We’re heading into an all too familiar koi jobs pinch point. We have two fry ponds with good numbers of fry from the July spawnings, that need harvesting and selecting. There’s the nissai to select too. We have the All England koi show in 2 weeks where we’re exhibiting. And, I’ve decided to install 2 new tanks (more on the reasoning behind that later) – and we’ve started the ground work for the first one that's going in the polytunnel.
This year, the summer never gave us the extended periods of warm and sunny weather that we benefited from last year. We had a few warm weeks early in the summer and thankfully we were able to make best use of those with our May spawnings. But the late summer rearing has tested our husbandry and fry pond maintenance.
We’ve had less issues this year with the spawning and rearing side of things (so far!), so the total number of fry we’ve raised to first selection size is heading towards the 100k target that I set myself. And that’s considerably more than last year’s c. 60k.
The July spawnings have done well. But it’s taken the fry much longer than normal to reach harvestable size; I think in part due to the lack of sunshine hours that we’ve experienced in particular, over the last 3 to 4 weeks.
Fry are visible all around both outdoor fry ponds, so the signs are promising in terms of numbers of fry. Albeit , the fry a little smaller than we’d like for harvest.
All I need to get these fry up to size is 1 more warm week with a decent amount of sun, But, with two ponds sitting there with fry … I can’t wait any longer and have all my eggs in one basket so to speak. So, we’re splitting our strategies with these mid-summer spawnings and started harvesting last weekend.
We harvested in full the fry pond which had the babies from ‘Sharkey’s July 17 spawning. And we’re leaving the other pond untouched for at least another week.
The good news is that we harvested around 20k fry! That’s more than double the number we reared from ‘Sharkey’ last year. And anyone who’s been growing on fry or tosai from ‘Sharkey’s ‘ 2016 spawning will be as excited as us about the prospect of us having lots more babies from her this year.
We have plenty of example from her spawning last year , currently growing on to nissai. And I spent time last weekend going through some of babies from last year – to consider whether to take them to the All England show in a couple of weeks time. They’re not babies anymore! Here’s a sneaky peak of one kohaku from her 2016 spawning – a non standard pattern; it’s one that splits family opinion. And that’s why we call her the ‘Marmite’ kohaku.
Fantastic growth to reach 50cm at just 15 months old. And she’d held the type of body shape that we’re aiming at too. I don’t think we’ll be taking her to the show, and I have one or two more from her spawning last year that I’ll be taking to the All England show in a couple of weeks time.
So, that gives you an idea as to why we’re so excited about ‘Sharkey’s’ 2017 spawning!
Here’s the thing. The bird in the hand that we have in numbers of fry, is offset slightly by the small size of the fry at harvest time. Much smaller than last year – and this is down to the weather conditions and the pond conditions. The large number at harvest is evidence that the pond worked sufficiently well to sustain a large number of fry. But, it couldn’t quite get enough of them up to size. I’ve experienced this size profile of fry before from the top pond. For some reason, the bottom pond outside seems to rear fry at a more even size – which is better from a breeding perspective. Anyway, we’re extremely happy with the harvest ad it gives us something to work with.
So, we will grow these on inside in a heated pond for a couple of weeks to get them up to a good selectable size, before we go through them.
You may remember a month or so ago, I gave you a teaser of Amanda and I measuring up for a new pond in the garden – and we were considering an ornamental pond! Yes, a pond to actually look nice – rather than the industrial looking ones we use for breeding and rearing.
We do plan to put that pond in, and are designing a corner of our garden that will take the new ornamental pond.
But for now – the immediate priorities are two new growing on systems. The first one will be built in the polytunnel, in the space currently taken up by several free standing tanks that we use for rearing eggs. This will be an additional fry/tosai rearing pond. We’ve started the ground work on this already.
The second one will go outside the polytunnel, in the position currently populated by the QT. This growing on system will be dedicated to fish growing to nissai and older. This is a facility that we’ve been missing. And, I’m sure this new tank will help us make more of the few fish we get each year that have the potential to compete at shows in the larger sizes.
The displaced QT and egg rearing tanks are small systems and will be set up outside the polytunnel before the spring.
With thousands of new 1 inchers coming in from the 2 x july spawnings, and our existing fry growing on tanks already maxed out… the new tanks have become a priority. And we’re into juggling and prioritisation mode.. balancing off the urgency of harvests and first selection, with expansion of our growing on system for the kohaku’s we’ve already bred.