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Thread: Meter Koi

  1. #1
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Meter Koi

    The post-WWII history of the development of nishikigoi has involved tremendous change in the overall quality, and in size. The quest for the meter-long koi had quite an impact, and the dream of a meter-long gosanke affected the efforts of all the leading breeders. A dozen years ago, when internet koi forums were novel, a common debate was over length vs quality in making judging decisions. On one side was the thought that beauty should prevail over size. On the other side was the view that imperfections of large koi should be overlooked or given little weight in appreciation of the accomplishment and age of these creatures. These old debates were fueled in part by anticipation of the day when there would be meter-long gosanke.

    This year the Shinkokai All-Japan Show gave us a Grand Champion of great beauty that prevailed over her larger rivals. On many internet forums there are comments celebrating the triumph of beauty over size. The tone of the comments gives the impression that this could represent a change in how the balance is struck by judges. And, there is a hint of pleasure in the notion that size proponents got a comeuppance.

    The results of one show hardly make a trend, of course, and it has always been a matter of striking a balance between the imposing presence of a large koi and the more nearly perfect details of the smaller, younger koi.

    I have been studying the 2011 ZNA All-Japan winners as published in Nichirin. The 'small' Grand Champion Kohaku (merely 97cm) prevailed over one of Nobuo Takigawa's amazing meter-long Sanke (actually, 107cm). Another of Takigawa-san's meter-long koi, a Kohaku, took Jumbo Prize 1 (and his meter-long Chagoi took Jumbo Prize 2). Notably, the Best Tancho award went to a meter-long Tancho Kohaku in her 11th year. So much for the idea that Tancho are short-term beauties.

    Meter long koi remain rare. But, they do exist. And there will be more in all varieties. Judges are going to have more challenges in striking the proper balance.

    Postscript... I have not heard people speak of new dreams of the 1.25 meter koi, or some other arbitrary length. Could be it be that we are satisfied that a meter is big enough?

  2. #2
    Daihonmei
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    Good Morning Mike. Usually this topic drifts to the idea that koi will soon be a meter plus and then maybe a meter and a half and then maybe two meters!
    There is no question that nishikigoi were becoming smaller in the 1970s and 1980s. That was pretty much due to inbreeding as the varieties were being created by concentrated genetic techniques. The piebald pattern for instance in kohaku required the intense concentration of pattern type and males were believed to be the 'carrier' of the pattern and so inbreeding into the next generation was common.
    Fortunately, the dance of animal breeding always starts with concentration of gene pools and then outcrosses to 'freshen up' the gene pool with distant genes of magoi, long fins and the like. In addition, just a few generations of separation can allow nishikigoi varieties to lend 'HYBRID VIGOR' to a new combination of isolated genes.
    The Ochiba/Gosanke cross that is taking place right now would be an example of this vigor.
    But all species have a limit. There are no 4 foot tall dogs, or 32 hands horses or 70 ft snakes. There are no guppies the side of an Oscar and there are no Oscars the size of a koi. There are no cardinal tetras the size of a swordtail and no goldfish the size of a beach ball.
    Many of these species are indeterminate growers, growing all their lives. And it is possible through intensive growing techniques to get koi to full adult potential in as little of 5 years. But this does not mean that at age ten they will continue to grow at the same rate. There is another side to the concept of indeterminate grower--- they growth slows over time. This is logical if you think about it; a fry grows and doubles its weight every thirty days at a minimum. And age one it will double every year in normal seasonal conditions and triple in size under controlled conditions. And as the koi ages, the doubling takes longer until growth is 50% or 25% of last year’s length. Finally, a koi of 32 inches, if blessed with genetics will add an inch or two to length from that point on. And at age ten, koi have been known to add a fraction of an inch. And so on----
    No one took JRs dollar on the American koi winning a major koi show (over 180 koi) against a competitive Japanese koi entry, over a ten year period.
    I still have the dollar. So I'll wager that NO Japanese Nishikigoi of quality will ever be 150 bu. I have seen with my own eyes, 106,( sanke/magoi) 108, ( sanke/magoi)) 112, ( Ochiba) 114, ( kumonryu) 116, ( Yamabuki) 118, ( Purachina) 119 plus ( yamabuki). And I have been told by Japanese friends that a non Gosanke exists that is now 124 & 128 cm. But that it is a hormonally injected fish. And that brings up a very important term in my bet--- hormones are used in many tropical fish varieties to bring on gigantism. And early articles in KOI and PONDs talked about two breeders in the UK that were using injections to get game carp to one meter plus for sports fishing. So the Japanese can't be dense to this reality in the world. Do they use growth hormones? I honestly have never heard even rumors of that. And I have seen heads being carved and scalpels along tosai pond walls. And even bits of flesh on the floor at a tancho breeder's facility. But I've never heard or seen injectibles for growth expect for that one reported to me by a Japanese insider. Yet I wonder----- JR

  3. #3
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    What would be the genetic limit on the length of a koi? Any guesses?

