Get to Know Bradley, His Favourite Koi Varieties, Top Tips and Family Connection To One Of The Most Famous Quotes In History

Our new employee Bradley is just now completing his first month at Adam Byer Koi Farm, and before we head into our tosai release this weekend I want to give those of you who've not met Bradley a chance to get to know him a bit before you visit.

To help with that, Bradley's answered a koi based Q and A giving us all a better idea of his interest and experience with koi, and also shared some aspects of his life outside of koi!

Bradley's journey into the world of koi farming is a fascinating one. With no prior experience or knowledge of the industry, he stumbled upon koi and aquaculture through social media and quickly became immersed in the world of koi keeping. His passion and dedication led him to study Aquaculture and Fisheries Management at college, and he's been hooked ever since!

When asked about his favorite koi variety, Bradley had a tough time picking just one. He appreciates every variety and finds each one appealing in its own way. However, he does have a soft spot for Asagi, with its unique contrasting colors and strong fukurin, and Goshiki, which he recently discovered and loves for its "floating beni".

Bradley's top koi husbandry tip? Get yourself a microscope and learn how to carry out scrape samples to diagnose parasites.

Bradley is very focussed on koi, and when asked about something he's always wanted to try but hasn't yet, Bradley revealed that he's always wanted to visit Niigata and work on a fish farm.  Turns out working at Byer Koi Farm and joining our trip to Japan this year, he's currently living his dream! Bradley talked about the usual things many people have on their bucket list, but Bradley is very focussed on developing his career at the moment.

When asked about something that most people wouldn't know about him, Bradley revealed that he is related to Oates, the famous member of Captain Scott's historic Terra Nova expedition team. Oates is known for saying, "I'm just going outside and may be some time," before stepping out into a blizzard, never to return. While tragic, Bradley takes pride in his family's connection to such an iconic historical event.

Despite his busy schedule at Byer Koi Farm, Bradley still makes time for his favorite hobby outside of work: playing table tennis with his dad. The matches are usually pretty close, but Bradley says his dad is really good and is slightly ahead across all their matches.

So there you have it - Bradley's passion for koi farming is truly inspiring, and we're thrilled to have him on board at Byer Koi Farm!

If you'd like to learn even more about Bradley, his top tips and the varieties he loves the most, please read on for the full koi-based Q&A.

1.     What sparked your interest in koi and made you want to pursue a career in koi farming.

My interest in Koi and Aquaculture came very unexpectedly, prior to my time in the industry, I had no friends or family who were involved with koi on any level. I actually discovered my interest in Koi and Aquatics through Social Media. I’m not sure how I stumbled across this type of content with no prior involvement or interest, but It soon immersed me and developed into hours of consistent watching and reading, absorbing as much information as I could. I found every aspect involved with Koi Aquaculture to fascinate me. I got my first job working at an Aquatics shop, and soon after that I enrolled at college studying Aquaculture and Fisheries Management. Safe to say I was hooked! From that point I was confident that I would be committed to pursuing a career in the Koi industry. Years on from then, my commitment to this industry has only strengthened and It is great to be getting started with my new position and opportunity here at Byer Koi Farm, exciting plans on the way!

2.     What’s your favourite koi variety?

Tough question! I have always had difficulty answering this question when I have been asked in the past. This is because I find almost every Koi variety appealing in some way and I appreciate/respect quality as a favourable factor on any Koi variety. I think each separate variety has specific, tailored aspects to its appreciation that aren’t consistent across Koi varieties in general. Therefore I think it is hard to favour a variety based on anything other than the feeling we Koi fanatics know when we see a special Koi that meets our sub-conscious criteria.
A key feature that will draw me to a koi is body shape and bone structure. Certain varieties are more renowned for these traits than others and therefore varieties such as Chagoi, Karashigoi, Yamabuki & Mukashi Ogon I enjoy slightly more on average than certain other varieties. Other varieties that would be “favourites” for me are Asagi, Goshiki, and the Go-Sanke varieties.

I’m a big fan of Asagi as a variety. It plays a very important role in the history of koi, being one of the first Koi varieties ever produced. The Asagi’s uniform and discrete pattern, with the unique contrasting colours is an appearance I certainly enjoy. High quality examples with strong fukurin and “Kado Gin” I find especially pleasing. A Kanoko Asagi bred by Byer Koi farm comes to mind, winning “Most Unusual Koi” at the Mid Staffs Koi Show. This fish is one of my favourite examples of “Kado Gin” that I have seen, this accompanied by the unique Kanoko pattern made for a very special fish.

