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Thread: Mystery Cause of Death of Large Koi

  1. #21
    Jumbo sacicu's Avatar
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    I happen to agree with JR that the lifespan of koi nowadays have fallen and I agree without slowing the metabolic rate of koi thru colder water temperatures, cell division limits are reached faster. I believe that if you keep on pushing the growth of koi improperly whatever that means, you somewhat cut short the lifespan. Years before it was not uncommon here to grow chagoi as fast as possible and in 3 to 4 years you have gotten a jumbo chagoi but only to find out that it wont survive more than 4 years. Nowadays, the average lifespan seem to have improved along with growth rates due to better food and water quality. Sizes of 1meter 4 to 5 y.o. chagoi is now possible. However I am pessimistic that these chagoi grown in eternal summer settings can live longer compared to 4 season environments.

    It is my understanding that koi bred to grow now could be tied to a shorter lifespan. In dogs, bigger breed of dogs have a generally shorter lifespan as compared to smaller breeds.

    In terms of food choices, food manufacturers also have been pushing for higher protein because of market demands. When before 28% was the norm, nowadays its could be as dangerously high of 50% just to push for that extra cm of growth and more bulky look at the expense of potentially hidden problems along the way that greatly reduced the mortality of koi.



    Diet does play an important

  2. #22
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yerrag View Post
    Mike, since you've been caring for koi for around thirty years, and you've re-homed a fewlarge old koi, I'm assuming that you've raised large koi (other than the 24-yr old hariwake) from tosai or nisai, and that prior to these past 12 years, which would be eighteen years of koi raising, you did not experience such rapid and unexpected mortality from large koi. Is that correct?
    Until my current pond was built in 2005, I did not succeed in getting many koi larger than 70cm (28 inches), one exception being the old Hariwake which was close to 80cm back then. When my current pond was built, I added several less expensive koi for learning purposes and began to add a better quality koi or two each year. With the population limited to 16 fish in 12,500 gallons, ones I had previously continued to grow past 80cm. So, it is only going back the past 12 years that I have had what I consider large koi. It would be wrong to think that all or many of these have had sudden deaths. That is not at all the case. Only the 4 I mentioned have had sudden death from undetermined cause(s). Others have been re-homed along the way or passed due to readily determinable causes. I would have to go back through my records to see how many koi over the past decade have reached 85cm and what occurred with each, but I do not think that would be helpful in trying to figure out what went wrong with the four mystery deaths. ...And, the Hariwake is not the only oldster in the pond. I have kept Vamp, a Marusada Showa of magoi lineage who is now 16 (maybe 17??) years old (I don't have my records with me) and around 85cm, if not longer, a beloved odd koi that still fascinates and thus still has a home. She was reviewed in a thread a dozen years ago when I was raising up a bunch of Showa to learn from.

  3. #23
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sacicu View Post
    I happen to agree with JR that the lifespan of koi nowadays have fallen and I agree without slowing the metabolic rate of koi thru colder water temperatures, cell division limits are reached faster. I believe that if you keep on pushing the growth of koi improperly whatever that means, you somewhat cut short the lifespan. Years before it was not uncommon here to grow chagoi as fast as possible and in 3 to 4 years you have gotten a jumbo chagoi but only to find out that it wont survive more than 4 years. Nowadays, the average lifespan seem to have improved along with growth rates due to better food and water quality. Sizes of 1meter 4 to 5 y.o. chagoi is now possible. However I am pessimistic that these chagoi grown in eternal summer settings can live longer compared to 4 season environments.

    It is my understanding that koi bred to grow now could be tied to a shorter lifespan. In dogs, bigger breed of dogs have a generally shorter lifespan as compared to smaller breeds.

    In terms of food choices, food manufacturers also have been pushing for higher protein because of market demands. When before 28% was the norm, nowadays its could be as dangerously high of 50% just to push for that extra cm of growth and more bulky look at the expense of potentially hidden problems along the way that greatly reduced the mortality of koi.



