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Simply Koi and More Koi • View topic - Choosing a New Koi

Choosing a New Koi

a Section for breeders and back yard breeders to post info, so we can all learn something about this fantastic Craft

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Choosing a New Koi

Postby kimr » Tue May 01, 2012 12:47 pm

Hi All

I am trying to learn what to REALLY look for when choosing new Koi. I have been told to look for a big mouth broad shoulders and long head. So you are at dealers and you have all these Koi swimming around and you are waiting for one of them to catch your eye. So what is it that makes you look at that certain Koi, is pattern, skin colour body shape. I am sure most of us has seen a Koi we liked and bought it, only to realise a few years later that this Koi is not growing as well as the others, everything else is right the skin the colours the pattern, but it just will not grow. I am sure most of us if not all of us want big Koi in our ponds. Also if we just wanted big fish we would have a pond full of Chagoi. After being a Koi keeper for 10 years now I am still none the wiser. I have done the buying of what I liked, and I then changed to paying a lot more for the Koi, and still ending up with bad quality.

Say you want Go Sanke, what is that makes you buy that certain one. Any photos you could add to your answers would be great.

Thanks for your replies
All The Best

Kim
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Re: Choosing a New Koi

Postby Geoff9 » Tue May 01, 2012 1:21 pm

Hi Kim
It's all about the size of your pocket,do you really want to spend thousands on a koi,as someone said "there are plenty of good koi and there are plenty of cheap koi but no good cheap koi",some might disagree but there are plenty of people goto Japan and pick from there,but it's very rear to see a picture of there special Japanese koi a couple of years later even though it cost them a lot of money to have it in there pond,

I have spent 4 figures on one koi a few years back but not anymore,I love the koi for there friendly nature,if you spend a lot of money on koi you really need a pond thats upto the job of getting the best from them,just my thoughts.

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Re: Choosing a New Koi

Postby kimr » Tue May 01, 2012 6:59 pm

Hi Geoff

That is another thing, do you have to go down the RO route and heat, have the most expensive filters to get the best from your Koi. I agree with you about Koi being friendly, but I would really like to get some beautiful friendly Koi. I am not interested in showing them, it is purely for my enjoyment, but saying that I have 60+ cm Yamabuki Ogon which I bought from Pets at Home 10 years ago and I wouldn't swap her for the world. But I think part of this hobby (a word I hate) is improving your knowledge. My main priorty has been concentrating on the health side and how to look after the Koi, I love learning about new things and reading peoples ideas. I have reduced some of my Koi because I wanted to make room for better quality. I also enjoy growing the Koi so buying Koi that are already a good size doesn't appeal to me. So I thought spending a lot more money on smaller koi would give me better quality, but not so, I got a 15cm Sanke that is now covered in secondary Hi and the same size Bekko which now appears to be a shiro utsuri. When I am finally settled and can build the set up I would really like then I can really try and improve my knowledge but for now I am just trying to get peoples idea of what they look for when buying Koi.

Another aspect of Koi I love is buying and growing very young koi to see how they develope, this gives you an insight in how they actually change as they grow, but you are not going to buy any Tategoi in the fry being sold, just the ones they dont want to keep themselves :?

No matter how long I have been keeping Koi, the chance to learn and develope never ends :D :D
All The Best

Kim
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Re: Choosing a New Koi

Postby Gazza » Wed May 02, 2012 10:35 am

Hi Kim,

Well what a good question and one with some many differing angles :D

If you like growing fish on and seeing them develop then Tosai are great fun IMO and i love it but.......................theres always a but :roll: with buying Tosai comes risk as its hard to see what some of them re going to do in a few years time so you can end up with some e old munters. Also its not always the case of throwing money at them either as the same applies there is always a risk and even if you don't show like I if the fish don't turn out as you would like then it can be a waste of money.

So Tosai are fun but can work out expensive if they keep going south on you so whats next :idea: Nisai :D Nisai are "normally" have a bit more stability as you have a better idea on things like the body shape and sex and if it has a pattern then you can generally have a rough idea on perhaps what it will look like in a year or two with a bit of luck but of course these are normally dearer than Tosai so there can be a cost implication.

The main key IMO is we need to give the fish the best condition to grow and be healthy as a healthy fish will have to spend less time trying to battle poor water conditions and parasites and more time into its growth and IMO this is the best way to get the full potential from you fish be it Tosai or Nisai or any fish to be honest. This can be done in many ways and we all know there are some cracking set ups out there with all the bells and whistles on but of course you do not have to have all that to keep healthy happy fish. The main thing is to have a set up which can cope with you fish load and keep the water spot on and clean and free from any toxins. It has to have a good mechanical stage that will remove the waste so the bio stages can do its thing with nice clean water. The filters need to be kept clean and making sure that you add as much fresh water to keep thing nice and clean.