Goshiki is a variety that I more recently have become very fond of. It is especially difficult in the UK to keep Goshiki looking the way we might desire, due to very hard water in a lot of locations. Goshiki in the UK very often take the route of the “Kuro” style where the fish goes a very dark shade of grey and almost black. Unfortunately this is not a style of Goshiki I enjoy as much. The “Nezu” style is what I would typically look for. Higher quality examples with “floating beni” where the beni is uninterrupted by any robing, this feature is very appealing.  When out in Japan this year, Goshiki was a high priority on the list of varieties that we were looking for. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and exploring the stock of renowned Goshiki breeders such as Kanno, Hiroi and Ikarashi Ozumi. These fish farms were very memorable parts of the trip for me.

3 goshiki and 1 doitsu showa in a blue bowl
Some of the koi purchased at Hiroi koi farm
3.     What’s your top koi husbandry tip for hobbyists?

There are certainly many. Keeping on top of water quality will always be advantageous, often being an early indicator of issues on the way as well as consistent maintenance on filtration systems being paramount for long term health of the fish and the pond.

However I would say owning a microscope and training yourself in successfully carrying out scrape samples to diagnose parasites will be one of the most helpful skills a hobbyist can acquire in their koi keeping journey. It seems daunting to most Koi keepers however it is not as complicated as it seems. It is great for further understanding of your koi’s behaviour, to learn what behaviours genuinely signal parasitic issues in a pond. Unless hobbyists know exactly what parasites they have, it can be an exhausting up hill battle trying to manage the issue. Learning to diagnose exactly what parasites you have will give you the ability to nip it in the bud early, without trial and error with treating blind, which can be costly. Severe Parasite infestations can lead onto secondary infections from opportunistic bacteria, which can bring a whole host of further problems that you’ll want to avoid. Although I don’t always agree with excessive netting and handling of fish due to stress factors. Scraping your fish routinely will really help you and it will also give you a chance to check your fish over for any other damage and/or infections.

4.     What are you most looking forward to in your new role at Byer Koi Farm?

Throughout my time in the industry so far, my focus with Koi has been from a dealer perspective. Breeding of Koi is a very different model. I have already experienced the start of this when out in Japan and learning to adapt my eye for Oyagoi (parent fish) with good potential for breeding, opposed to the fish with the best sales potential. which is what all of my prior experience is in. That skill will be helpful I think when doing selections on fish that we produce, providing the best we can for our customers. However I am looking forward to further learning about Oyagoi selection and understanding deeper into certain bloodlines, by seeing first hand the offspring that are produced.

5.     Are there any koi farms in Japan that you look up to or find inspiring?
Certain breeders that focus on a small number of varieties, to push the quality as much as they can, I found to be inspiring. To be leading in a very competitive market with production of specific varieties that they choose to breed, is a huge accolade. Seeing the fish they are producing in person really displayed why they have the reputation they have. I have a endless respect for the hard work that goes into producing these fish at such a high standard, and the risk involved in always trying to push the boundaries with the quality of their output to ensure their fish and bloodlines are improving in some way each year.

Maruhiro however, was a breeder that I would say I found one of the most inspiring. The scale of his operation is just immense! He is obviously not a breeder that focuses on a small number of varieties and most would expect that to produce such high volumes it would come at the cost of quality. However the quality of the fish produced remain at a very high standard. You would not struggle to find a high quality koi in any of his ponds, no matter what size, age or variety you are looking for. His famous Circular pond really is a sight to behold, holding many outstanding examples of many varieties at 85cm+. I have endless respect for the amount of dedicated hard work and skill that goes into annually producing, rearing and selecting the number of fry required to reach this level of output.

Other Japanese breeders that I would like to mention with being inspirational for me, were Yagenji and Otsuka. Every breeder we visited fascinated me for different reasons. However these 2 especially stood out for me with the experience of being there and of course the fish!
Adam Byer and Bradley Rubra stood at the side of Maruhiro's famous circular koi pond
At Maruhiro koi farm, and their famous circular koi pond

Bradley looking into the Yagengi show ponds
At Yagengi koi farm 

6.     What is one goal you hope to achieve in your career in the next few years

Since Our trip to Japan, we are going to be near on doubling the number of Koi varieties that Byer Koi farm will be producing. From what I have seen Byer Koi farm has already built a brilliant reputation with the quality of its output, and it becoming more and more competitive with what is being produced by some Japanese farms. A goal I would like to achieve is to be a significant part of the process and a driving factor in the continuing of the companies upwards trajectory, and to bring ourselves to be increasingly more competitive with Japanese farms with the quality of our fish across all the varieties we will be producing.