You were awarded Grand Champion A and Grand Champion B at the recent ZNA Potomac Koi Show, please can you tell us a little more about the 2 Koi which won?

Both Koi are 7½ years old and I have had them since they were nisai.

2015 ZNA Potomac Grand Champion A Owned by John Lentzis Bred by Murata Koi Farm

Grand Champion A
Owned by John Lentzis
Bred by Murata Koi Farm
Picture by Dale Gingerich

2015 ZNA Potomac Grand Champion B Owned by John Lentzis Bred by Marukyu Koi Farm

2015 ZNA Potomac Grand Champion B
Owned by John Lentzis
Bred by Marukyu Koi Farm
Picture by Dale Gingerich

The GC A is a Kohaku bred by Murata Koi Farm that Taro Kodama got for me on October 2009. She is now 81 cm and still has very youthful skin and incredible beni. She still has a long future ahead of her.

Murata Kohaku as nisai, 52cm, autumn 2009

Murata Kohaku as nisai, 52cm, autumn 2009

John and Mamoru Kodama inspect the Kohaku as sansai having been left in Japan for a year as azukari. She had grown to just 60cm due to a hot and dry summer.

John and Mamoru Kodama inspect the Kohaku as sansai having been left in Japan for a year as azukari. She had grown to just 60cm due to a hot and dry summer.

The GC B is another really special Koi.  She is a 93cm Yamabuki with very strong hikari everywhere, like a much younger and smaller fish. The breeder is Marukyu (also known as Kyochan). Gene from Koi Village got her for me in April 2010 on his trip guided by Steve Gibbins. Steve was instrumental in that transaction.

Kyochan inspecting John's Yamabuki Ogon (Picture Steve Gibbins - www.koitours.com)

Kyochan inspecting John’s Yamabuki Ogon (Picture Steve Gibbins – www.koitours.com)

Nisai Kyochan Yamabuki Nisai Kyochan Yamabuki (Picture Steve Gibbins - www.koitours.com)

Nisai Kyochan Yamabuki (Picture Steve Gibbins – www.koitours.com)

Both Koi also won GC A and GC B respectively at the Tristate ZNA Koi show 2 months ago. A double victory in two very competitive shows.

Is showing Koi a large part of your hobby?


Paid banner advert - put your ad here for just £50 per month

It has become an important part of my Koi-keeping hobby. At all the shows I attend, either as a competitor or just as a spectator, I get rewarded in multiple ways.

Firstly I get to enjoy the people that are involved in the hobby. I have so much fun and leave invigorated with my passion for the hobby renewed.

Then I get to see many beautiful Koi and get to learn something new all the time. I get to share my passion and knowledge with other equally passionate Koi kichi. I get to learn from others much more knowledgeable than me but yet I get to bring something of my own in the mix of things. I get influenced by others, as well as influence others myself.

Then I get to compare my keeping skills and Koi with other Koi keepers. I learn what are my weaknesses and strengths.

Finally, getting recognized for what I’ve done right in front of my peers is the cherry on the top of the cake.

DSC_6511


Paid banner advert - put your ad here for just £50 per month

DSC_6488

Competing is only a part of attending shows. Every Koi kichi should attend, support, and try to show their Koi because, this is what our hobby is all about!

What are your reasons for showing Koi and what are your goals?

I already explained the reasons for showing which are having fun, sharing, and learning.

My short term goal is to keep on showing at a competitive level and keep having fun with the hobby.

My long term goals are to keep improving my ‘eye’ and my Koi rearing skills.


Paid banner advert - put your ad here for just £50 per month

My dream, however, is to compete in the All Japan Koi show and win something of substance one day in Japan.

My obsessions are to win a GC A with a male Koi, preferably a male Koi I have raised from either tosai or nisai. Also someday I would like to win GC with a Koi I have actually bred.

2 of John's males at the ZNA Potomac Koi Show. 73 cm Taniguchi male Kohaku awarded 1st in size/variety 80bu, Shintaro Koi Farm male Sanke 68 cm awarded Best in size 70 bu overall.