Hope you've not fallen asleep with my ramblings and it explains my take on things and by the way i have waste money on all the above but enjoy trying to get a good one :D
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Re: Choosing a New Koi

Postby kimr » Thu May 03, 2012 1:29 pm

Hi Gazza

Thank you for you explanation, and no I didn't fall asleep :lol: I have tried to learn to keep water, and I have to agree that the better the water conditions the better the growth, last year while still up in Leigh my koi seemed to grow all through the summer which seemed unusual as my koi tend to grow more from October to March, but we had a really good summer last year so I think they were making the most of it. The Sanke I mentioned got the secondary Hi appear after we moved back to Kent and it appeared over a couple of weeks, so I have this idea in my mind that it has something to do with the water. Seeing as I have to move back North in the next few months (most of the Koi are already up there) I will be able to see if returning to very soft water reverses the secondary Hi. The Sanke in question is already up there so not having seen her for a couple months by the time I do get back there I will be able to notice the differance if any.

So the answer to my quesion about choosing a Koi is " Unless you have a lot of money and can buy a good quality that is already fully developed it is pot luck" I think I will stick to a pond full of Chagoi :lol:

I have been watching Kevin Ellis's Koi nerding videos and the Koi on these videos are amazing, and I am trying to learn as much as I can possibly learn about RO, Also I am looking into other means of heating of the pond Bob has discussed a hot box which is free heat, and also I have been looking into solar panels as I know heat is a huge benefit to growth. What will be nice to finally have a set up that I can really do what I want and I cant wait.

Thanks again for your reply :D
All The Best

Kim
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Re: Choosing a New Koi

Postby ageinghippy » Thu May 03, 2012 11:59 pm

Hi Kim,

To me, the first thing to look out for is the body, a new fish must have the right shape to it. If you find a decent body or at least one you are happy with, you then take a look at its spine. The clearer you can see the spine bump, the more certain you will be that the fish will grow big. I`m not talking about the `hump` that some koi develop behind the head, but the actual spine position in front of the dorsal fin.

The white skin should have an almost `glow` to it, a sort of luminous depth of shine. Your other colours dont want to be too bright when the fish are in effect babies. The intensity of the colours should gradually improve and deepen as the fish grows and ages, and be complemented by the luminous white you carefully looked out for.

After that, find a pattern that you like, and take the fish home with you.

Hope that gives you something to think about


Chris (another one)
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Re: Choosing a New Koi

Postby kimr » Fri May 04, 2012 12:34 pm

Hi Chris

Thank you so much for your reply. I was talking to a friend last night about what dirrection I am going to go with purchasing Koi from now on and I have come to the conclusion that unless I win the lottery there is no way what so ever I will be able to have the Koi I would really like in my pond. The problem I will always come across is that the smaller Koi that are available are the ones the breeders do not want taking up their pond space, which relates to Koi that will be ok but never great. My koi are my pets, as I have said, but that doesnt mean I dont want really nice looking pets. But saying that I am sure I can get some really nice Koi from a couple of dealers who I trust.

I love to learn new things and I will take what you have said and I will study Koi with a differant eye from now on. The list is growing of what to look for and I thank you for adding to the list. When I do buy another Koi I will post some photos and you can tell me what you think.

Once again thank you
All The Best

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Re: Choosing a New Koi

Postby greg » Fri May 04, 2012 6:03 pm

Kim,

I'm likely to go long on this one so bear with me...........

Buying koi is nothing short of difficult with so many things to consider. Body, skin, colour, pattern, male vs female, future vs now, growth vs not, breeders traits, budget, pond conditions etc etc etc. This list goes on and on. I know Geoff said its a money game and to an extent it is IF YOU LET IT BE but its doesn't have to be as you only spend what your comfortable with and have the knowledge to appreciate what your buying.

If you cannot see the difference between a koi at £XXX vs a koi priced at £XXXX then don't spend the extra money.
If you have not got the pond proven to raise the level of koi you want to buy then don't spend the money

Add in the factor of price here and then it get complicated and this is the area i wish to focus on. As just because a koi is a certain price doesn't mean its worth it / a guarantee of success. It is up to you as the hobbyist to educate yourself using ALL the tools at your disposal and only then will you be able to make and INFORMED choice as to the koi to purchase. Lets face it most koi dealers will price a koi according to what they think they can sell it for - then most hobbyists will assume that the most expensive koi will be the best.

