Article - KOI Population Control
How to control the Koi population in your pond
No, it's not about contraceptives for Koi! Sorry to get your hopes up. This is the year, for me, to do what I can to UNDO what I haven't in the past seven years. That is to reduce the population in my pond.
It's amazing how large and wonderful a pond looks when the fish are basically small! But when they start to grow, or when those babies I wanted to watch develop start eating me out of house and home, start clouding up the water and churning up more debris (making more debris?) than my filter can keep up with, even I have to admit the experts were RIGHT. It is then that the pond starts looking small and unlovely. It looks inadequate. It makes me downright anxious to watch!
The experts told me the babies will NEVER BE MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN THE PARENT FISH. They told me KOI GROW TO BE THREE-FOOT. They told me NOT TO KEEP ALL THE BABIES. They told me lots of things I wasn't willing to hear AT THE TIME. Well, I'm ready. In fact, I was ready a year ago but couldn't catch them. They told me to buy a SEINE NET, but I couldn't afford one, and where will I store it if I do buy one?
Isn't the idea of having a koi pond to have a lovely pond of water with gorgeous colorful fish to sit and enjoy? Yes, I still believe it is. However, I also realize it means a big commitment to the care of the fish in my pond. A few important things happen when fish outgrow the space they inhabit.
First, they become immune compromised, do not develop properly, and, should a mid-summer power outage occur (God forbid!) can be in grave danger from oxygen deprivation.
This year I started by having club members fish in my pond, welcoming them to take any unwanted children home with them for a small fee. I believe people who are given koi do not value them; therefore I charge something for these fish. In the past couple of weeks I have sold about 20 fish, large and small. The smaller ones are still more difficult to catch and fly through the air with the greatest of ease.
It was nice to notice the formerly plain "black" or brown-colored Magoi, not very interesting to look at and not that easy to see against a black-lined pond, had developed some very interesting patterns and "other" colors, such as doitsu patterns, copper-colors, gold, and even "ghost" highlights with lovely long butterfly fins.
Some of the fish that will be going bye-bye are fish I spent a bundle for that have long-since lost their color. Others are tategoi that simply did not develop. Nice fish, but not for my pond anymore. I can stand at the side of my pond and tell you what breeder/vendor each fish came from and at what price. I considered a MAKC event, but the idea of thirty or more members trampling around my garden trying to catch the fish helped me decide not.
The remainder will be taken away, except for the dozen I plan to keep, by a friend with a seine net and a plan to distribute the fish for me. The savings to me will be more than just food costs. It will be better sleep in not worrying about the health of my pond. It will be enjoyment of watching my dozen fish actually grow to their full potential.
The fish I am keeping are not necessarily the best in the pond. But they are the "keepers". One is the first koi I ever bought, a lackluster Kawarimono that fought valiantly against Aeromonas, and won, in 1998. She deserves to stay. We have a personal connection.
Next are the three very large butterflies (Aka Bekko, Black ghost, and Yamabuki Ogon) that I paid $9.99 each in Petland Discount in 1994. All are incredibly beautiful. They stay. Next, I have the original "Showa showdown" I got from Suburban Water Gardens when we each paid the $75 fee, picked a number and got the fish in the bag with the corresponding number. I was disappointed initially but in the next few years it developed into an amazing Showa.
Then recently, I purchased two Gin Rin Showa, and they'll stay. The old-fashioned-type Showa has become my favorite. The gold ghost with the very elaborate butterfly fins purchased from Blue Ridge Hatcheries (as a 4-5" and is now about 18") is a real show-stopper, and a keeper.
The large male Sanke I got for $475 in 1998 has lost all its red color so he'll go. So will the large gold doitsu ghost I was so happy to get at the auction in Deep Cut one year. He is already at a new home in New Jersey! One large Hi Utsuri will stay with me and my one and only Kohaku.
That is the only Kohaku I ever had that didn't lose its color (YET). So you can see how difficult it is to decide who is to stay and who is to go when you finally realize you can't keep 'em all. I am getting rid of about 90% of all the fish in my pond.
I hope this helps others understand that the small fish you are putting in your ponds now are going to be large fish one day and those cute little babies will crowd out the ones you paid a lot of money for, one day.
IN THE FUTURE, I WILL TAKE THE ADVICE OF THE EXPERTS: when my fish spawn as they are prone to do, I will NOT FEED THEM FOR THREE WEEKS and give them time to clean up all their mess BEFORE I have a whole new bunch of unwanted children. Koi are not cannibalistic and will not eat their young once they can recognize them as fish. But they will eat them as eggs, and when the fry look like insects, they are definitely ON THE MENU.