    Diet does play an important
    I believe you are correct that gosanke, particularly those from the leading breeders whose bloodlines produce the bulk of GCs over 85cm, have shorter life spans. The number that pass within a couple of years of winning GC at one of the 'world class' shows is high. It no longer surprises to hear about it. There does seem to be a weakness in the gosanke capable of reaching over 90cm. The meter long gosanke are rare, not just in reaching that length, but in staying alive after doing so.

    I would not blame the protein percentage of food, but would not disagree that the constant heavy feeding is a contributing factor. I tend to think that my feeding practices contributed to the mystery deaths.

  4. #24
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    Until my current pond was built in 2005, I did not succeed in getting many koi larger than 70cm (28 inches), one exception being the old Hariwake which was close to 80cm back then. When my current pond was built, I added several less expensive koi for learning purposes and began to add a better quality koi or two each year. With the population limited to 16 fish in 12,500 gallons, ones I had previously continued to grow past 80cm. So, it is only going back the past 12 years that I have had what I consider large koi. It would be wrong to think that all or many of these have had sudden deaths. That is not at all the case. Only the 4 I mentioned have had sudden death from undetermined cause(s). Others have been re-homed along the way or passed due to readily determinable causes. I would have to go back through my records to see how many koi over the past decade have reached 85cm and what occurred with each, but I do not think that would be helpful in trying to figure out what went wrong with the four mystery deaths. ...And, the Hariwake is not the only oldster in the pond. I have kept Vamp, a Marusada Showa of magoi lineage who is now 16 (maybe 17??) years old (I don't have my records with me) and around 85cm, if not longer, a beloved odd koi that still fascinates and thus still has a home. She was reviewed in a thread a dozen years ago when I was raising up a bunch of Showa to learn from.
    Given your experience Mike, and I hope you don't mind me asking, would you be more likely to think twice before bringing into your pond large sansai gosankes? It would have cost more to get them, yet for them to go so soon... would growing from nisai be the way going forward? Would you feel more confidence in longevity with a DIY large koi than buying a 3yr. old jumbo koi?

  5. #25
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yerrag View Post
    Given your experience Mike, and I hope you don't mind me asking, would you be more likely to think twice before bringing into your pond large sansai gosankes? It would have cost more to get them, yet for them to go so soon... would growing from nisai be the way going forward? Would you feel more confidence in longevity with a DIY large koi than buying a 3yr. old jumbo koi?
    Well, obviously these mystery deaths are outside my experience... or, should I say, they are part of my experience from which I've not learned something I should learn. LOL.

    Since the mystery deaths all concerned koi that I had raised for multiple years, I do not give much weight to them having been older than nisai when acquired. Transport stress was long in the past when they died. No doubt larger koi endure more stress in shipment (but those bags stuffed with numerous tosai shipped in bulk are surely far more stressful). I'd include shipment/transport stress among the many 'little things' koi endure in captivity, the cumulative impact of which was JR's point.

  6. #26
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    Well, obviously these mystery deaths are outside my experience... or, should I say, they are part of my experience from which I've not learned something I should learn. LOL.

    Since the mystery deaths all concerned koi that I had raised for multiple years, I do not give much weight to them having been older than nisai when acquired. Transport stress was long in the past when they died. No doubt larger koi endure more stress in shipment (but those bags stuffed with numerous tosai shipped in bulk are surely far more stressful). I'd include shipment/transport stress among the many 'little things' koi endure in captivity, the cumulative impact of which was JR's point.
    I hope that you will be able to find out the most likely causes of the mysterious deaths, and be able to get future large koi that will develop well and last long.

  7. #27
    Tosai
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    Consulting JR, his thoughts were ...
    On the assumption that JR used to post as user JasPR, is there any way to convince him to join the forum again? He left after some unpleasantness which I do not care much for. He is a great teacher and the hobby is worse off without his knowledge transfer. He should come back and continue teaching. He is not the only super experienced guy on the forum but he is definitely missed. Anyone (MikeM?) that agrees with me and that can convince him?

