Author Archives: Bruce Gresham

MPKS Bulb Order

Tulip Bulb Order

It’s time to order for 2019. All orders need to be received by September 20th.

MPKS is able to place a special club order with DeVroomen for tulips, etc. To be part of this club order, the following information should be sent via mail or email to

TulipsFor your order, please include

Your name and phone number.

For each item, please list:

Quantity, part number, description, and price, or you can fill out the  OrderForm2019,  and send it to Charlene.


Depending on the volume of the club order, the club may receive a discount. The bulbs will be shipped to MPKS during the month of September.

You may view the catalog online at DeVroomen Landscape Contractors . The pricing information is in the order form . The quantity listed is how many bulbs are in the package. Only whole packages may be ordered. MPKS is not splitting packages.

2019 MPKS Tosai Auction

Announcing the 2019 MPKS Tosai Auction

The MPKS Tosai Auction will be held on Saturday June 1st. Viewing of the fish begins at Noon and the auction starts at 1:00 PM. This popular members-only event will once again be hosted by John and Pat Hall  at their home in Plainfield IL.  Their address will be posted to members through the MPKS email blast.

This years’ collection is promising to be one of our best yet, featuring a selection of  beautiful Koi from the Kloubec Koi Farm in Amana Iowa. With 60 koi to choose from, there should be something for everyone. (Payment by cash or credit card.)

Our club Vice-President, Dr. Bob Passovoy, an accomplished amateur auctioneer, will be presiding over the festivities. A complimentary light lunch will be served at the auction. It is sure to be an educational as well as an enjoyable afternoon.

We hope to see you there!

(Not a member? You can join right at the event! Please come!)



Tosai 2019

What is a Tosai? A one-year-old Koi
Who can bid? MPKS members
Can I become a MPKS member at the event? YES! This is a perfect time to join us.
Will I need to bring my own bags or oxygen? MPKS will supply the bags and oxygen to get your new babies home.
Will I need to quarantine the fish? The answer is always–you should quarantine any fish or plant new to your system. Your system and your mix of bugs is unique from any other.

June 2017 Koi Show and Trade Show Highlights

Here are some pictures from the June 2017 Koi Show and Trade Show.  Thank you Kathleen Sims and Linda Ray for taking pictures during the Koi Show and Trade Show.

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 stress, weather, fish load and water quality, and you’ll be looking for ways to fix them.

Forthwith, a series of challenges and what could, given the right conditions, develop into a very impressive Christmas wish list.

Challenge #1 occurs as you settle into the hobby and your fish grow in size and numbers. Your water warms up as it is bathed by the sun’s happy rays and you have achieved…ALGAE! It starts as a faint green tinge to the water and suddenly you can’t see the fish. You need a solution because you read somewhere that floating microscopic algae sucks up oxygen in the dark. Off to the pet/sortapond store where the guy tries to sell you a bottle of something that is guaranteed to kill off all the algae in your pond, no worries. Just in time you remember that any chemical you put in, stays in until you can water-change it out. You also reason that the proteinaceous gook that’ll collect as the plant life dies will stay in the pond forever as well, giving you that healthy head of foam at the foot of your falls and that odd brown tinge to the water. So, nope. No chemicals. You needs a GADGET! There are a few.

First up in your mind are UV (ultraviolet) clarifiers. These are not filters as such, nor are they “sterilizers” unless you are ready to shell out several thousand dollars on an industrial-strength array capable of knocking a GPS satellite out of orbit. These high-end devices, set up properly, are powerful enough to kill some motile parasites and even see use as ozone generators, but they are aquaculture tools, not designed for backyard ponds. Hobbyist UV units will cost between $50 to $300, depending on the design and durability. They run with bulb capacity between 25 to 100 watts as a rule, the bulbs retaining their punch for about a year. The key to their effectiveness is the amount of time the water piped into the unit stays there. Most hobbyist UV units are set up with 1-inch or 1 ½ inch connectors to slow the flow. For this reason, the UV unit should always be set up on a diversion loop on your filter outlet pipe so that full flow back to the pond is not impeded, remembering that this fits in after the water has been mechanically and biologically filtered. UV in this application does not kill anything. It does cut down on floating algae by damaging its ability to reproduce. It will not affect anything in the pond itself, so don’t expect all that hair algae to disappear. These units need their bulbs changed out every year, and the plastic-bodied devices tend to get brittle after a few years of UV exposure and will disintegrate. Look for UV with stainless steel chambers and robust fittings. In general, UV is affordable and works well within its narrow application.

