Deep Knowledge from our Master Ponders

Until we move all of the great articles to our new website, you may wish to link to the old website articles.
Loving Koi
The Language of Koi by Bob Brudd
Showa – The King of Nishikigoi by Bryan Bateman
Kohaku – The Queen of Koi by Bryan Bateman
Sanke – The Elegant Koi by Bryan Bateman
Goromo – An Amazing Breed by Bryan Bateman
Goshiki – “five-colored” by Bryan Bateman
Utsuri – Shadow and Light by Bryan Bateman
Kumonryu – The mysterious ever-changing koi by Bryan Bateman
Ochiba Shigure – Autumn Leaves on Water by Bryan Bateman
Ginrin – Diamonds by Bryan Bateman
Tancho – The Crane by Bryan Bateman
Yamabuki Ogon by Bryan Bateman
The Elusive Beni Kujaku by Bryan Bateman
Showa, the Embodiment of Power by Bob Brudd
Sanke, Elegance Personified by Bob Brudd
Kohaku, the Cornerstone of Koi by Bob Brudd
Attending Koi Shows
Alright, Why Should I Go to a Koi Show?
Planning For the Future, The Hard Way
Koi Preparation For a Show by Ray Jordan
A Koi Show Manual-Norm Meck Revisited
General Information
The Three Laws
Poisonous Plants
The Inherited Pond
I Think I Want A Pond…
I’m a Ponder!
Quarantining Your New Koi
Snag ’em, Bag ’em and Drag ’em
Pond Building
The Ins and Outs of Koi Pond Building by Mike White, Part 1: Planning
The Ins and Outs of Koi Pond Building by Mike White, Part 2: Design
The Ins and Outs of Koi Pond Building by Mike White, Part 3: Circulation
The Ins and Outs of Koi Pond Building by Mike White, Part 4: Mechanical and Chemical Filtration
The Ins and Outs of Koi Pond Building by Mike White, Part 5: Biological Filtration
The Ins and Outs of Koi Pond Building by Mike White, Part 6: Mats, Pads and Biofall Filters
The Ins and Outs of Koi Pond Building by Mike White, Part 7: Biological Filters – Bead, Tower and Vortex Filters
The Ins and Outs of Koi Pond Building by Mike White, Part 8: Fluid Bed, Bio-Reactors and Nexus Filters
The Ins and Outs of Koi Pond Building by Mike White, Part 9: Planning for Pond Expansion
Head loss due to pipe runs
Pond Maintenance
Pimp My Pond
Opening and Cleaning of Ponds By Bryan Bateman
Cold Water Care of Koi by Bryan Bateman, AKCA Koi Health Advisor
Fish Story – or – Mystery Pond Detective (My thanks to Richard Strange for a hellaciously good Water Quality course!)
Winter and Your Pond
Who’s on pHirst?
Spring and Your Pond
O Noes! More Salts!

Pimp my Pond

Pimp my Pond by Dr. Bob Passovoy Well, now you have gone and done it. For whatever reason, you are now a ponder. Your contractor, check in hand, has just vanished over the horizon in a cloud of dust, leaving you with your spiffy new backyard water feature. If you are very lucky and very smart, you will have had the benefit of friends grown old in the hobby and a contractor who knows his stuff. If you have the usual beginner’s luck, you’ve got a shallow hole in the ground with about 24 to 36 inches of water in it, a few (expensive) sacrificial koi, a skimmer at one end and a tub of water at the other, casting a wonderful smooth sheet of water into the (for a while) limpid depths. This is the most dangerous time for a ponder. The Three Laws have bit you and the First Law (There is always a better fish) is generally the initial force to take hold. It is too early for you to realize the force of the Third Law (There is never enough water). You haven’t had the chance yet to overstock and overfeed. You’ll find the sheer power of the Second Law growing as you gain experience and sophistication. It is of the Second Law we speak. There is always a better filter. For filter, substitute GADGET. As your pond increases in size and your expertise grows with experience, you’ll begin to notice…deficiencies…in the way your system handles…

Alright, Why Should I Go To a Koi Show?