On my trip to Japan in 2008 I physically saw the dealer I was with buying koi at a SET PRICE (eg:- 20,000yen) and then placing them on his website at various prices between £495 - £695 yet they all cost the same money to buy, ship, vat, QT etc - yet the profit difference was up to £200 extra on the top priced koi as he clearly felt he could sell those koi for that price (and did). Now unless he is a terrible business person then the cheapest koi will be making him a profit and the others just extra profit. Now the thing that i learnt was that in that case the bowls of multiple koi were all bought out of the same pond at the same price - so the breeder deemed them to be the same level TO HIM the dealer then selects through them and chooses which ones he feels are better / more saleable and applies his margins to them.

If you can then use your knowledge to pick the best koi from that bowl ignoring the prices then you might just get a koi that meets your expectations. Whether we like it or not here in the UK pattern drives the majority of purchases. If you can learn to IGNORE it in terms of the pricing and pick the koi that ticks the most boxes for what you want to do with it then you could snap up a koi that is as equal to its bowl mates in quality but has been priced fairer due to it not be so saleable / having a pretty pattern.

Often the other missed aspect is condition of the koi when you see it. It is all to easy to pass a koi over due to it being a little down in terms of condition and yet when it comes into condition then it suddenly shines. It pays to know how a dealer is keeping the koi to learn about these kinds of things.

As for learning then:-

I am still a fan of good old fashioned books - i particularly like the Kokugyo book 2 as it shows so many young koi developing through to older.

I am also a fan of koi shows as an education experience - go along on results day and find say Young Champion - speak to the owner if possible about how and when it was bought, how it was raised, then find the koi that placed under it - 1st size 3, 1st size 4, 2nd in those sizes, 3rd in those sizes and see if you can see why - any doubts get hold of a judge and have them talk you through it.

I am also a fan of finding good dealers who will spend time with you helping you learn.

I am also a big fan of the local koi club scene - the experience in these is huge and I think too many hobbyists are substituting the internet for this and are missing a trick as this offers a third hands on learning option. Find a good hobbyist in a club and learn from them.



Just to prove you can buy a good koi for sensible money try these two of mine. These are the purchase pictures.

Image - Bought for £200 as a 39cm unsexed tosai in July 2009 which turned out male but is now around 68cm yonsai (4) and has won us multiple awards on the show circuit including 1st size 5 Sanke at the SE Show 2011. Funny thing was this koi was part of a batch of ten bought at an auction and 7 had sold by time we visited.

Image - Bought as a £550 as a 55cm Nisai in Jan 2010 and is now around 75cm yonsai (4) and has won a Grand Champion award at a koi show last year.

Both of these koi would now take significantly more than their purchase price to prize them off me IF i would sell them at all.

THE DANGER IS THE MORE YOU LEARN THE MORE YOU CAN IN FACT PRICE YOURSELF OUT OF YOUR OWN BUDGET AS IN YOU CANNOT AFFORD WHAT YOU REALLY LIKE.
Regards,
Greg.

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Re: Choosing a New Koi

Postby kimr » Sun May 06, 2012 11:58 am

Hi Greg

Thank you so much for your reply, I enjoyed reading it very much.

My pond set from 2006 until 2011 was something of a botch job, it was a 12ft round metal framed swimming pool lined with pond liner, I had a side 2" drain going into a homemade vortex with homemade easy made out of a water butt, a 4" pipe went to another water butt which held the pump (couldn't be dry mounted) and flexi hose to converted Oase Biotec10 with moving bed KI. In between the flexi hose was a heater I would use during winter to keep the pond around 4-5 degrees. It was meant to be temporary set up but instead used for the whole time I was there. The Koi I managed to keep with me grew well, in fact one Chagoi I had grew an incredible 17.5 cms in just over 2 years. It is not the pond of my dreams, and all these people that say you need this that and the other with all bell and whistles I feel are people that dont really know what Koi are really capable of. When I first went up north I paniced as the PH was so low and the GH and KH was barely non-existant, but what in fact it meant as long as I could control the PH with out it crashing I had perfect water conditions for the Koi to grow. One example, I have a Yamabuki Ogon who I have had for 10 years. But for 7 of those years I believed it to male, we moved and the Ogon came with me, and over the last couple years it has grown and developed to the point that it is not male, because I had always thought he was male I never checked, but she is very much female and is beautiful, and when anyone see's her they say how lovely she is. I know it is fluke but I got her from Pets at Home in 2002 and she cost the total of £3.95, she is now 60+cms. She will never win any prizes, but I am not interested in showing as I would worry way to much about them, but I thank everyone who does show their Koi as it is through these people that people like me can learn and start to appreciate nice Koi. My Koi are my pet's, I wont even call it a hobby because Koi keeping is far more than that to me. But I am now at a point where I would really like some really nice Koi, I have even thinned down my collection so to speak to make room for these stunning koi I will be buying..........

