First weekend of spawning this year results in polar opposite outcomes

We ran our first spawning attempts last weekend.

After some deliberation over which female to run with first, we found ourselves stood at the females tank looking at the water which resembled pea soup.

The challenge wasn’t which female to go with…. It was whether we could catch a female at all.

After 5 mins of sweeping the pond with the pan nets, we pulled up the first female and it turned out to be the one we wanted, which was Elle. We introduced her with the two males I bought to go with her and left them to it overnight.

The next morning – there was no spawning. So, I added another male – one of our best ones – and in a separate pond, I kicked off another spawning; this time with the same parent set that I’ve had good success with over the last 2 years.

The rest of the weekend gave us polar opposite outcomes. I’ll start with the good news.

The trusty parent set from the last 2 years came good on their first night and delivered a good number of eggs, with high fertilisation. We ran them in the green vortex tank, and Amanda had sewed a cage net that lined the tank so that we could capture all the eggs laid – including those on the bottom and sides.

We’d prepared 2 of our new black tubs with fresh water ready to receive eggs

After the spawning, we moved the eggs stuck to the spawning ropes into two separate cage nets that were suspended in the black tubs. And we also moved the spawning net that lined the green vortex tank too.

Just under a week later, and we have lots of new hatchlings. One of the jobs for this weekend will be to introduce them to the outdoor fry ponds and if there are enough – we’ll attempt to rear some manually indoors in the black tanks.

Here are some pics of the spawning ropes in the days post spawning that shows how the eggs change in that time:

The spawning ropes distributed across two vats and contained in cage nets

Sunday :

Monday morning

Monday evening:
(Eyes clearly visible and high proportion of the eggs are going well. The white ones are failed eggs)

Ok, now to report on how the spawning with Elle went. And in summary – very badly. Prepare yourself for some bitter news.

On the second night, we lost all 4 parent fish in the spawning tank! Elle, the two males I’d bought to go with her, and another one of our high quality males. I still can’t believe it as I type it now, but unfortunately it really did happen.

To cut a long story short – the root cause was lack of oxygen, resulting from an air line popping off the air pump and leaving the tank without the extra aeration I’d added.

I can’t explain how large a blow this is. It’s hugely upsetting to lose the fish in this way, and those fish were hard for me to come by – and not easily replaced. They represented my last 18 months of koi purchases. They were all notable purchases - they were my hopes and dreams; genetics above those that I’ve been able to use so far. And, all 3 males have proven themselves as able to fertilise eggs the previous year.

In terms of contingencies... We have the new female that’s going through quarantine at Yume Koi right now. And thank goodness that we have her coming … but I am massively short on males, and I can’t afford to replace the losses right now. The earliest I could even contemplate replacing them would be over the winter, and it may be longer.

It’s changed the course of this season, that’s for sure. All I have males wise are the two dianichi ones that paired up well with my trusty female the last 2 years and also 2 weekends ago. I have to hope that the hatchlings from the successful spawning gives me enough for now and that we can rear them successfully (anyone who’s been reading this blog the last few years will understand that’s a big risk – for everything to go right in both outdoor ponds…. It’s never happened), and perhaps the dianichi males will be ready for a mid season spawning. I have one other matsue male, and he’s very high quality. He won the adult champion at my club’s garden show last year. But , he doesn’t like to get stuck in when the spawning is happening. I might have to try an artificial spawning to get the best out of him. And, if I need to look further for males , then I will have to use my home bred ones from 2014. I have one set of shiro’s as a backup too.

There’s so much to do to get the best out of the hatchlings that we have from last weekend spawning, and we are focussing on those steps now; they could make our season. And I’ll work out how we deal with any further spawnings later in the season.

Sorry to have to share such bad news with you… unfortunately, sometimes it goes that way.