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  • Finishing

    I tried this on another board but I think they only respond to health and filter issues. Maybe no one was advanced enough to lend their expertise, or they just don’t want to share, for fear it will be used and create unnecessary competition. I’ll give it a go here.

    I would like to pick the brains of you all with regards to 'finishing' Koi.
    We'll concede that water quality is pristine
    Do these fish finish by happenstance?
    OK genetics are also a given, that is all fish are ‘tosai’.
    Can you tell when it's time to employ a custom plan for finishing a particular fish? What has worked for you? Subtle changes in water hardness, diet etc?
    Do the different breeds require different approaches i.e. Showa vs. Kohaku vs. Sanke vs. Shiro Utsuri?
    Do the colors finish in a predetermined order that one needs to pay attention to?
    I'm sure there are lots of people who have something to add to this discussion and hope that you'll share your knowledge and questions.
    I've heard that techniques for finishing fish are closely guarded secrets. I'm of the opinion that wisdom shared benefits all and no one more so than the teacher.
    Thanks in advance,
  • #2

    Finishing koi


    That's a great question and a very complex subject. I can't say that I've ever "finished" a koi. I do have a significant number of kohaku and though there are suttle changes in them due to body frame changes and their beni changing slightly, I don't know what finishing there is to do. I stop feeding a fish one week before a show and I've heard that I'd even get better results if I stopped 2 weeks before the show. I've heard that some people will improve the surface of the skin a little biy by using PP a couple weeks prior to the show but I don't care to do that. I don't use color enhancing foods but I think you should stop using that so the white cleans up. I think a koi should only stay out of a mud pond for no more than 3 years. I think you could get some benefit if you had a mud pond available. And yes different fish need different things to help them improve, specifically the red and white ones need a different environment than the ones with black. You might try to control your water parameters to help finish a fish but in the end I think your fighting an uphill battle. I think you should experiment with different breeders/bloodlines/varieties and see which ones work in your pond and then stay with the breeders/bloodlines that work in your pond.

    Mike Pfeffer
    Mike Pfeffer
    Northern Midwest ZNA show
    June 19 - 20, 2010
    Season's Garden Nursery
    Fishers, IN


    • #3

      Great Question! :roll:

      I agree with what Mike said, but might add a couple things. And of course things can be a bit "skewed" if you are trying to finish koi for a show, or just in your pond. I think they are different.

      In general finishing, the factors such as genetics and "pristine water" are obviously the big factors. In the beni/red areas, I like the way certain breeder's koi develop, so I stick with those. Typically sumi/black finishes at a different rate than the red. Sometimes it starts in one place, and finishes in another. Often that is a breeder's consistent trait. So usually I will look primarily koi with beni in the right place and type, and bet on where the black will come up. Mike had a great point about knowing your pond and how it is for which type of koi. For instance my pond has a hardness of near 0 (no matter how hard I try to change it), and seems best for kohaku and hi development and not sumi. Sumi disappears in my pond. My previous pond was the opposite. Harder water too.

      My ideas for finishing for a show:

      Diet: I vary during the year between a number of things. A mixture of high quality pellets from various sources, paste foods, greens and citrus, but in the 6 weeks approaching a show, it changes. I feed more High Silk, then, as it seems to help "bring out the white". The frame for everything else. Of course, no food at all for the last 1-2 weeks.

      Water parameters: I try to match what the show chairman tells me the water will be at the show if possible. The stress from transport is bad enough, but then add a dramatically different pH, etc, and the koi have a hard time looking their best.

      Water "Additives": I like to add more than ther usual amount of Refresh powder in the same 6 week period. The skin seems to glisten particularly well if I do that.

      Hope that helps. I am sure there is much more to be added, and hopefully others will do that.
      Best regards,

      Bob Winkler

      My opinions are my best interpretation of my experiences. They are not set in stone as I intend to always be a student of life. And Koi.



      • #4

        Mike and Bob
        Thanks a ton for your responses.
        I'm wondering about how you know if, say, a Kohaku is ready to frinish?Let's say the bars of beni in the scale have broadened and are nearly to the edges of the scale, is this fish ready? Is the thickening something that can be controlled so as to grow out the fish another season?
        On a Showa, since the sumi takes longer to develope, it seems to me you'd want to delay the beni a bit is that possible?
        I hope these questions don't seem too elementry, Just trying to learn.
        Can the characteristics of a mud pond be duplicated in a large liner pond?
        Is it the sheer volume of water, perhaps the live natual food, or is it just the clay?
        Thanks again,


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