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Breeding Koi...I had no idea!

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  • Breeding Koi...I had no idea!

    I recently visited a local breeder to assess his sanke breeding this season. The baby koi (3"-5") were definately not what I expected to see. At this size, I saw a huge range of quality (at this stage). Is this the norm? I would say after staring at the bunch (200-300 baby koi), I saw maybe two or three potentials that really stood out from the rest. The other baby sanke in the pond IMHO had a loooooong way to go. I will be watching these babys grow, I'm finding that this hobby really tests your acquired knowledge through experience (of course, I have none) very mind boggling...I had no idea that outstanding koi from outstanding bloodlines still throw their fair share of "junk". WOW! I'm really floored...

    I guess the saying "1 in a million is absolutely true".

    I will definitely appreciate nice koi more now, seeing how many millions were passed over so that this one could continue on as tosai or nisai.
  • #2

    And if you think that is odd, it is more about the pairing of quality fish. A male that threw a good batch of fry before when bred to a female that threw a good batch of fry with another male when bred to each other can throw 100% junk.
    And the ones you saw that looked like they had potential will more than likely not be the "ones that look like they have potential" in another 6 months. ESPECIALLY if their is BLACK in their background. Black comes and goes for years...both in quality and placement.....people have told me this and now I am having to deal with it in my fry. Some very nice kohaku fry are becoming goromos while others are showing their Sanke parentage.
    I would have been happier with the kohakus staying kohakus as now I have to consider all the variables of another color, and how that extra color can ruin the look. But then again while the chances of the fish not turning out better because of the additional set of variables, the reward is greater if "one" does pull all three colors together.
    if you were going to pick some out to keep, go with skin quality, color quality, and body conformation before pattern.
    Pattern is very unreliable at that age. I look at my fry each feeding and wonder what they will really be in two years. It ain't very likely what they are now.


    • #3

      From what Mr.Maeda (Momotaro) said, Sanke is the most difficult to breed, he has to breed more to even get a decent cull. Even went on to the extent of say that this coming year they are going to cut back on the production and concentrate more on Kohaku, Showa and Shiro....
      The world sleeps as the chance to learn something new passes.


      • #4

        I've never found much info about precentages from breeders but my best guess is that about one fish in ten (1/10) is a feeder fish or grade 'C' pond mutt with enough color to sell at the chain discount stores. About 1/100 will be grade 'B' and 1/1,000 Grade 'A' which is starting to look like a recognizable variety retailing at $5-$50. With luck 1/10,000 will be grade 'AA' and worth several hundred bucks and 1/100,000 will be show quality grade 'AAA'. So, the winner of a small show may be in the order of one in a million. This assumes you are line breeding with decent broodstock.

        IF these numbers were in the rhelm of possibility, the theoretical economic implications are:
        1/100,000 'AAA' @ $1,000/ea = $1,000
        10/100,000 'AA' @ $100/ea = $1,000
        100/100,000 'A' @ $10/ea = $1,000
        1,00/100,000 'B' @ $1/ea = $1,000
        10,000/100,000 'C' @ $.10/ea = $1,000
        total value of 100,000 fish is $5,000 with an average value of $0.20/ea

        In practice, the economics do not work this way at all.



        • #5

          interesting process but a bit of a stretch from reality programing! (lol)

          If i get half a dozen good ones from a new spawning, I'm happy. My tried and true shiro utsuri's I get 30-40 really good ones. They get better and better each year. People have won prizes each year with them. The only other pair worth anything is my matsukawabake's. All other's I'm still playing with genetics to get to "click". Most frustrating is the kohaku. They either have pattern and no quality, or quality and no pattern! Can't get the genes together properly!

          If I had to depend solely on revenue derived from spawning, I'd have starved three years ago( editor's note: Dick has been spawning for 3 years)

          Fun learning tho. Makes you appreciate what masters like momotaro are pulling off. His last tosai sale last april, i didn't see one koi that i wouldn't have loved to own! Make me wonder how our publisher Brian is doing with his kohaku he won big with a few years back!
          Dick Benbow


          • #6

            Come on Dick. I can't be off by more than several orders of magnitude :>).

            You're doing much better than I though. About 200 had been set aside as 2-4 inch tategoi over the summer and grown at very low density. I had high hopes. Just finished going through them again and selected the 15 best gosanke to watch for another year. However, every one has some obvious pattern fault and they are still years from being finished. The best fish out of the 200 was a bekko - and I don't particularly like bekko.



            • #7

              in practise i get more than that average price and id never sold a koi for more than 20 bucks!
              you guys must have too much competition..or too many koi.

              i once sold 3 of my bosses kohaku for 20 bucks each cause i knew no better and the purchaser said no problem! 20 bucks? ok..more? more? now i know they were worth about $200. oops. she bought three and i wondered why she was buying so many red and white ones from the tank and not wanting any other colours.

              now i know more, but problem is i dont just see koi as feeders and everyone i have to look at and maybe put aside, someone once said if its got a red circle on its head keep it.. so many would hit 10cm and were crap, skinny, yellow head with this browny orange brain spot.
              now im looking for heaps more in a fish, ive looked at a two hundred pics of show koi, champions.. and read and listened to you guys and now im looking for this little koi amongst them all thats worth something..first it was beauty is in the eye of the beholder.. now i see there are rules and what makes a nice koi, i think im getting obsessed or something.. i see a flaw and go awwww sorry little guy, next?

              have you guys got what ive got, will i go pale and start lookng like a fish?
              to think we used to just cross everything we had all together cause it seemed like youd get better survival..
              now i read about this fish the koi, i feel this need to start with really good stock.
              i think ill have to put in an application to fisheries to import some good koi.
              we arent even allowed to get em in over here anymore so we are playing around with some pretty poor stuff. i hear i can pull a one of import though for such reasoning.
              if i do get a one off import license someday who can tell me where i should get some stock from?
              good lines, so i dont take 30 or 100 years to have them myself.
              im not worried about how theyll go in a show themselves but more about their shape and colour but not patterns.


