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Thread: Bringing koi into show condition

  1. #1
    Nisai quinton.jones@carat.com's Avatar
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    Bringing koi into show condition

    Hi all,
    i don’t post a lot on this forum but I though this the best place to get some really learned opinions.
    I am taking my koi to a local show and have two months to prepare.
    i have really good fish I think - mostly Gosanke

    what would the the best feeding plan etc be by week
    what about bringing up the red - one or two of the sanke are a bit orange
    Some of the white could do with improvement

    i cannot use a lot of water in the process - we have serious drought conditions here

    how do you think my time and focus is spent over the next two months.
    most of the koi are 20-60cm

    thanks in advance

    quinton

  2. #2
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Quinton, I have been reading and hearing a lot about the water situation. I sympathize with all the koikeepers around Capetown.

    Keeping the highest quality water possible is always the first step... and the one nobody argues about. So, you may need to moderate feeding suggestions, etc. with that in mind. High nitrate levels tend to yellow the shiroji, so you have a challenge. At least everyone in your area has the same issue to deal with. There are nitrate adsorbing resins and such, but I have found them of no practical use with a koi pond. If you are tempted to try one (and do not have an unlimited budget!), I suggest you hold off until the last 10 days and then max it out to get the most out of it.

    In regard to pigment, focus on the red first. There are some high-end red-enhancing foods that do work. (I think 'Red Tiger" is one name.) If not available to you, a color food based on spirulina will show results after a few weeks. Use it exclusively.

    About 3 weeks before the show, switch your focus to the shiroji. There are white-enhancing foods. ('White Tiger' or some such.) I have not used any, but have heard from several people that they really do work. However, some report that it fouls the water more than other foods. If not available to you, go for a lower protein food that does not contain any shrimp, crab, krill or other crustacean ingredients... and no peppers, carrots or carotenes. One of the wheat-germ foods would work.

    To get the final clean-up of the shiroji, instead of a 4-5 day fast right before the show, make it a full week.

    Normally I'd say to feed as much as they will eat and do it as frequently as you can. Adding that last bit of bulk may be what makes a difference. But, with your water limitations, you have to be the judge of what balance to strike. If I was unable to do much to change out the water, I would not try to add bulk. I would be more interested in keeping up the skin and the brightness of the pigment rather than the shade of red or girth. ....Who knows what a particular group of judges will think on the day?

    All that said, there are folks with great show success who have their own approaches. No single way has 100% consensus. I hope some others post what they do/recommend so you have a diversity of ideas to consider.

    Good luck!!!!

  3. #3
    Nisai quinton.jones@carat.com's Avatar
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    Thanks so much Mike!
    Im planning on focusing on red first
    3wks on the red
    4wk on the white
    10days fasting
    Could I add spiralina powder to my normal food base? Or should I use a branded food color enhancer to be safe?
    also what about clay?

  4. #4
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    If you are making your own food, then using spirulina powder would seem the way to go. I believe you can go to 10% spirulina without any concern of doing too much. If you want to try a higher than 10% formulation, just keep a close watch on the shiroji and fins. Yellowed pectorals are not good.

    I did not think about clay. I should have. I have used it for improving the brightness of pigment and cleansing the whites. I do not believe clay is all it was made out to be when it was the big fad in the hobby, but just because it is not a miracle worker does not mean it does no good. I had measurable improvement in nitrate levels years ago when I used it regularly, but not a huge difference. Since I do very large water changes, the bit of difference made was not enough for me to spend money and time on clay. In your drought condition, perhaps it would make a difference. Back in the 'ancient days' of the late 1990s, clay was heavily used by some of the leading hobbyists in the UK in preparation for showing koi. They swore by it. During that time period even the most advanced hobbyists did not have the filtration systems so commonly available today, and nitrate levels tended to be much higher than what folks aim for now. Perhaps the clay really did help in those conditions. One thing is sure.... clay will not hurt in any way. If you have access to affordable montmorillite-type clay, use it daily. Or, even more often in smaller doses. Clay scavenges stuff out of the water. After it settles, it is not doing as much. So, spreading a daily dose over multiple applications will accomplish more... and leave you muddy water longer. The koi won't mind.

  5. #5
    Nisai quinton.jones@carat.com's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the help. I am feeding a good local food at the moment called shogun that was apparently formulated to copy one of the hikari products in terms of its nutritional make up. It works well. I have raw spirulina powder here. Thought I would mix a few spoons of olive oil with an equal amount of powder and then mix into the pellets. I am worried about adding too much. I’m looking at about 2 Tbs per 5kg

  6. #6
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    If it turns out to be too much, you will see yellowing. Some say that spirulina does not cause yellowing, but I have doubts about that.

    In regard to clay, what I posted may be misleading. Clay lowers nitrate indirectly by adsorbing ammonia ions. ....Clarifying for those who happen upon this thread.

  7. #7
    Sansai
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    If it turns out to be too much, you will see yellowing. Some say that spirulina does not cause yellowing, but I have doubts about that.

