At the end of my previous update – http://nishikigoi.life/2019/03/04/my-new-pond-build-part-3/ – i wrote, ‘With the system functioning my thoughts are firmly on the summer and the real use of the tank, more of which I’ll detail in another update….’

When I started planning my ideas for building the tank/pond (I use the words interchangeably) there were several potential ways which it would be used once complete depending exactly how things for 2019 panned out.  In truth i had so many things running around my mind I’d need half a dozen tanks to do them all……maybe that’s next year…..

I will always remember the summer day in 2008 when i pulled up at Shintaro Koi Farm where Masaru and Hiromi Saito were undertaking first selection of Sanke.

Masaru and Hiromi Saito undertaking 1st selection of Sanke, 19th July 2008

Masaru and Hiromi Saito undertaking 1st selection of Sanke, 19th July 2008

It was on that day, and the following one, that the seed of a dream to breed Koi was implanted in me.  There were hundreds of Koi that fitted the description of Sanke, and then the occasional one which was just a little bit special, the sort that you wanted to show to everyone, the sort that you could imagine at 20 times the length, perhaps a sandan pattern with tsubo sumi…….the Koi of dreams.

Since that day I’ve had the opportunity not only to observe or take part in the selection of many different varieties in Japan at different breeders, also around the world, in Asia, Europe and the USA.  The one thing I’ve learned beyond doubt is that the commonly held perception since I was 15 years old, that only the Japanese could breed great Koi, was very much a myth.  What I also know is that breeding quality Koi is far from simple, and this was perhaps the reason people dismissed it for years.

The dream to breed my own Koi has got ever stronger and, on whatever small a scale to start with, that was and is very much my plan.


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

In October last year, with harvest season beginning in Japan, I started to put feelers out for Koi which met my criteria as potential oyagoi.  Many will know that my real love is for Showa, the variety that I’d said I would breed if I could breed only one.  However for several years I’ve been taking an ever increasing liking to Beni Kikokuryu and I figured that Beni Kikokuryu perhaps gave me a better shot at creating some examples which would hold my interest for longer than a small Showa spawning, basically just because of the far less exacting and stringent criteria for a Showa.  That said, i have 2 very particular criteria for Beni Kikokuryu, firstly they must have full and complete pectoral fins, secondly they scalation must be neat, refined and matched side to side.  I cannot stand short leading rays of pectoral fins, neither can i stand random scales on the body of them, or a wobbly line of mismatched scales along the back. Any potential oyagoi would have to meet those criteria and 2 dealers who were aware of my search were Gary Smith at Gatwick Koi and Chris Thomas at Kitsu Koi.

By the time I headed to Japan at the latter part of October, Gary had secured me a nisai female Kikokuryu from Chogoro, Chris a sansai male from Oofuchi Koi Farm.

The picture below is of the Oofuchi male located by Chris.  When he sent me the picture I figured it met my criteria pretty well, perhaps the pattern was a little sparse, but the pecs and the scales were pretty good, so a deal was done.

 

Beni Kikokuryu, Sansai, Male, 50-55cm, Bred by Oofuchi Koi Farm

Beni Kikokuryu,
Sansai,
Male,
50-55cm,
Bred by Oofuchi Koi Farm

 

Given that the female Gary had found for me was only a nisai, at that point in time I was very much thinking it might be a case of missing breeding out in 2019, grow her for a year, and then spawn in 2020.  That decision would be taken out of my hands when I got a message from Gary asking me to give him a call.  Gary wanted to break the news that he had identified KHV amongst his newly imported and in quarantine stocks, my nisai Kikokuryu included and, subject to confirmation from tests, would therefore be destroyed.  Sadly that was to prove the case.


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

As of the 2nd week of December, my building project was barely started, yet my spawning plans were firmly a non starter.

Around 6 weeks ago I put a message out on Facebook asking dealers in the UK to send me pictures of any female Beni Kikokuryu they may have that fitted my criteria.  I heard from Tony Pitham of Koi Water Barn who had just been in Niigata buying Koi for their soon to open new premises.  A couple of grainy videos on Facebook messenger suggested that a couple of those that he’d purchased could well meet my needs.  Both were nisai, and both stood out very much in my eyes in their respective bowls from the others they swam with.

