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Thread: most common reasons koi are lost

  1. #1
    Daihonmei
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    most common reasons koi are lost

    I would like to see all koi eventually pass from natural causes. But that is not likely as koi live in closed systems and also are under the care of a 'higher power' and that higher power is US!

    Most koi in the hands of beginners live a season or two. And causes of death are from toxic conditions such as ammonia or nitrIte poisoning, pH crash, chlorine poisoning, overfeeding leading to infection, parasitic infestations, aeromonas infection and general accidents. The one common factor is overstocking. And the second is inadequate housing followed by excess additives to the pond water. There are many websites and koi groups that encourage this focus on koi keeping and therefore the poor beginner must work through the ' fixing a bad pond' portion of the hobby with additives, treatments and rememdies. The culture of koi disease fixing has become an enjyable outlet for many a ponder and this unfortunately, by definition, means the inhabitants of a pond are at jeapoardy from season to season and evevntually worn down with the latest cure for parasites, bacterial infections or polluted water. So two to three years of life is considered 'success' in this phase of the ponding hobby.

    From that reality of koi keeping, the intermediate koi keeper arises and if any koi are left undamaged, a new life span potential arises.
    On the intermediate level most koi live three-five years or so and die from human error of one type or another and often due to pond design failures such as pond drains, power failures, hoses left on, too much medication and too many fish in general. Or too much feeding leading to population struggles. Still most pond inhabitants don't live a long or normal life span.

    On the more advanced levels we see fish living 5-8 years and individual koi living 10 plus years. Now the loses are more subtle as the quality of life is MUCH improved for the individual koi. Usually the advanced keeper is very much on top of things like parasites and that no longer is seen as a life threatening event or at all actually, other than in Qtanks. And aeromonas is a thing of the past as the pond designs are usually good and kinks of husbandry are a thing of the past. Accidents still happen of course but not as often as the keeper is experienced and on the alert for Murphy's law type events.

    The weak link now is poor feeding technique, however, and fish tend to simply 'die' one day with no real visible disease. Koi in their 10th year of life tend to have accrued all the conditions of the closed pond and often the gills are not regenerating as they once did. In addition, if winter is not given, the organs will have issues with fatty tissues and the kidneys ( a very important organ in the carp) will be impaired to some degree. And although koi tend not to die from heart attacks or strokes, they have a very high rate of kidney and swim bladder failures as well as brain issues due to the building of glycogen concentrations. In short, koi have very rich diets and we shut off their biological clocks with feeding tecnhnique.


    In short, adult koi in the hands of advanced keepers are more likley to pass in their prime or mature stage due to internal organ failure as opposed to environmental conditions and stocking issues created by the newbie and the intermediate keeper. So life expectency records continue to expand as we gain more and more advanced keepers.
    The final frontier will be the mastering of feeding technique and the care of the four season koi. Then we may see koi commonly live 18- 20 years as a normal and expected life span. JR

  2. #2
    Sansai Si Van Nguyen's Avatar
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    This is an excellent article JR! I am a beginner all over again even though I had koi ponds since the 70's. My latest pond was completed in October 2011 and I had killed most of my nicer koi by February. In my case, the causes include all of the above - over stocking, over feeding, inadequate water change, too much water change, too much malachite green with salt, and a bunch of other mistakes. Seems like the nicest koi always go first. I am basically starting over again with new batch of koi this year. Still fun though. I think most of us enjoy koi shopping more than koi keeping.

  3. #3
    Oyagoi Flounder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasPR View Post
    And although koi tend not to die from heart attacks or strokes, they have a very high rate of kidney and swim bladder failures as well as brain issues due to the building of glycogen concentrations.

    Wow, Jim very well written everything you've said is right on. I've had a 80cm koi come back from a show so stressed that she lost her bouyancy and could not keep afloat without swimming around. She perished a few weeks later.

    Big koi do not travel well.

  4. #4
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    When the point is reached that our koi are 18 years of age and older, we can have a sense of satisfaction with the care we provide, but we must also develop an appreciation for the aged animal that has nothing to do with show standards or glamour shots. Few are interested in keeping their faded beauties forever.

    I have 3 koi over 11 years of age. One is in her 18th season. One is a male. One is my wife's least-liked in the pond. Who would take the male and the 'least-liked'? And, would they provide the care that would allow these two to reach 20 years? I do not know of a home where I can send them with confidence. So, I am their caretaker.

    When we talk about population mixes in our ponds, we often speak of having a Yamabuki or Chagoi for the contrast with gosanke. There is also something to be said for having an old koi in the pond population. They teach a perspective that has less to do with passing beauty and more with appreciating life.

  5. #5
    Daihonmei
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    Morning Mike, You know how I nag you about getting to Japan!

    Last year, the shinkokai tried to put a new energy into the sagging All Japan show. One of the things they asked shakers and movers within the breeder group to do is to all bring a large koi or two. These 'also rans' were well known koi from 'yester year' . And although one with a mature eye could quickly see they were older fish, the general public was clueless and ooo'd and aaaa'd the big girls! These fish had the skin of a five year old! And the colors were RICH and glossy. The skin surrounding the scales was so pronounced that it created a texture to the entire surface on one 85 bu sanke of All Japan fame.
    To summerize, these koi were old and beautiful! A real tribute to genetics and husbandry-- the one two punch of koi keeping at the highest level.

