A Reflection Of 2009

I will never see these people again but I know what will happen if they proceed as planned and this will be the guaranteed sequence of events.

Pond completed to perfection and a stock of new Koi added. Pond opening party where some friends would come along and gasp in amazement at the beauty of it all. The owners will be proud beyond their wildest imagination after building their perfect pond.

Month one passes by and perfection is maintained as planned in advance, it remains to be so for a further two weeks after the filters have kicked in biologically with only the very slightest of concerns. The incredible filtration systems that THEY have chosen are performing as expected with almost no debris coming out of them when the required discharges are being made religiously. This is all, of course, down to THEIR research made before the system was built and THEIR deciding upon the best items for the job in hand.

Month three, water a little cloudy, filters need a bit more attention – but ‘That’s Koi keeping for you Folks!’.

Month four, check the Koi bulletin boards and see how the others are getting along and get some advice as to how to stop this happening and how to try and reduce time spent discharging the boxes. Get some new add-ons that have come onto the market since but were not incorporated in the initial plans.

Month five, daily servicing getting to be a little more than tiresome, water OK, Koi OK but it’s getting to be time-consuming.

Month six, need to go on holiday, have enlisted a pal to carry out servicing from a list made and after actual demonstrations have been carried out.

Month seven, currents back to pond not as strong as they were; one system was almost blocked – perhaps the pumps need checking?

Month eight, discharging the units getting to be very tiresome, the wife does some of it when she has the time. One or two minor problems with the Koi but water readings are fine.

Month ten, local dealer came round with microscope, small parasite problem sorted. Asked him how he would address the maintenance that’s required daily as it’s getting to be ridiculous now. There’s hardly a day passes without something else going wrong.

Month eleven, I’m losing some interest in keeping Koi and I have the best system money can buy – I know I researched it all beforehand.

One year down the line, the wife and I have decided to replace the lot with a small lawn and a flowerbed, keeping Koi is not for us.

I wish I had a fiver for every time I have seen this happen over the years.

Of course there is no way around this because people are convinced they know exactly what they are doing after first researching all the information that’s available everywhere.

Had I stuck my ‘two-pennorth’ in on that day I would have told them, in no uncertain terms, to get rid of all paperwork plus all their pre-conceived ideas brought around by glossy advertisements and start with the pond base and the two drains after first checking out the filter system used in the outlet they had visited. I would then have given them a new shopping list of items to buy from the same outlet that would have produced far better conditions and far more long-term enjoyment to them for a fraction of the £12,000.00 they parted with – would they have listened to an old guy passing by?

Not a chance!

Had I given my real feelings as to the very best advice possible after that, I would have suggested they take their £12,000.00 away in cash and set fire to it in their back garden after first buying a slap-up meal and a few drinks – thus completely saving a further £12,000.00 or so of additional financial recklessness – would they have listened?

Not a chance!

The power of advertising is great and it also costs the advertisers themselves but, from time to time, it works for them! The Koi dealer was there to do his job as requested – don’t blame him, but it does not do anything at all to promote the hobby of Koi keeping. The Koi dealer knows the filtration systems he has to use to keep his stocks in the best conditions possible, I knew the systems in use at that outlet and, as far as I can recall, not one item that was purchased by the couple was in use on the dealer’s ponds and yet his water conditions and his Koi stocks were excellent.

Believe me, they have to be, because that’s where his investment lies!

It has also been a source of wonder to me as to why the vast majority of enthusiasts today place importance on ponds and filter systems and yet the item powering them, namely the system pump itself, is left to pure assumption and total guesswork. All ‘proper’ systems have the necessity of specific flow rates especially through biological stages. This is not an exact science and perfect results can be achieved within 15% plus or minus and yet no one seems to question what the water pumps in any system are delivering after their particular installation requirements. Please do not blame the pump manufacturer here!

To continue –

As to those few remaining stalwarts still involved in selling high quality Koi in the UK now, it must be realised that ‘the good old days of Koi keeping in the UK’ peaked around 1989 and ended around 2003?

They will never return no matter how hard we try.

But those were the times when the market was buoyant and it was difficult to supply demand for Koi despite the amount of outlets open for business in those days. Today, keeping Koi in the UK is a very minority hobby in comparison.

Below is a graph giving an approximate idea of how the worldwide hobby has evolved over the years that I have been involved.

Graph giving an approximate idea of how the worldwide hobby has evolved over the years that I have been involved

As to the ones remaining now, there is a definite line drawn where some continue but have ‘diversified’ into other areas such as other species of ornamental fish, pets, pets foods, cafeterias and garden accessories – they have had to do this to survive. On the other hand there are still some dedicated ‘Koi Only’ outlets but a few have also added Koi from other countries to their ones on display – again, in order to ‘diversify’.

A well-organised, professional Koi outlet today – Cascade Water Gardens.

A well-organised, professional Koi outlet today – Cascade Water Gardens.

As to the very few ‘Japanese-Koi Only’ outlets bravely struggling on in the UK today with horrendous exchange rates, these guys are feeling the brunt of it all but still continue to get income from some seasonal pond design and installation.

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