  8. #28
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    JR's knowledge is missed, but he has moved on.

  9. #29
    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Last week, I had a bit of a pond crisis, all involving my 3 7yr old koi (which are just beginning their 7th year). None of them are gosanke - an 85 cm white asagi, a 75 cm shiro utsuri, and a slightly smaller shusui. My 6yr old 81cm sanke was beginning to show signs of being affected, but not as strongly as thse three. The remaining eight koi, beginning their third year, weren't affected.

    We are at the beginning of summer, and water temperatures have gone up, and the sun has already begun its move towards casting a smaller shadow. The smaller the shadow, the more direct the sun is. The cool season is over. We have a different pattern here, where the coldest season goes directly into the warmest season, the cold season being brought upon us by the far reaches of the cold Siberian winter, yet the cold being tempered by the sun already beginning its rise over the horizon from December lows. The effect on a koi keeper like me is that we get a quick transition cold cold water temperatures into really warm water temperatures. The lowest water temperatures of around 23C around mid-February would reach a peak of close to 30C around mid-April, and the peak would last around 3 months at most.

    The asagi and the shiro started showing visible redness on their skin, and their behavior changed from being calm to becoming agitated. The shusui became similarly agitated, although it was hard to see visble signs of redness on the skin. They lost their appetitie, and they began to swim a lot. The asagi would stay directly below the waterfalls, while the shiro would keep swimming near the surface by the pond walls. The shusui would jump more often, and I was just glad it didn't get to a point where I'd find him by the pond surroundings in the morning.

    At first I thought I was late in putting up the shade sail, but upon further examination, I discounted this as a cause. The pond is bounded by the 2-story house on the west, and partially by the house on the north and south of it, and what is not shaded by the house is compensated by trees and foliage, so the direct sun only gets to hit from the east in the morning. Still, it is heavily blocked by a wall and palm trees. The only time the pond gets heavily hit by the sun is during the heavy summer months, when the sun hits directly overhead (where there is practically no shadow at its most direct exposure).

    I thought I was already pretty good with my pondkeeping chores, and the water parameters are good enough for me, with ammonia and nitrite pretty much nil, whereas my kH has been under control with the use of an anoxic filter. I've been cleaning my filter bottoms as well as flushing the bottom drain. When I swim to inspect my koi, I do not detect any itch, which meant for me that there was no outbreak of pathogens. And when I siphon the waste from filter bottoms, I don't get to smell any foul smell either.

    Anyway, I had salted the pond to slightly above .2%, and doubled the flowrate. The redness in the koi skin have begun to subside, and the three koi are acting more calm, although they aren't yet ready to feed. I'm convinced that my learning isn't done, and that I would be learning about caring for large and mature koi beyond their 7th year. They are more sensitive with each passing year, and this is where I begin to appreciate the koi dealer's words of wisdom to limit my koi population. There is a great need for a large margin of safety with these older koi.

    As to the cause of the crisis, I can only guess that the higher water temperature made pathogens more active. And I think there's another cause that could have caused the pathogens to act up the way they did. I had started feeding them the solid leftovers from juicing fruits for my mom. I hand feed these koi these juicing leftovers (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew). I made sure they are fed into the mouth, but I think there were still some that went to the water column. In cold water temperatures, I didn't experience any downside. But with the water warming up, I may just also be feeding the pond pathogens.

    Well, I'm just glad I caught this early. The koi are going to be nursed back to health. Feeding the koi manually gives me the chance to catch signs early and helps me keep things from devolving further.

  10. #30
    Tosai
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    Glad you got this under control - whatever it was. Would have been a bad way to start summer had things gone the other way ...
    There is much written about how hardy koi are but I sometimes wonder? As you pointed out, I think the secret is in the safety margin that comes with low stocking levels.

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