(I have kept this article in two separate parts although both parts are as important as each other in order to understand the full article. I would strongly suggest the reader reads Part One twice before moving on to Part Two. – Page 12)
PART ONE – A potted history.
Returning to the early 1970’s, only a few short years after the first shipment of Koi landed on our shores, it was soon discovered that the only places even mildly suitable for keeping them alive and growing them, was the traditional English garden pond.
There were many such ponds in the UK ranging from the magnificent stone courtyard and stately garden centrepieces designed by the likes of ‘Capability’ Brown and other famous garden architects of the day.
These garden architects promoted their own thoughts and beliefs that by incorporating water features into their creations, it would add yet another new dimension to their lavish designs.
At the other end of the scale there were the less lavish but far more attractive garden ponds built by private owners also to add more interest and sounds to their well-manicured gardens.
The sounds and sights of water features added an aura of peace, tranquillity and even a touch of ‘mystery’ for the casual viewer – especially when adorned with lilies, marginal plants, goldfish and even our native wild fish into these features.
In the early 1970’s the only magazine that brought any interest to a prospective or active Koi keeper bore the apt title of ‘The Aquarist and Pondkeeper’. I don’t deny how very impatient I could become until the very latest issue was finally delivered to my door.
I still recall how I’d skip rapidly through the boring aquarium sections until I finally got to the ‘Pondkeeper’ parts. Once there, I would read and re-read until the next issue arrived!
Reading about it was fine but it was not nearly as easy to see actual garden ponds and glean more information from the owners.
I didn’t know this at the time but there were only three specialist water garden outlets in the UK back then and thankfully they all advertised in the same magazine.
However, the doctrines they preached were identical to those preached by the magazine contributors and this left me in no doubt that their doctrines just had to be the gospel truth.
At the time, it made perfect sense to me that a perfect garden pond should be as close to ‘nature’ as possible. The experts of the day advocated shallow, saucer-shaped, in-ground indentations lined with plastic or rubber membrane that incorporated shallow areas for lilies and shallower borders to seat planting containers for the marginal plants. By adding ornamental fish and a waterfall or fountain, this would lead to a perfect replication of ‘nature’.
Of course, they advertised all these vital items in the magazine, and the magazine not wishing to turn away income welcomed them.
It cost me much wasted money and later a very lucky opportunity to be able to join the British Koi Keeper’s Society and to finally discover all these doctrines spouted by self-acclaimed experts were simply nothing more than a commercial scam.
We humans are simply incapable of duplicating nature; there’s only one man above capable of doing this and even he must wait for a decade or so to see his creation come to fruition.
It was about that time the few Koi enthusiasts around started to ask questions because despite how much they loved their colourful pets, ‘love’ alone did little to keep them alive.
The few who sold them in those times advocated they were true coldwater species. If that was the case why did they huddle up on the pond base and then turn on their sides when our winters struck?
It was a wise man that told us all to make our ponds deeper – not because the water would become any warmer, but the temperature on the deeper base would not be subject to the same temperature fluctuations a shallow pond base experiences. The ‘temperature fluctuations’ were far more dangerous than the temperature alone.
A one degree temperature increase or decrease to a human represents a four degree increase or decrease to a Koi.