A Reflection Of 2009

On a brighter note, the other day I was speaking to a guy whose pond I am designing and installing, his desires to remove mechanical debris were even far more adventurous than my own very strict, required desires. He was wondering how to remove the faeces as they exited the body of the Koi themselves without even entering the pond water.

Now there’s a thought!

In September ‘09 I was visiting a Koi outlet on my travels. I got to talk with one of the guys there about a particularly lovely and sizeable Sanke that I had seen on a previous visit and we both commented as to how much she had improved since I first saw her some weeks earlier. The owner of the outlet had bought the entire collection of Koi and the filter equipment from another enthusiast who had recently given up the hobby and this Sanke was part of the collection.

The condition of all the Koi was not good when I first saw them but, only after a few weeks of good conditions, the overall visual appearances on some had improved significantly and the Koi looked far healthier – particularly this lovely Sanke.

I gazed at the Sanke and then the old realisation came back to me for the millionth time, this was a Koi outlet, this was a very good Koi and no one else in the world had THIS Koi.
Check out the Internet folks; check out eBay folks; check out every Koi breeder in the world folks and you will not find another exactly like this one. You may find one or two better ones and you will certainly find many thousands of lesser ones but there’s only one place in the world where you’ll find THIS particular one!

THIS is 100% of what being a KOI DEALER is all about, one thing only and that’s KOI!

If that Koi had been mine, it would have been photographed carefully and four pictures would have been placed on my website together with age and sex only – in this case around 68cms and female – that’s all, no price and no breeder, just the Koi. Had calls ensued asking for price details I would have simply replied by saying ‘If you’re interested, why not come over and see her with your own eyes’ and left it at that. Travel costs from any part of the UK are not worth talking about if one considers the travel that all Koi dealers have to endure when purchasing Koi in Japan. If the enquirer is interested then he/she will travel and only then should a price be discussed after the prospective buyer has seen it up close. A brief glance at a decent photograph will tell any Koi real enthusiast if this is special or not – it isn’t rocket science and most Koi enthusiasts do know the difference between junk and something special.

As most of the Koi dealers of the world know, there are no pictures adorning the walls of the breeder’s houses in Japan with prices penned below them. Tsuyoshi Kawakami has tried for some years with ‘pond prices’ for his nisai where a cardboard sign is on display saying ‘Male nisai – XXXXXyen each’ and another saying ‘Female nisai – XXXXXyen each’ – but these are not his best. The vast majority of the other outlets have no displayed prices at all. The reason for this is simple, because in truth, there is no general price for a Koi but there is a price that relates to who is asking to buy and also as to how many Koi are required.

Soon afterwards, at the same outlet, a couple walked in to the room with the owner and they had sheets of paper with them, they sat down and they gave him the papers to study. After a few minutes the owner asked them to follow him to another area in order to show them some items they had asked to see. The papers were left on the table and the assistant walked over to inspect them – out of curiosity I walked over with him.

They were plans of a Koi pond that the couple had planned, obviously in great detail; either they or a friend had produced very detailed computer-generated drawings of the system they required. There were also enlarged sketches showing ALL pipe work connections and details of all items of equipment together with their positions in different parts of the plan.

Another piece of paper contained their shopping list of all items required right down to every single fitting needed to complete the plan. We both looked at the plans in silence, taking everything in very carefully, there was no doubt the couple had given serious time and thought to their proposed Koi pond design. They also had listed every make and model number of all items of equipment that would be required to complete the project.

It was also apparent that significant research had been made in advance by way of current specialist Koi magazines, Koi websites and Koi forums and that day was the day they had presented their specific needs by way of the detailed shopping list.

In short, they knew EXACTLY what they wanted and now all that was required was WHERE to get the CHEAPEST prices for it all – hence the visit, after first checking out the prices offered by this outlet on his website. Nothing was left to chance – again, all they wished to do was get the CHEAPEST prices possible for their shopping list.

They did not ask for recommendations because they had perfection in their research of every page of the Koi magazines – all they wanted was PRICES.

(Alas, specifying what is required for a PROPER Koi pond system is not nearly as simple as locating the finished production model of a Dyson vacuum cleaner at the cheapest possible price. The vacuum cleaner is supplied complete and ready to plug in whilst a PROPER Koi pond system requires a multitude of worthwhile parts. Each of these parts of the jigsaw needs to be positioned and connected correctly in order to produce the finished system.)

The couple returned with the owner who was jotting down a long list of items and working out prices for each one.

The pond was an in-ground system to be completed by a large, wooden-decked area before it; the filters and other items were to be concealed below the decking.

In all the paperwork they had, only ONE thing was even nearly correct – which was that the pond base shape specified required two bottom drains.

After that it was complete disaster and I’ll refrain from naming names of products.

Each drain line went to a separate box and this led to a large filter; after each filter was a pump and then followed a pressurised unit; the water exited the pressurised unit and then returned to the pond via heat exchangers. There were three surface skimmers on the pond and each was connected to an external pump, then followed a U/V unit in every line where the exit water was taken into three separate trickle towers sited slightly above pond level where water could return by overflow back into the pond. The layout under the decking took up just a little more area than the pond itself took up. The pond itself would hold – wait for it –

4,600 gallons of water in total!

This had nothing at all to do with me but I found it very hard to walk away from it and so I bit my tongue hard and wondered what Hilary had ready for tea that night.

The Koi dealer was only doing his job, which was to give his best prices for all the items specified by the customer because, as we are all told, ‘The Customer is always right’!

In the meantime I looked into the display ponds before me, each had a significant stock of very healthy Koi and the water within the ponds was wonderful. I also knew the details of the filtration systems on these ponds and wondered why the customers had not even asked how these same ponds were being processed.

I’m not exactly sure but for all the items specified including water pumps; air pumps; air supplies & diffusers; drains; pipe work; pipe fittings; skimmers; heat exchangers; pre-filter boxes; open filters; pressure filters; U/V units and others, I think it was around £12,000.00. I left them to get on with it and drove home.

Once again, it had nothing at all to do with me – the business was between the customers and the Koi dealer and the dealer is there to make profit at the end of the day.

Whilst driving home my mind wandered, it would probably cost another £10,000.00 to £15,000.00 from an outside contractor to excavate, build and waterproof the pond and filter housing and then provide the decking for it all after everything had been installed to plan. The actual price would depend on whether outside labour was used or not. These were only my estimations from many years of actual experience in these matters.

Once again, we are talking 4,600 gallons here – and NOT Loch Ness!

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