Then we hit the brick wall, I bought a couple last year from a dealer who had a few ponds of Tosai, ranging from cheap to the not so cheap, so I went for the not so cheap thinking I had picked the better quality, now from what you have said, and you are not the first to tell me that, so it possibly more wide spread than I thought I now have another couple of Koi who are not going to be what I thought they were going to be. The Sanke as mentioned before is covered in secondary Hi although before she went back North at easter to be looked while we move again, I had noticed she had grown quite a bit. I also do not believe in cosmetic surgery on Koi, I worry about the risk to them so I take them as they are, but like I have said I want to improve on my knowledge. I think also being able to trust a dealer. I was lucky enough to live 15 minutes from Inflitration, but then that closed so had to find another dealer I could trust, but that has gone wrong. But of course we are very lucky to have to great Koi breeders here who are rearing beautiful Koi.

I think the way forward for me is, when I move in a couple of months get the pond built, use the pond that Bob Hart built for me here as a growing on pond, have a quarantine pond set up, make sure I get the water spot on again and then like you have said talk to as many people as possible. Before I commit to buying anymore Koi.

I have been watching a Koi keepers dvd's and it has inspired me to have stunning Koi in my pond, but then it got me thinking and realising there wasn't a hope in hell of me ever being able to afford the kind of Koi I would love to own. Your Sanke is lovely but your Kohako, well there are no words amasing truely amasing and to be honest not out of reach, If I had a Kohaku like that in my pond I wouldn't let it go anywhere either.

One more question, Howmany dealers would you consider using. I have been told it is best to stick to only a couple of dealers, what in your mind is a couple of dealers. I am thinking about using 3 dealers and 2 breeders

Thank you again for your reply :D
All The Best

Kim
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Re: Choosing a New Koi

Postby greg » Sun May 06, 2012 2:06 pm

Kim,

I have to confess I am a bells and whistles kinda guy. I do run a lot of serious equipment on my pond I would say (RO etc) and there are things I believe in but at the same time there are so many journeys we can take in koi keeping with people choosing the area that interests them the most. For me that is growing and developing the koi I buy and to extent challenging myself to reach goals and landmarks. My wife's enjoyment of koi keeping comes from the show scene and smaller koi - up to size 5 mainly so even in our house we have differing things we enjoy about keeping koi. I hope this helps me see all aspects of how and why people want keep these fish.

Tosai - unless you really know what your looking for are such a gamble - it can and does work out, you can get lucky, you can buy quality but you can also have those koi that don't work out as you hope. This will always happen even if you spend thousands or much less. Nothing is certain in how koi will develop and breeders make mistakes, dealers make mistakes and certainly us as koi keepers will. It about helping yourself to learn to spot those little signs and hopefully avoid them. It is difficult to appreciate the lessons from a koi that does not develop as you hoped but these maybe are the most valuable as looking back you can see what you bought and what you ended up with. This is one of the reasons I have always taken pictures on a regular basis of all our koi so I can see that changes over time and how it happened. I still make purchases that are a gamble and I still make mistakes but i do above all enjoy keeping koi and take this as part and parcel of the hobby.

I believe it is up to us to make informed purchases - educate ourselves - and then use those skills to buy the koi that ticks the boxes for us in whatever way that is. As long as you are aware of the flaws of the koi your buying, but can live with the compromises then you will enjoy the koi swimming in your pond for longer. A good friend in the hobby told me a long time ago to weigh up the purchase price of the koi divided by the number of years the koi gives you pleasure - this is the true value of the koi. The length of time you get to enjoy it and making wise purchases adds to this experience I think - this is where learning can help but use it to help you buy better koi within your budget rather than ending up not be able to afford what you like.

I currently use 3 dealers and have a koi from one UK breeder. I have in the past used exclusively a single dealer for everything but I don't think this is healthy for the hobbyist or the dealer if I'm honest.

BUT....

Its about making sure you make the right choices for you with the dealers you choose to buy from. No point in using a dealer who isn't going to help you learn and cannot get you the koi you want. It has to be a two way street - they help you and you make your purchases from them be that food, koi, dry goods etc.

Incidently here are the pictures of the two koi above and how they look now.

Sanke - Image

Kohaku - Image
Regards,
Greg.

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Re: Choosing a New Koi

Postby Gazza » Tue May 08, 2012 9:50 pm

Hi Kim,

Great advice from Greg and some very valid points but most of all i think try not to end up making yourself disappointed by spending a bit more and it not working out as it can do your head in.

I enjoy the ones i grow on ad get great enjoyment out of seeing the Tosai come along but its a big risk thats for sure and if you cant keep them in a good system with heat and good turnover and plenty of food they can not fulfill there full potential and then it becomes disappointing.

One thing for sure make sure you enjoy the fish and hobby :D :D :D :D :D :D
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Regards,

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