MAGNETISM! Nobody knows what magnets do when you wrap them around pipes. We do know that they do not affect algae.

IonGen: This infernal little device kills algae. And plants. And, eventually, fish. It is a block of copper or zinc hooked up to a DC power source and then exposed to your pond water. It uses the Mad Science principle of electrolysis to erode the metal, releasing molecular copper or zinc into the water. As it operates, the metallic ion concentration becomes toxic enough to kill off algae (leaving the organic pollutants in the pond for you to deal with). As the unit continues to run, levels of copper can easily reach levels toxic to fish. Everything dies. Do not waste your money. There are better solutions to this problem.

Ozone: Oboyoboyoboy! High-tech Mad Science! Ozone is the ultimate oxidizer. It breaks down proteinaceous waste, kills parasites, kills algae, kills bacteria, and if it gets out of control, toasts off fish gills. Alan LaPointe, the head water-quality guy at the Shedd Aquarium wears a beeper 24-7. It connects him to the equally 24/7 monitoring staff whose job is to watch the ozone levels.  All The Time. He says that if you are not prepared to exert this level of effort and vigilance, do not do ozone.

So now what? You got your UV and you still got algae. Maybe less than before, and more hair algae than floating, but still algae. Now is the time to remember what promotes algae growth. Warm water. Sunlight. Food. Food? Algae eat ammonia. Fish make ammonia. You got lotsa fish. The algae are happily taking the ammonia out of your system and converting it into plant. You want it to stop? Get rid of the ammonia. You need MORE FILTER!

Prefiltration: Koi are bottom-feeding fish that love mud. In their natural habitat, you’ll never see them. Koi keepers are natural voyeurs and want to see their fish all the time. “Gin-clear” water is the holy grail of the backyard ponder, even if it’s not the ideal habitat for a carp, and that means no floating crud. Getting the big, visible chunks-‘o-stuff out of the water improves the pond’s appearance and reduces the amount of time you’ll have to spend flushing the crud out of your biofilters. Prefilters range in complexity from a piece of filter mat wrapped around that submersible pump to stainless steel screens with holes too small to see. Oddly, as the complexity of the device increases, maintenance on the device decreases. What’s most important here is that the water hits this first, before the biofilter and definitely before the pump.

Seives: Usually a plastic basket that fits over the inlet of your submersible. Fouls instantly. Also found as a basket on the inlet side of dry-land pumps. By itself, also high-maintenance.

Foam pads and mats: Placed somewhere between the inlet to your pump and the pump itself, usually contained in a box or just wrapped over the inlet, these have the advantage of being simple and cheap. The downside is that they foul quickly and need to be cleaned frequently, often twice a day at the season’s peak.

Vortex: Basically a big tub with a conical bottom. Water comes in passively from the pond and enters the tub in such a way as to create a constant swirling motion. Larger particles settle out to the bottom and the cleared water is drawn off the top and sent on to the filter or the pump. Simple and easy to maintain, but it takes up a lot of space.

Turbovortex: This is a prefilter adapted for closed systems. It is very compact, basically a small upflow filter partially filled with a coarse mechanical media. ¾-inch bioballs are most frequently used. It does need daily backflushing and the valving systems available to allow you to do this range from “instant-foul-and-fail” to “impossibly arcane”. I have one. It works. Don’t ask how.

High-tech sieve: These range all the way from self-contained large-volume sieves in flashy stainless cylinders to elegant bow-screen sieves with teeny-tiny holes and elaborate backwashing systems.

As the complexity of the system increases, so does the thoroughness of the mechanical prefiltration and the cost. Adding prefiltration boosts the efficiency of your bioconverters, but you’ll need to shop around to find the prefilter that fits your pond best.

Biofiltration: The idea here is to provide the maximum amount of surface area for your filter bacteria to stand on in the minimum amount of space. Biofiltering bacteria rely on biofilms which stick to surfaces. Filter media which provide a very high surface area for a given volume and do not foul or clog are preferred, as are the systems that use them. The system needs to fit the requirements of your pond from the standpoint of flow and volume and be compatible with whatever pumps you are using. It needs to be reliable and easy to maintain and clean. Beyond that, nothing else matters. Open system, closed/pressurized, Nexus, home-built. They all work. The limiting factors are cost, space and physics. The critical point is whether the system is capable of keeping ammonia and nitrite at or around zero on a consistent basis, regardless of the stress. If it can’t, you need more filter. If it can, you don’t have an algae problem anymore. You do have happy fish. If you have multiple systems, they need to be hooked up in parallel if you have only one inlet. If you have both a skimmer and a bottom drain, split the systems and run them independently, each with its own pump, prefilter and biofilter. This redundancy gives you some safety if either of the systems dies. It also gives you more pipe room to add more toys. Gadgets! Remember?

