A Reflection Of 2009

First day, take a camera and then take shots of all the pressurised filters on view; then take a few shots of the ‘add-ons’ that we are told are vital to keeping Koi; then take a few shots of bubbling bits of plastic in their filter boxes; follow up all of this with the thousands of ozonisers and reverse-osmosis water treatment systems. At the end of the day you will find you have not a single shot stored on your camera because THERE ARE NONE – ANYWHERE!

Second day, take the same camera and fill it with shots of all the hikui and shimi you can see on all the Koi at every outlet you visit. At the end of the day you will also find that your camera is unused because THERE ARE NONE!

(The only times I have ever seen these problems there is where some breeders have attempted to keep their Koi in indoor systems for longer than two years – and they have failed – miserably!)

Next day, ask all the breeders how they deal with dangerous water hardness/softness problems and you will be met with ‘Wakara-nai – I don’t know what you are talking about’! Then ask these guys to design you a Koi pond because all they will do is show you what they have – namely their own ponds.
In truth they have no idea or any practical experience of what it means to keep a Koi in an indoor or outdoor-enclosed-recirculation system for longer than nine months in any given year.

Take a look at the latest Koi book from Japan to enforce this. The section on pond design is incredibly sparse and silly beyond belief. It reads to me like it has been written for a ten-year old goldfish beginner visiting his local aquarium store. Without the vital information on pond design and filtration then it’s really not the best time to even consider buying Koi.

This website divides ‘Koi Keeping’ in a specific order and ‘POND’ is purposely and absolutely vital to be highlighted first of the three sub headings because this is the tool that will determine the success/failure of every Koi enthusiast.

Plan it and build it properly, then maintain it properly and you have one hell of a chance to keep Koi successfully, plan it and build it badly by cutting corners and heeding glossy magazine advertisements and you will face endless problems and disasters – that’s a promise.

To return to the high quality Koi mentioned earlier that have been imported in numbers to the UK over the past 12 years or so, from what I have seen to date, over 90% of these have produced growth but have declined in condition and value significantly – some are now of no value at all. Of the remaining 10%, half of these have merely maintained their purchase qualities whilst the others have made mild improvements; again all have shown some growth.

Had these same Koi been left with their breeders they would have lost none of their value at all, instead their value, for the majority of them, would have increased – a few to significant proportions. Please believe me, where Nishikigoi are concerned – SIZE DOES MATTER!

In every case I have come across – and there are many; the aesthetics of the ponds when first viewed range from being lovely to magnificent where great importance has been placed on visual qualities by superb landscaping. This is a worldwide thing; it is not confined to UK ponds. As a result, the first visual impressions blow you away but it is wise to stop here because once you start to look below the water surface, all the visual finishing touches become to be little more than worthless aside from being a perfect way of impressing the neighbours.

I have likened this to keeping pedigree racehorses in one’s living room or likening a pond to a substandard pool table and then likening the filter stages to square snooker balls and afterwards commencing to play a frame of pool. In short, one only has to glance at the condition of the Koi under the water to get a glimpse of the underwater disasters and shortcomings that these systems produce.
The once, high class Koi that were bursting with perfection in every aspect now show a duller shine to the skin; there are blemishes on the beni showing variations of texture and pigmentation that were not there before; there are traces of other unwanted skin/pigmentation conditions; there are more potential problems waiting to happen and the sorry Koi are depreciating in value at a weekly rate of knots.


Whilst I fume and view it as nothing short of criminal, just imagine what the Japanese breeders would think if they saw how their prized ‘one-offs’ had turned out to be. Perhaps they would also then realise why there has been such a drop in demand over recent years? The Koi dealers of the world and the breeders who supply them are feeling this drop in demand and it is beginning to hurt more as each year passes.

In just about every instance I have come across where all of this is evident, the systems have been designed and installed by others. I am also very aware that, despite the fact that the owners have no restrictions placed when purchasing their Koi, this may not be the case when hiring others to design and install their ponds. In fact, and by the standard of work carried out by their chosen designers/installers, it does come over that there have been serious end price considerations stipulated here by the client. Please do not place all of the blame in the direction of the installer.

And then you speak to the owners and you hear – ‘Oh yes, I have three bottom drains’ and then he points to a large, single entry box to his enormous and complex filter system before your heart sinks to discover endless boxes of nonsense and pipe lines that would be best employed in a budget sci-fi movie.

It is not wise to discuss maintenance regimes after this because you just have to imagine the quantities of stagnant water and unspeakable amounts of waste hidden inside all the nooks and crannies of the ‘filter units’ and these will continue to build and build and build and build evermore!

25% of the total filtration system

Yes, this picture is for real and covers only some 25% of the total filtration system.

This is by no means NEW – this has gone on for as long as I can recall but now the wreckage is even more apparent after a decade or so of higher quality specimens have been imported. It has taken place ever since I can recall but the rate of devaluation was not nearly as serious in those times.

All this may be fine for those garden pond keepers who just want a few coloured fish for their ponds but it’s just not nearly adequate for those wishing to buy and improve high quality Koi. Again, there is a VAST difference here.

Yes, something must be done now to resolve the situation whereby keeping the quality of Koi properly will become a joy instead of an on-going disappointment coupled with many nightmares and will remain to be an endless and tiresome chore.

There are certainly ways to keep Koi today that are equally as good as the Japanese breeders and, if this is achieved, it is a ‘win – win situation’ that can be enjoyed by everyone – including the Japanese breeders by way of many more sales of their high quality stocks.

It is also obvious that proper systems will be of benefit to Koi in all grades/qualities if it can benefit high-class specimens.

It is now a new era in the hobby that is possible to take it to a higher level but, once again, it must start with the ‘POND’ and all that surrounds a perfect system.

Ground Zero is the POND BASE itself – we should all start from there.

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