“Find Your Installer”

“Meet Friends of Doc’s”

Add One:

ADD a POND INSTALLER

ADD a KOI CLUB

ADD a LINK with DOC

Write Something:

ADD a GUEST AUTHOR

The Top 10 Things You Need To Know: Pond & Koi Fish

The Top Ten Things You Need To Know and Master For Success With a Koi Pond

The Super Basics of Koi

Figures out all the following:
Inventories quality, informational resources for a deeper understanding

But the most successful garden-variety hobbyist:
Feeds decent food, redundantly supplies their pond electrical, supports lively water movement and intercepts temperature impacts, knows their water’s quality via periodic basic water testing with strips, feeds sparingly and never gets new fish. Removes excess fish each year and avoids any drastic changes in population or water. If new fish are in the plan, quarantines new fish before deploying.

1. Crowding

You should have one inch of fish per ten gallons of pond water. You can have a bunch more koi than that IF the filtration and water quality will support them. To calculate pond volume figure out approximate length, width and depth in inches. Multiply them thusly:   Length inches x Width inches x Depth inches = Product    then divide the product by 231 and there you have US Gallons. If you have a mess of small fish, like goldfish and under 6″ you can have a lot more than an inch of fish per ten gallons. But the larger koi have more “mass” and oxygen requirements and put out more wastes and so they push the number down to one inch per ten gallons.

LINK TO CROWDING DETAILS

2. New Fish
The main source of parasites / germs is new koi. For the most part, “closed collections” don’t get parasites as a “new thing”. To avoid parasites and even some germ infections, quarantine is imperative which stymies the pathological “impulse buyer” but you know, live with your decisions.

LINK TO QUARANTINE VIDEO AND HOW TO DO IT AND FOR HOW LONG

3. Their water:

Water Movement is probably the most important thing in a pond. Most of the time when fish have poor body language, clamping and lethargic, it’s a lack of aeration and water movement in warm weather. How much water movement is needed?
Aeration is the single most important parameter with a close second being pH because of ‘crash’
Another area NOT to be ignorant of is water chemistry. Seriously. Flying blind is just ignorant unless your collection of koi is entirely expendable. MOST people have their koi and pond problems from chemistry, especially pH.

Chemicals like pH, and nitrogen.

Nitrogen is represented by Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate. You should understand the basics of all of these. You’re not going to do “okay” for very long without understanding how Nitrate comes back to bite you in the butt. It’s the SINGLE MOST COMMON cause of chronic illness in the ponds of “know it all” pond and Koi keepers. They do a LOT correctly except they make VAST assumptions about their water quality because they think they can eyeball water quality.

Ammonia Discussed: When it happens, looks like, what to do.  (Video)

Nitrite Discussed: When it happens, looks like, what to do. 

Nitrate Discussed: When it happens, looks like, what to do. 

pH and pH crash are perhaps the most common water “quality” problem. Newbies won’t succeed long without a handle on this. Link to Video.

New Water

Water needs to be turned over and replaced with new water from time to time. At LEAST 10% per week. I run a constant slow water drip all the time. That’s because I’m lazy and don’t like to change water. Topping off the pond is not a water change unless the pond leaks. Evaporation CONCENTRATES chemistry. Doesn’t dilute it. When you replace water “fill and drain style” you need to apply a chemical “dechlorinator” to neutralize caustic chlorine that’s added to city water to disinfect it. If you’re using well water it’s not a “thing” but you might check the pH of the well water to know if it’s low.

Well water video

Dechlor video

Pond location and impact of temperature

If your pond is in the shade then it might get lots of leaves in it. And if it does, those leaves will decay and reduce the pH. If the water gets stained a “tea color” with leaf tannins (from leaves on and off the tree interestingly) the tea colored water will usually have a low pH, will slow healing of wounds in the Spring, and never grow algae. Tannins are anti-algae.

A pond in full sun  is prone to algae blooms, won’t have leaves in it, will not have much in the way of leaf-pH dynamic. But the water will be warmer and WARM WATER carries less oxygen so water movement and aeration are critical. If water movement fails in the hot pond in mid summer because, say, power outage, the Koi are gonna die.