2 of John’s males at the ZNA Potomac Koi Show. 73 cm Taniguchi male Kohaku awarded 1st in size/variety 80bu, Shintaro Koi Farm male Sanke 68 cm awarded Best in size 70 bu overall.

I am working on all this simultaneously.

You are a regular visitor to Japan.  When did you first visit and how many times have you been now?

First time I visited Japan was in 2010.  I started with the Hiroshima area first and then Niigata in the same 2½ week trip.

That trip changed everything for me. The way I looked at Koi was never the same after that trip. I literally got hooked!  Every year I look forward visiting Japan at least once or twice.


Paid banner advert - put your ad here for just £50 per month

I’ve been 7 times since my first trip and this year there are 2 separate trips already planned.

John helping harvest at Shintaro Koi Farm October 2014

John helping harvest at Shintaro Koi Farm October 2014

One trip will be to Niigata in October and 3 weeks later another to Hiroshima. I have many azukari fish all over Japan and in the south the azukari fish are harvested late, mostly after November 10th. In Niigata they start in the middle of October.

I want to be at the harvest of my fish in both places.

What is it that keeps drawing you back to Japan every year?

I have fallen in love with Japan; the people, the scenery, the culture, the food, the aromatic smell of the mountains, the friendships I have forged with the breeders and other Koi kichi (professionals and hobbyists), and of course the Koi.

I look forward seeing everyone each year at least once.


Paid banner advert - put your ad here for just £50 per month

When did you first get into Koi?

My first water garden pond was built as a water feature in 2006 by a landscaper. I had beautiful lilies and fancy goldfish, as well as sarasa comets. In 2007 I discovered Koi and the same year I built my first quarantine tank in the basement to over-winter them. In 2008 I took the water garden out and build a huge proper Koi pond in its place. The next year I built another big pond for all the male Koi I had. Since then 4 more quarantine ponds have been built.

How has the hobby changed for you over the years?

When I started in the hobby it was by accident. I was sold only on a water garden and some goldfish. Then, by accident, I discovered domestic Koi. From there I got obsessed with filtration and water quality as well as water manipulation and designing my own filters.

For the first 4 years fish were secondary and fish quality was not a priority. Then, in April 2010, I met a true Koi kichi, Phil Gray. His passion for Koi was very infectious to me. He is the one that talked to me into going to Japan and attend shows in order to see what real Koi looked like.

In essence I entered the hobby in its current form in 2010. Before then I did not know anyone else that had Koi other than on the internet.


Paid banner advert - put your ad here for just £50 per month

As you can see it’s all been downhill for my sanity since then. ha ha ha .

Please tell us a little about your ponds, their size, and the systems that you are running?

I have 2 large outdoor concrete ponds. One is a 20,000 US gallons (78 tons) the other 13,000 US gallons. The larger one has my A team of only females in it.

John's 20,000 gallon pond

John’s 20,000 gallon pond

John's 20,000 gallon pond

John’s 20,000 gallon pond

The mechanical filtration is 3 KC-30 RDFs. One is going to a 14ft3 chamber of moving bed K1 media, the 2nd into a huge shower and the 3rd into a 16ft3 static filter of Cermedia (ceramic type media). There is also a huge 9.0ft3 bead filter with dual multiport and dual pumps. The water turns over in about 40 minutes (30,000gph net after head losses).

I run fresh water 24/7 to the tune of 10% daily. The fresh water goes through a 2.5ft3 Centaur Activated Carbon so no chemicals or additives needed.

The smaller one is a mostly male pond with few ‘B team’ female Koi.


Paid banner advert - put your ad here for just £50 per month

John's 13,000 gallon pond

John’s 13,000 gallon pond

It has 2 bottom drains, 2 skimmers and 2 mid water pickups all going via gravity to a large KC-60 RDF and then via gravity into 2 very large static chambers full of Cermedia back to back. Two pumps suck the water after that and return it to the pond through several strategically placed underwater returns, inducing a high water recirculation.

