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Thread: No need to fear the pheromones (!?)

  1. #1
    Jumbo RobF's Avatar
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    No need to fear the pheromones (!?)

    Among koi keepers it is the general believed that pheromones are a bad thing. But just what bad thing is it that the pheromones supposed to be doing? Communicating to other koi not to grow? Here is a study, the effect of various pheromone categories are assessed for goldfish and carp. Pheromones may provide information about alarm, about congregation, about reproductive timing, but growth is not on the list of things under pheromone influence. Given otherwise good water quality there is just a much reason to imagine that koi prefer a pheromone filled environment (it smells friendly!) to an austere one (anybody home?)! http://carpbusters.com/documents/Sorensen_Stacey[1].2004.NZJfinal.pdf
    ricshaw likes this.

  2. #2
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link. Like most Koi hobbyist, who are aware of pheromones, I thought that a build up of pheromones inhibit growth.

    That was mostly based on seeing stunted Koi in crowded Koi ponds with poor water quality and/or few water changes.

    I recently started questioning the cause of stunted looking Koi.
    The way I describe the stunted growth look is an older Koi with a body conformation that looks like you took a normal body Koi and removed the middle third of the body and connect the head third with the tail third. From my own observations I am leaning towards bad genetics for stunted Koi body.

  3. #3
    Jumbo Appliance Guy's Avatar
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    Are hormones the growth inhibitor?


    fishes don't grow, what effect growth?

  4. #4
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Appliance Guy View Post
    Are hormones the growth inhibitor?
    The question for me is why do some Koi exhibit stunted growth and others don't in the same exact environment?

    I already know that Koi do not grow at the same rate or reach the maximum size in the same exact environment.

  5. #5
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Pheromones by definition may not be for the purpose of encouraging or discouraging growth, but that does not mean that exposure to concentrated pheromones in a closed pond does not impact growth and health. Persistent exposure to flight pheromones, for example, must place stress on organs in a closed environment where the fish cannot escape the pheromone, in time numbing the senses, perhaps? Hormones may be for 'internal communication' by definition, but they do get released into the water. Separating the impact of persistent exposure to pheromones/hormones from nitrate and other metabolites is likely impossible. Proving the impact any one such substance separate from the others seems highly daunting to me. Proving the impact of all in combination over an extended period of time would be challenging given the need for genetically alike controls, etc. But, practical observation over more than 30 years of koikeeping is that koi growth is impeded where large, regular water changes are not performed in typically stocked ponds. And, I know from experience that guppies kept in crowded conditions do not grow as large, even with a greater rate of water changes and equivalent per fish feeding... males mature earlier, at a smaller size, and stay small.
    Last edited by MikeM; 07-24-2013 at 02:27 PM. Reason: typo

  6. #6
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    Pheromones by definition may not be for the purpose of encouraging or discouraging growth, but that does not mean that exposure to concentrated pheromones in a closed pond does not impact growth and health. Persistent exposure to flight pheromones, for example, must place stress on organs in a closed environment where the fish cannot escape the pheromone, in time numbing the senses, perhaps? Hormones may be for 'internal communication' by definition, but they do get released into the water. Separating the impact of persistent exposure to pheromones/hormones from nitrate and other metabolites is likely impossible. Proving the impact any one such substance separate from the others seems highly daunting to me. Proving the impact of all in combination over an extended period of time would be challenging given the need for genetically alike controls, etc. But, practical observation over more than 30 years of koikeeping is that koi growth is impeded where large, regular water changes are not performed in typically stocked ponds. And, I know from experience that guppies kept in crowded conditions do not grow as large, even with a greater rate of water changes and equivalent per fish feeding... males mature earlier, at a smaller size, and stay small.
    Back to my question Mike, why do some Koi exhibit stunted growth and others don't in the same exact environment?

    If some Koi do not exhibit impeded growth to persistent exposure to pheromones/hormones from nitrate and other metabolites... that leaves "genetics" as an explanation.

  7. #7
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    The very little experience I have as a 1-1/2 keeper points to not eating enough food as stunting the growth of a koi. The koi that isn't aggressive enough to compete for the floating pellets or misses the pellets as it attempts to gobble them. Or the koi that just cannot adapt to eating from the surface. Not only is growth stunted but coloration degraded. Recently my yondan kohaku, which is my oldest yet smallest, turned muji and I reason he wasn't eating enough.

  8. #8
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yerrag View Post
    The very little experience I have as a 1-1/2 keeper points to not eating enough food as stunting the growth of a koi. The koi that isn't aggressive enough to compete for the floating pellets or misses the pellets as it attempts to gobble them. Or the koi that just cannot adapt to eating from the surface. Not only is growth stunted but coloration degraded. Recently my yondan kohaku, which is my oldest yet smallest, turned muji and I reason he wasn't eating enough.
    But, is not being aggressive about eating and being timid to eat pellets floating on the surface partly due to "genetics"?

    I have had experience with buying tosai and watching their behavior, watching them grow, and recording and comparing their growth.

    The tosai that grow the fastest are not shy about eating.

  9. #9
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    I agree, Rick, that genetics is involved in a way where genes express themselves in koi's behavior. The fast growing koi has genes that make it behave in a way that favors its growth in an artificial pond. Maybe its genes do a better job of adapting to this environment, whereas the koi with stunted growth cannot adapt and continue to look for food in the empty pond bottom. Its genetic programming wired it that way, and this programming is slow to adapt and react to changes in the environment. If we treat the koi as a person, we would call it stubborn, when it really is dumb There I said it, that koi was dumb genetically.

  10. #10
    Tategoi hewhoisatpeace's Avatar
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    Maybe I'm a bit off topic, but I think about "pheromones" like this: Koi are kept in exceptionally unnatural conditions. To parallel, consider if a person were kept in a similar amount of air, say a capsule the size of a football field, 10' tall. Air is contantly run through algae scrubbers to remove CO2 and add O2. It might be fine for a while. But add more people, and contain the waste in the capsule for periodic removal in an open latrine, just to make it interesting.

    Given time, I think that you might end up with air that smelled like Fritos and butt, and people who survived but failed to thrive. Changing the air regularly would make a big difference. If you were in this capsule, would you want 10% per week changes? Or a flow through air supply?

    I don't know if it's pheromones, nitrate accumulation, hormones, or something else. But I know that providing fresh "atmosphere" makes a big difference in quality of life.
    Will Schultze
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