              • #8

                I tell most of my students who want to learn about koi keeping to join a club and visit the ponds of those people who are sucessful in the part of the hobby you want to be. Take notes asks questions.

                same with breeding. who breeds the best kohaku and over the years has been very sucessful in the national shows. sakai-isawa and sakai-hiroshima. Maeda
                is coming on strong and is no doubt the best qualified to grow and position koi for the national. You might want to start there. sakai isawa has his son working at sakai hiroshima and at the previous years most prestigeous auction of sakai hiroshima quess who bought MOST of the best fish? Sakai Isawa. What does that tell you?

                hope some of my thoughts help you to focus on what breeding stock to start with. Do your homework and study. Nogami worked for daiinichi before starting off on his own (15 years) Gee i wonder if he has any good stock? he coached Oomo to a sucessful fast track showa breeding program. You pick up stuff like this my reading KB. Sure hope your a subscriber!
                Dick Benbow


                • #9

                  I am very happy to see this post. As some of you know I am purchaseing my parent stock to start my breeding program, I have only purchased one Kohaku and after I got her I was told to purchase a better of higher priced koi. She is from the momotaro bloodline as I think will make a good parent koi, the thing is I was told that the higher the price you might say would bring me better fry. I did not think this was the case as after I read this post now I know I was right.
                  Can somone give me the goods on Kohaku, the one that I or a friend of mine picked for me has very deep hi and clean shiro, with good body for a young koi. The pattern is not that great but pattern is not what I was looking for. I only paid 400 US dollars for this koi.

                  If someone will give me their email address I will send the pic, because I dont and cant figure out how to post on the forum from my email.
                  I would very much like to post the pic because of the experience of the people on this forum. I need to know everything that I can about buying parent stock.


                  • #10



                    Check with Guy K at the next meet and he'll explain why he gave up breeding after three tries and no keepers...
                    Aloha! Mike


                    • #11

                      I am anxiously awaiting spring so I can get this years spawnings off with some of my new Japanese stock. I didn't get as many females as I wanted because of the earthquake, but I hopefully i'll have enough to produce a large spawning and plenty of fry.


                      • #12

                        ranskye, I thought you guys were not allowed to import any fish - ever. It starts making more sense when there is KHV to deal with.

                        -steve hopkins


                        • #13

                          Originally posted by koifishgirl
                          I need to know everything that I can about buying parent stock.
                          After starting this thread and learning more about breeders and their responsibility to breed koi to improve and or develop exceptional lineages of their own. I have developed my own opinions regarding the odds of even trying to get decent looking koi are 1/100000 (if you're lucky) Pending on variety of course. And these would not even be show quality, then you may be looking in the realm of 1/2000000 (if you're lucky).

                          Then try and think deeper into the subject of breeding stock. The only way one can expect to get good offspring is to be sure to get top quality parent stock. Top quality parent stock in my humble opinion will always be unattainable for my budgets. I expect good (not great) parent stock to cost in the range of $10000-$25000 each. From proven and develop lines. At least you will have a good idea of what to expect the fry to be like. Then finally finding a pair of koi that will actually spawn and give quality offspring (a huge unknown). You could have some of the best females and males to spawn, but if they genetically don't match up right, they make "ugly babies." amounting to a negative $20K-$35K. Makes you wonder what Brad Pitt's & Jennifer Aniston's babies will look like...LOL.

                          Anyway, I think before you start BUYING parent stock, you should spend time understanding where the koi varieties came from, what makes a good koi and how to identify "high-quality" koi, how koi develop, how koi don't develop, how koi can go wrong, how to handle and care (vet care) for koi, how to assess and judge koi attributes and defects, I can go on forever on this...I find each topic fascinating.

                          For me, I believe that there are many things to learn and experience first hand before jumping into the breeding ring. Just my two cents on to breed or not to breed (Another one of my threads). I think something to think about very seriously. Aloha.


                          • #14

                            Dick makes an important point. In Japan it is understood that even sons who have lived koi from birth need years of apprenticeship training through working for knowledgeable breeders. This tradition is an important part of koi breeding.

                            Dick: Is there still a practice of the apprentice earning parent koi when the time comes to move on?

                            KFG: Even if they will not allow you to work, a week's vacation spent visiting an operating koi farm would teach a lot.


                            • #15

                              yes Mike, that practice is still in place. All a student gets is room and board. At the end they have the opportuinity to get a breeding pair.

                              one bit of info for KFG, when it comes to breeding kohaku.

                              tancho to tancho don't breed all tancho. they breed kohaku.

                              the number of steps on a kohaku doesn't mean you will get that many steps with the fry Take a look at sakai hiroshima's brood koi or maeda's eagle. Simplistic patterns on their females. Remember this breeder's name from Ojiya.
                              hasegawa. I heard he got hit really hard from the earthquake. his males throw
                              unique patterns. sakai of isawa bought one from him a few years back. his stuff is not noted for size but the quality is there.
                              Dick Benbow


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