4. Koi and Pond fish filtration:

So when you start out or you inherit a pond, the “filter” might sound simple but usually it’s not. They need maintenance of some kind. And they may or may not be “big enough” and an assessment is needed. I use ecosystem ponds with plants and gravel and a waterfall, happily. It takes MAJOR maintenance once yearly. I also run some systems on Bead Filters which pass the water through beads to clean it. VERY easy to clean, but frequently, and they can jam up suddenly, they die in the sun if the power goes out, and are a little expensive.

koi and pond fish do extremely well in eco system ponds.
In “ecosystem” ponds like Aquascape’s, the filter is actually PART of the pond and is invisible.

In any event, you should learn about filtration in earnest. For the beginner, an ecosystem installation or a bead filter would be your two best, scalable options. Cleanliness and maintenance of said filtration and water are paramount. Get educated by a knowledgeable installer or retailer of filters.

Ecosystem ponds

Excellent bead filtration I

Excellent bead filtration II

When filtration is needed or not 

Well if the pond is large and the fish load is quite small, you probably won’t need a filter. If there’s a lot of water movement and the water is clear and there’s not a bunch of cloudiness or particulate clouding, you might not need a filter. If the water tests okay with dip tests, you might not need a filter.

5. Their feeding

Overfeeding is super common. Just don’t. Koi do best when you have a ten year old feeding them and they forget to feed every fourth day or so. Underfeeding is better than overfeeding. If your koi are fat, something’s wrong and your water quality is probably paying a price. Fat koi are just fine. Feed twice a day, tops. Feed what they wanna eat in under ten minutes. Five minutes would be even better. Don’t feed near the skimmer or it’ll take the food and give it to the filter unnecessarily.

What to feed.  Feeding the right food is pretty important but really, in the scheme of things, it’s uncommon for a poor food choice to kill or sicken fish. Even catfish chow (while really inadequate) will just result in fatty livers and increased vulnerability to disease, not kill them.  Here’s where to learn all about Koi foods, and even some recommendations.

When Not to Feed and Why. So if your pond is large, natural and has ecosystem forage (plants, tadpoles, swimmy bugs, stuff like that, and the fish load is light, you might not need to feed. If the pond is a tech-pond without plants nor gravel you need to feed. There’s no natural forage.

6. Fish Body Language

Koi and pond fish body language is just an Early warning system for disease or poor water quality.

Here are some pointers:

  • If the fish are moving around, curious about food they’re probably okay
  • If the fish are NOT using their pectoral fins (the ones behind the head) they’re sick.
  • If the koi are wagging their bodies to swim, and not using fins at all, they’re about to die.
  • If the fish have clamped fins but then swim normally when you show up, something’s going on. Like a too high temperature or a sagging pH.

Survival is suggested by at least some willingness to eat, moving around.
Body wag is probably a goner.

7. Parasites

Where they come from? Parasites CAN “just happen” and they can be “carried” for a long time without causing disease until Winter reduces the fish’s immune system. Or, more commonly, parasites are not a “thing” until you buy some WITH PARASITES already on them. Quarantine fixes and prevents that. It’s easier to treat in quarantine and keeps your existing koi safe. VIDEO ON QUARANTINE

How’d you know they had them? Poor body language is an indicator something’s not right. Usually that’s a sagging pH and or a low dissolved oxygen. But if those two aren’t going on, maybe parasites are a “thing”. Fish will scratch on tank / pond surfaces and rocks, like “flashing” and they’ll also show up with red skin, red veins in their fins, stop eating and develop a slimy skin. (All those symptoms happen in pH crash, too)

Parasites may be controlled by several medications, such as Salt, and API’s General Cure.

-Water quality is 3 to 1 over parasites for the source of illness. Yes and that’s annoying. People OFTEN contact me and ask what medicine to use for this or that symptom they’re seeing. Or the medicine isn’t working. The koi gets worse. So I ask them what the pH is. What the Ammonia is. What the Nitrate is. And they get back to me with a number WAY out of range, they fix that, and no medicine was even needed.

What you can do: A video introduction to the major categories of parasites and some treatments worth knowing.

