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Thread: oyagoi question

  1. #1
    Tategoi Loco4Koi's Avatar
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    Jul 2012

    oyagoi question

    If a fish has great genetics(Dainichi etc) and a great body, but has some simple pattern flaws, such as weak beni in a showa or shimi (genetic?) on a kohaku, would you still consider it a good choice for oyagoi?

    Reason i ask is if a normal everyday person wants to dabble in backyard breeding,, maybe this might be an economical way to obtain oyagoi with potential for above average offspring.
    The thought being that despite it's personal flaws it may pass on it's parent koi genes.

  2. #2
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Orlando, Florida
    Pattern is almost completely irrelevant in selection of oyagoi. There are exceptions. An extreme would likely be avoided, such as menkaburi. Tancho is all about pattern, so the few purpose-bred Tancho are from oyagoi carefully selected with pattern in mind. Pattern appears almost randomly in offspring, so it gets no weight in the normal course.

    Weakness in the beni is an entirely different matter. It may show itself in a pattern flaw, but the weakness is itself to be avoided.

    Backyard breeders just wanting the fun of raising up their own fish can get pleasure out of most anything. Pick the best available as oyagoi, match like varieties and have fun hoping for one that is worthy of pond space. Don't let your dreaming run too far. You'll be deeply disappointed. It is not unusual for an experienced breeder, with an eye trained by decades of selecting fry, to get just 0.25% worthy fish out of an entire spawn from very expensive, top quality oyagoi, with most of these being sold off as tosai because their future is limited. The chances are rather high that the backyard hobbyist breeder will cull out the best without realizing it. ...I think most end up with the bulk of a spawn dying off early due to inadequate facilities and lack of suitable fry foods, and if they get past that point, have to cull brutally at a very small size because they do not have space to raise even 5,000 fry to a size where traits can be distinguished. Out of, say, 200,000 fertilized eggs, what are the chances that the few worth keeping are among the 5,000 fry surviving at two weeks? ...the worst are often the strongest.

    BTW, if all the costs for equipment, food, electricity and water are added up (not even counting the innumerable hours of labor if things are done right), the backyard breeder would be able to purchase a remarkable koi with potential. Instead, they end up keeping one or three that become nice pets. That's wonderful if they've enjoyed it, not so good if they were hoping to produce a jewel.

    The world has enough unworthy koi. So, I would not encourage anyone to take up backyard breeding. Still, I know folks have fun doing it, and that is great. I recall having fun with a flock spawn years ago even though I did not keep a single fish (and had a hard time giving them away). Get into it because you enjoy the work, do not mind the irrational expense and will love the adventure even though your best accomplishment would not beat the tosai in the $35 sale vat. If it's a jewel a person seeks, put the money into a nice sansai at your favorite dealer.
    Last edited by MikeM; 10-29-2013 at 08:35 AM. Reason: typo

  3. #3
    Daihonmei dick benbow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    seattle, wa
    My advice , is based on my experiences with back yard breeding. I look for different things in the sexes. females I like to look for body shape as it translates into size and good skin. males I look for strong color and pattern. One of the biggest mistakes, beginners make is to get their hands on sexually mature pairs but young. The eggs on a first time breeding, say 3 year old, are very small. this translates into weaker fry. You'd be better off to find a female around 6, that has eggs almost twice the size, because the fry get a better stronger start.

    you mention in your questions about weak beni in showa. As a rule of thumb, it's something to be expected and avoided. Let's say to start off with, you decide you want to try showa. And you have a nice female for sumi and shiroji. Consider breeding her first with kohaku. Since your first culling will be in the first 3 days for selecting the dark fry only, you weed out anything that doesn't show strong showa traits. during your selection process as they grow, your culling strictly from a beni pattern focus. Sumi comes later on many better prospects.

    Mike makes good sense comments on the importance of limiting your numbers of fry and having Daphne for them the first 6 weeks of their life.I could rattle on continuously but there are books for that. get your own experience. If all fails you have the knowedge to respect professionals that make a living at it. I encourage you to try because of just that opportunity.
    Tosai_Sunny likes this.
    Dick Benbow

