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Thread: a closed system revisited

  1. #1
    Daihonmei
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    a closed system revisited

    Good morning!

    Just wanted to revisit the subject of the koi pond as a CLOSED SYSTEM as I think something gets lost when we talk about nutrition and our koi as an isolated conversation.
    Certainly when we talk about koi nutrition we can cover things like needed amino acids in the diet, the natural history of carp and animal food industry studies. And each one will give us valuable information and perspective as to what koi need for the moment and over time. Yet as learned and enlightening as some of these studies and their proponents are-- they only take in one dimension of koi and koi needs. A conversation in isolationed perspective, so to speak.
    What I'm hoping to touch on and expand here is more about the reality of what our koi's needs are when put in a closed system. An enclosure that they will likely live the rest of their lives in. After all WE hobbyists are charged with our pet's quality of life for the rest of their days.
    As hard as we work on making our ponds a perfect home, we need to realize we are using the word 'perfect' in a relative sense. And in 2010 we have created systems that not only maintain fish over a life time, but in many cases, allow them to reach their full genetic potential. A remarkable thing considering that we all tend to have very un-natural stocking rates relative to natural stocking rates or even Japanese breeder mudpond stocking rates.
    Boiled down to a word, our closed pond systems are really places of POLLUTION. Or maybe a better phrase-- ACCRUING POLLUTION.
    And as we ACCRUE pollutants, we are also seeing valuable things such as buffering capacity ( alkaline reserve) being used up. Along with that, micro nutrients are also depleted by fish as a normal metabolic demand.
    In short, LIFE impacts WATER over time in a limited space in a negative way, in terms of original water quality parameters.

    So what does this have to do with nutrition? well we need to lead up to that with a few more tidbits of information.
    In order for a koi to be at it's most metabolic efficient condition, several factors need to be present. The first and most obvious is temperature during feeding. To illustrate this, lets look at some different species of fish-- a deep water tuna, a cold stream trout, a tropical angel fish and a koi. Each one of these fish is 'designed' and has evolved to burn calories and metabolically click in differnet temperature ranges. Tuna ( which have some ability to generate heat internally) do best at cold temperatures). Tropical angel fish need a much warmer range to operate in and be metabolically efficient in. Trout need water of high oxygen something that is temperature related. And koi are the same in that they have their idea temperature ranges for metabolic efficency and therefore digestion/absorption efficiency. So 'ideal' applies to digestion assimilation and absorption, as well.
    So how much protein do koi need to operate? That depends on 'need' in a seasonal animal. In periods of extreme activity, lots of energy is needed and proteins are great for that when an animal is building cells. In winter-- not so much, as koi slow activity and demand for movement, growth, egg production etc all lessen. Ironically, providing food in a season in which, in the wild, food is very scarce, is a dis-service to koi AS A LIFE TIME consideration. This statement is key to understanding the difference between what koi food industry specialists do-- that is raise for for a 'window of time' before slaughter, and what we do, provide a diet for living over a natural life time.
    Secondly, since koi are in a closed system, anything we feed our koi in terms of either calorie count or volume must go somewhere. In the ideal it is used and ammonia is the result and bioconvertors process the toxic material to ever less toxic forms of nitrogenous inorganic waste. In the inefficient model, however, excess protein and rich diet feed in low tempertures or very high temperatures, inefficient digestion causes a dumping effect and an IMMEDIATE domino effect on the closed system environment itself. This comes in the form of fatty food chains in the water column, partially digested protein, excess free amino acids, organic dyes and carbohydrates in the water column. That in turn, acts as a feed back mechanism on the fish itself. Some is direct such as less oxygen in the water and some is indirect such as the encouragement of excess heterotrophic bacteria counts in the water column.
    To make this point another way, as you feed koi in a closed system, everything that enters the koi will leave the koi in differnet forms depending on the diet itself, the water temperature and the time of year.

    The diet therefore, can not be of a rich nature or a 'hot' nature ( too much protein) at certain times of the year.

    and 'Certain Times of the year' means two things;

    1) Temperature- namely outside the ranges of metabolic efficiency. We have all seen, for instance, the results of feeding Hikari Hi Growth, when temperatures fall below 66F. The physical look of water ( DOCs accumulating at the surface, stained water) are typical with mooping fish soon after.
    2) Time of year- probably the most interesting apart, as professional literature gathered from the lab and the food industry is VOID of such data. Carp, as temperate water creatures and seasonal breeders, tend to be VERY in tuned with the seasons. This is seen in studies of their endocrine system. they KNOW what time of year it is from changing lighting, changing water temperatures and shifts in dietary mix. So ten thousand years later, this evolutionary system of marching orders, is not lost on the koi! In effect, koi direct energy to different purposes based on the signals and triggers form their diet and environment.

    Knowing these things, I hope you will appreciate that koi hobbyists need to have a greater perspective than the academic information or industry information about food carp or lab studies on digestion in the ideal, provide. In summary, we need to see our koi as ;
    1) a cold blooded animal there are subject to certain realities as to rates of moment, breeding abililty and digestion at temperature intervals.
    2) koi are long term charges ( a life time thru their stages of immature, prepubescent stage, sexually mature stage and full adult stage) that are kept outside and still 'controlled' by the natural bio ryhthms of the carp.
    3) Koi live in an enclosure called a closed system or recirculating system. And that they are un-naturally stocked relative to a wild setting. This means that the water they live in as an extention of their internal condition. The potential for negative feedback on the internal matabolic efficciency and health of the koi is high.

    JR

  2. #2
    Tategoi andy's Avatar
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    Seasonality is good but what about growing Koi in warm climate all year round.....