8. Bacterial Infections – Rot

What sores mean:  Sores just mean the fish have “gone through something” that broke their immune system. Cold water, over crowding, high nitrogen levels, a low pH, wintertime, low dissolved oxygen, cold water, excess handling and parasites chewing on the skin are all very common causes. Just exposure to bacteria (even the baddest of the bad) don’t CAUSE bacterial infections.
What you can do: You have to diagnose what happened, what “they went through” and then fix that. Provide an optimal environment. And then perhaps apply antimicrobial treatments to the water, in the food, by injection. Literally everything you would NEED to know in order to deal with bacterial infections is at my DrJohnson Youtube page. But also:

Ulcer Disease I, II, III

What you can probably not do: You can’t save fish that are:
-Too far gone
-You may not be able to obtain or give injections of antibiotics but they work great. Perhaps you could find a vet that can help. Injections for really valuable ones
Water treatments for other cases like Potassium permanganate or Chloramine T.

9. Viral Infections

What viruses are there, in general: If you don’t get more fish, viruses aren’t a “thing” for you to worry about. But there are viruses out there which will kill almost all your fish. The main one is Koi Herpes Virus. It depends on water temperatures to kill fish. Under 70 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s inactive. Above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it dies off. Fish are saved. If you quarantine fish according to the video mentioned above, and the fish achieve a temperature in the low eighties, Koi Herpes Virus is a non-issue.
Other viruses include viruses that cause warts, little waxy droplets on the skin, and are not lethal. Spring Viremia of Carp is a common disease that appears to be endemic (in everything) to north America and causes depression of the immune system potentiating bacterial infections. You wouldn’t know if your fish had this, because if you test for it, you’re likely to get a positive, and then you will have your pond closed, killed off, and quarantined.

10. Shutting down for winter

When not to feed:  Koi and pond fish do better in very cold water WITHOUT food in their tracts. It’s a good idea to suspend feeding when the water temperatures sail down below 55 DF — IF you can anticipate the temperatures are going to decline FURTHER like a typical temperate climate. (North American near freezing) – However in Portland and other geography, the ponds might hit 55 and NOT go down, so those aren’t “heading to icy” and so if the temperatures are going to hover above 40 DF you should feed Cheerios.

When to shut down the filters?   You can keep your filters running unless it’s going to freeze and you have to “winterize” the filters, so you ought to talk to your installer or filtration manufacturer about how to deal with temperatures prevailing in your area. If your filter has a return under water or which won’t super cool the pond, you can leave it on. The biological activity of the filter will be sadly lacking so feed less, or feed Cheerios.

How to turn water over
-When you don’t really have to:   When water is in the low forties and lower, it carries all the oxygen it can. So water movement isn’t a “thing” at that point. I mean, SOME water movement is important but that’s mainly for gas release (CO2 etc) rather than Oxygenation.
-Striking the ice –  It is a myth that if you strike the ice over pond fish, they will die or go deaf. In fact, sometimes fish die under the ice and that had NOTHING to do with someone breaking the ice. Usually it’s the fact that they even HAD to break ice. Ice need to have a hole or gas exchange gap in the surface. If you have to use a floating cattle trouble heater, do it.
-What Springtime means: Springtime is tough on Koi and pond fish because typically:

  • The fish have gone hungry all winter
  • The fish have been cold and their immune system is warmth-fired.
  • Parasites don’t care if it’s cold and can strike in cold water with extra vengeance.
  • Water bacteria (purification bacteria) are largely dormant so water quality is at it’s lowest.
  • A winter’s worth of fish excreta and plant material / last year’s mulm are all suspended in time, and break down as soon as water temps rise. It’s a surge in algae / bacterial nutrition.

“Koi Health & Disease” Reload by Dr Erik Johnson

Smart pond experts "bone up" on fish health so they don't have to say "Uhhh I don't know"
Smart pond experts “bone up” on fish health so they don’t have to say “Uhhh I don’t know”

Folks ask me all the time, what’s new in the new book? If I already have the first edition, should I buy the second edition?

The answer to the question is YES. The reason you should get the second book is because your first edition is probably rather worn by now. Plus, WE DROPPED about 70 pages of dated information from the first edition and replaced it with 90+ new pages of edited, revised and updated information. The book is now 204 pages long!

And, while it’s thicker than ever, it’s the same price as the first edition was even ten years ago! Isn’t digital publishing great! “Koi Health & Disease Reload” is $39 per copy.

We REDUCED the font size, and improved the page layout to fit in MORE information but it STILL ran about sixty pages more than the old book.

