Raising Koi - The Japanese Way
Published: Thu, 24 Nov 2011 17:09:14
By: Wes Parker
Get the most out of your Koi!
Most people begin koi keeping because of the fascination with these beautiful creatures and relaxing and tranquil effect that koi posses. After trying to keep koi "low key" we tend to have our koi grow at slow rates. As time goes by we then, get totally consumed with the health of our koi and the water in which they reside and call their home. In our striving for perfection we then purchase every sort of filtration known to man. Then we have to upgrade the pumps, UV and modernize everything in our filtration circuit. Still looking for the "best water" we then dump in any kind of water conditioner and water purifier that we can in order to give our special friends the best possible environment, the best foods available and the magic water conditioners that come "highly recommended", thinking all the time to ourselves that we get what we pay for, right?
It is possible that we can raise our koi from Tosai to Nisai and put some good growth on the body of the koi fish. From Nisai to Sansai, you may even be able to have the koi grow to 23-26 inches and have a nice plump body. The colors on the koi are better than you could ever imagine and you give yourself a little pat on the back and congratulate yourself on a job well done. By this time we are testing all of the water quality parameters weekly, adding the needed bacterias and changing the water weekly to provide a nice home for our koi fish. However,within the next few months we then see a small black spot known as a shimi on the koi. The luster and shine of the koi seems to be a bit diminished and and the hi plate and beni begin to look thin. The koi then is declining in beauty and to offset this you rush out in a mad dash a buy the next best piece of pond equipment that is "guaranteed to work". You move the koi on to a new home and may even make a profit on the koi so you can purchase another better koi to place in your pond that is sure to grow the koi and keep them beautiful.
The scenario sums up what is happening in the hobby to a good degree. Hobbyist get frustrated with slow growth rates, poor skin quality and compromised health conditions. Running out to the closest person that will gladly sell you the perfect pill for the problem said. Consider another look at things:
If you have ever visited Japan, one can conclude that while the Japanese breeders koi are very beautiful, your own pond may be better than what the breeders seems to have. Concrete ponds that are overstocked and 3-4 feet in depth. However, the Japanese koi breeders are not feeding the koi at this time. It is simply a holding tank for the koi until the are sold and shipped to the new owners. Do not miss this point.
Through many generations the breeders have required the information and knowledge to get the most of their koi. No hobbyist can ever learn more than a single koi breeder simply because of the sheer numbers of koi they deal with. Traditionally, Imported Japanese Koi are grown in MUD PONDS covering the mountains of Niigata, Japan. This is where the koi will put on all of their size and girth. Usually the koi are moved to these mud pond in April and are then harvested in October of the same year. During this time the koi feast but the water condition is what is the key element here. Water is Japan is very soft due to the land being devoid of most all minerals. In fact, in some areas, rice is the only food that can grow! Mud ponds generally have a PH of 6.7 to 7 and TDS (total dissolved solid) reading of no more than 50. TDS is the total minerals and wastes available in the water. So Very soft water is the key here. While in Japan, you would see oyster shells by the bag being set into filters and ponds. This stabilizes the PH and prevents a PH crash. This allows the water to be soft which is very good for koi fish and exactly what we are looking for.
Waters Effect on Growth
Koi or especially Imported Japanese koi are not simply colored koi that merely mimic the common carp that can be found in lakes, ponds and streams around the world. It is a grave mistake if we believe this. If a hobbyist want to get the most of the koi they purchase it is then of importance to research where koi come from, the background and environment in which YOU have created for your koi.
There are many factors that come to koi. Many of us need to look into the genetics of koi. Knowing the genetics of koi allows one to know the ability that the koi has. For an example, if two people of small stature have a child it is the assumed that the child will be of the same. Like wise with a taller couple. The same applies to koi. If the parent kois are large, robust, and have great color it is safe to say that the koi will then follow the genetics of the parents.
Now, the kois environment comes into play. Your pond and water greatly dictate to the koi how it will develop. This does not mean that if a koi is not a "Jumbo" we must give up on it. Any koi will greatly benefit from getting the most out of the genetic of the koi. To a great extent we judge our koi to that of our neighbors and koi dealer. If we look at the koi hobbyist from Asia and Japan we see how they can get the most out of their koi. This does not mean that because they are so close to Japan that they get the pic of the best koi. Far from it.
Waters Effect on the Kois Color
Think of the beni (red) color of the koi like that of a grass field in which the grass is standing undefiled and un trampled. This is how the koi color stands up on the body in soft water. Looking into the color you will see color that is intense like a high resolution. Deep in color and high in luster and shine. This also is what we are looking for. As the PH rises and hardness rise this caused the pigment of color on the koi to seem mush like the "grass" in the field that is trampled and lied down. This effect is what many are looking for in koi shows. The color becomes hard and finished. Very beautiful. It is important that the koi gets back into water that is suitable again for health, growth, and skin color. The damage that comes from the hard water and finished look is irreversible. It would take a long time to damage the koi entirely. If so, we then start to see shimi (Black dots) in the skin of the koi. The koi becomes finished and will be like this (still beautiful) from now on.
State of the Art PH vs. State of the Art Filtration
We will spend thousands of dollars on Koi Pond Filters, Koi pond -pumps, UV sterilizers, chemicals, additives, and water conditioners. Instead, how about spending a few hard earned dollars on a reverse osmosis system. This system allows your to fill your pond with soft water to mimic the conditions of the Japanese Mud Ponds. This does not mean that we do not need adequate filtration for our koi. We still need all of the Koi Pond Filters, Pond Pumps, and UV sterilizers. Just be careful that you do not spend too much of you hard earned money on these items figuring they will do just fine especially if you are looking to grow your koi, and most of us are. Supplying a PH of 6.7 to 7 and a TDS hardness under 50 will provide you will great water, great growth and great skin. Great Koi! These water quality parameters are proven so it will give you results! You still need to feed a variety of high quality food and provide ample room for your koi.
The Japanese way of filtering koi ponds is high different from all of the mainstream bead filters, plastic media flowing filters and chemical filters. This also doesn't mean these do not work. They simply work DIFFERENT. The Japanese employ a 1 to 1/3 rule. This means that the size of filter should be 1/3 the size of the pond LXWXD. If you have a 1000 gallon pond you need a FLOWING filter of 300 gallons stuffed with media suitable for the nitrsonomas and nitrobacter to grow on. Water flowing first through Oyster Shells to stabilize the PH, then to filter brushes, and finally Japanese Filter Mats. If the pond is 20 feet long then the filter is 20 feet long. If the filter is 10 feet wide then the filter is 3 feet wide. If the pond is 3 feet deep the filter is 3 feet deep. By now I am sure you are getting the picture. To this extent, we use a bead filter and this Japanese Filter method in sync to optimize filtration. Sort of a hybrid style of koi pond filtering.
In summary, take a different look outside of the box from the mainstream. While good filters are a must we need to examine our western ways and admit that the eastern folks have an upper hand on the way koi are raised. From the homeland in Japan, Koi are raised to the potential. Why not follow the ways and adapt to make sure you get the most out of your koi. If you do it right your will only have to do it once!Description: Learn how to get the most from your Imported Japanese Koi. Find these points valuable and insightful
Key Words: Imported Japanese Koi, Koi growth, koi water quality, koi, koi fish, Koi pond filters, Japanese koi pond fitlers