If you are reading this article, it means that you have clicked on its title on this site, which also means that you’ve got at least a passing interest in ponds, fish, plants and the hobby in general. Many of you may have goldfish, some of you may have koi, and all of you have questions.   Questions like: “What kind of fish is that?” “Why is my water that funny color?” “What is that smell?” “Why are all my fish swimming upside down?” “Where can I rent a bulldozer?”   If you’re a little better at the hobby than that, questions about equipment upgrades, water testing, pond chemicals, fish health and access to better quality fish are more likely to be on your mind. A good-sized koi and goldfish show is the ideal place to go to find answers to all of these and more. They are gatherings of the most knowledgeable hobbyists in the area, who are there to exhibit the best fish in their ponds and compete for prizes. Also in attendance will be a wide variety of vendors, who provide services, equipment and livestock for the hobby. Shows will frequently sponsor seminars and speakers on a wide variety of topics which are open to all attendees. What is even better, almost everybody present is, in one way or another, an enthusiast, and more than happy to share experiences, solutions, disasters and help at the drop of a question. It is incredibly easy to get a water…

Poisonous Plants

We’re not saying you shouldn’t plant these; just consider their placement carefully. Bushes and Trees Toxic parts Daphne mezereum berries Ginko fruit Laburnum anagyorides pods and seeds Privet berries and leaves Prunus (peaches, apricots, plums, cherries) pits Rhododendron all parts Taxus (yew) seeds, needles, branches Viburnum opulus (snowball bush) berries Vines Toxic parts Aristolochia durior (Dutchman’s Pipe) all parts Wisteria sinensis, W. floribunda leaves and berries Perennials Toxic parts Aconitum (Monkshood) all parts Arum maculatum (Wake Robin) A. italicum berries Brugmansia/Datura stramonia (Angel’s Trumpet) all parts Colchicum autumnale (Autumn Crocus) all parts Convollaria majalis (Lily of the Valley) all parts (including water the flowers have been kept in) Daffodil, Narcissus, Jonquil all parts Delphinium (Larkspur) all parts Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove) foliage and seeds Euphorbia (Snow on the Mountain) sap Hedera helix (English Ivy) berries Helleborus Niger (Christmas Rose) all parts Hyacinthus bulbs Lantana camara unripe fruit Milkweed sap Polygonatum (Solomon’s Seal) same as Lily of the Valley Rincinus communis (Castor Bean Plant) seeds The Nightshades Poison: solamine Atropa belladonna (Belladonna) berries Lycopersicon lycopersicum (tomato) green fruit (if eaten in quantity) Solanum dulcamara (Bittersweet) unripe berries Solanum nigrum (deadly nightshade) berries Solanum tuberosum (potato) all parts but tubers; tubers if green More — by family (drawn from the Thompson & Morgan Seed Catalog) Apocynaceae: Catharanthus (Periwinkle) Vinca Asclepiadaceae: (Milkweeds)Berberidaceae: Berberis (Barberry) Podophylum Boraginaceae: Echium –also attracts bees, if anyone’s allergic Campanulaceae: Lobelia Caryophyllaceae: Agrostemma (Corn Cockle) Arenaria (Sandwort, Scotch Moss) Caryophyllus (Carnation) Cornaceae: Chamaepericlymenum Compositae: Doronicum (Leopard’s Bane) Crassulaceae: Sedum (Stonecrop)…

Showa – The King of Nishikigoi by Bryan Bateman

If you like the look of power and grace working in unison, then Showa might be the fish you are looking for, with its bold, wrapping black markings that complement the colors of red and white to create a dynamic panorama in three colors. Showa is considered one of the “big three” along with Kohaku and Sanke, and at most koi shows, one of these varieties will usually win Grand Champion. A Showa can be recognized by any of several easily identifiable characteristics. As already mentioned, three colors must be present, but it is the placement of these colors that sets the Showa apart from other three-colored fish. Black should appear somewhere on all parts of the body – the head, trunk, and caudal (or tail) section. This black should appear as large wrapping bands or bold patches, sometimes connecting with each other. A Showa should begin (somewhere near the nose) and end (somewhere near, but not into, the caudal fin) with black. Black also normally appears at the base of each pectoral fin as an added enhancement. The red should appear much as a kohaku pattern, that is, in artistic but simple patterns throughout the body. A normal ratio of the three colors is 1/3 of each, but variations from this are acceptable, and are largely a matter of personal preference. Selecting a young Showa can be a tricky proposition. This is because the black doesn’t usually appear fully until 3 or 4 years of age. To complicate matters…

