Update, covering the last 2 weeks

Some blog updates from the last couple of weeks.  Covering a week at the end of July where I was off work, and also last weekend.  I wrote the notes for each of those periods at the time - and it's a little delay in the writing up and publishing online.

Last week in July

The pace of the breeding season hasn’t let up since the end of first selections.

Amanda’s been extremely busy moving on the 1 incher’s we select not to keep. The quality of those, particularly the ones coming from the May #2 spawniing has ben more like what we’ve move on at 2nd selection – just at a size from 1st selection.  I think this is mainly down to the large numbers we harvested, and the more stringent selection criteria we applied to keep the numbers in the growing on system within it's limits.  I'm sure a few good ones have slipped through – I went through a sizing exercise last Monday (30th July) , and out of around the 10k to 15k there – I found around 5 that I had to move back into the growing on tank!

Here's the end result of the sizing exercise:

1 inches up to 5 inches.  All the same spawning.  All reared in the same tank.  ...  interesting to note the difference in size.  Each size segregated into it's own net section.  The least populated section holds the few that I moved back into the growing on system.




We’ve also completed the final mid summer spawning – using our trusty Okawa female, with one of the usual Dianichi males pairing + one sakai male; which is a new one for me this year, bought from Yume Koi last autumn.

Some pics showing the moment I introduced the new hatchlings to the bottom fry pond:




We’ve been rearing the hatchlings from that spawning over the last 2 weeks and I put most of them into the bottom fry pond on Tuesday.

The bottom fry pond hasn’t cycled in the usual way – it seems to have skipped the green stage.  So, I’m handed the cultivation of it slightly differenty and its fingers crossed time for the hatchlings that have gone in.

In terms of numbers – a decent batch, but more like the May #1 spawning than the May #2 spawning.  So, a bit low on numbers – but, possibly just enough to yield one, maybe two possible fish for showing.  That is, making huge optimistic assumptions over how the rearing goes over the next couple of months…..

And that may be overly optimistic, considering they have had a difficult start in the fry pond.  The weather has been poor for rearing hatchings.  Too cold, and too much wind and rain.  Losses in the fry pond are inevitable. And, with the number introduced being on the low side – I’m moderating my expectations over the possible harvest.

On the upside, if numbers are indeed a little low, I may take the option to grow them straight onto second selection size in the fry pond, which would offer me a slightly easier selection.

The other positive is also to gain some additional breeding intel on the slightly adjusted pairing. This will be the 4th kohaku pairing we will have reared this year, and the first time for 3 years that I’ve adjusted the males pairing with this female.

The ‘sharkey’ hatchlngs are ticking along ok in the top fry pond.  They’ve growing at a pace in line with what I’d expect from a pond that was working well , in cooler conditions.  And, now they’ve spent just over a week in the pond and as they are growing – this suggests the pond is working and we are on course for a harvest of sorts… and in terms of numbers, it’s very difficult to predict at this point – the signs are looking promising for a reasonable harvest.  When walking around the pond, a few are visible every few metres, and you can also see them in more central locations too – again, promising signs.  But, the tough weather conditions over the last few days will have been a struggle for them and I’ve also noticed a bloom of cyclops – rather than daphnia; this is a bad sign.  The cyclops eat fry; whereas the daphnia would be a food source for the fry.  The hope is that the fry have grown just enough to be off the cyclops menu, and in a week’s time – the fry will be large enough to eat the cyclops.  This is what I see as the key risk for the pond right now.  It’s a battle ground, of which aquatic animal is going to be the food source for the other one!

Some people have asked whether we may venture into breeding another variety at some point.  But there’s so much challenge left with kohaku – infact, I see a life time of challenge just with this one variety.

Our focus is solely on kohaku – and by running multiple separate kohaku spawnings, it helps me build up a picture over brood set combinations.


Weekend 5/6 Aug:

The Saturday was based around getting all the layup work done to sell the tosai from our August 16 spawning that we want to move on; they’ve been taking up tank space for over a month, waiting for us.  I now need to direct some effort into moving them.  And the Sunday was second selection on the May ’17 #1 spawning.

A general update on the fry growing on outside – we’re seeing growth in the fry in both ponds!  That does suggest we are on for another reasonable harvest… and this would be the first season where we’ve managed to achieve a 4 pond harvest.  Much can still go wrong to thwart our harvests… but even getting this far is extremely pleasing.  It also means we are on course to be rearing fry and potentially tosai – from all 4 of our kohaku females.