The turnover is only once an hour in that pond but very good water movement is achieved.

What is your general regime for running your ponds, temperatures, water changes, additives, etc.?

Observation of the fish and water is daily as part of the maintenance and it is important to do.

The heavy duty of the maintenance is done by the RDFs. I like to maintain them monthly and make sure they run properly. Sometimes I might have to power wash their screens to allow for peak performance.

I backwash the bead filter a minimum twice a week.


Paid banner advert - put your ad here for just £50 per month

I flush the bottom drains on both ponds once a week (2 minutes per pond) to keep the pipes free of sludge build up.

At the same time I flush the bottom drains of the 2 big media chambers in the smaller pond. I do this in order to keep things fresh in there and avoid any kind of debris accumulation from dead bacteria and so on.

I allow the ponds to refill from the water I run constantly except if I need to add some in order to reach the minimum operating level for the RDF’s.

That is as far as it goes for maintenance.

In the winter I cover both ponds and heat them to 72F until Christmas. I then drop it gradually to 60F and then I feed very little once a day so the Koi don’t lose too much weight. I start raising the temperature slowly from the beginning of March back to 72F.

In the winter when I do not feed much I run water to the tune of 5% daily and I increase it to 10% -11% daily when I start feed more from April until December.


Paid banner advert - put your ad here for just £50 per month

I also have 5 indoor quarantine tanks in order to receive my fish from Japan and take care of fish in need of resting from shows etc. They range from 780 gallons to 1100 gallons each.

How about feeding, what food do you use, and how much do you feed?

I feed a mixture of foods of two brands. One brand is Saki Hikari, of which I use mostly the growth and the deep red products, the other is a domestic food called Kenzen, of which I use all of its variants.

I use the 2 different brands of foods to achieve different goals throughout the year. I do not mix the products of the 2 different brands with each other but I mix products of the same brand. Many times I am feeding different mixes of the two brands between the two outdoor ponds.

The video below shows John’s Koi feeding.

[vimeo 139690842 w=600&h=400]


Paid banner advert - put your ad here for just £50 per month

The amount of food and frequency of feeding is totally different between the male pond and the all female pond for the different temperatures. I like to feed heavily in the spring to my male pond at around 68F to 70F, while I feed very light to my females during the same time period at 72F.

In the summer the males eat less amount each time but they feed every 1.5 hours, 11 times a day. The females eat 6 times a day, every 3 hours, but the feeding is much heavier (2.5%-3% of body weight daily). I stock very heavily so food consumption is tremendous.

What tips would you give to anyone looking to progress in the hobby?

Most important is to join a local club and seek the advice and help of an experienced member.

Build your own quarantine tank and quarantine all new purchases. No exceptions regardless of where the fish is coming from!

See as many fish as you can and when you are ready to purchase a fish think long term and what you want to achieve with that fish.

Buy one good/great fish instead of 3-4 OK/mediocre fish. You will never regret that.

Seek advice from a more experienced hobbyist when it comes to fish purchases whenever possible.

Build a healthy relationship with a Koi dealer that will look at you as a long-term customer and not as a one-time buyer. Spend time getting to know them. Tell them about you and your goals in order for them to be able to help you achieve accurately those goals, whatever they might be in the hobby

Visit as many shows as you can, see as many Koi as you can, ask plenty of questions, meet other hobbyists that are willing to share their knowledge and make new friends. If possible volunteer to help at a show because you learn different things when you are directly involved.

Visit Japan with a good guide/dealer. Do your research and ask around who has been, with who, then ask them for their impressions. If it is less than spectacular the guide/dealer is not for you.

Have fun, and then have some more fun!

 

Many thanks to John for taking time to answer our questions.  Also thanks to Dale Gingerich and Steve Gibbins for additional images used in the article.

Got some questions for John?  Drop us a line and we’ll post a follow up to the interview at a later date.


Paid banner advert - put your ad here for just £50 per month