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Thread: Koi Behavior and Etiquette

  1. #1
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Koi Behavior and Etiquette

    A year ago I introduced into the pond a kinrin yamabuki, pegging its age as barely a year old. As I stood by watching its moves, as I usually do with new kois, I noticed it running up to a koi and accompanying the koi for a few stretches, not by the tail but close by shoulder to shoulder. It would proceed to do the same thing with each koi in the pond until none was left to make introductions to. It was the only koi that ever did that in my pond. Yet again, it was only one of two kois that was the sole addition when put in the pond.

    Has anyone seen this happen with their koi? Can anyone be a fish whisperer and tell me what was going on? I only see this behavior on an election campaign. This kind of gladhanding apparently isn't reserved for humans after all, I thought.

  2. #2
    Tosai
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    That yamabuki will soon be the President of the pond, baring any sex scandal.

  3. #3
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    I have not observed that. What I do regularly observe after adding a small new koi to my pond of big gals, is that the little one will swim close to a large koi near the lower flank, or under the anal fin. It looks like a lamprey trailing a shark. The large koi can find it irritating. The behavior usually ends a few days afterward as the new fish adjusts. It seems like the little one is seeking protection through proximity, while staying away from the mouth of the big gal. When I've introduced three tosai at the same time, this behavior does not occur, or occurs only briefly. Instead, the tosai will school together, usually away from the large gals. When two tosai are added, the schooling does not occur as quickly and sometimes not at all. But, I've never failed to see schooling behavior when there were three little ones among the giants. The schooling can last for months. Since most of my koi are over 80cm, a school of little 15cm tosai is really cute. They get all the attention.

  4. #4
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    whodatkoi, with its kinrin plumage, it's more like emperor than president

    Mike, the schooling behavior yes! and if the tosai can't find a companion tosai, it stays by its nearest size - in my pond there are two shubunkins which serve that purpose - to provide company to the new small entrant to the pond.

  5. #5
    Sansai almostgeorgia's Avatar
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    I've often observed somewhat similar behavior as mentioned above; tosai 'clinging' to the underside of a much larger koi not unlike the behavior of a ramora on a shark. It can be quite humorous when the much larger fish finally gets irritated and starts swimming rapidly in ever tighter circles, trying to lose that little 'shadow' so firmly affixed to its belly.

    More curiously, when introducing new, larger nisai and sansai I've always observed the rest of the residents swimming vigorously with the newbie in a tightly packed school, around and around the perimeter of my irregularly shaped pond. This behavior can go on for an hour or more. I've heard other koi keepers observe similar behavior, and it's easy to anthropomorphize all the action as just showing the 'new guy' the parameters of his new home.

    I really have no idea what drives all of this, but it's certainly a testament to the often strong schooling instincts among koi, even those over 65 cm.

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