New information: Almost everything was massaged, revised for accuracy, and we added notes of interest from the field garnered from the last ten years of practice of fish health. So everything was updated, and we added expanded information on:

Koi Health & Disease Is a "How To" Reference based on 10 years of veterinary practice on Koi
Koi Health & Disease Is a “How To” Reference based on 10 years of veterinary practice on Koi

Nutrition, handling, laboratory techniques, bacterial infections, Koi Herpes Virus, SVC, Tricide Neo potentiated anti bacterial dip, Praziquantel in its current usage, pond predators and much, much more.

We also added improved images. We went back to the source code on some of the original images and retouched them then we put them to digital publishing on high resolution printers and paper.

By the way, the paper and binding are top notch. This isn’t copier paper simply perfect-bound. This is heavy 65lb paper with a nice square, ‘real book’ binding.

>>> Order Now – “Koi Health & Disease 2006 Reload” is $39 per copy.

Readers are saying:

“EXCELLENT FOR BEGINNERS…Without sacrificing plenty of depth where needed… a Koi keeper’s bible!” – S.G., Ontario

“This book goes into extreme detail and gives you STEP by STEP instructions on how to save fish lives under a hundred different conditions.” – Dr. Erik Johnson

“I received your book last week and have almost completely read it cover-to-cover. I’m very impressed with its content and the excellent balance between practical and technical information. If more Koi keepers owned this book, I’m sure there would be many more healthy Koi swimming today!” – Shooterdog”

“I’m very happy with “THE BOOK” A better book doesn’t exist in Belgium. —- Greetings!” – M. Demol

What It’s Good At:

Step by step, recipe-type instructions on how to navigate through a disease outbreak. We offer the fastest shipping available anywhere on this book, and a great price. Even a stockbroker with no science background could save his or her fish with this manual.

Pros

Simplicity without being simplistic. Almost anyone can understand how to recover their fish from an outbreak with the proper diagnosis and care recommended in this book

Cons

Images throughout book are very clear grey scale photographs, but not full color

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does this book help with Goldfish, too?

A: Oh yes. When I did the Weatherhill Goldfish book (also sold on this site) they pared out a fair amount of the dosing stuff. So Koi Health & Disease remains the last word on the “how to, step by step” and all you do, with just a couple of exceptions, is use the word “Goldfish” in place of “Koi”. Injections, baths, dips, most other diagnostic and pathophysiology issues are directly correlated. Formalin and Supaverm are notable diversions but Supaverm is not in the book in it’s current edition. ~ Dr. Erik Johnson (koivet.com)

Q: If I wanted to buy 40 copies of Koi Health and Disease for our club, would you be able to reduce the price? NM – Washington Koi & Water Garden Society

A: Simply email us, our customer support leader and we will make arrangements on a wholesale purchase of these items. You’d be surprised what you could buy at extremely favorable club prices when you achieve a ‘dozen’ pack order.

>>> Order Now – “Koi Health & Disease 2006 Reload” is $39 per copy.

Testimonials

Koi Health & Diseases is an incredible guide to koi problems. I have raised koi for ten years and lost a lot of them due to my ignorance. I can not express what a great guide Koi Health & Diseases is. I sat down and read the entire book when it came, nodding at the observations and realizing, “Yep, I made that mistake, yep, I did that too”. It should help me to avoid mistakes in the future. Thank you for sending it.

T. Hicks

About Dr Erik Johnson – Marietta Georgia Cobb County Small Animal Veterinarian

“Meet the Doc”

I’m Georgia-native since 1975 and went all eight years of college to University of Georgia. Got my doctorate in 1991 and opened my own place in 1996. I own three dogs, and innumerable fish and turtles.

I attended undergraduate school at University of Georgia where I got my Bachelor’s degree in Poultry Science in 1987. I attended University of Georgia Veterinary School from 1987 through 1991. I entered practice in 1991 and finally opened my own clinic in 1996.

When I was a kid we used to go to a vet who took the animals into the “back area” for everything. Which is fine. Except I always wondered what they were doing, and I thought “If they can’t do this in front of us, do we want them to do it?” (What’s so secretive?) So I decided that when I opened my own place, I’d do as much as I could with owner-present for the reassurance of the pet AND the owner. So that’s how it is to this day. That’s how my mentor Dr Mason used to do it, too.