    In regard to clay, what I posted may be misleading. Clay lowers nitrate indirectly by adsorbing ammonia ions. ....Clarifying for those who happen upon this thread.



    Clay does not appear to be soluble in my pond water, but readily disperses, could clay absorb the ammonia ions?

  8. #8
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coolwon View Post
    Clay does not appear to be soluble in my pond water, but readily disperses, could clay absorb the nitrate ions?
    Some time ago I read some studies done on using clay to purify water for drinking purposes and to reduce nitrogen pollution from agricultural run-off. The science is fairly complex and without searching out the studies I would undoubtedly get the details wrong. My recollection of a study using bentonite clay is that the two big factors in clay adsorbing nitrate ions are temperature and pH. At temperatures around 80F with a pH of 6.0 and lower, a high rate of nitrate ion adsorption can be obtained. But, at the temperatures most desired for koi and at a pH of 7.5 and higher, the rate of adsorption dropped off dramatically. So, while some nitrate removal can be achieved directly, it is not a real solution. Also, sulphur compounds in the water are preferred, so well water with sulphur content can dislodge nitrate and cause it to be released back into the water.

    I do not understand what you mean about clay not being soluble in your pond water, "but readily disperses". Clay does not dissolve to become part of the chemical make-up of the water. Clay with salt content may release salt into the water, with the salt dissolving. (Do not use clay dug out of a farm field. It is loaded with stuff that can be released into the water, including pesticides, herbicides, etc.) Other chemicals captured by the clay may be released and dissolve also. The clay itself does not dissolve. It will 'come apart' as a muddy cloud of infinitesimal particles, making the water cloudy. These microscopic particles expose an enormous surface area for adsorption. As the particles settle, the exposed surface area is continually reduced until the clay is just a film on pond surfaces. The clay used in koi ponds has been powdered (usually for industrial uses) so it will disperse as a muddy cloud in the water. A lump of clay does no good because only the external surface is available for adsorption. The cloudier the water from the clay, the better.... unless you want to see your fish.

  9. #9
    Sansai
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    [QUOTE=MikeM;222168]Some time ago I read some studies done on using clay to purify water for drinking purposes and to reduce nitrogen pollution from agricultural run-off. The science is fairly complex and without searching out the studies I would undoubtedly get the details wrong. My recollection of a study using bentonite clay is that the two big factors in clay adsorbing nitrate ions are temperature and pH. At temperatures around 80F with a pH of 6.0 and lower, a high rate of nitrate ion adsorption can be obtained. But, at the temperatures most desired for koi and at a pH of 7.5 and higher, the rate of adsorption dropped off dramatically. So, while some nitrate removal can be achieved directly, it is not a real solution. Also, sulphur compounds in the water are preferred, so well water with sulphur content can dislodge nitrate and cause it to be released back into the water.

    I do not understand what you mean about clay not being soluble in your pond water, "but readily disperses". Clay does not dissolve to become part of the chemical make-up of the water. Clay with salt content may release salt into the water, with the salt dissolving. (Do not use clay dug out of a farm field. It is loaded with stuff that can be released into the water, including pesticides, herbicides, etc.) Other chemicals captured by the clay may be released and dissolve also. The clay itself does not dissolve. It will 'come apart' as a muddy cloud of infinitesimal particles, making the water cloudy. These microscopic particles expose an enormous surface area for adsorption. As the particles settle, the exposed surface area is continually reduced until the clay is just a film on pond surfaces. The clay used in koi ponds has been powdered (usually for industrial uses) so it will disperse as a muddy cloud in the water. A lump of clay does no good because only the external surface is available for adsorption. The cloudier the water from the clay, the better.... unless you want to see your fish. [/QUO


    Clay is not soluble in my pond water but disperses into a million particles to cloud the water.

    It may be useful as a flocculent?

    If it's not soluble how can it absorb anything?

    Good for sealing the mud dams to save water and as a pacifier for the well-meaning nervous caring hobbyist.

  10. #10
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Clay does act as a flocculent. Many have observed that after the mud settles, their water is clearer than before.

    Clay does not 'absorb' it adsorbs. There is a difference. Because of the difference in electrical charges, ions attach to the surface of the tiny clay particles. Some ions attach more strongly than others. Weakly attached ions will be released back into the water when another ion comes along with a stronger affinity. Clay is like the various resins used for water purification, just not as effective as ones manufactured for specific purposes.... but a lot cheaper. Many aquarists are familiar with zeolite being used for ammonia removal. Naturally occurring zeolite forms from clay subjected to certain conditions. They are geologically related.

    I think the way most folks use clay, you are correct in saying it is "a pacifier for the well-meaning nervous caring hobbyist. " It does not hurt anything, but in the context of a koi pond a weekly addition of a cup or so of clay has minimal, temporary impact. Still, in Quenton's situation where people are being limited to only a few gallons of water per day, some beneficial effect could be a big deal.

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