Showa 3rd selection

With the Hey Presto Showa event in just 4 weeks time, I have been keeping a very close eye on the progress of the Showa’s in our growing on tank. And over the last week.. I felt growth had slowed a little and that’s usually a sign that there are too many koi in the tank. So, we netted the tank last weekend with a view to at least halving the occupants. It was also the first time in around 4 weeks that I’d been able to look closely at these koi, and it took me all of Saturday and most of Sunday to get through them all. Partly because there were more in the tank than I expected, and also because there is a lot of detail on these Showa’s that needed to be assessed. There are also some Shiro Utsuri and Hi Utsuri which are a little more straight forwards, and in low numbers.

Here’s some video footage of the showa keepers. This includes all our remaining showa's:

Size wise, I’m happy. Many are in the 3-4 inch range, and we are on course to have them up to size for the event in November.

Quality wise… I’m also happy. And it took the close inspection of each one to be able to see the detail developing on these koi to be able to form that view. At this very early stage, the colours are muted and in the case of the white – it’s basically not yet developed! In the case of the red, in most of the koi this colour presents at this stage as either yellow, green, tan, orange and in some cases, red. And in the case of the black - bearing in mind that these koi start out black, and develop the other colours on top - well, the black on some of the koi is emphatic, and on others is underlying and presents as a greyish background. Deciphering what’s going on with all the colours is very interesting and took some time. I’d expect the white to develop over the next 3 months, and the red to develop over the subsequent 3 months. And the black will take up to 5 years! The white and the red will continue to develop over that longer timeframe too - but should be substantially in place by the spring.

What is clear is that we have a much higher number of koi than in previous Showa spawnings with red patterns that lie on the head and down the length of the body. Whether this red gets covered by black, or remains presenting as red – at this stage is difficult to tell. What we can be sure about is that if the koi does not have enough red now, then it’s probably not going to develop any more in the future. Yes, some small block of red colour may become slightly larger, or a rectangular band of red that presents as a slightly broken up line of red now may fill in and present as a nice band of red by the spring. But I would not expect a new block of red to appear on a section of the body that has no red on it now. So in this way, the red (and the various muted or immature colours that will become red) is the most certain of the colours for us to be able to assess at this stage. And whilst the red and developing red colouring is perhaps the easier of the 3 colours to assess now, – it still has much to do. What I'm looking at and noting as red, most people are looking at and thinking that it looks a pale yellow, or washed out orange - and in some cases, almost green. In fact, almost none of the koi are showing what will become red as red coloration now. And yet, despite the significant change still to come, I’m saying this is the most certain aspect of these koi!

There are many examples where patches of black are forming a banded wrapping shape which is the type of black that you’d want to see on Showa. We are seeing this as a good sign, and also a step forward compared to previous Showa spawnings. Also, defect rate is low, and growth has been good. Body shapes are varied, but a good number presenting a similar shape to the mum which is a good sign. We’re also seeing on the koi where black has come through, that on some of the koi the black is presenting as a lacquer black, with very neat edges – again, indicating there may be some potential in this brood set. These are all the key aspects I’d be looking for from a new brood pairing and so far , it’s going well.

On most koi, the white is yet to develop. You may see little patches where it’s started to firm up. Perhaps the nose, or along the dorsal ridge. There are some koi where the white has developed already, and perhaps that is due to an absence of black colour. It’s often on showa that have no motoguru. But it’s another aspect that we will be watching as these koi develop.

On some of the Showa’s, the pattern is amazing as it stands – and other than a thickening up of the colours in their existing places – I don’t want the koi to change! And on other ones, we see a tantalising red pattern – but it’s more difficult to see where the black and white are going to form – and the end result will depend completely on how those colours come through and firm up! On some koi, there may be red on the head, and then a couple of pieces of red along the length of the body – and you can see underlying black, and if the black forms in just those places – then again – it could be an amazing Showa.

These koi are the first we’ve produced from our ‘LMC’ female, and …, we’re seeing lots of characteristics that suggest this is going to be a good set for us. It's the second Showa spawning that we have reared some 1000's of... But about the 4th go with Showa if you also include several test spawnings where I reared a small sample. Despite the optimism with the LMC set, with such a complicated set of colours and development trajectories to understand and to get right, it’s important to recognise that we are still in the early days of understanding what potential quality we have with this brood set.

With the numbers higher than expected, and tank space becoming a scarce resource.. I have prioritised the space to Showa and have taken very few of the Shiro and Hi Utsuri through for futher growing on. That said, there are a few Hi Utsuri and Shiro Utsuri that look really good! There’s a Hi Utsuri that has a black nose and a black ‘cap’, and a red band running from one gill plate, across it’s eyes and nose and then to the other gill plate – it looks like a red visor on a black head. We’ve nicknamed that koi, ‘Visor’ . I’m afraid our koi names are quite straight forward sometimes! Hi Utsuri are one of Amanda’s favourite varieties, so she paid particular attention to the Hi Utsuri’s in this batch. She wasn’t happy with me moving any of them into the ‘for sale’ net…

Other news… We finished harvesting our fry ponds and pulled in a reasonable number of fry from our Karashigoi spawing. I’d expect some Chagoi, Ochiba , as well as Karashigoi from that pond. They were an incredibly late spawning… but, fast growing. And, now.. I just need to find them some growing on space … which as I mentioned, is becoming in short supply! After the success of our Ogon’s last year, we will certainly find some space for the Karashigoi’s and we will have a good range of single coloured koi available at our standard tosai and jumbo tosai sizes for next spring.