I admit to being something of a hypocrite when it comes to re-homing koi. When I want to re-home one, the only thing I do to discourage someone from taking it is to insist they have a pond big enough for the current size of the fish. But, when there are postings about free koi being available, whether on Craig's List or the neighbor down the street, I am quick to point out the risks of KHV and the like. I have no reason to think any of my koi are carriers, but it is a concern everyone should have when considering a new koi. "Free" tends to wipe rational thought from the brain of hobbyists.

All of this comes to mind because I decided not to post any warning on a recent posting about free koi left in a pond by a prior homeowner. Of all the situations where health concerns should be waving red flags, flashing lights and blaring horns, that's it. Nobody knows the history of the fish and the prior owner did not care enough to find them a home before moving out. Why didn't I post? Because in November I re-homed three and I may well be acquiring a re-homed one next month. It made me hesitate to post without ordering my thoughts on why the situations are different. Diverted by other things, the free abandoned fish had been taken before I was ready to speak.

The difference between the situations is the level of knowledge of the people involved. To re-home the males I did not want, I announced they would be available at the meeting of our local koi club, which I was hosting. I knew the background of the fish and could answer questions about them and why I no longer wanted them. While there can never be a guarantee a koi is not a KHV-carrier, I could provide the information to show the risk was extremely low.... no serious health issues for many years, all koi acquired in the past three years were from two bio-secure domestic breeders. The people who got the fish know me, know my pond and know where to find me if anything went wrong. The koi to whom I may well provide a new home next month is from similar circumstances. The host of that month's club meeting has new koi from the Fall harvest in Japan arriving. To avoid crowding, some have to go. One being offered is fairly big gal. at 4-yrs. I have seen her since she was first acquired as nisai. I know her current owner has provided good care, has had no major health issues and acquires new koi from dealers very attentive to bio-security matters. I know why the fish is being re-homed, and while she has special appeal to me, I can also understand that she is fairly dull compared to her pondmates. The risk is therefore that inherent in acquiring any new koi, but no reason to be deterred.

One of the benefits of belonging to a koi club is the opportunity to learn enough to be comfortable accepting a re-homed koi, and in having eager hobbyists available to accept the koi, knowing they have the facilities to properly house the fish. Those not in a club have to do more work to learn what they should to assess the risk.