March update 2018

It's been a couple of months since I've updated my blog, and we've been busy building facilities and rearing the tosai from our 2017 spawnings.

Expanding our facilities is priority - to scale up, so that we can aim at achieving our 'weekend koi farmer' objectives.

We’ve installed a new 20k litre heated system using a rectangular aquosis max 1 vat for the main pond vessel, and our standard filtration approach of .. bottom drains, to drum filter, then pumped into a large barrel with bubbling k1, and the water falls back into the tank via a spout. Some of the water pumped out of the drum, is directed through the heater and UV unit, and then into the barrel.

That tank has been a life saver of the last couple of months. Because it’s enabled us to spread out our growing on stock, and it’s fared much better at keeping the tank temperatures warm, than our pre existing growing on system. We’re still short on growing on tank space, and this is something I’ll need to look at later in the year.

The cold temperatures, and dealing with broken air source heat pump on my main growing on tanks – means we are around 2 months behind in our tosai growing on. The babies growing on , are on average, better than in previous years – and we have more of them. But getting them up to size has been the main challenge. They’ll get there in May, and the timing will work well, as we’ve had a koi club book in with us to supply their grow and show.

The other big developments have been erecting a brand new polytunnel – a little smaller, but similar in size to our existing one. We will probably use this new space this year for additional fry rearing capacity, but the plan for this new space is to house our brood fish, and become a spawning and egg rearing hub.

We’ve also built a wooden framed polycarbonate enclosed space, and lean to on the other side of our pre exiting polytunnel. This neatens up the area, and also gives us more covered space for working in, and perhaps a few tanks. Currently, it encloses the quarantine tank, and the we have another small tank system with the lean to area and again. It’s made working around those tanks so much easier, already and I’m sure it will be a very useful space for us going forwards.

I want to increase to 8 fry ponds, of the same size as the current 2 that we have. And, we can fit 4 more in our garden. Plans have been drawn, and we’ve had a pre planning meeting at our place to run through the whole thing. We now need to complete the planning process and then hopefully start building the ponds this spring / summer. I don’t think they will be ready in time for us to use this year, but I’ve set ourselves a target of having them in place early enough to perhaps rear a late summer spawning.

My general plan for this year is to get through the expansion, and at the same time, double the number of fish we’ve produced compared to last year. That will be difficult with the delay to building the new fry ponds, but that’s where I plan to make up the short term deficit by using the new polytunnel to rear fry in.

You’lll notice that 4 extra ponds in the garden, plus the 2 existing ones… comes to 6. And I need 8, to get us to this next stage. So, we are still looking around our local area for a parcel of land that we can use, and we may expand onto a second site at some point in the next few years.

The other news is that we’ve purchased some new brood fish, to augment what we already have and give us a bit more contingency around spawning time. We’ve added one new female kohaku – this is a previous winner of Grand Champion, at the All England show. And a really super fish. A little older than I usually like to take a female for breeding, which increases the risk that she will not spawn. Overall, it’s a risk, but the kind of risk we have to take ,and we’ll try and get her to spawn for us later in the year. If she doesn’t spawn… she’ll be on the move.

Kohaku’s remain our strategic priority, and I still plan to bolster our current brood stock with another female and another male or two. But, we have also decided to try spawning another variety this year – in part, to add a little variety for us to handle. And also, listening to customer requests.

So.. we have the two female showa’s I collected a couple of months ago. And, we now have 2 males to go with them. I brought one home a few weeks ago, and the other is due early April – just in time for the spawning season hopefully. We are going to try to produce show prize potentials in this variety too. And, we have some unfinished business with showa.. after a lot of trying several years ago, and a run of bad luck with brood fish, spawnings and egg rearing. It will feel good, laying those old issues to rest… when we have a go later this year. What I have noticed when looking for showa’s to breed from is that it’s much more difficult to obtain showa with the kinds of body that I am happy to breed from compared to kohakus. It’s going to be a whole different experience for sure. My main focus initially is around getting babies with the right body, and also good black colour. And, we’ll go from there. I’m looking at this as a 3 year mini project, and it may take 5 years or more for us to get where I want with them.

last weekend, we catalogued our nisai and older fish.. .. and I'll be posting them online soon.