  4. #4
    Jumbo Tosai_Sunny's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    I agree with both MikeM and Coach's comments. Here are a couple more to add their lists of things to avoid:
    1. genetic defects
    2. undesirable wild traits(that deviate from the judging standard). On gosanke, I would look for the most refined specimens with dorsal oriented patterns for the beni.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    I have absolutely no experience breeding koi, aside from reading about it. I did have a new female fill a 10ft quarantine tank with itty bitty eggs once the day I put her in there, and the shear number of those eggs was just SHOCKING on that white/blue background with nothing else in there. They were nearly like the whole bottom covered in grains of sand. IT gave me some perspective about the amount of culling that has to take place. I do have some experience breeding other animals, and I have looked at parent koi and their offspring and seen specific pattern traits passed down, and heard breeders say the same. So while there are plenty of outliers when you have hundreds of thousands of fry, I don't know that I would say the patterns are completely random, and these fish started from a solid color, so the patterns were bred in. I do think most of koi traits are polygenetic. Meaning there is no one magic gene for a perfect 4 step kohaku pattern, so to a large degree it IS luck of getting the right combination which would be impossible without the statistical help of tons of fry, but not entirely. The quality of the conformation, skin, color etc. I would agree are primary, but I would think that pattern tendencies would also be good to look for in Oyagoi. Stuff like the tendency of the hi plates to consolidate rather than speckle, the tendency of the pattern to be separated at certain junctions (ie not having hi covering the whole front half of the fish), the hi not to drop too low on the face, the hi not growing on the fins, stuff like that, and maybe pattern alignment (ie inazuma or slanted markings vs vertically or horizontally aligned markings). While breeding fish with those tendencies may not yield an entire flock of fish with the same traits, I think it probably raises the odds...
    Given that you are GOING to be a shi#e culler if you are breeding fish for the first time without your father's father telling you ALL about how to do it while you watched him growing up like the best of the Japanese breeders, and you're going to spend ALLLLLLL that time, money, and resource to breed the fish, take care of the fry, cull them, etc etc etc... at least don't be a cheapskate on the Oyagoi. That's not a good place to skimp in my opinion. I would be skeptical of a non-experienced fish breeder's ability to pick an off fish that would make a good oyagoi that didn't appear nice to most everyone else... In that scenario, I think you're more likely to fill the local reservoir with lots of ugly mutant carp than you are to harvest anything much better than the off koi in the breeding. You would be better served getting a night job making even minimum wage for a few months to just buy a real nice fish. I talk myself out of breeding every time I consider it with the same logic. I'm not picking on you, I generally direct this same advice at myself as a hobbyist.

  6. #6
    Oyagoi RayJordan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    San Antonio, Texas
    Quote Originally Posted by Loco4Koi View Post
    If a fish has great genetics(Dainichi etc) and a great body, but has some simple pattern flaws, such as weak beni in a showa or shimi (genetic?) on a kohaku, would you still consider it a good choice for oyagoi?

    Reason i ask is if a normal everyday person wants to dabble in backyard breeding,, maybe this might be an economical way to obtain oyagoi with potential for above average offspring.
    The thought being that despite it's personal flaws it may pass on it's parent koi genes.
    Pattern flaws would be mostly about pattern balance, location or lack there of. Weak beni and shimmies are not pattern flaws but color quality flaws.

    As others have stated the % of any spawning that could be considered even medium quality is very limited. Maybe 0.1-3.0% depending on quality of parent koi and variety of koi being spawned. Consider first breeding something like chagoi or ogon to improve chances of having a few babies worth keeping. More primitive offspring will out grow and out compete the more refined fry so severe culling is mandatory to end up with anything worthwhile after just a few months of growing.
    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.

  7. #7
    Tategoi Loco4Koi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Thanks for the input... if I do this, it most likely will be a one time thing. The process intrigues me. I would have no expectations past a learning experience and maybe a sentimental fish to enjoy watching from birth on.

  8. #8
    Tategoi Loco4Koi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    One thing I read recently that surprised me said the majority of the all japan koi show grand champions wouldn't be considered for oyagoi by the major breeders. It also said their value would be higher leading up to the show than what it is after. The latter being because the highly unlikely chance of winning again.

  9. #9
    Oyagoi Flounder's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Houston, TX
    Quote Originally Posted by Loco4Koi View Post
    if I do this, it most likely will be a one time thing.
    If that's the case I don't think you should stat breeding, it's a learning curve. Every year you get better the more you breed, the better your eyes get in culling.

    Breeding koi is easy, piece of cake to put 2-3 koi together and have fries. The hard part is keeping those buggers alive the first month. They need a lot of food that will not ruin the water. If the water goes bad, they all die quick! Live food is best after hatched, so it will be daphnia and rotifers until about 1 month then you can switch to man made food. You'll be lucky if you can make it to the one month mark on live food since you'll see so many live rotifers for the first 2 weeks then all of a sudden GONE!

    Don't expect much in HQ fries the first year since the weakest are the better quality, bigger koi will outgrow the smaller one in size that's 1 to 5. Guess who eats whom? They're always hungry so food must be abundant in order for the best to survive.

    Cull ruthlessly!!! The better ones need the room and food. Fugly koi will eat a lot and produce so much waste, no point in wasting $ and room in feeding these.

    I have the genetics of higher quality koi and "some room" but I still find it extremely difficult in hitting the lottery in producing a medium quality koi. This is my history in breeding:

    Year 1, breed great, alot of fries but no live food, fed the usual egg yolk mashed up...... boom all dead within 2 weeks.
    Year 1 second attempt with different female, again a lot of fries, and felt sorry if I did not try to grow all of them...guess what happened? Yep, the siblings will cull each other. Result: pathetic

    Year 2, ok I learned something from year one, kept only 1000 fries. Culled, culled, the smallest and weakest separated from Tobi siblings and fed more rotifers, these actually are the better patterned koi but still very weak. Ended with 30 fingerlings that's worth keeping bc of the pattern.

    So it's a lot of hard work with very little success derived from it. Why even breed? I learned a lot in seeing how difficult it is in getting good koi. Had I not wasted my time in breeding and putting the same amount of time in my day job, I wwould be able to buy a very HQ koi a the end of the season. But would I do it again? Hella yes, bc I'm a dreamer.

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