I lived in Marietta Georgia since I was 10 years old. We moved here in 1975. I went to East Valley Elementary, Dodgen Middle School and Walton High School. My roots around here run deep. I had great teachers in all of those schools. I remember Miss Haley and Miss Weinberg at East Valley, Mrs Manley (Science Teacher) at Dodgen, and then at Walton, Miss Parrott, Miss Kendrick, Dr Stephens, Dr Hansen, Bob Cowles, Carol Bowen, so many quality influences. Well. I never actually had a class with Miss Parrott but if you saw her in the halls as a 16 year old boy, you would remember her forty years later, too! 

“Meet the Doc”

 

When I opened my clinic in 1996 on Robinson Road, I declined to take a shift down at the dog pound putting homeless animals to sleep. Every vet was supposed to sign on for a weekend to come kill dogs and cats. That’s the way it was. But I didn’t go to school for 8 years to euthanize healthy animals. The penalty? I couldn’t be listed with the other Cobb County Vets on the Animal control Spay / Neuter Roster. So at the outset, I was invisible, and not recognized to perform certificate surgeries for Cobb County. (Still not, still won’t euthanize homeless dogs.)

Fortunately, kind customers discovered me and spread the word and I got away without killing a single healthy / adoptable pet in my whole career.

Now look, I don’t blame any vet for euthanizing dogs back then. It’s all we had. I was a spoiled brat and said “No” –  and got away with it. That’s the only difference.

My Mom died of cancer. My Dad lives. I have two brothers. They’re great. One’s Kurt and he’s a real estate agent in Woodstock Ga. My brother David is in Dallas Texas and he’s a designer. I have three kids who are all grown up and living on their own, thank God.

I was married for 21 years, got a woeful divorce in 2011, and married a second time, VERY badly to a predatory gold-digger from E-Harmony.com and was taken advantage of in ways that most who’ve heard about it have called ‘criminal‘. That woman divorced me after 4 years of marriage and took me to the cleaners for $250K in 2016.

I remarried my first wife in 2018.

I binge watch shows like Game of Thrones, “I, Zombie”, Vampire Diaries, Banshee, Hell on Wheels, Longmire, Arrow and more. I eat too much and I’ve been on more than 200+ diets. I love to paddle a kayak and I never feel happier than when I am on or near some water: the beach, a river or a lake.

  • Where did you grow up?
    1. We moved a lot. I was raised in Temperance Michigan, Clinton New York, then Marietta, Georgia. In all instances, I was not happy until or unless I was knee deep in green water grabbing critters.
    2. As far back as I can remember, I was catching fish, frogs and turtles.
  • What University do you hail from?
    1. I am a proud graduate of University of Georgia undergraduate, poultry science major (I still keep dozens of chickens, pheasants and peacocks)
    2. Veterinary degree is also from University of Georgia.
  • Besides Ajax, do you have any other pets?
    1. In the past, I’ve had lots of birds, like peacocks and chickens, lots of cats, too many dogs, crabs across numerous species, turtles of all kinds, thousands of gallons in South American fish, some Pig Nosed turtles for a breeding project, a Geochelone sulcata of 125 pounds named Atlas, some Wood Turtles (also for breeding project) a ton of other freshwater fish, Koi, and even a half dozen Bearded Dragons. Just basically way too many pets. I’d like to do a 5,000 gallon biotope tank of big cichlids. I’d like to do a heated outdoor breeding facility for Fly River Turtles.
    2. Isabella Johnson is a Shih-Tzu x Cavalier King Charles Cross.
    3. Luna Boona Johnson is my newest addition and is a 2.8 pound chihuahua. I got her in 2018 and she’ll be a year old in July 2019.
  • Using your Vet talents – what is the one thing you would like to accomplish or discover during your lifetime?

New work on intestinal microbiota and it’s impact on the immune system and other functions in people is blowing me away. I’d like to be part of introducing this to the animals that need it.  drjohnson.com/fmt

  • I also wrote a book.

dr erik johnson veterinarian marietta gaRegarded as the first and last word on fish health for the pond fish hobbyist, in this second edition, every page has been updated and improved. After losing more than 70 pages of older information, the book still expanded from the first editions’ 160 pages to over 200 pages. This book is written in a conversational tone and meant to be understood and applicable to the beginner and advanced hobbyist alike. Well-reviewed by consumers and peers, this book is written authoritatively by a veterinary practitioner with 20+ years treating fish.

 

 

Johnson Veterinary Services Welcomes You!