    There are lots of postings around about supposed 'largest carp on record' catches. These talk in terms of weight, the standard for fishermen, not length. Some are questionable as possible photoshopped fakes. Still, even these mega carp do not reach 2 meters. Perhaps 4.5 feet or 1.5 meters is about as long as any of these supposed world records could be. Maybe a 1.5 meter nishikigoi is conceivably possible, but it would seem something around 1.25 meter length is the genetic limit. How many people would it take to move a 200-pound koi in a bag of water? How many gallons per fish would be an appropriate standard for such a fish?

    One meter seems big enough to me.

    The fact that meter long koi are now being achieved among gosanke means that we will be seeing quality improvements in these large koi over the next decades. In time I don't think the old debate will be about much. The quality differences will not be that significant. Then size will be all the more important as the distinguishing factor in competition.

  4. #4
    Daihonmei
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    well, there will always be a hobbyist that believes they will find the next GC in the three for $20 bin at the garden center. And there will always be a new exhibitor that won first place with a finished male tosai that dreams of growing it to win the GC one day. And we know there are foods that promise to make garden koi , "show koi"! We can't resist those dreams so why not a koi that will be electric blue with black lines covering its body? Or pink koi with green plates on its dorsal area? ( think jelly fish cells as in danio) Or 2 meter koi! Or koi that live to be 200 year old? Its all part of the charm and folklore of koi......
    The limit? I just bet a dollar that there will not be a 150 BU Gosanke-- ever ( no ten year limit on that bet).
    Gigantism might be the next frontier. But like jumboism via genetics and forced growth technique, it will have its consequences. If natural in it's origins you will have giant related disease-- that is short lifes, bone cancers and circulation issues. If it is done unaturally with injections, you will have shorter lifes and many pituitary cancer cases. Just as we have many organ failures in eternal summer fish and forced fed show fish- typically at ages 5-10, we can expect newer and more disturbing results from Gigantism.
    It is much easier for game fish that are 'big' by weight. Koi are 'big' by length as evidenced by the Sakai matsunosuke sanke sisters that were given long bodies by gene type. Indeed, the great humps on some kohaku were line breeding attempts that were meant to make 'tall' big fish like food fish. Matsunosuke was a body type that was extended from dorsal to nose to gain size. And now that basic bone structure is used in all jumbo lines to get a 'promise' of length.
    The Chinese will likely be the first to use growth hormone as it is already used in many species under their growing care. the very high end arrowana ( as expensive as good koi), the discus, the live bearers and others are already exposed for color and rapid growth. Its just another natural, un-natural step.
    I find it hard to believe that the Japanese will not be pulled into the race, if they already haven't in some still rare cases.
    But ask yourself-- if you can sell a fish for 6 million yen now as a jumboism fish, how much will a wealthy chinese pay for a one meter gigantism gosai? 10 million, 20 million? I suggest that once Pandora is out of the box, she isn't going back in! JR

  5. #5
    Oyagoi RayJordan's Avatar
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    Size vs beauty is an interesting topic. No doubt the koi with the best combination of both wins the day but in each show the competition will be different and the pendulum swings a bit one way or the other based on the top koi in each individual show.

    Body conformation which not only encompasses size but also the body shape is also very importantand shape is given the most emphasis when judging koi. Next element in judging emphasis is quality which evaluates the overall quality/beauty of color/s and skin. Next is pattern which is a artistic appreciation judging element. Finally the degree of finish or accomplishment of bringing together all these elements to perfection.

    Since show koi are a unique and rare combination of body, quality, pattern, and finish/accomplishment judging needs to encompass all these elements which are a combination of genetics, husbandry, skill, and lots of good luck. A koi show is a unique combination of a livestock show, beauty contest, and art appreciation exhibition all rolled into one.
    Disclosure:These opinions are based on my experience and conversations with persons I consider accomplished koi keepers and do not reflect the viewpoint of any organization.