Kohaku – The Queen of Koi by Bryan Bateman

If Showa can be called the King of Koi, then Kohaku certainly wears the Queen’s crown. This red and white beauty is one of the “big three” in koi shows, along with Showa and Sanke, which are both three-colored koi. An old adage goes something like “The road to nishikigoi begins and ends with kohaku”. This refers to the attraction that the simple beauty of red on white has to the beginner, and to the many intricacies and challenges that this variety presents to the advanced hobbyist. Indeed, the first koi many of us see is a kohaku, to which we inevitably respond: “My what a pretty goldfish!”. Not until we buy it, take it home, and watch as it grows. . and grows. . . and grows. . . do we finally realize that this is no ordinary “goldfish”. The road to Nishikigoi has begun. Later, when many of us take to showing koi, and have collected examples of our favorite varieties, we begin to search for that “special” kohaku. We learn that there are certain rules that need to be followed when it comes to a kohaku pattern. For instance, we don’t want the head covered in red and we prefer not to have red in the fins. Ideally the red comes to just past the eyes, leaving the rest of the head down to the mouth in white. An attractive exception to this rule is “kuchibeni”, or “red lipstick”, which is self-explanatory. Also, the pattern should be…

Sanke – The Elegant Koi by Bryan Bateman

We have previously discussed Kohaku and Showa. We now introduce Sanke, the third of the group of koi known as “Gosanke”. These three varieties traditionally win most major awards at koi shows. In most cases a Sanke can be easily recognized by the characteristic kohaku pattern (red patterning on a white fish) accented with black markings scattered about the body much like stepping stones. As with many varieties, there are a few “rules” which should be followed. One of these is that the head should be free of any black markings. Another is that the pectoral fins should have “tejima”, or thin black stripes, extending from the pectoral joint to about one-half the length of the fin. Other than these two rules, it becomes much a matter of personal taste as to the location, size, and number of black markings. In judging Sanke, a judge will consider the overall balance of the red and white markings – how well they compliment each other. If the black markings are concentrated in one area, such as near the tail, or all on one side, it creates an un-balanced and busy look. There should be a “focal point” on a Sanke, which would be a fairly large black marking on one shoulder. This is important enough to have its own name: “Kata Sumi”. Another appreciation point is that the black markings should be located on the white rather than on the red. This creates a more elegant and refined impression. In selecting young…

Goromo – An Amazing Breed by Bryan Bateman

Of all the beautiful varieties of koi that have been developed over the years, to me the Ai Goromo takes the prize as the most amazing accomplishment by the breeders of Japan. Ai Goromo is easily recognized by the delicate blue edging, or reticulation, on each red scale on a pattern of what would otherwise be a kohaku. Its cousin, the Goshiki, is an interesting contrast with its typical blue edging on the white. These two varieties are frequently combined as a single variety for koi show purposes. Two sub-types of Goromo, Sumi Goromo and Budo Goromo, are not as elegant or refined in appearance, and consequently don’t generally compete very well in shows against a good Ai Goromo. Sumi Goromo has a much darker and heavier edging, and the Budo Goromo has “grape clusters” (translation of “Budo”) mixed in with the normal reticulation. These two sub-types can sometimes be mistaken as shiro utsuri (black and white koi) due to the dark ai (blue) almost completely covering the red, but if you look closely you will see the red appear as a dark purple thru the almost black pattern. Ai Goromo was probably developed by crossing an Asagi with a Kohaku. As a result of this cross, the Ai Goromo inherited a striking bluish-white background from its Asagi parent. When selecting a young Ai Goromo, look for one with an attractive kohaku pattern and with reticulation that is barely visible if at all. This is why this variety is such…

