Country: Japan Category: Wildlife By: yayasilver
Koi are ornamental domesticated varieties of the common carp Cyprinus carpio. While a 4th century Chinese book of the Western Jin Dynasty mentions carp with various colors, koi breeding first became popular in the 19th century in the Niigata prefecture of Japan. Farmers working the rice fields would notice that some carp were more brightly colored than others, capture them, and raise them. By the 20th century, a number of color patterns had been established, most notably the red-and-white Kohaku. The outside world did not become aware of the degree of development until 1914, when the Niigata koi were exhibited in the annual exposition in Tokyo. At that point, interest in koi exploded throughout Japan. The hobby of keeping koi spread worldwide after plastic bags and shipping of koi became both fast and safe for the fish. These factors enabled koi to be shipped worldwide with low mortality rates. Koi are now commonly sold in most pet stores, with higher-quality fish available from specialist dealers.

Koi is simply Japanese for "carp," and includes both the dull gray fish and the brightly colored varieties. A homonym of koi means "love/affection" and koi are generally considered symbols of love and friendship in Japan--a good example is the short story Koi-san by Mukoda Kuniko. Koi and tattoos of koi are also considered symbols of luck.

The common carp is a hardy fish, and koi retain that durability. Koi are cold water fish, so it's advisable to have a meter or more of depth in areas of the world that become warm during the summer. In areas that get harsh winters, it is a good idea to have a pond that is a minimum of 1.5 meters (4 1/2 feet) deep so that it won't freeze solid. It is also a good idea to keep a space open with a bubbler and a horse trough heater.

Koi's bright colors put them at a severe disadvantage against predators; a white-skinned Kohaku is a visual dinner bell against the dark green of a pond. Herons, kingfishers, raccoons, cats, foxes, and badgers are all capable of emptying a pond of its fish. A well-designed outdoor pond will have areas too deep for herons to stand in, overhangs high enough above the water that mammals can't reach in, and shade trees overhead to block the view of aerial passersby. It may prove necessary to string nets or wires above the surface.

Koi are an omnivorous fish and will often eat a wide variety of foods, including peas, lettuce, and watermelon. Koi food is designed not only to be nutritionally balanced, but also to float so as to encourage them to come to the surface. When they are eating, it is possible to check them for parasites and ulcers. Koi will recognize the person feeding them and gather around at dinnertime. They can even be trained to take the food from one's hand. In the winter their digestive system slows nearly to a halt, and they eat very little, perhaps no more than nibbles of algae from the bottom. Their appetite won't come back until the water warms up in the spring. When the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 °C), feeding, particularly with protein, should be halted or the food can go rancid in their stomach causing sickness.

If kept properly, koi can live about 3040 years. Some have reportedly lived up to 200 years.

Like most fish, koi reproduce through spawning in which a female lays a vast number of eggs and one or more males fertilize them. Nurturing the resulting offspring (referred to as fry) is a tricky and tedious job, usually done only by professionals. Although a koi breeder may carefully select the parents they wish based on their desired characteristics, the resulting fry will nonetheless exhibit a wide range of color and quality.

Unlike a purebred dog or cat, even the finest champion-grade koi will produce literally thousands of unacceptable, unrecognizable, or even genetically defective offspring in a single spawning. These (and hundreds of marginal offspring) are culled at various stages based on the breeder's expert eye and closely guarded techniques.

Culled fry are usually destroyed (perhaps fed to other fish) and older culls are often sold as lower-grade "pond-quality" koi within their first year (also called "Tosai") at 3"6" long. The semi-randomized result of the koi's reproductive process is both a blessing and a curse. While it requires diligent oversight to narrow down the favorable result that the breeder wanted all along, it also made possible the gradual transformation of wild river carp into the exquisite art form seen in modern koi.

Koi have been accidentally or deliberately released into the wild in every continent except Antarctica. They greatly increase the turbidity of the water because they are constantly stirring up the substrate. This makes waterways unattractive, reduces the abundance of aquatic plants, and can render the water unsuitable for swimming or drinking even by livestock. In some countries, koi have caused so much damage to waterways that vast amounts of money and effort have been spent trying to eradicate them, largely unsuccessfully. Because of the danger to the environment koi possession is illegal in many parts of America, South America and Australia.

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I will be putting this danlizzg insight to good use in no time.
December 05, 2016



You really saved my skin with this iniormatfon. Thanks!
December 05, 2016



ak!!! no!! limestone relsaees calcium, which algae LOVES. don't do it! i recommend granite, and a wide variety of sizes to make it look as natural as possible. i work at a watergardeing supplies store, and we recommmend you put rock in the bottom as well. the reason being for this is that it offers the beneficial bacteria a place to grow, therefore minimizing algae growth. this explanation could go into a really long and drawn out speech about cycles and the like, but i'll make it easy. you do want rocks in the bottom. i've heard a lot of koi lovers argue that this could damage the fish, but i have koi in all five of my ponds, and all are quite happy and unharmed.so no limestone, granite preferrably or slate if you MUST, and try to consider putting it in the bottom of the pond as well. the web address for my store is enclosed in the sources.
November 05, 2014



Ask anyone who has built a pond and the first thing they say is it's too small so build big. Deep water for koi. You first lay out where you want the water, then dig the hole. Take into codesniration that you may want to put some potted plants down in the water around the edges so make a ledge for them. Next you cover the hole over with a pad that will keep the roots/rocks from punching holes in the liner. Add the liner, then edge everything with stones to hold the liner down. Don't get carried away cutting the liner until you have the stones in place. Measure twice, cut once .. You will need a filter system and pump which can be placed in the deep end of the pond. Talk over with an electrician where/how to run power for everything. To get a feel for the cost, check out liner/filter/pump etc prices and what your time is worth.
November 05, 2014
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