Koi Population Control
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
-- by Carolyn Weise
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