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Thread: Am I doing the right thing?

  1. #1
    Tosai kougs's Avatar
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    Am I doing the right thing?

    Is it genetics or the larger kids not giving the little guys a chance? I have 6 smaller Koi roughly 5 to 9 inches and they are approaching 2 years of age. They don’t seem to have grown much since I introduced them into the pond. When I have feed the kids the little guys make a mad dash to the food most of the time missing and then immediately head back down to the bottom of the pond. They don’t stay at the surface and pig out like the larger koi.
    I have removed them from the rest of the kids placing them in a QT with a filter and an air stone and plan to feed them away from the bigger kids. I'm hoping to give them a fighting chance. Or is it because of genetics that they are not growing and will stay the size that they currently are and what I’m doing will not change a thing.
    Comments? Advise?

  2. #2
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    It is not possible to answer your question about what is occurring in your specific situation. We can only talk in generalities and hope something fits.

    Since you are in Washington, I expect you deal with cool temperatures year round. I would not expect your koi to grow as rapidly as the same ones would grow in Florida. If I acquire a 7-inch tosai in March, I expect it will be 18 inches by March of the following year. If it is less than 16 inches, I get quite disappointed. If it reaches 20 inches or more, I am pleased with the growth. That is my 'normal' in my pond. Others in my area would be pleased with it reaching 12-14 inches. What is normal for your area will be quite different.

    You have not said how large the little guys were when you acquired them. If they were just 4-5 inches, getting up to 9 inches is slow for me, but they are growing. If the little guys have not grown at all, something fundamental is not right.

    You have focused on food. That's a good place to start. Little koi do get scared of lingering at the surface when there are much larger koi around. It is best to not mix small tosai with large koi, but nearly all of us do it. Nearly every year I acquire a couple of small tosai to raise up for fun. For the first few months, they shy away from the comparative whales in the pond. As they reach about 12 inches, they begin losing their fear of even the ones over 30 inches. I have not observed a material loss of growth due to mixing sizes, but the koi are in a comparatively large pond. Also, I feed sinking food more than floating food. There is not so much commotion when sinking food is used. The little ones can find pellets without having to get too close to the big gals. Many recommend feeding a small pellet to tosai and a larger pellet to the bigger fish. I use only large pellets and the tosai do fine, but do have to wait for the pellets to soften a bit before they can consume them. I am thinking that you might try some sinking pellets for the little guys, and/or some smaller pellets that they can consume quickly. There is also the question of what food you are using. Young fish need a higher protein content than large koi. However, I would not expect the food analysis to be a major factor since your other fish apparently grew.

    I believe the main factor influencing growth is water quality, or, should I say, poor water quality. Whenever I have visited ponds where the koi do not grow, I find that water changes are not performed regularly, leaves and gunk build up in the pond before being removed, and nitrate levels are high (which means other metabolites, hormones, etc. are also going to be high). Koi will grow on a mediocre food if the water is great... perhaps not as much as with a high quality feed, but real growth nonetheless.

    After water quality and food, the main factor is temperature. Koi kept in chilly temperatures or excessively high temperatures are not going to grow well. I would guess that you have a short growing season, so you need to maximize the months when the water is in the 65F and higher range.

    Lastly, I'll comment on your statement that bigger koi 'pig out'. It is my observation that well-fed koi do not exhibit excessive exuberance after the first few mouthfuls. They become leisurely in their eating. When I see a lot of jostling, or splashing, I take it as a sign that the koi are not being fed enough on a regular basis. There are several foods with labels saying not to feed more than is consumed in 5 minutes. That is pure silliness, unless you are feeding 6 or 7 times per day. I find it takes from 30 to 45 minutes for my koi to consume a meal. I suggest feeding a small handful of floating, let the koi consume most of it and then toss in another. Continue like that until you notice that the koi have slowed down and are not showing much interest. Then stop feeding. Feed again after 4-6 hours, or at the regular time if feeding twice per day. You will soon see that there is no jostling for competitive position. They learn there will be plenty of food for all. The bold ones will eat first. The more timid ones will eat after the bold ones are becoming satiated. The different personalities will become obvious. (Yes, koi do have individual personalities, and I reject the idea that what I observe is just anthropomorphic projection. )

    Think about it. Maybe something I've said will give you a start point for addressing your goal.

  3. #3
    Daihonmei dick benbow's Avatar
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    Mike, wonderfully written

    I find thru study and observation that feeding a sinking food tends to do a better job of distributing nourishment to all sizes and temperments.

  4. #4
    Daihonmei
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    Quote Originally Posted by dick benbow View Post
    Mike, wonderfully written

    I find thru study and observation that feeding a sinking food tends to do a better job of distributing nourishment to all sizes and temperments.

    Yep, great response, Mike. JR

  5. #5
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
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    Like Mike, I like to acquire a couple of small tosai each year to raise for fun. Several years ago, I started taking pictures and using a grow-out template I got here on Koi Bito to keep track of growth and changes. I can tell you that not all tosai grow the same. Genetics plays a role in growth rate.

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