  3. #3
    Daihonmei
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    Andy, it has it pluses and it has it minuses. The good part is the endless summer allowing for a koi to put all energy into growth. The trouble is the fish is not allowed to fast. I've noticed over the years that Florida koi have trouble with colors and pattern as they age. But this observation can't really be separated from inferior environments ( as many Florida ponds I have visited are shallow, warm and organic laden).
    I've spent some time looking at Taiwan ponds and talking to long term hobbyists there and the reports are similar. Premature aging and ovarian tumors are an issue. Also a few odd viruses have arisen there.
    All and all, I think areas like Atlanta here on the east coast have ideal conditions for raising koi as seasonal animals with a mild winter. JR

  4. #4
    Daihonmei PapaBear's Avatar
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    Having been active on the Malaysian forum for many years the "endless summer" struggle for health and color maintenance is a constant issue the local hobbyists there strive to deal with. Lots of threads there over the years about how to combat color fading and health issues with their climate. That is why so many ponders there employ chillers to turn the heat down a bit and work fasting periods into their routine. It remains a struggle, but those who manage their ponds well find ways to compensate.

  5. #5
    Tategoi andy's Avatar
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    I've instituted an automatic feeder in my system and feed the koi 4 times per day. I now find myself really working water quality on a daily baisis. I thought I had a really good filtration but the amount of organics really build up rapidly. With warm water that is a recipe for disaster. Luckily my water is very cheap.............I was thinking since my mains water is from a well I may be lowering my pond water temp a little.....Chilling the water..........I can't afford it.....

  6. #6
    Oyagoi kingkong's Avatar
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    my water gives me the 'chills'

    I got 24 C or 75 F in Florida. Do I need a chiller? Florida springs average 70 degrees and I have seen 'inferior' people from NE (new england) refuse to jump in.

  7. #7
    Daihonmei
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    Sounds like you have the best of both worlds Kong. People forget that the race we know as 'koi' is a strain of refined common carp that developed in a seasonal setting characterized by warm summers and early springs. But the winters, especially when the varieties were coming into existance were severe. With snows of up to 20 feet hanging around for three months plus koi were often 'stored' in block ponds under wood and hay or tucked away under porches, houses and sheds.
    Today we see the very best stock living in purpose-build houses ( wonder when the first fish houses were in common use? I'd guess in the 1960s?) that are loosely called fish houses but are a hybrid of warehouses/green houses for giving the koi one of two environments;

    1) a cold house to provide shelter from the harsh climate ( a muted winter setting if you will).
    2) a continued grow out for young fish so as to create a larger tosai/nisai for the spring market demand.
    3) the continued pampering of particular show fish ( again a purpose technique)

    Please note that the idea of sasonal concept is a practical thing and a fundamental truth in the minds of most breeders.
    The breeders in the south get the best growing results due their climate advantage. But the stock still comes from the North as it did originally and after the war. Today of course, some of the best fish in the world are grown in the south. Still, Last time I visited Hiroshima breeders it was snowing!
    JR

  8. #8
    Oyagoi kingkong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasPR View Post
    Andy, it has it pluses and it has it minuses. The good part is the endless summer allowing for a koi to put all energy into growth. The trouble is the fish is not allowed to fast. I've noticed over the years that Florida koi have trouble with colors and pattern as they age. But this observation can't really be separated from inferior environments ( as many Florida ponds I have visited are shallow, warm and organic laden).
    I've spent some time looking at Taiwan ponds and talking to long term hobbyists there and the reports are similar. Premature aging and ovarian tumors are an issue. Also a few odd viruses have arisen there.
    All and all, I think areas like Atlanta here on the east coast have ideal conditions for raising koi as seasonal animals with a mild winter. JR
    Some Florida ponds are shallow with poor filtration.
    It would make sense that carp growing 12 months out of the year, with no hybernation cycle, would develop and age quicker.

  9. #9
    Daihonmei
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    Yep. I think we need to define what 'aging' is in koi? When I refer to aging, I'm usually focusing on physical breakdown in appearence and not decline in resistance to disease or kidney failure etc.

    The roughness of skin. The decline in color, the washing out of color. The dingy white ground that becomes hard in appearance. also the changing of skeletonal structure, the hanging belly, the deformity of head plates, the appearance of small tumors and warts.
    In Japan you see all these things on very old breeders and pet fish. Very old being defined as 20-30 year old fish. In Taiwan I've seen the same in 8-10 year old fish.

    In Florida, I would also link a great deal of aging effect on pond design and filtration. But even in excellent ponds and good fish you will notice hints of eternal summer effect here and there.
    If I wind up in Florida or the Carolinas ( Asheville) I will try and build my pond and approach to suit the variables in that area with the ideal in mind for my koi. If I stay in NJ and move to a condo in the city and a beach house at the shore, I will build a pond at the ocean place. In that case it will be completely shaded and deep. And in the winter it will be covered and heated in Jan and Feb to 45 F.
    The good news about almost every area in the USA ( temperate in many degrees of the word, to sub tropical) you will have great advantages over others and great challenges others do not face.

    having judged 8 shows or so in Florida and having visited Florida koi ponds for many years and watching the fish, I'd say this--
    Florida gives a remarkable growing season. And the shows bring before a judge like myself the results of that climate. What I have come to learn is that HUSBANDRY in Florida ponds really separates the winners from the losers! What I mean to say is, I can't think of anywhere else in America where the 'win' is in the hands of the exhibitor as much as the fish! Those who stumble on the pluses of Florida and take full advantage of them and alo have the wisdom to avoid the negatives, produce great looking fish!
    How long that balance lasts is up to the skills of the owner. JR

  10. #10
    Oyagoi kingkong's Avatar
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    Florida...good for taxes, great water and lack of snow
    Asheville....beautiful but gloomy, never see sun, Airport shuts down often in winter
    Beach House at the shore...beautiful but salt beats up everything

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