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Thread: Koi Development: Nature versus Nurture

  1. #1
    Oyagoi Lam Nguyen's Avatar
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    Koi Development: Nature versus Nurture

    The concept of nature versus nurture has been used to predict a biological species' physical and behavioral development. Those who believe in nature argue that we are born with all the physical and intellectual attributes that make us who we are. On the other hand, those who support nurture believe that it's the environment that define us.

    IMO, I believe that human development is a 50/50 balance of nature and nurture. However, when it comes to koi physical development, I am completely lost in predicting how much of the development is dependent on nature and now much on nurture. If I was to make my prediction, I would assume that koi development is more dependent on nature than nurture.

    From what I know, koi from the same spawn show very different developmental characteristics. Some will be lucky if they achieve 50+ cm whereas their siblings may easily attain 80+ cm. This is different from human development in that one can predict physical development with some accuracy. There is much more variation in the size of siblings when it comes to koi than to other biological species. Therefore, it is very important to be able to predict a koi's physical development, especially when the name of this game is all about size.

    What are your guys' opinion on koi development? Are they dependent more on nature or more on nurture?

  2. #2
    Oyagoi Flounder's Avatar
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    From what little I know I would say 1/3 nature, 2/3 nurture.

    Genetics, water quality and nutrition.

  3. #3
    Daihonmei PapaBear's Avatar
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    Its a tough call, but here's the way I look at it.

    Nature sets the bar for what is "possible". How long, thick, colorful, etc... is limited by their genetic predisposition, and we cannot exceed those limits. No matter how good the environment we provide, we cannot re-write an individuals hard wired DNA profile.

    Nurture is where the law of diminishing returns as a product of husbandry comes in to play.

    If we provide the letter of the law "perfect" environment in terms of nutrition, water quality, pond size, depths, currents, temperatures, etc... we would maximize their full potential that nature gives them. Every shortcoming in our husbandry equation diminishes the return the Koi is able to deliver because it has to divert some part of its energies to compensate for our shortcomings. Poor nutrition will stunt growth and/or color development/maintenance as a sacrifice to survival, which is natures first line of programming "code" so to speak. I would suppose that color would be sacrificed for growth, since growth would be a more essential part of the nature "code" than color, which would help to explain why even excellent fish can fade to muji if grown under stressful conditions.

    I know this doesnt' really answer your question, but it is as close as I can get to explaining my take on it.
    As per usual, jmho...
    Larry Iles
    Oklahoma

  4. #4
    Oyagoi gcuss's Avatar
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    I think with koi a much greater emphasis could be placed on nurture. At least what we're after for showing koi would fall into this category...

    Beni can be altered by feeding color foods
    Sumi can be altered by stress
    Body size can be altered by a pheromone that we can remove, or leave in the water column.
    Shiro is altered by the same food that buggers with the beni
    Skin is altered by the environment they live in
    Muscle, therefore confirmation, is a product of their environment

    The funny thing is we can make a great koi look like crap, but you can't make a crap koi look great...

    Grant

  5. #5
    Daihonmei
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    good topic!

    Nurture can not create what is not already there genetically. It is really that simple.
    It is very very easy to ruin a great and genetically gifted koi without nurturing.
    It is impossible to make a genetically weak koi great, even with the best environment and diet.

    At very best, you can squeeze out all the potential of a particular grade of fish using water. diet and cyle as a backdrop.
    But no amount of good water can make a B grade koi a jumbo. Or a single layer of beni look like a deep complex of beni found within high grade koi's skin.

    The test of this is often seen in koi shows. And every newbie judge is tested to his/her marrow when they come upon a HIGHLY tuned up lower grade koi competing with a poorly conditioned or badly stressed high class grade koi! IN this case, the Japanese breeder judge will still pick the higher grade koi reagardless of conditioning. And the fully trained amateur judge will pick the most beautiful fish on the day ( and that is down to a subjective call). The newbie judge will stare endlessly into the water in a state of confusion and the exhibitors will scream if the shiny one is not picked! Truth is relative to knowledge and the information we have at hand. JR

  6. #6
    Honmei
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    I would tend to agree with Larry on the 1/3 nature and 2/3 nutureiif if not even more heavily wieghted towards nuturing.

    Koi are a function of 2 basic things. Genetics and environment.

    Genetics passed is based "primarily" on selective culling, not nature.

