Creating a Koi collection

Creating a Koi collection 

People keep koi for different reasons. There are those that keep a few koi in a garden pond as they would keep a cat or dog or a few birds in a cage. Whatever their reasons, they tend to liven up their surroundings, improve their garden and teach their children a sense of responsibility. On the other end of the scale are those for whom koi keeping becomes an intense hobby. They keep koi for their innate charm and grace and spend a life time learning how to best keep and enhance the beauty of these living jewels of nature. They often do not have the funds to purchase the most expensive koi or build the best ponds, but with enthusiasm and dedication they nurture a carefully selected baby koi into a show champion five or six years later. And in between there are the rest us who keep koi for various other reasons and with a varying degree of skill. But we all had to start somewhere.

Whatever your motive for starting a koi collection, it is always wise not to overindulge. There is nothing wrong with starting your collection with so-called ‘pet shop specials’. Until you understand the basics of pond and koi maintenance it is best to purchase these much cheaper specimens. However, no matter what you buy, always follow the following basic considerations:

* Do not buy koi that are sick. A diseased koi may swim lethargically or hang motionless in one corner or bottom of the display tank. They sometimes clamp one or both pectoral fins to their body and may swim with a whip-like motion. Do not consider fish with an emaciated body, frayed fins or swollen gill covers. Watch out for any signs of stress which is indicated by conspicuous blood vessels in the fins and skin of the koi. Always buy koi that radiate health and vitality not disease.

* Do not buy koi with poor body shape or deformities of any kind. The fish should have a torpedo-shaped body seen from above and from the side. The head and spine should not be bent abnormally in any way. They should have all their fins and eyes in place and the gill covers should not be open. Avoid fish that swim with a jerky motion. If you look close you will probably see the abnormality or deformity.

* Do not buy koi with injuries or growths. Woolly patches indicate ulcers with secondary fungal infections. Stalk like protrusions could be anchor worms. Dead or alive they can be the source of trouble in future for you koi. Fish with growths around the mouth or fins should be avoided. Wax-like growths could indicate carp pox while a woolly or open sore could be contagious mouth or fin rot.

Having done so you can be assured of building a collection of healthy koi and not threatening the health of your entire collection when you purchase a new fish. You will also have learnt that the prime consideration in selecting a koi is a strong and healthy fish, not fancy colours. As you get more acquainted with the hobby of koi keeping, you should select more carefully what you buy, improving the quality and beauty of your collection all the time.

Written for Animal Talk magazine 

 Servaas de Kock & Ronnie Watt  

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