The Price of Nishikigoi

ADDENDUM 02/11/09

This text at the END of the first section below was prepared at the same time as the original article but kept back to be published later. It highlights a simple conclusion that can be drawn from the calculations above and then points out another situation that does arise if the reader looks closely between the lines.

(However, having seen the interest this page has produced in less than 24 hours I have decided to publish it right away. I do understand that this entire page of the website takes some reading and understanding, I also am aware that this is very specialized information that will not be of much interest to all but the most enthusiastic of Koi readers but I do feel it needs to be documented for the very first time ever.)

I have tried to condense it many times and assure you it has been significantly condensed from the original texts – alas, it is still lengthy, apologies to all!

The above text will be repeated at the end of this original text – sorry for the confusion but it has something to do with website links and ‘thingies’ I do not understand at all.

Original text starts here –

Of late, I am asked to explain this term more often than ever before even though nothing has changed since I first became involved in finding and buying Koi for re-sale many years ago. I find the whole thing very simple to understand, in fact if I see a Koi anywhere, I value it in Japanese Yen, but perhaps now is the time to lay it all on the line with just a little ‘brutality’ to hammer home the obvious truth of it all and that’s all it is – TRUTH.

(Here we go again, there are just a few out there who will say ‘Oh, it’s Waddy again with his same old texts’ etc. These very same people really should read this because it’s never been written before – anywhere – and very few Koi people are even vaguely aware of this, especially the few Plonkers who just like to criticise something they know nothing about.)

Who knows – they too may even learn something at long last?

Are we sitting comfortably Plonkers? Right, I’ll begin.

But please be aware it takes some intelligence and much concentration to take it all in. Furthermore, it is far too honest to find this kind of information in your beloved glossy ‘Specialist Koi Magazines’.

Firstly, the Koi I have always tried to purchase over the years fall into the small ‘band’ of those that make up around 1% to around 3% of those numbers of all tosai harvested every autumn in Japan when they are only some 100 days old and not yet ready for sale. If these percentages were applied to the number of fry actually produced to get to these same young Koi that I need then I’ll have to grab the figures out of the air – how about 0.000001%? All this is academic as the vast majority of the fry hatched have long since been disposed with in the summer culling processes. It varies from breeder to breeder but generally less than 3,000 tosai with any sales value at all are produced from around 500,000 fry that have hatched after the spawnings have taken place.

As to the larger sizes harvested, the percentages for the Koi I require increase as the selection decreases and the ‘bands’ become larger with each passing year. At nisai stage my attempted purchases may be found from 10 – 15% of those harvested, at sansai stage probably 35% and so on. This is merely due to the fact that the breeders have already sold those with lesser value in order to give more water space (both field pond and concrete pond) to those with a higher future monetary value. Obviously there are not nearly so many ‘quantities’ of Koi to select from as the ages increase. For example – generally there are many more nisai for sale at a breeder’s outlet than yonsai.

The ‘bands’ of Koi I have always found myself selecting from and buying from are as far away from the ‘others’ that they may just as well be another species of fish if the truth is known.

To make a feeble attempt at ‘kindness’ – how about

‘Some very few Koi are ‘good’ whilst untold thousands of others are ‘not so good’.

Is that OK?

In short, for some 28 years, I have only been concerned in learning about, finding, selecting and buying those Koi that fall within the band of being ‘good’.

Let us talk about those that are ‘not so good’ for a moment. The breeders in Japan produce boatloads of these every year. These come with an assortment of names from various countries such as ‘tateshita’; ‘bread & butter Koi’; ‘pond fillers’; ‘mutts’; ‘also-rans’; ‘pretty fish’ and the terms continue forever. One thing is certain; they can all be classed as ‘Japanese Koi’ because that is the truth and many are sold on this term alone hence the signs that read ‘We only sell Japanese Koi’.

Whilst the majority of nouveau Koi enthusiasts are absolutely convinced that there are guys out there making untold fortunes out of these fish after buying them in bulk – I have to confess that I have never ever seen anyone who has ventured into this nightmare without coming away with a huge loss at the end of it all!

There have been isolated instances many years ago when ‘Japanese Koi of assorted colours and sizes’ were in great demand and a very small number of volume shippers made a huge one-off importation after first pre-selling the entire shipment in advance to an assortment of smaller back-yard Koi outlets who purchased ‘by the box’. Yes, the boxes came in quickly and went out just as quickly, thus the importer made a handsome percentage on the entire operation without even opening a single box on those few occasions. But it was there that any further profit was made as the Koi inside the boxes found new homes and were then offered for sale by their new owners.

These new owners drove their precious ten boxes back home (maximum discount rate for grade ‘AA+’ quality – only the poor Koi dealers believed that nonsense) – truly believing that they would find at least ten ‘Size Champions’ inside their windfall that would take awards at the next National show whilst the remainder would just make them a few million in profits at the end of a few weeks. At the end of three years they would retire to foreign parts with more money than could ever be imagined.

Needless to say – this never happened nor will it ever happen because it is a total and complete impossibility as will be explained later in these texts. Rest assured, one thing is sure; NO Koi ever ‘slips the net’.

I also used to supply many UK dealers with volume Koi around the early to mid 1980’s and it was not uncommon that we often had to handle 200 boxes a week in the summer months until it finally registered, after a couple of years of hard work, that there was no profit at the end of it all – more to the point there was not an ounce of satisfaction as this operation has nothing at all to do with Koi, it all revolves around boxes!

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