  6. #6
    Oyagoi RayJordan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    What would be the genetic limit on the length of a koi? Any guesses?

    There are lots of postings around about supposed 'largest carp on record' catches. These talk in terms of weight, the standard for fishermen, not length. Some are questionable as possible photoshopped fakes. Still, even these mega carp do not reach 2 meters. Perhaps 4.5 feet or 1.5 meters is about as long as any of these supposed world records could be. Maybe a 1.5 meter nishikigoi is conceivably possible, but it would seem something around 1.25 meter length is the genetic limit. How many people would it take to move a 200-pound koi in a bag of water? How many gallons per fish would be an appropriate standard for such a fish?

    One meter seems big enough to me.

    The fact that meter long koi are now being achieved among gosanke means that we will be seeing quality improvements in these large koi over the next decades. In time I don't think the old debate will be about much. The quality differences will not be that significant. Then size will be all the more important as the distinguishing factor in competition.
    Everything is a trade off. In nature natural selection drives this process. Survival and growing quickly to reproductive maturity and producing lots of offspring keep the species going. Over time the dominate genes emerge to create a successful prototype.

    Koi are almost the opposite of natural selection. Koi are the result of combining and selecting multiple recessive genetic traits to produce a very different version of the existing genetic traits rarely seen in wild carp and never seen in the same unique combinations of todays "man made" show koi.

    Creating jumbo koi is relatively easier in koi with fewer "elements" of color and pattern like a chagoi vs the much more refined gosanke which require many additional elements like coors and patterns. 125 cm chagoi would be rare but still more likely than a 100 cm gosanke.

    While these jumbo koi are thrilling to view at a show very very few hobbyists have a pond that could adequately provide the proper environment for such a large koi.

  7. #7
    Daihonmei
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    Mike & Ray, I'm sure you two have already seen this commerical ( super bowl intro) it never fails to put a smile on my face----
    DIRECTV "The Whale" [HQ]2011 Commercial with Dat Phan - YouTube

  8. #8
    Daihonmei
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    Mike, when I used the words 'Jumboism' and then 'Gigantism' I wanted separate out the normal genes from the abnormal or artificial.

    One key is if the beeder mentions that their 'jumbos' reach sexual maturity earlier than normally reared koi. This is a tip off when using growth Hormones as colors and maturity in general are all speeded up.


    Here is a piece on commercial salmon endured with injected growth cells-- Note the growth rates in the early cycle of life.---


    Growth-enhanced salmon proposed

    Atlantic salmon remains the most important farmed food fish in global trade. Salmon is a carnivorous fish, and aquaculturalists have been working to improve feed-conversion rates and efficiencies through selective breeding, and the inclusion of plant-based protein (soy, rapeseed oil and corn gluten) in feed formulations. As a consequence, feed input per fish has decreased to 44% of 1972 levels; likewise, current diets contain approximately half the content of fishmeal that they once did (Aerni 2004).
    The first transgenic food animal to be submitted for regulatory approval in the United States was transgenic Atlantic salmon carrying a chinook salmon growth-hormone gene controlled by a cold-activated promoter from a third species, the ocean pout. The mature weight of these fish remains the same as for other farmed salmon, but their early growth rate increases by 400% to 600%, with a concomitant 25% decrease in feed input and a shortened time to market (Du et al. 1992) ( see photos, page 129 ). Assuming a positive regulatory approval decision and consumer acceptance, the enhanced growth rate and feed efficiency of these transgenic salmon could increase salmon aquacultural productivity significantly, and would likely necessitate that salmon aquaculturists adopt the technology to remain competitive (Aerni 2004).

  9. #9
    Oyagoi RayJordan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasPR View Post
    Mike & Ray, I'm sure you two have already seen this commerical ( super bowl intro) it never fails to put a smile on my face----
    DIRECTV "The Whale" [HQ]2011 Commercial with Dat Phan - YouTube
    Had not seen that commercial. Looks like it is good to be a "Whale!"

  10. #10
    Jumbo
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    Over 2m......?!! No, thank you.
    http://www.narita-ryuki.com/wp-conte...129_120030.jpg

    Seriously speaking, there have been many discussions in the past several years and "85cm+ is enough" is the dominant opinion & idea up to the present.

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