This first was a nisai male from Marusaka, someone who is probably the best breeder of the variety in Japan.  It was actually at Marusaka Koi Farm that i can remember Beni Kikokuryu first coming into my sphere of appreciation, particularly the gunmetal metallic grey colouration of the background.  I liked the clean appearance of the Koi, along with the neat dorsal scales, the bright pectoral fins, and the strong motoguro they exhibited.  The beni pattern wasn’t special, but it was there and was sharp edged and clean.

Beni Kikokuryu, Nisai, Male, Bred by Marusaka Koi Farm

Beni Kikokuryu,
Nisai,
Male,
Bred by Marusaka Koi Farm

Close up of dorsal scales on nisai Beni Kikokuryu

Close up of dorsal scales on nisai Beni Kikokuryu

Another video included Koi from AO Aokiya (or Aoki as he’s perhaps more often referred to).  This whole bowl of Koi was impressive, amongst them Beni Kikokuryu, Goshiki, Doitsu Yamatonishiki, Hariwake and others.  AO Aokiya is the birthplace of Beni Kikokuryu, and before it Kikokuryu.  Some stunning examples have been produced by Aoki san.  The Koi appeared perhaps a little darker in the video than in the picture below, indeed now in the pond it appears darker too.  The metallic white of the head and pecs reflect the blue bowl somewhat in the picture, in real life they are bright white and contrast beautifully with the metallic black.  The back half it a little bit ‘nothing’ to be honest, but I think the Koi has something to add to the mix.

Beni Kikokuryu, Nisai, Male, Bred by AO Aokiya Koi Farm

Beni Kikokuryu,
Nisai,
Male,
Bred by AO Aokiya Koi Farm

Close up of head, shoulder and pectoral fins of AO Aokiya Beni Kikokuryu

Close up of head, shoulder and pectoral fins of AO Aokiya Beni Kikokuryu

A Doitsu Hariwake was never in my plans to be honest, although Kikusui was.  As soon as I saw this Doitsu Hariwake thought I felt it might have something to add to the game. The metallic is incredibly shiny, the yellow colouration nice and even throughout.  The line of scales on the dorsal right neat and matched, the pectoral fins full and bright.  Interestingly a female Doitsu Hariwake featured among Aoki’s original parents in the path to Beni Kikokuryu….

Doitsu Hariwake, Nisai, Male, Bred by AO Aokiya Koi Farm

Doitsu Hariwake,
Nisai,
Male,
Bred by AO Aokiya Koi Farm

Shoulders of Doitsu Hariwake

Shoulders of Doitsu Hariwake

Dorsal scales of Doitsu Hariwake

Dorsal scales of Doitsu Hariwake

So, with a very male rich collection, a female was still required.  Tony had told me there were some sansai coming in from Marusaka, and these were therefore very much of interest.  At first glance I may have rejected this Koi for the messy appearance along the dorsal shoulder ridge.  However, on closer inspection there is actually a full row of neatly shaped scales along there, just their pigmentation changes.  The metallic ‘gin’ on the scales either side of the dorsal fin appeal greatly.  My female was found and secured.


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

Beni Kikokuryu, Sansai, Female, 56cm, Bred by Marusaka Koi Farm

Beni Kikokuryu,
Sansai,
Female,
56cm,
Bred by Marusaka Koi Farm

Close up of dorsal scales on sansai Beni Kikokuryu

Close up of dorsal scales on sansai Beni Kikokuryu

Marusaka Koi Farm Certificate

Marusaka Koi Farm Certificate

 

I made arrangements to collect these 4 Koi from Koi Water Barn earlier than they would normally have let them go.  I’ve imported Koi in from Japan directly before and am fully aware of the risks.

They’ve actually been here with me since Monday 11th March and settled into the tank immediately.

The video below shows them feeding at 7am this morning, the water currently at 23c.

Good morning………

Posted by Mark Gardner on Tuesday, 19 March 2019

 


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

All things being equal, i’ll be hoping to have them ready for spawning in the first week of May……..


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