More spawnings, and fry released!

We enjoyed a bank holiday last weekend, giving us the long 3 day weekend to push on with this years breeding programme.

The top pond reached the perfect state for introducing hatchlings last weekend, and I filled it up with 'Sharkey's' kohaku's from the spawning earlier this month. One week on, and these hatchlings are growing well and it's still early days but we are on course for a decent harvest in about 4 weeks time.

I introduced the hatchlings a few thousand at a time, taking a batch from their rearing tank and moving them into the fry pond in a bag.
the hatchlings, in their rearing tank

there are around 4 to 5 thousand hatchlings in that bag!

It always feels good to fill the fry pond, and seeing the hatchlings growing over the last week reassures us that we got the pond cycling right (so far!), and its a bit of a relief. There's no time to dwell on that though because we have 1 more pond outside to fill and also two ponds in the new polytunnel.

For the other pond outside, this is now full and half way through the cycling process. I estimate it will be ready for hatchlings next weekend.

So my job now is to ensure we have hatchlings ready in about a week's time to make best use of that pond. And we have two options.

There are more than enough hatchlings left over from the sharkey spawning to use. We are growing those on in the polytunnel, and they are growing all be it at a slower rate the the ones outdoors. In a week's time we should still have enough to populate the outdoor pond if need be.

The other option is showa... Yes, we actually have some showa hatchlings too. For those that read the blog regularly, you'll know what trouble we had trying to breed showa a few years ago and the considerable investment in brood stock that were an absolute pleasure to look at and enjoy in the pond. but, they didn't spawn!

Well, last weekend we ran two showa spawnings.

I'll briefly describe our showa brood stock so we're all on the same page.

I bought 2 showa females - both from Ueno, and both from my usual koi supplier - Yume koi.

The main one is 5 years old, going on 6 this summer ; already just a cm short of 80cm and with much potential. This was Mike at Yume's tip. And I bought another one from him that he didn't think would work as well for me.. a much older showa, at 7 years going on 8 this summer. And shorter too - at 73cm. This second fish ... Her provenance was very good, but for some reason hadn't performed in the Yume growing ponds over the last 6 years. With Mike not recommending her, I only bought her as a backup option, and there is an aspect about her frame that I particularly like from a brood parent point of view. its a small technical point about the way the head joins the body.. I won't bore you, but lets just say.. she's a backup option. Anyway, I've called this backup option, 'Little Monster Chops'. Why, you ask.. Well, do you remember the shiro utsuri we used to have - a jumbo in all respects and, with a massive mouth - she used to hoover up the food when we chucked it into the pond. And we called her "Monster Chops' as a result. Now, this new backup showa has the same type of mouth and feeding habit! but she is smaller than our shiro, 'Monster Chops', so we've called the showa 'Little Monster Chops'. ok there you go. we're all up to speed.

So, for my first showa spawning I went with 'Little Monster Chops'. Mainly because of her older age, I felt I wanted to give her a run out earlier in the summer to see whether we could get her to spawn. Mostly with a view to cleaning her out of eggs and looking forward to a second spawning with her either later this summer or perhaps next year.

I've bought 3 showa males, but only have one at the farm currently. the other two are due to become available from their quarantine process (at the dealers), in a few weeks time.

I used the 1 showa male that we have here, and also the dianichi kohaku males - that are so good at spawning.

The showa male is a striking example, and pretty much everyone who's visited us recently has called it out. whether he works out as brood male, only time will tell. but, he's certainly one to enjoy in the pond:

We had a busy weekend of customer visits.. and on Saturday afternoon.. Andy and Stuart were over and we were pausing after looking at our range of tosai. I thought, a few extra pairs of hands would be useful in setting up the spawning and they obliged which I was very grateful for. It meant I got through around 2 hours of prep in 30 mins - and we set off the spawning on the Saturday afternoon any around 4.30pm, which is later than Id usually go for. But, I just wanted to get on with the spawning and start her off.

About 16 hours later... on Sunday morning, my fears about whether 'Little Monster Chops' would spawn were not justified because she spawned on the first night!

The down side, was there were so few eggs... you could literally lift the ropes up and count the odd one here and there. So, not something we could work with.

Cleaning all the ropes and cage net is several hours work.. and rather than re set everything, I chucked in the other Ueno female - in the hope they would spawn on Monday morning.. and we could get most use out of this set of spawning gear.

Now, on the Sunday we also had customers here. And in the morning we had Dave and Mike over, and they were equally helpful as Andy and Stuart were the previous day. Again - in between looking at the tosai we have for sale here... the guys helped me move the brood fish around to give the younger Ueno female a run out. I'm going to have to come up with a name for her , because 'Young Ueno' isn't going to work very well.

Anyway, she also spawned on her first night - giving us a decent batch of eggs on Monday morning!

Not only do we have good number of eggs, but also the fertilisation rate revealed to us 24 hours after spawning was also pretty good. Well over half were viable.

As I'm writing this blog update - Friday evening (after an uncomfortably hectic week at work... ), we have newly hatched showa hatchlings! We split the showa eggs into two batches , rearing them in separate tanks - and we have hatchlings in each tank. I have an issue with the water quality in both tanks.. but holding that quality just enough so far too keep them going. Early signs are the that we are seeing quite a lot of black hatchlings , which suggests the percentage black ones is good. Again, promising signs for the future. (only the black hatchlings will turn into showa.. the white ones will not.) I'll get some footage of those hatchlings over the weekend to show you.

Also, interesting was that the colour of the showa eggs was yellow.. and that's different to Sharkey's kohaku eggs which are usually white, or off white. Not sure how relevant that is, but it's something I've spotted and sharing with you here...

The jobs for this weekend... Another long list unfortunately! We've had some good take up on our 2018 tosai (from 2017 spawnings), and now is the time to start cataloguing the tosai for sale and getting them onto our website so they are more widely advertised and we can offer people the choice of our tosai with delivery.

I also need to catalogue our aka nisai - i.e., the tosai we are growing on to nisai here at the farm. I'm going to use the rectangular tank for that. and this is the first year we've had a tank that I could use and dedicate to growing our tosai to nisai.