Japanese Koi Fish - Getting Started With the Wonderful World of Koi Fish (Freshwater Fish)
For many pond owners across the world, keeping koi fish is seen as a wonderful and enjoyable thing to do. It is true that koi make beautiful ornamental displays and certainly create a talking point for visitors to the home. However, it is important to realize that there is a lot of work and effort involved to make the display a success, here is a quick guide.
What is a koi fish (coy fish)?
Koi fish is a tropical fish and is a natural mutation species of the common fresh water carp. It is commonly mistaken for a big goldfish. Koi fish was bred for food; most notably throughout the East or Asia. Over the years, the fish became more and more domesticated, which allowed them to be easily transported from country to country.
Color variations are very much a natural phenomenon, but it is only in the last two hundred years that koi fish have been bred for their ornamental display. Furthermore, it is only over the last century that these ornamental fish made their way into the West.
Research conducted as to where the true origin of carp in general has gone on for many years, returning no real results. But what we do know is that cross breeding has lead to wonderful color combinations, from white and blacks to yellows, blues and reds. There are a now number of different koi varieties available, the development of which continues across the world.
The red and white Kohaku remains ever popular, and is certainly a great place to start for the novice koi keeper. However, there are a number of other major koi fish varieties to be on the look out for, which can create some amazing displays in the right setting.
Some of the most popular are: Asagi, a beautiful light blue on the upper body with a red or yellow underbelly; Bekko, which can be red, white or yellow skinned, with tortoise shell black markings; Ginrin, a wonderful show fish with scales which appear to be metallic; Showa, a black skinned fish with red and white markings. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and there are many more wonderful variations to select from with the best suppliers.
How much does each koi fish cost?
The cost of a koi fish depends greatly on the lineage of the koi, it's size, patterns and whether it is domestic or imported. However the basic cost is how much it has cost the breeder and/or supplier to stock it. For example a young fish about three inches with no claim to known lineage (domestic) will cost around $3 to $5. Most of these koi fish are found at local pet shops and chain stores like Wal-Mart.
The cost then goes up as the size of the koi grows, so paying $60,000 for a koi fish that is three feet long and from a good lineage is expected. A grand champion koi of an All Japan Koi Show can go for as much as $150,000 to $300,000 and then there are some koi fish that are just priceless.
What equipment do you need to keep the koi fish happy and healthy?
Unlike live aquarium fish, koi fish doesn't need fancy decorative plants and colored rocks. Koi keeping, however, is something which requires a lot of ongoing work and effort, and also needs a certain amount of equipment to make sure the environment is suitable. Other than having a suitably sized pond, you will also need some basic koi pond supplies.
Fish pond filters and pond pumps are required. Two type of pond filters are needed; a mechanical pond filter to remove the physical waste and debris, and a biological fish pond filter which will remove harmful compounds such as ammonia and nitrite from the water. A pond pump is necessary to move the water around, and aerate it. This not only provides a healthy environment for the fish, but also allows the pond filters to operate successfully.
Other pond supplies to have on hand are water testing kits and associated koi pond products like a good set of nets, buckets and transportation bags. Having a quarantine tank on hand is also a good idea in case you need to separate your stock or collection (the sick from the healthy).
Although getting the right water balance is essential to maintaining a healthy koi fish pond, there will inevitably be instances of koi disease. These are not always easy to spot so monitoring the activity of the fish on a daily basis is essential. A sign of koi diseases will be a lethargic fish, or unusual behavior. On closer inspection, the colors may also seem dull and the eyes cloudy. Depending on the diseases, scales may also appear distended or spotted with white areas. Should you notice anything untoward, the affected fish should be removed to a quarantine tank immediately, and the pond treated to clean the water.
Treatment of the affected koi fish will vary depending on what disease or infection it is suffering from. There are a good supply of antibiotics and treatments available for the most common diseases, so having these on hand is always a good idea. However should further treatment be needed it will be necessary to take the koi fish to a specialized vet.
What and when do you feed koi fish?
Feeding the koi fish is of course an essential part of keeping them happy and healthy, but overfeeding them can cause problems. There are specialized pellets for feeding koi, and these also vary depending on the age of the fish. Feeding them each day, little and often is a good idea, removing anything not eaten within 5 minutes with a net.
It is also important to feed them when the water is warm enough, or they will not digest the koi food well. Keeping the water around sixty to seventy degrees is good. As the seasons get colder, it could be an idea to introduce a water heater to maintain temperature, though having a thermometer on hand to monitor this will help you determine when to feed and when not to.
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Free Koi Fish of the Month - March 2010
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Size: 32 inches
Retail Price: $45,000