Saturday
We selected around 30 to 40 tosai from the August 16 spawning to move on – that must have been over a month ago!  Since then, we’ve been so busy with spawnings and selections – that it’s only last weekend that we got to photographing these fish and listing them for sale.  Ebay is a big marketplace, but not the best place for us to list the better fish we are moving on.  So, I’ve added an internet shopping page to my site which lists the fish for sale – and I’ve used an off the shelf ecommerce solution (the baby version of the same commerce system that John Lewis use!! ) to make it into an internet shop.  So – for the first time, we can sell our fish without having to use eBay :-)

I’m going through the photograph processing when I get down time outside daylight hours… 

You can find the sales pages as a menu item on our blog front page.

I’m looking for efficiencies in all areas of the project, and if these sales pages work well for this batch of tosai, then I’m hoping we will use them more in the future to help show off what we’ve produced and also to make the sales process a little easier and more efficient for us. 

Sunday

Second selection – frankly was not much fun.  The quality appears to be sparse with this spawning. It’s the May 17 #1 spawning – a 2 going on 3 step momotaro female from yume koi that we purchased last autumn.  I paired this female with our trusty dianichi males pair – and I added our new sakai male into the mix.  Fertilisation was very high, but the hatch was lower than I expected based on the fertilisation rate. Still good numbers of hatchlings though.  The temperatures were a little cool when the eggs hatched and the hatchlings took a little longer to raise through the first week that I’d expect.  We put a reasonable number into the fry pond – and once they got going, growth rates were really good.  Keep rate at first selection was fine – and we were particularly tolerant on our selection criteria – because we only had around 8k fry at harvest, which is a lowish number; so no shortage on tanks space.  And., because this was a new female – I wanted to allow some tolerance around the selection so as not to miss anything good coming through,

After 1st selection – I put into the tank 1280 kohaku, and I subsequently added a few hundred benigoi too.  At second selection on Sunday, I’ve selected to keep 67 benigoi, and 317 kohaku.

To be honest, it didn’t feel like a good batch of keepers when I went through it on Sunday. But as I reflect now – we’ve ended up after second selection with just under 5% of the spawning as kohaku after second selection – and actually – that’s not bad and compares well with previous spawnings.   I guess, the thing that worried me most, was the lack of a good number of what I would feel are good prospects as potential show fish for next year and beyond.  I saw only 1 kohaku that jumped out at me as really good – and when I looked underneath that 3 step baby – it had a red anal fin!  And that was basically how the rest of the spawning selection went.  I think the best fish from this spawning might be a tancho!  Which is fine if you love tancho’s but as a kohaku breeder – I’m after fish with a pattern on the body too.

Here's some video of the kohaku keepers from the selection:



I guess the question now, is how many we get that are good enough for winter growing on.  Size wise – the fry are growing really well.  The largest few must be at around 12 to 15cm already, which is good going.

I’ve put the keepers back into the growing on tank – but am also conscious that I have a space shortage for the fry growing on from the May #2 spawning – where I have a lot more patterned fish; and I harvested around 7 times as many fry at first selection – which is partly responsible for the difference.

This coming weekend – I may move things around a bit to prioritise space towards the May #2 spawning, which is looking very promising.  We may shift fry around the tanks to give more growing on space to the May #2 spawning, and a little less to the May #1 spawning.

Final word

On a final note….  A new grow out system is finally on the cards and has been through full marital governance.

Just testing out some locations for a new pond:



There are a few things that have got us into gear on this idea; the quality of a few of the kohaku’s coming through from ‘Sharkey’s ’16 spawning is quite exciting – I think some have a genuine chance of going above 80cm, and holding reasonable bodies too.  It's very early days...  but we are seeing a different style of body coming through from that spawning that we've had before - in terms of growth potential.  We have also started to achieve results in the middle, and the beginning of the larger sizes in koi shows. And, that’s without a dedicated grow on system to take our best fish up to the larger sizes.  And through my koi club, visiting several ponds at Crouch Valley koi club on our summer club exchange visit with them this year – we saw some brilliant ornamental ponds, and seeing how they enhanced the gardens they were in gave us a taste of what we could do in our garden.  So we’ve started measuring up for a new pond – this time, it will be an ornamental pond, in the garden.  We're working through the idea of making this a dual purpose growing on tank too - or whether to set up another tank dedicated to that sole purpose.

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