Dissolved Organics: Otherwise known as protein, foam, gunk, sludge and “that funny brown color that my pond turns in the summer. This is the result of natural processes that involve broken-down sloughed slime coat from the fish, dead bacteria and decomposed plant material. Besides being responsible for that ugly bubbly foam at the base of your falls, it is also a pollutant that degrades water quality and fish health. Better it should be gone. Water changes will dilute it, but getting rid of it requires a Protein Clarifier. Otherwise known as foam fractionators, these have been available to aquarium hobbyists, especially the salt-water reef guys for a long time. Ponders, only in the past five or six years. The principle is simple. Agitate the water enough (Venturi, air or both) and it foams. Foam floats and can be skimmed off, returning the defoamed water to the pond. Commercial units (Clarity and others) are available and adaptable to just about any filter system, and like any purpose-built manufactured gadget, cost big bucks. Generally 900 to 1300 dollars. A brisk search through Google reveals several plans for do-it-yourself projects, mostly involving novel uses of various bits of PVC. These work just as well, and bring the cost down to around fifty bucks. Either way, it is worth the time, money and effort.

Degassing: The end product of biofiltration is Nitrate. The end product of buffering (pH balancing) is carbon dioxide. Both can accumulate and both can negatively affect fish health. Luckily, both are governed by chemical reactions that have a gas at one end of the equation. Get rid of the gas and you get rid of the toxin. Ma Nature provides for this with waterfalls. Big, rough, splashy waterfalls. The idea is to maximize the contact between water and air with turbulence at the air/water interface. Airstones DO NOT DO THIS! They are great at moving water, but there is just not enough surface area on each of those spherical bubbles to allow enough gas exchange to matter. The simplest solution to this problem is to engineer in big splashy waterfalls and fast shallow streams and rapids when you dig the pond. Otherwise, you need more GADGETS(!).

Trickle towers are the simplest and cheapest solution to this problem. In their basic form, they are an upright row of 4-inch PVC pipes filled with coarse filter media (usually bio-balls) standing on end in a trough with an outlet to the pond. Water is pumped to the top of the array through a pipe with holes drilled to allow water to pour freely over the media. CO2 and N2 are released, Oxygen is introduced and the water and fish benefit.

Bakki showers employ the same principle. Water pumped to the top of the system through a spray bar is dumped into a perforated trough filled with coarse filter media. It splashes down to another similarly loaded trough, and another and maybe another and then back to the pond. The media can be ferociously expensive imported Japanese ceramic logs or Tuffy sponges. The system can be a glossy array of purpose-built stainless steel or a stack of plastic window boxes supported by 2x4s. The principle is the same, as is the end result.

Bioreactors work a little differently and are more efficient biofilters while still allowing for efficient degassing. Basically a large barrel with airstones at the bottom hooked to a powerful air pump and filled with a neutrally buoyant media such as Kaldenes. Water flows in from one side of the barrel and exits out the other side as the bubbles agitate the media. This is a low-flow gravity-drained system, more compact and concealable than trickle towers and Bakki showers. Also home-buildable.

Air: Air pumps are one of the essential tools in ponding that everyone forgets and then adds as an afterthought, usually assuming that they’ll solve the dissolved oxygen problems mentioned above. They won’t, but air has lots of other uses. How you supply it depends on what you want it to do.

Agitation: Air moves water better and cheaper than anything else. Once your pond is set up, watch for places where debris collects, both on the surface and on the bottom. These are dead spots and will become home to sludge, anaerobic bacteria and parasites. An airstone supplied by a robust pump will move water out and eliminate the dead spot.

Winter: One of the older techniques for maintaining an open area on an unprotected pond’s surface. Robust air pump, airstone one foot below the water’s surface. Voila! Hole!

Gas exchange: This is your bioreactor speaking…(also your Nexus and Helix filters!)

