Monday, March 21, 2011

Anonymous notes from the KOI lecture

by aleks
SJG - koi - 2/13/11
Last saturday our Continuing Educational Committee produced another successful lecture, this time addressing previously immensely popular subject of koi.  The Tateuchi Room was packed and the speaker -Chris Charbonneau - engaging, stimulating  and very well received; I heard that through the grapevine,  because unfortunately, wasn't able to attend.   Thinking Koi a perfect blog-subject I still didn't want to miss the opportunity of sharing koi-facts with the world, so below are the notes of one of the attendees, who kindly shared with permission to edit them as I see it fit and post the result as Anonymous.   I found the read very fascinating and engrossing, so instead of fumbling with it and producing fictitious meta-notes,  here they are, unedited:

by that well known author, Anon
On Koi  - Chris Charbonneau, immediate past president, Washington Koi and Water Garden Society, March 19, 2011, Tateuchi Room, Seattle Japanese Garden

SJG - koi - 2/13/11
Annual Koi Show:  September 9-11, 2011 at Bellevue College

Origin:  Koi are river carp Indonesian rice farmers introduced into their paddies to provide themselves with protein.  Over time, they noticed some had red or yellow spots on their stomachs and set them aside.  Thus began the breeding of koi, which are mutants of river carp NOT related to goldfish.  Out of 1M eggs, only 1,000 might hatch as koi (colored) and 100 or fewer qualified to be raised as the koi we see in ponds.   Raising of koi skyrocketed after WWII as Japan became more prosperous.

Habits:   When they mate (sort of) the males fling the weight of their bodies at the females, sometimes even sending the latter onto the banks.  This dislodges the eggs, which are then on their own to eat and forage from minute one.  (Males and females make no other contact.)

Koi may eat their own eggs, but rarely when they reach a later stage.

Their survival depends on the quality of the water, especially PH balance (don’t ask) and temperature.  They prefer a water temperature of around 70 to 77 degrees, but survive at 40 degrees.  Water temperature change tends to induce spawning. 

They feed while upright on their tails and therefore need deep water.  They are transported to koi shows   in large, deep water-filled containers in which the koi  are positioned sideways to prevent them from breaking their noses against ends of the containers.

FAQ:   Koi can reach 1 meter in length and live to around 40 years. Chris discounted longer estimates such as 226 years as reported on Wikipedia. Because a koi resists being out of the water, weight is often difficult to determine.  (One prize-winning koi was dropped during a weighing attempt and died as a consequence.)  

Females grow bigger than males and win the large koi beauty contests; males win the small beauty contests.  Prizes are awarded on criteria that include symmetry of color markings and scales, density of color.

Slides:   Chris showed a number of colorful slides showing different koi kinds (each with a Japanese name).  Most treasured are the red and white, especially a white one with a red circle on its head (think flag of Japan).   Others included koi without scales, another with long fins, and a third with metallic skin.

Uh, oh, the notes made me realize another lie I have been spreading as a docent:  for years I've been telling unsuspecting audience that koi live much longer than 40 years, giving them a life span of 80-100 years. I got that info off the internet (just cursory checked, and the internet is still at it -  'The average lifespan is around 60 years if proper care is given. Some can live even longer, the world record Koi lived to be 226 years old' - that is from, but i've seen it elsewhere).  Oh, well, I very much enjoyed beating teenagers over the head with the 'fact' that the koi will probably be here, in the pond, long after they themselves are gone, to make the youngsters relate to the time passage...    Drat, gotta find another hammer:(.


  1. I was wanting to come to this but after reading this I'm glad I didn't. Nearly everything I'm reading here is complete BS.

  2. Please elucidate! Thanks.

  3. thanks, rpacht,
    could you share your knowledge on the koi then? frankly, i'm internally cringing when people ask me about koi, because it's not my thing, and yes, nearly everything i tell them is what i read on the internet...

    so instead of just dismissing what's above as BS, could you please start a nice discussion here and comment on on at least 2-3 issues?

    i personally would be grateful, and i'm sure others would appreciate it, too. if i'm not mistaken, you have a degree in marine biology, so don't hog the knowledge to yourself and SHARE:)

  4. and a question, too, rpacht:

    above in the 'Habits' section it says: 'When they mate (sort of) the males fling the weight of their bodies at the females, sometimes even sending the latter onto the banks.'

    reading it made me think about the time i went to the UW horticultural garden over at laurelhurst on 41st street. the ponds there were crazy on the banks with what sounded like fish in deep distress - thrashing and beating/milling around. the centers of the ponds were quiet, just the banks. were they mating then? so it's not just the koi that do that? i don't think they have koi over-there...

  5. Sorry Aleks I jut tried to post a long critique of this post and it failed to take. Will try again some other time

  6. thanks for trying, rpacht. i know that that the comment section gives you only limited space, but i don't remember how many characters, exactly. i tested it once, by chopping the words from my own comment to see when the blog 'accepts' it. it was fairly long, but the problem is that the cut-off is set in stone somewhere and until you meet it, it'll reject your posting.

    but you have 2 options:
    1.) either post your comment in parts - i hope you have it somewhere still: copy it to word and chop in 2 or 3, if needed, parts), then on the comments top say: part 1, part 2, part...
    2.) you can write your own self-standing post about KOI - critiquing or just informing... you have the blog's key, but if too intimidating, you can just email the text to me and i'll post it with you byline 'rpacht'.

    so, let me know if you want me to post your thoughts as separate post, and i'm sorry about the comments limits -- it can be quite frustrating, when one gives it a time and mind and the thoughtless machine just answers 'duh'...