Johnson Veterinary Services, Home to Marietta East Cobb Veterinarian Dr. Erik Johnson

Help and Advice for small animals, companion animals, koi, pond fish, reptiles and more.

I’m Dr. Erik Johnson and I’m proud of my knowledgeable, dedicated staff of techs / nurses. They are the best support team in Marietta, bar none. Some have been here for 20+ years, and most of my nurses stay until they start families, and babies ruin it up. (ha ha ha)

My specialty in treating your companion dogs and cats, is a logical / practical approaches to cases. For example, if your pet has an inoperable brain tumor, what logic (or what vet) compels you to spend another two thousand dollars finding out the tumor’s latin name? Do we really need to know exactly how deadly the tumor is, once we know that by its location and impact alone, it’s imminently deadly?

Another example: If your pet is 17 years old, are we worried about putting it on a medication that has long-range side effects as long as it creates immediate comfort?

Another example: Do you want your epileptic dog on the “latest-and-greatest-Western-fad” Keppra (which barely works at all) only to spend a few thousand dollars to figure out why it’s not working when (and until) Phenobarbital would work perfectly well, as it has for fifty years? Or thinking outside the box with zonisamide (which really works and is also ‘new’?)

We’re not talking shoddy medicine. We’re talking about experience, and not wasting a poor dog’s time-suffering, or an owner’s finances.  Veterinary medicine is fraught with fads and “the latest and greatest” and sadly, the simpler, older approaches often have the most predictably successful results.

Practicality:    Stopping the costly diagnostic algorithm as soon as you know there are no more TREATABLE conditions to find.

Practicality: Approaching a work-up by beginning with the most common disorder and working your way down instead of dumping the whole lab and pharmacy on every remote possibility on the first day.

Practicality: Giving you ALL your options from “top-shelf-spare-no-expense” across the board to “this is what happens if you do nothing” …And then I’ll share with you exactly what I would do if your pet is actually my own “Ajax“.

Thank you for considering my clinic for your pet’s needs. I will try not to let you down.

Our location is:

  • Johnson Veterinary Services
    3100 Roswell Road Suite #113
    Marietta GA 30062 
  • TEL (770) 977 5377
    FAX (770) 973 0301

That’s the corner of Roswell Road and Old Canton Road. Frankie’s Italian is in the same shopping center with us.

Hours of operation:

Monday and Thursday: 8:00 a.m. til 5:00 p.m. (Sometimes we close a little earlier or a little later, please call)

Tuesday, Friday and Saturday: 8:00 a.m. til 12:00 p.m (Sometimes we close later, please call)

Wednesday and Sunday:   Closed.

 

Hours Are Subject to Change Based on Demand

Mon (8 am to 4-5 pm)
Tues. (8am to 12-1pm)
Wed. (Closed)
Thurs. (8 am to 4-5 pm)
Fri. (8 am to 12-1 pm)
Sat. (8am to 12pm)
Sun. (Closed)

Call Ahead
Hours set by appointment and are subject to change

The closing hours are determined by the “last appointment” time.
Some afternoons it seems everyone’s gone fishing, so I do, too. Other times, we stay til 6pm and even a little after. So before you drop by, please call ahead.

Clinic Location

We’re at the corner of Old Canton Road and Roswell/120 in East Cobb, Marietta Georgia 30062

Frankie’s Italian Restaurant is in our shopping center. (Or we’re in theirs we can’t tell)

We’ve been here since 1996.


View Larger Map

“Meet the Doc”

I’m Georgia-native since 1975 and went all eight years of college to University of Georgia. Got my doctorate in 1991 and opened my own place in 1996. I own three dogs, and innumerable fish and turtles.

I attended undergraduate school at University of Georgia where I got my Bachelor’s degree in Poultry Science in 1987. I attended University of Georgia Veterinary School from 1987 through 1991. I entered practice in 1991 and finally opened my own clinic in 1996.

When I was a kid we used to go to a vet who took the animals into the “back area” for everything. Which is fine. Except I always wondered what they were doing, and I thought “If they can’t do this in front of us, do we want them to do it?” (What’s so secretive?) So I decided that when I opened my own place, I’d do as much as I could with owner-present for the reassurance of the pet AND the owner. So that’s how it is to this day. That’s how my mentor Dr Mason used to do it, too.