    My 18 year old kohaku * soon to be 19, has beni like a two year old! It can be done, it takes a 'clean run' of good care, a little luck and a four season approach. I have that picture of her at 15 on this site. She hasn't changed much. The face/nose is getting a little tan looking, but O that glossy beni!! Best, JR

  6. #6
    Daihonmei
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    Mike makes an ultimate type point and so I don't want to gloss over it---

    ALL koi are living art in that they have a 'rise', a 'time in the sun' and then an 'inevitable decline'. But like eagles soar higher than sparrows, koi of different grades have different potentials and timelines.

    I have always found it ironic that beginner koi exhibitors see there koi as things that remain wonderful all their lives and plan to win all the prizes from baby champion to Grand Champion, yet they accept that koi live a natural life span of 8 years or less!
    The true story time is one of tateshita livinga few seasons in the mades of a beginner and declining in beauty in the third-fourth year, if they live that long. Some of that is reality of genetics and some is husbandry issues.

    Now here is the thought for the day--- should tosai be fed the same way as gosai? I think NOT! You can force feed a young koi in summer or eternal summer. You should NOT do that to a fish over five years old. Not unless you are prepared to one day see that koi sitting on the bottom or wandering across the pond in an unbalanced way. This sign of loosing equilibrium and hitting pond walls and then sinking is a classic symptom of organ damage due to feedingt technique and lack of attention to the needs of a four season fish. But I digress---
    It was Momotaro who said in a well known article from the early 1990s, " fish fasted and kept outside in winter ( in his area 40F) that were more colorful and retained better skin into the next year" ( paraphrase)

    So if you decide to force grow tosai and nisai, know when to throttle back on that technique-- or conversely, accept what the Japanese breeders already know, you will take the risk associated with force growth technique, which is a shorter life and if the genetics is not there- an aged looking fish.
    What I found interesting in the All Japan I mentioned in the last post is that all the old fish were from the north and not from the forced growth farms of the south. Yet the southern farms had beautiful younger and quite impressive jumbo individuals-- some half the age of the 'elders' from the north and exactly the same size. A tale of two cities---- JR

  7. #7
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Yes, I do need to get to Japan. Some day I will. Meanwhile, I will just have to appreciate the aged koi closer to home.

    There are not many. Of course, I seldom ask 'which is your oldest koi?' I do not know anyone else locally with a koi approaching 18. There are a few I know to be 10 or so. Even those who have the skill to keep koi to an advanced age usually re-home them before they are 10 years old. There is only so much room, and there is always a fresh new beauty to be acquired. So, space is created. It is quite understandable. The limit I have placed on my pond requires me to do likewise when I acquire a new koi, but that becomes increasingly more difficult as the koi grow to 80cm and larger. There are few ponds appropriate for them, and fewer interested in aged koi.

    Still, I do see in large old koi a beauty of a different sort than what we judge for show awards. Imperfections and flaws may deny them the spotlight of the show ring, but there can be an air of distinction. Years in the same pond make them quite at home, fully used to the noises of normal routines and the patterns of their human keepers. They seem to know there is nothing to be feared.

    If there were a way to determine the age of koi, it would be interesting to have a display of aged beauties at a show. Say, those over 15 years old. They would not be there for judging. Their role would be to teach an appreciation of nishikigoi by their very presence that cannot be taught any other way.

  8. #8
    Daihonmei
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    very true, the 'senior' yamabuki or asagi are common as they are varieties that often make it past the hobbyists learning curve years.
    But how much of the black speckles we see in those old asagi are due to a rough tour of duty under the care of a beginner and how much is genetics? Or the Yamabuki that is 27 inches but has lived in a 30 inch deep 2800 gallon pond all its life?
    NATURE VS NURTURE

    This is why it is enlightening judging ZNA all over the world. You get a real sense of the conditions ( and genetics purchased) in other parts of the world.
    As for the genetics, in Europe and other western areas the dealers ( lets say) don't 'spoil' their customer base with good genetics. This might be a business decision or an economic reality or just unsophisticated individual dealers. Or even local taste for varieties.
    But you can also see two layers of another reality- ENVIRONMENT.
    1) NATURE- the seasons the fish are exposed to. Cold areas- the fish can be short or squat. They may not show sexual maturity until age three or four ( females). In tropical areas the fish are large and show very soft skin and color. But they die younger and often from 'unknown' causes ( unknown in the local sense, not in the Big Picture sense).
    1) NURTURE- some keepers feed their koi to death. But before death comes robust growth and a sense of superior results. This might be one of the areas when the koi show has been turned from education to pure competition? Whatever it is, you can see it in the local fish aside from the annual ringers that are brought into every big show.

    In the end, there is no better technique that having koi of good genetics live a long life and looking 'show worthy' for most of their long adult life.

    After leaning all about diseases and how not to kill koi too quickly, the next frontier is the peace of rasing koi in a proper system. Then comes the individual challenge of doing the latter , well. JR

  9. #9
    Nisai
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    against all odds

    twenty year old koi<iframe width="560" height="315" src="jumbo champion - YouTube" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

  10. #10
    Daihonmei
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    THAT'S what I'm talk'n about! Excellent. Clean as a whistle at age 20-- quite an excellent job!

    Many of the older breeders in Japan are riddled with Hikkui. But that auto immune condition aside, you can see gosanke that are in their late teens looking like five year olds.
    I once saw three perfect yamabuki in a pond along with two magoi and an asagi ( a very unusual pond) and all the fish were over 20 and perfect.

    The big Yamabuki and Purachina that used to come to the all Japan back in the 1990s were also very old fish . The only indication of that was in their skulls-- otherwise they had skin like this fish just posted in the Utube.
    JR

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