Goshiki – “five-colored” by Bryan Bateman

I have always been fascinated with the Goshiki variety, with its many variations of color, reticulation and pattern. Recently goshiki have been divided into two sub-types: Light, or mameshibori (also sometimes called kindai) goshiki, and dark, or kuro goshiki. The light version looks much like a kohaku but with thin crescent-shaped dark blue reticulation appearing on the white skin, whereas the darker kuro goshiki sometimes has reticulation on the red as well, with the white area becoming almost completely dominated by heavy dark blue reticulation – appearing almost like black or dark purple rather than white.   The original meaning of goshiki is “five-colored”. These colors are white, black, red, light blue, and dark blue. When mixed on some goshiki (i.e. kuro) the ground (main, or background color of the body) can appear as purple, which makes for a really cool looking fish! This variety was originally placed in the kawarimono (or “miscellaneous”) class for judging purposes, but due to great efforts to improve and refine the variety, it was recently upgraded to a combined koromo/goshiki class. The reason these two varieties are combined into one class is that they are of the same genetic blend – kohaku and Asagi. The kohaku gene contributes the red patterning on a white background while the Asagi gene contributes the reticulation. In the case of koromo this reticulation is restricted to the red areas, while with goshiki the reticulation is usually restricted to the white areas (the exception being kuro goshiki as mentioned…

Utsuri – Shadow and Light by Bryan Bateman

Shiro Utsuri (pronounced SHE-row oot-SOO-ree) is a member of the Utsuri class at koi shows, which also includes Ki Utsuri (yellow and black), and Hi Utsuri (red and black). Of these three, the Shiro Utsuri, or white and black koi, is by far the most popular, and will often compete with Gosanke – Kohaku, Sanke, and Showa – for Grand Champion at koi shows.   “Utsuri” translates from the Japanese as “reflection”, which refers to a tendency these koi have of displaying alternating markings, much like a checkerboard, on their bodies. Modern patterns vary, however, from the traditional checkerboard type to a limitless array of artistic interpretations. We see banded “bumble-bee” patterns, or we may see continuous “inazuma” or lightning type patterns that run to and fro over the entire koi from head to tail, or maybe a koi with just a few brush-mark splashes of sumi seeming to float on a sea of white. A similar variety often confused with Shiro Utsuri is Shiro Bekko, which is also a black and white koi. The difference between these two types lies in the location and shape of the black markings. While Utsuri normally exhibit larger, wrapping black markings, which will often appear on the head as well as on the body, Bekko are distinguished by the small stepping-stone type of markings appearing on the body but not on the head, much like we see on Sanke. The ratio of black to white on a Shiro Utsuri is largely a matter…

Kumonryu – The mysterious ever-changing koi by Bryan Bateman

One of the most interesting varieties from a developmental standpoint is the black and white, scale-less Kumonryu. It comes from a long line of koi beginning with a dark-colored magoi variant called a Tetsu Magoi. From crosses with this koi many years ago an all black koi was developed called a Karasu (crow). Some of these koi had white fin tips, which were singled out and further cross-bred to create koi with more and more white. Eventually a black koi with a white head and white fins was developed called a Yatsushiro. The first kumonryu, which is merely a doitsu (scaleless) version of a yatsushiro, was created when a shusui (doitsu koi with red lateral markings and a bluish body color) was crossed with a yatsushiro. One way to tell a kumonryu from a doitsu shiro utsuri (also a black and white scaleless koi) is to look closely at the white skin. A kumonryu will have a bluish tint, inherited from its shusui parent. The other difference between the two is the genetic tendency of the sumi (black) to appear as a wrapping pattern on Utsuri, while it appears more as a lateral-type pattern (running lengthwise) on Kumonryu. From the first kumonryu many breeders have developed variations in the patterning, including some truly spectacular specimens reminiscent of a killer-whale type of pattern. The problem is, these koi have a nasty habit of changing colors from season to season (black becomes white and white becomes black!) and also changing their patterns…