Improving your koi collection

Improving your koi collection

koi collections probably start off as an accidental one – an odd assortment of koi of varying sizes and quality, and most likely, uncertain origin. Many such collections are established when the owner of a new water feature in his garden, eagerly stocks the pond with as many of the cheapest koi he can get. The novice keeper will call them ‘nice’, give them pet names and attached some sentimental value to them. With care and dedication the keeper soon becomes fascinated with these creatures that learn to recognise their master and each expressing a personality of their own.

There is nothing wrong with starting a collection with so-called ‘pet shop specials’. In fact, because first koi collections are so easily killed off due to the keepers lack of knowledge of water quality, health and feeding management, it is advisable to invest in cheaper koi until sufficient knowledge ,experience and insight have been gained. But there comes a time when you what to improve on the quality of your koi collection. That is then most koi hobbyists come to realise they must choose between their aesthetic needs and their sentimental values.

You cannot continue to add koi to a pond indefinitely. Each koi added places an additional burden on the ponds’ ecosystem. Keep in mind that your entire collection is growing in mass too! The volume of water and the effectiveness of filtration and aeration, determine the total biomass of the pond inhabitants that can safely be accommodated. Your pond will soon be overpopulated leading to poor water quality that will affect the health of the fish so badly that they will get sick and die one by one.

If you want to improve you collection, the truth is that you will have to remove the unwanted, poorer quality fish in favour of better ones. Talk to your local pet shop owner. He might trade them in for cash or koi food, or perhaps as down payment on another fish. You can also sell them to other koi keepers who are just starting up their pond. If you are reasonable about their price, you will not have trouble selling them. Please do not just give away koi to anyone without establishing that the new owner has the facility to care for them. It is better to practice a humane form of euthanasia than to give them to someone that will keep them in a bath tub,  bucket or undersized pond where they will waste way and die a slow death.

Once you have made space in you pond, you can add new fish. Stick to the following rules when improving the of quality to your collection.

Do not buy koi which do not conform to the basic requirements of its variety. Study books so that you know what you want, but remember that the near perfect specimens seen in Japanese magazines will probably be priceless and impossible to obtain.

Do not buy koi with fading or thinned out colour markings. And do not buy koi with colour markings that are too small and not in balance with the other colours. Keep in mind that the fish will grow and that while the pattern will stretch it will ultimately become smaller in relation to the rest of the body.

Your collection will now also have a touch of quality and value to it.

Written for Animal Talk magazine

Servaas de Kock & Ronnie Watt  

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