Better Color, Better Growth, and Koi LIKE it!

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Better Color, Better Growth, and Koi LIKE it!

July 07, 2014 - 10:55

I don't often wax philosophical about my own Koi.  Over the years, I've kept Koi in a variety of ponds and even in a Show Tank in the basement for 3 years.  While my observations are not scientific, I do have 30 years of observational experience, and I tried a new Koi food this year with startling results!  I wanted to pass my musings along to you, FWIW...



        One of my old Show Koi.  She was my favorite!





Before I go any further - I do understand that there are a million variables when keeping Koi.  Water quality, hours of sunlight, pH diurnal shifts, algae production, size of the Koi, age of the Koi, temperature of the water - you get the idea...  So my observations are done over time, 1-3 years experimentation with each kind of food.  From that, I can make some generalizations about what worked and didn't work for me.  Whether this is something other Koi keepers can substantiate - or whether there are too many variables to reach any conclusions other than my own, I'll leave to you to decide...

As many of you know, I lost all my show Koi years ago, and have been puttering around with pond grade Koi ever since.  Maybe because of that, I'm willing to experiment.  I've tried a variety of Koi foods.  When I kept Koi in my basement (12 Koi grew over 10" each in 3 years, in 400 gallons of water, with a massive bead filtration unit blasted with 120-p.s.i. air for 5 minutes a day to clean, plus a 50% water change per day), I used ShoKoi.  Of all the foods I've tried, it produced the least fish poop, and kept the Koi healthy in a very stressful environment.  Can't prove all their claims about immuno-stimulants, but it worked a treat for me!  The color on the Koi was lamentable, but then, they were under artificial light for 3 years.  When those Koi were moved out to their new 50K gallon home, I experimented with different foods, just for the educational experience. 

I tried Purina Koi food - one of the premier American pet food producers, who actually have guaranteed analysis of their products, plus they mark each bag with a production date.  The Koi seemed to like it OK, but the Koi grew noticeably fat, even though they should have had perfect bodies from the exercise in the monster pond.  Also, there was just too much waste, and it put a serious load on my filtration. 

I tried one of the premium Koi foods sold by Kodama Koi Farm.  Very oily, very black food.  The Koi didn't attack it, and it often fouled the water, leaving an oil slick.  No idea why the Koi didn't seem to approve it - it should have worked!  I tried a 'similar' food from one Blackwater Creek Koi farms - supposed to have the same ingredient analysis as other premium food, but half the price.  The Koi weren't wild about this food either, and again, there seemed to be a lot of waste (fish poop) produced. I was beginning to wonder if Koi just didn't like any food because my pH runs high - about 8.2.  Or maybe they were eating so much algae in the big pond that they were never hungry?

I went back to ShoKoi when I got in a batch of babies, and could not re-produce the growth rates that I got in the basement.  I'm guessing the basement Koi grew because of the water changes, and also because they had little else to do except eat in that small tank.  Their body conformation was OK, but their colors were not remarkable.

I tried Saki-Hikari for several years.  The fish certainly ate it, but the appearance of the Koi in terms of color and shape, and the production of waste, wasn't remarkably better than any other food. 

This year, I tried a new food that I had never heard of before.  I found a booth at a show by the company Cobalt.  They produce a lot of aquarium products and fish foods.  They are importing Koi food from Japan Pet Designs.  Apparently, JPD is the largest producer of Koi food in Japan.  I opted for the Shori variety, which is their premium growth food.  You can see a comparison of components in one of the previous blog entries:

My Koi have only been eating Shori for a 3 months now, but I have already noticed a huge difference.  The whites are florescent!  The reds, even on the lower quality Koi, are outstanding.  The fish have certainly never looked better - ever!  They are sleek and gorgeous.  Now, you could hypothesize that the Koi spawned last year for the first time, and thus, now that the females that are producing eggs, they are bound to look better.  True, but even the older males look much better!  And they are attacking the food!  They have not done so with any previous food.  They follow me around the pond and can't wait for each feeding.  Some wait in the feeding area for an hour prior to each feeding (you can always tell the really piggy Koi in any pond - I have one that's basically as round as a beach ball, and she certainly has never missed a meal!).  There is less waste than I have ever observed in the filters, and my water clarity has never been better.  I am doing large water changes this year, but have done that in many previous years as well - and never had this water clarity, especially in the heat of the summer.

The Shori is NOT CHEAP!  Still, I'm really chuffed (see the blog entry about British Idioms) about this year's experiment, and will try the same food again next year to see if I can substantiate the results.  Thought I would share my initial observations, and I would love to hear your experiences and comments about what's worked for YOU!  Email me:

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