    Although "nature" can provide a wide range of environments in the wild, the environments created under captivity are controlled, for the most part by hobbyists and thus are also, in effect, nurture. Yes, mud ponds are more "wild" (nature) than our backyard ponds but even still, they result in man intervention in a number of ways.

    Steve
    The views presented are my personal views and not that of any organization that I may belong to unless otherwise specified. [email protected]
    CKHPA

  7. #7
    Daihonmei aquitori's Avatar
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    Nature vs. Nurture.

    When I buy tosai every year to study I always get some fish that just dont want to grow and some that get that typical growth expected. With the environment the same and husbandry the same it all falls in the hands of nature and which direction the koi should go each year.

  8. #8
    Honmei
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    Quote Originally Posted by aquitori View Post
    Nature vs. Nurture.

    When I buy tosai every year to study I always get some fish that just dont want to grow and some that get that typical growth expected. With the environment the same and husbandry the same it all falls in the hands of nature and which direction the koi should go each year.
    Tonio,
    Is that really nature? The koi were selectively culled by the breeder, correct? Based on a variety of reasons. As Tosai, they were sold off due to them not being top tier (typically), again genetics (but by nurture, not nature). But the environment, although identical is still man made, is it not (nurture)? Then their is the environment itself, man made. At varying levels (of measures) of that environment, could results have been different (if so, then nurturing, or lack there of, again).

    Gotta love philosophical discussions!

    Steve
    The views presented are my personal views and not that of any organization that I may belong to unless otherwise specified. [email protected]
    CKHPA

  9. #9
    Daihonmei
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    Steve, your getting yourself turned around on this one. Culling is a false argument to the question of nature or nurture. Nature or Nurture is a question of effect on THE INDIVIDUAL. Cullling is an approach to selective breeding in which you disgard the individuals based on GENETIC PHENOTYPE. You throw away the deformed, the base mutations, the poor patterned individuals. You also throw away fry with no regard for their health or vigor.

    This can all be summed up with that old saying- " you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear".
    A fish either has the genes that express things like a clear transparent dermis and deep dense color cells or it does not. IF it is blessed with that genetics then environment becomes very important in bringing out all of that genetic potential and supporting the right gene's ability to express that potential. IF, on the other hand, a fish does not receive that gene potential, ( most of the most desireable attributes are recessive genes, so the odds are poor that the majority of fish will) then no amount of 'good water' will create the genetically linked transparent skin along with bone structure and dense color cells, jumbo potential etc.
    This is WHERE the discussion of Nature Vs Nurture must begin. If the discussing is CONDITIONING of the individual's GIVEN genetic potential ( as a GRADE of nishikigoi - tategoi, tateshita, Arkansas bekko etc), then we move into a different perspective.

    Right? JR

  10. #10
    Honmei
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasPR View Post
    Steve, your getting yourself turned around on this one. Culling is a false argument to the question of nature or nurture. Nature or Nurture is a question of effect on THE INDIVIDUAL. Cullling is an approach to selective breeding in which you disgard the individuals based on GENETIC PHENOTYPE. You throw away the deformed, the base mutations, the poor patterned individuals. You also throw away fry with no regard for their health or vigor.

    This can all be summed up with that old saying- " you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear".
    A fish either has the genes that express things like a clear transparent dermis and deep dense color cells or it does not. IF it is blessed with that genetics then environment becomes very important in bringing out all of that genetic potential and supporting the right gene's ability to express that potential. IF, on the other hand, a fish does not receive that gene potential, ( most of the most desireable attributes are recessive genes, so the odds are poor that the majority of fish will) then no amount of 'good water' will create the genetically linked transparent skin along with bone structure and dense color cells, jumbo potential etc.
    This is WHERE the discussion of Nature Vs Nurture must begin. If the discussing is CONDITIONING of the individual's GIVEN genetic potential ( as a GRADE of nishikigoi - tategoi, tateshita, Arkansas bekko etc), then we move into a different perspective.

    Right? JR
    On contrare JR. I do not believe that I am turned around at all. Selective breeding and culling, by your own admission in too many threads that I can even begin to count is no where near natural and leads to recessive genes coming to the forefront. This inherently creates a weaker form t=of the species which in turn requires all the more nuturing and man intervention. Very little "natural" about it....in the for of Koi themselves or the environment in which we keep them.

    In your post above, you totally discount everything leading up to what a Nishikigoi is and start hald way through the process. One must always start at the starting gates...not halfway down the track.

    Steve
    The views presented are my personal views and not that of any organization that I may belong to unless otherwise specified. [email protected]
    CKHPA

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