Spawnings progress

We are making progress on the spawnings, but it is proving to be one of the most challenging years for us on that side of things.

Over the last 3 years, I’ve had 3 pairs of males that have been reliable in the spawning net… spawning with the female, and producing me sufficient fertilisation to have a decent number of hatchlings to continue the process with.

This year, I have 3 x as many ponds to fill … which is really exciting for us… but, we have experienced a massive failure on the side of my trusted males… with only 1 of the 3 males pairings producing fertilised eggs. And, it was only the first spawning this year that was successful… since then, we’ve spawned another 7 times and on a couple of occasions we had some fertilised eggs.. but, nowhere near enough, and water quality issues thwarted those batches.

Running that many spawnings take a lot of effort, and with only so much time available from Amanda and myself, it means we have had to pull back on other priorities, like completing the 6th fry pond, and selecting through the Lava Rosa tosai.

So, as things stand… I have 3 fry ponds filled with Sharkey hatchlings…. The concern with those hatchlings is that I’ve had to put them into the fry ponds during one of the worst summer periods we’ve experienced in late May/June – temperatures very cold, lots of heavy rain and strong wind, and very little sunshine. Despite the weather, we are seeing fry in each of the 3 ponds, and they are growing slowly which tells me there is food in the pond for them. Growth has been very slow, and the numbers we are seeing is also on the low side compared to our expectations. This could just be down to the poor weather – one a rare sunny couple of hours the other day, we could see hatchlings around the margins which is reassuring. But the bottom line is that we have very little confidence in predicting the end result. On the up side, with 3 ponds of Sharkey hatchlings.. even if all 3 ponds perform badly, our overall harvest of Sharkey babies should be roughly the same as last year just because of the benefit of fry pond scale this year. And if the little fry are hiding at the bottom of the ponds … then, we could still be in for a very good harvest. It’s a waiting game before we find out.

We are also fast approaching the BKKS National weekend which we will need to focus on for the week before and after. So, last weekend we had one final push on the spawnings to try and fill our fry ponds.

Up to now, I’ve always run spawnings naturally. With set pairings of males to each female… those optimised pairings being part of our ‘know how’ and helping us increase the quality that we are producing.

I’ve stuck with the natural approach up to now because the artificial approach take more time and that’s not something we have in plentiful supply. Knowledge of my brood fish, and which ones work well together and which pairings consistency deliver good results has worked well up to now. But, with the failure of several of my trusted males this year… I had little choice but to make a change and that’s what we did last weekend. We ran Lava Rosa, artificially. A few days on, and the result is good and we have newly hatched fry. After a tough few weeks, having newly hatched fry and in decent numbers and with a trusted kohaku pairing is brilliant news.

We achieved a good fertilisation rate; you can see the developing fry in their eggs.

On day 3 following the spawning, we have tiny hatchlings. You can make out 2 of them in the centre of this picture.

We have 1 pond ready for these hatchlings, and I had hoped for a second pond too – but, we’ve ended up with blue green algae in that pond which is toxic, and we’ve had to ditch that pond and start over again! I learned the lesson with blue green algae a few years ago…. So that leaves us with one pond available, and we will try and cycle a second pond in time.

We are now going to pause on the spawnings and re-focus towards preparing for our stand at the BKKS National Koi Show this weekend!

With a rare break in the wind and rain... the sun broke through the clouds for at least 1 hour and I took a few snaps ...

We finished off 2 our our new fry ponds by coving the ponds with bird netting.

The Sharkey hatchlings in fry pond 1 are growing, albeit very slowly. It's taken them 2.5 weeks to grow the same amount as we'd achieve in around 1 week during warm conditions. But.. the key thing is that those hatchlings are still there.. and growing. We just need a few warm weeks to bring them on .

Our waste water pond is home to several batches of ducks and moorhens a year! She's done well with this, her latest batch of 10 ducklings!