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Thread: Pre-Spawning Behavior

  1. #1
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Pre-Spawning Behavior

    This morning (Monday) my koi were spawning when I went out to feed them. There were 8 females being chased by 3 males. Four koi were not participating. They were eating roe.

    I am not happy they were spawning, but I think it explained behaviors I observed on Saturday and Sunday.

    On Saturday I observed a female swimming at great speed around the pond, not in a single spurt of energy, but as if racing against a clock. After three or so circuits of the pond, she came to a complete rest. [This was before I did the weekly 20+% water change.] The other fish got out of her way, but otherwise ignored her...this was strange. Normally odd behaviors results in schooling. Later in the day, I saw her do it again, but only for a single circuit around the pond. I was getting concerned, but at feeding time she was fine...a complete glutton; and the other koi were swimming with her. No isolating behavior.

    Another female on Saturday flashed a couple of times, but not by rubbing her gill plate area against anything. She rubbed the side of her body against the pond wall. Since nothing more occurred, I decided not to disturb her, but to stay alert.

    On Sunday all the koi were ravenous. At their morning feeding, they consumed over 150% of what they have been eating lately... and I was feeding the same pellets they have been getting for the past month. At midday they rushed to me to be fed...very unusual behavior. I had just picked up a new high protein pellet, so I tossed them some. They ate with gusto. At the same time, I saw two other females "flashing" by rubbing their flanks against the side wall of the pond a distance of a couple of feet... not the "quick scratch" you usually see. I became convinced there was likely some parasite problem. I had to leave to go to a club meeting, and decided I'd address the situation later. Sunday evening, they were still eating with gusto, charging the surface for pellets...but not a single instance of flashing. As the sun was setting, I emptied settlement and put in some fresh water as I do every evening. I then observed several "flashing" against the side walls, but it was getting too dark to do anything. [I never treat for parasites etc without being confident exactly what is occurring.]

    As I worried over the flashing Sunday night, I recalled three years ago when my oldest koi was flashing against the side walls of my old pond, not the bottom, and that she spawned shortly afterward. I got a sample of pond water and ran my usual array of tests...nothing. Everything was normal.

    This morning, the flock was spawning.

    This evening I observed one female had lost all her bulk. Another was notably thinner, but still has eggs. The others did not seem to have lost much bulk if any. Their evening meal was limited to the eggs scattered every where. There are even hundreds of eggs attached to the inside of the skimmer. I saw the three largest females "flashing" against the pond wall again. I'm expecting more spawning in the morning.

    I'm interested in whether others have observed like pre-spawning behaviors. I think it is interesting that the females are initiating the spawning.

  2. #2
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    PS...I thought about adding some ProForm C to discourage spawning, but decided to let them lose their eggs now. The polyurea liner on the pond is so smooth that I am not too concerned about them injuring themselves....just a bit concerned that if there is a rough surface some place, they'll find it.

  3. #3
    Sansai adreamer2's Avatar
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    What exactly, Mike, are your hopes, here?...
    It seems that you do not want the spawning..... Does your koi consume the entire lot of roe?.... or do you end up cleaning that out yourself?.....


    Adreamer2

  4. #4
    Sansai
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    Mike,

    What was the water temperature when your koi started spawning? Two years ago the koi in my pond had a flock spawn one day while I was gone all day. I returned home in the evening to a mess and a lot of injured females. The males were still chasing some very exausted females. I moved the females to a separate pond, but wish I could have done it hours earlier. It would have prevented a lot of lost scales and bruising. I don't recall what the temperature was, but wish I had noted it at the time.

    Is there a particular water temperature benchmark that is reached before spawning ocurrs in the spring?

    Dale

  5. #5
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    adreamer2: To the extent any eggs are not eaten, it is hard for me to believe any fry would not be sucked into the filter systems. If any did survive, I'm sure they would be worthless culls. I'd prefer they not spawn due to potential for injury and I'd rather have their energy put into growth. But, since some are laden with eggs, this will take care of the potential risk of one becoming egg-bound. Not the preferred way.

    _______

    The koi were spawning again this morning. Just one female carrying a notable amount of eggs was not participating. The filter systems were able to keep up with yesterday's spawning, but today seems to involve more eggs. I may have some work waiting for me at the end of the day.

  6. #6
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Dale: We are having very hot weather for this time of year. Water temps were just a hair short of 76F on Sunday morning. In years past, I think spawning occurred in the 72F+ range. I usually check water temp in the morning, but haven't with the spawning diverting attention.

  7. #7
    Sansai
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    Mike, Thanks for the info. Water temps here are only up to 68 so far, so we may be a little while before spawning starts happening here. Strange, I've talked to several different koi keepers about spawning...... some say they have gone years without any spawning activity in ponds with both male & female koi. Others say it is an annual event.

    For myself, over the past 6 years I have had spawning only 2 years that I know of, and that is the last 2 years. This was after completing a major re-do of our pond to install bottom drains and build a filter building with much better filtration. I'm now wondering if better water quality has something to do with the fish spawning these past two years?

    Dale

  8. #8
    Honmei KoiCop's Avatar
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    72 degrees . . .

    and excellent water quality seemed to work just fine for my koi this year. They spawned last night. In the show tank, where I'd placed a few that are going to the Young Koi Show on Friday. Yeeeeccch.

    Oh well, better today than at the show (I guess).

  9. #9
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    I've kinda gotten off topic (which was pre-spawning behaviors), but this evening when I tested ammonia showed up at 0.25ppm. No detectable nitrite. I treated with Amquel2. Eggs everywhere, including on a clump of algae that went thru a bottom drain to the vortex. (Pic soon will be in the Sign of the Season thread!) One gal seems not to have expelled all the eggs on one side..kinda lopsided right now...and one has not spawned at all. They all look pretty tired. No injuries visible. Water temp was 78F at 7:30pm. I'm hoping the take tomorrow off.

  10. #10
    Fry
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    Koi can live in very high Nitrite levals while spawnning people say they actually get very strong during this time to withstand the levals of Nitrite.

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