Losing My Favorite
(And Lessons Learned From It)
by Elmer Epistola
Posted: October 28, 2004
Why is it that every time one
of our koi dies, it happens to be our favorite one? I thought that
this was just one of those pretty clever things to say at a party when I
first heard it. After many years of koi keeping, however, it
seems to me that the saying may be true after all.
Just take that instance when I
lost my biggest koi some years ago. It was a pioneer in
my pond, being one of the first three authentic Japanese-born nishikigoi
(all were Sanke) I bought when I decided to get serious with the hobby.
It had perfect body conformation - truly a stunner when it passes
The errors were simple, yet
fatal: overstocking and overfeeding. Buoyed by my success in
setting up a nice, big pond and gradually maturing it to a very
stable and healthy one, I decided at that time to add a few more koi
to my collection. By then my first koi had been around for a
couple of years already, and have grown and developed into really
beautiful fish. I wanted more of these elegant creatures, I
So I added a koi. Then
one more. And more. The koi bug, it seems, had bitten me for
yet another time. I had difficulty controlling myself every
time I visited the koi store. In a span of one week, I think I
added ten koi. To complicate things, I just couldn't wait to
grow these ten newcomers into 20-inch jewels just like the
original inhabitants of my pond. So I fed them heavily twice a
I was unknowingly poisoning my
koi to death by throwing too much food into the water. I
didn't check if there were any leftovers because I expected my
larger koi to gobble up everything. I've also stopped checking
the water quality of my pond, another common mistake of an
overconfident hobbyist. Lastly, I have grossly overestimated
the capacity of my filters. By the time I realized that the water
had turned really bad, I had lost five koi already, my biggest
pioneer included. It was such a sorry loss for me that I
couldn't eat nor sleep for days.
1) Having a mature and stable pond
doesn't mean that it will remain so forever, so
always make sure that your filters can
keep up with your pond's growing needs.
Adding a few fish can alter
the balance in your pond. In fact, even if no fish are added, the
continuous growth of the fish in your pond will eventually catch up with the
capacity limit of your original filters. Heavy feeding also results in
heavy waste production. Thus, always ask yourself whether your filters are still
up to the task, especially when changes occur.
Figure 1. Always ask yourself if
your filters are still capable
of meeting your pond's continuously growing
Regular water quality checks are
indispensable, even if you
think that you already have the most stable pond in the world. Of course, the
frequency of water checks can be reduced as the pond becomes mature and stable,
but it should certainly not be stopped altogether. Water checks are also
required whenever changes are introduced to your pond.
Of course, I will also never forget the day
my favorite 16-inch Sandan Kohaku, also a Japanese original, jumped out of the
pond. It was already fried under the sun when I got to it.
That day I had to repair a leak in my main pond, so I temporarily crammed all my
koi into my quarantine pond. After ensuring that it was properly aerated,
I proceeded with the repair activities with confidence. After all, the
quarantine pond is big enough to hold the koi for a few days with proper
filtration and aeration.
My shock and horror were hard to contain
when I saw a stiff, brownish fish on the floor beside the quarantine pond when I
checked on my koi that afternoon. I was really praying that it was just
one of the local ones. But what did I tell you? Don't our favorite
koi always end up the victim when a mishap happens? Untold grief weighed
down on me when I confirmed that it was indeed my favorite koi that died.
Koi are good jumpers, so be sure to always
keep them from jumping to their death.
A 12-inch wall height from the water line
is what's recommended by many koi hobbyists to fence in your fish, but this is
not enough if the koi really want to escape. Try to exceed this height by a few
more inches if you can. A net over the water may be a safer bet if you
have access to one.
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