I lived in Marietta Georgia since I was 10 years old. We moved here in 1975. I went to East Valley Elementary, Dodgen Middle School and Walton High School. My roots around here run deep. I had great teachers in all of those schools. I remember Miss Haley and Miss Weinberg at East Valley, Mrs Manley (Science Teacher) at Dodgen, and then at Walton, Miss Parrott, Miss Kendrick, Dr Stephens, Dr Hansen, Bob Cowles, Carol Bowen, so many quality influences. Well. I never actually had a class with Miss Parrott but if you saw her in the halls as a 16 year old boy, you would remember her forty years later, too! 

When I opened my clinic in 1996 on Robinson Road, I declined to take a shift down at the dog pound putting homeless animals to sleep. Every vet was supposed to sign on for a weekend to come kill dogs and cats. That’s the way it was. But I didn’t go to school for 8 years to euthanize healthy animals. The penalty? I couldn’t be listed with the other Cobb County Vets on the Animal control Spay / Neuter Roster. So at the outset, I was invisible, and not recognized to perform certificate surgeries for Cobb County. (Still not, still won’t euthanize homeless dogs.)

Fortunately, kind customers discovered me and spread the word and I got away without killing a single healthy / adoptable pet in my whole career.

Now look, I don’t blame any vet for euthanizing dogs back then. It’s all we had. I was a spoiled brat and said “No” –  and got away with it. That’s the only difference.

My Mom died of cancer. My Dad lives. I have two brothers. They’re great. One’s Kurt and he’s a real estate agent in Woodstock Ga. My brother David is in Dallas Texas and he’s a designer. I have three kids who are all grown up and living on their own, thank God.

I was married for 21 years, got a woeful divorce in 2011, and married a second time, VERY badly to a predatory gold-digger from E-Harmony.com and was taken advantage of in ways that most who’ve heard about it have called ‘criminal’. That woman divorced me after 4 years of marriage and took me to the cleaners for $250K in 2016. I remarried my first wife in 2018.

I binge watch shows like Game of Thrones, “I, Zombie”, Vampire Diaries, Banshee, Hell on Wheels, Longmire, Arrow and more. I eat too much and I’ve been on more than 200+ diets. I love to paddle a kayak and I never feel happier than when I am on or near some water: the beach, a river or a lake.

  • Where did you grow up?
    1. We moved a lot. I was raised in Temperance Michigan, Clinton New York, then Marietta, Georgia. In all instances, I was not happy until or unless I was knee deep in green water grabbing critters.
    2. As far back as I can remember, I was catching fish, frogs and turtles.
  • What University do you hail from?
    1. I am a proud graduate of University of Georgia undergraduate, poultry science major (I still keep dozens of chickens, pheasants and peacocks)
    2. Veterinary degree is also from University of Georgia.
  • Besides Ajax, do you have any other pets?
    1. In the past, I’ve had lots of birds, like peacocks and chickens, lots of cats, too many dogs, crabs across numerous species, turtles of all kinds, thousands of gallons in South American fish, some Pig Nosed turtles for a breeding project, a Geochelone sulcata of 125 pounds named Atlas, some Wood Turtles (also for breeding project) a ton of other freshwater fish, Koi, and even a half dozen Bearded Dragons. Just basically way too many pets. I’d like to do a 5,000 gallon biotope tank of big cichlids. I’d like to do a heated outdoor breeding facility for Fly River Turtles.
    2. Isabella Johnson is a Shih-Tzu x Cavalier King Charles Cross.
    3. Luna Boona Johnson is my newest addition and is a 2.8 pound chihuahua. I got her in 2018 and she’ll be a year old in July 2019.
  • Using your Vet talents – what is the one thing you would like to accomplish or discover during your lifetime?

New work on intestinal microbiota and it’s impact on the immune system and other functions in people is blowing me away. I’d like to be part of introducing this to the animals that need it.  drjohnson.com/fmt

  • I also wrote a book.

marietta veterinarianRegarded as the first and last word on fish health for the pond fish hobbyist, in this second edition, every page has been updated and improved. After losing more than 70 pages of older information, the book still expanded from the first editions’ 160 pages to over 200 pages. This book is written in a conversational tone and meant to be understood and applicable to the beginner and advanced hobbyist alike. Well-reviewed by consumers and peers, this book is written authoritatively by a veterinary practitioner with 20+ years treating fish.