Still Under Lockdown … but I have some new koi 😄


Two weeks since my last post and a lot has happened. Four new koi flew in on Southwest Airlines in May, all the winter koi moved to the outdoors ponds and one moved back into the quarantine pool due to injury.

The upper pond is looking pretty good and all of the koi seem quite happy to be swimming around. They have been switched to JPD Fujizakura sinking pellets and are eating well (Wheat Flour, Fish Meal, Squid Meal, Soybean Cake, Corn Gluten Meal, Defatted Rice Bran, Wheat Germ, Fish Oil, Calcium Phosphate, Salt, Toyoserin/Probiotics, Vitamins). I have not set up the auto feeder because I’m home all day and it’s just as easy (and more fun) to go outside and feed the koi.

upper pond, May 2020
feeding time for the upper pond, May 2020, currently on JPD Fujizakura

The shiro utsuris and asagi were moved to the lower pond. The last time I posted, I shared a photo of the pond looking pretty nice. However a week of warm weather has turned this pond very green. You can’t even see the koi if they are deeper than 2 – 3 feet. The pond builder started a new UV light but he suspects it’s not as strong as the other lights he has used in the past. I’m sure we’ll get something different attached to this pond over the weekend.These koi will remain one JPD Fuyufuji until we switch to JPD Shori (high growth) when the temperatures warm up.

Green is probably healthy and nice for the koi but annoying to look at…

The pond builder has been using some lockdown time to make my life easier. Whenever I want to turn of the waterfalls and aerators to take a photo, I’m always searching for the right plug. Labeled switches at the equipment house door are always appreciated.

He’s also experimenting with an aerator on a timer that goes on in the evening. In the evening all three aerated bottom drains will be pushing out air until the morning.

And of course we have the annual task of scaring away the ducks. We think the pond builder was successful and discouraging this pair. Have not seen them for a few days. They’re pretty sneaky, skulking around the fence line and dashing in for a little paddle around the pond. I don’t think the koi really mind them but I don’t want them in the pond.

Once all the koi were out last weekend,I was able to enjoy some beautiful weather in the garden. While I was weeding an area near the lower pond, I heard some odd splashing. I looked in the lower pond and there is half a koi sticking out of the skimmer entrance. I held my hand in front of her to keep her from swimming forward. She did some wiggling, finally got free and disappeared into the green water. A few hours later, the pond builder was emptying the skimmer basket and said “look at this”, holding a handful of very large scales. He netted her up for me and she did have some terrible looking sides. We moved her indoors, poured iodine liberally on her sides and let her go in the indoor pool. She seems fine, eats well and knock on wood will not get some bacterial heebie jeebies.

We set up the little quarantine pool up for three new tosai. This year, we had offered to purchase a dozen or so tosai as a learning project and donation to our local koi club. Unfortunately, with COVID-19 lockdown, the schedule of club meetings has been shortened significantly and our group activities are in jeopardy. It seemed logical to pull this project for the year. I really did not want 14 random tosai, so I asked Russell Peters of PSKoi if I could exchange out the koi. Russ graciously agreed and I looked through the offerings. I settled on three little tosai from Hiroi Koi Farm. I named them for the three fairy godmothers in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.They spend all day huddled in a corner and just dart around like crazy when they see me.

tosai tank

On May 5, Cinco de Mayo, Tequila started her trip to Little Siberia on Southwest Airlines. Adult beverage names seem to suit some of the koi. (I’m sure the little goshiki loves Sriracha.) It seemed like a name to easily remember when she arrived. In real life, the pond builder is CEO for a company that makes soaps and detergents. His company also happens to make EPA registered disinfectants and an FDA approved hand sanitizer. The hand sanitizer uses ethanol and the production guys in the plant said it smells like tequila. Well it does smell alcoholic but dissipates pretty quickly. We’re adding in a fragrance soon which will make it smell a little more floral or citrus-like. Anyways, the production of hand sanitizer has been consuming a boat load of his attention so this koi has been dubbed Tequila.

Tequila is a 24 inch Kohaku from Taniguchi Koi Farm, sourced through Kevin Pham, Genki Nishikigoi, San Jose, CA.

Tequila is actually a replacement koi for an azukari koi I purchased in Fall of 2017. Azukari, or having the breeder maintain your koi for you in Japan is a way to have the professionals raise your koi. I used to think ‘why would anyone buy a koi and not put it in the pond right away?’ Well, after visiting Japan, I can assure you that the water in Japan is so much softer than in Minnesota, the mud ponds are huge and the koi are tended to meticulously. Under their care, your koi will often develop far better than it might in your own pond. (Lots of exceptions since I have seen many US koi keepers raise awesome koi.)

However, azukari does have some risks. Most purchases will guarantee you a “live harvest” or replacement, the first year the koi is placed back into the mud pond. That means in October, the koi are pulled from the mud ponds and decisions are made whether to be shipped or left for another year. If your koi does not make it to harvest for some reason, you will be offered a replacement koi. The subsequent years generally do not carry a promise of replacement if the koi does not make harvest.

The first kohaku I selected from Taniguchi Koi Farm did not make it to harvest. That summer was one of the worst flooding disasters to hit Western Japan. I’m sure many koi floated away or were buried in landslides. It’s also possible that a predator may have caught my koi. A few weeks later, Taniguchi offered me the choice of three replacements. While I was looking for something with a more inazuma looking pattern, I chose the two step.

A few months later, Japanese koi farms were getting hit with KHV outbreaks. Sadly, Taniguchi had to destroy many of his older, more valuable koi because of the virus. Entire greenhouses of koi had to be euthanized – super devastating I’m sure. Tequila was lucky and not living in some of the greenhouses where the outbreak occurred. So she has spent two years in the mud ponds since purchase and flew to the United States in March 2020.

Now I will be spending the rest of the summer watching the koi grow and puttering around the garden. I am looking forward to seeing a crabapple tree that I have trimmed up regularly to resemble an umbrella. I think in a week (maybe longer) I will have hundreds of pink/white blooms to enjoy. The only nice thing about lockdown is that I am able to walk out to the garden and see my koi more often during the day.

Here’s hoping things will open up before Memorial Day…