Spawning has started

We started spawning this year on the weekend of 25th May, which is later that we’d usually start but has been delayed mainly because the end of April and first half of May being extremely busy with putting on our first stand at a koi show, and also the release of our jumbo tosai a week later. Occasionally, May offers us a warm few weeks which are enough to get a spawning and rear the fry outside. But, not this year – the odd warm day or few days gave us hope of a warm period which never set in. As things stand as I write this blog update, we are one third the way into June and the weather is still too cold. We couldn’t hold spawnings any further, and we are 2 weeks in to our spawning programme and have filled half of our expanded roster of fry ponds with hatchlings. It’s still too cold, but with the weather forecast saying we are still a week or two away from warmer weather… we have little choice but to crack on with it now and accept slower growth outdoors and just to make the best of it.

Checking on the Sharkey hatchlings in fry pond 6
This year we have 6 fry ponds, which provides us with far greater capacity than the 2 fry ponds we’ve been working with up to now. A very exciting prospect for us, and an essential part of our expansion to commercial scale. How the fry ponds behave, mature, cycle and so on took me years to learn and is incredibly important for rearing the masses of koi fry that we need as a base to select from. I have a reasonable understanding of the way the original fry ponds behave but… the new fry ponds are…. new and untested! They are virgin ponds, with no substrate and they are a huge unknown factor and will probably take several uses before they mature and I fully understand how to optimise them. So that is an additional challenge for me this year, with fantastic opportunity to expand our kohaku lines and add some other varieties into our roster if we get it right.

So… scores on the doors so far…

We ran Sharkey on the weekend of 25th May with her usual males pairing and enjoyed around 50% fertilisation on the eggs. She laid so many eggs, and the hatch rate was good and this produced enough hatchlings for us to fill 3 fry ponds - one of our original fry pond and 2 of our new fry ponds. And, thank goodness for her spawning because the other spawnings have gone less well….

My first showa spawning … they spawned first night, but the fertilisation rate was so low it was not worth us rearing the eggs.

The next spawning was with Rosie – and I repeated the May 2016 spawning. This year, Rosie has far fewer eggs then in previous years. She spawned first night, but none of the eggs were fertilised!

The next spawning was a Karashigoi, and that spawning went well – again, they spawned first night and fertilisation rates were good. But – we experienced an ammonia spike in the tank, and lost a majority of the eggs over 24 hours. Very annoying! But there might be a chance to spawn her again later in the summer….

Then, last weekend, I ran our most recent spawning – I went with Trudy, our massive Matsue kohaku female. She was a new acquisition last year and I spawned her successfully last August to clear out her first batch of eggs. This year was her second spawning with us and she produced a large batch of eggs and laid them almost as neatly on the ropes as Sharkey J Fertilisation was ok, at around 50%. But we again had a major ammonia spike – this time, I had a backup system ready to take the eggs and 24 hours later it appears that we’ve saved a good number. So, we are on course for a batch of Trudy babies and if we’re lucky, perhaps a fry pond’s worth. We’ll have a better idea once the eggs hatch and the hatchlings become free swimming – probably this weekend. It’s fingers crossed time!

We have 2 more fry ponds ready to take hatchlings, and I am hoping we can fill one of those with Trudy’s fry. And, we have cleaned up from the last set of spawnings are ready to run another set or two before the BKKS National in the hope that we can have 5 ponds full of hatchlings before we head to the National on the weekend of 21/22 June.

The 6th fry pond… it’s been dug, but is not yet lined and there are various other final aspects to put in place, like fencing. And, may need some adjustments to the banks before being lined – this is probably the most significant issue.

With so much on, and a limited amount of time, we are constantly prioritising between competing priorities. And, completing the 6th fry pond has missed out on being at the top of the list for the last few weeks – and now that we have hatchlings in fry ponds, we are not in a position to have machinery on site, and the upheaval that brings. So, rather than chasing the extra production possibility from 1 extra fry pond, I’ve decided to focus our efforts on the 5 fry ponds we currently have in use, and that are lined, and once they are full of hatchlings – only then will we look to take any re-build actions on the banks of the 6th fry pond and perhaps use it once this year later in the summer.

So that’s where we are right now!!

Some pics from the last few weeks:

Sharkey spawning

Around 50% fertilisation from Sharkey

Not koi farming weather! As I write this blog update... we are currently experiencing a storm with 1 month worth of rain falling in 24 hrs!!

Introducing the sharked hatchlings to the fry ponds