Filter backflush: Pressurized filters, regardless of the media used, accumulate sludge as a consequence of mechanical and biological activity. As long as the stuff is in the filter, it poses the same risk as it does in your pond. Most filter backwash cycles don’t generate enough turbulence within the filter to shake the crud off the media and the subsequent fouling degrades filter flow and efficiency. Adding an air blower step to your backflush sequence amps up the agitation of the media, shakes out a lot more of the dead stuff and makes the whole backflush process more efficient.

Heat (Southern and Southwestern ponders may ignore this bit): Ice and snow are not your friends, no matter how much you like skiing and skating. Your fish hate it. Ice seals off your pond’s surface, trapping the gaseous breakdown products of the decomposition of that junk on the bottom in the water. Snow carries pollutants and causes major temperature fluctuations. Open water, protected open water is best.

Trough heaters are available everywhere, their purpose is to maintain a small open area on the surface of the water trough so the cows, goats, sheep and horses can get a drink in the winter. When applied to a backyard pond, they have a nasty tendency to fail catastrophically, usually on the coldest days, either just dying and allowing the pond to freeze over, or shorting out, dying while delivering a jolt of 120-volt AC to your fish. This can cause permanent spinal injuries and deformity. These gadgets are inexpensive, but their failure rate under adverse conditions make them a false economy.

A reasonable middle-road solution is to cover your pond in the winter with a poly-house. These are available as kits and I know of at least one business in the Chicago area that will design and build it for you, then set it up in the fall and strike it in the spring. They are relatively inexpensive (cost depending on size, of course) and have the advantage of protecting your pond from environmental changes. With a little added heat to the air under the plastic, your water stays liquid and your pumps can run year-round. Locally, Midwest Trading in St. Charles, IL sells the kits.

At the other end of the scale are the purpose-built pond heaters. Either electrically powered or gas-fired, the best of them use a countercurrent flow heat exchanger to heat the pond water. Expensive to buy, expensive to install and expensive to run, they still give you the most accurate control over your pond’s water temperature available, short of installing your pond indoors. You don’t want one of these unless your pond is covered. You don’t need one if your pond is indoors.

Finally, Power: A backyard ponder is wholly dependent on electricity for the operation of pumps, heaters and all the other stuff needed to keep his water clean and his fish alive. One major, prolonged power outage is enough to kill the pond and everything in it. An emergency electrical generator is a wonderful thing to have. Small gasoline-powered generators are relatively cheap and available at any Home Despot-equivalent, but have the drawback of requiring constant tending and your presence on-scene at the beginning of the outage. An automated whole-house unit with a computer sensor that can sense the power loss and switch on the generator automatically, as well as turn it off when power is restored is a much better deal, especially if what you buy has enough punch to maintain your house electricity as well. In fact, that is how you tell a Ponder from a Normal Person. The Normal Person will buy a generator and the first protected devices are his entertainment system and the central air conditioner. If his S.O. has a big enough stick, the kitchen is usually next. A ponder dedicates the first four circuits to the pond and isolation tanks. Whatever is left over goes to the freezers where the high-end koi food is stored. Then the kitchen. All of these devices can run on gasoline, propane and natural gas with minor adjustments.

Ponding is a lot like model railroading. The layout is never done. There is always one other thing you can add to make it PERFECT.

Bob Passovoy

June, 2016



BY-LAWS of the Midwest Pond and Koi Society


(Feb 2012 Revision)



For the betterment and education of those interested in water gardens, and/or Koi, and/or ornamental fish; through the exchange of information, exhibitions, workshops, seminars, tours, and interaction with other similar groups.



Section 1. Any person, family, or corporation that has an interest in ponds and/or ornamental fish as expressed in Article I shall be eligible for membership and will become a member upon payment of annual dues.

Section 2. Membership dues are to be paid annually. Membership will run from January 1st to December 31st each year. The Executive Board shall set the amount of dues. Dues shall not increase more than 25% from the previous year’s dues.

Section 3. Default in payment to MPKS for any reason will be made good within 30 days or will result in suspension of membership. Members will pay the fee for a bounced check.



Members in good standing shall receive a membership card and copy of the by-laws. A member has the right to attend any club meeting or club activity. Members also have the right to attend the annual pond walk free of charge and receive the club newsletter. Members have the right and are encouraged to participate in the Society Committees.



Section 1. Meetings will be held on the third Friday of every month except for November and December. The Executive Board will establish meeting place and time. Meeting date may be changed by the Executive Board. Members would be notified of change by mail or email one week before meeting.

Section 2. The President will determine the agenda for the next meeting.

Section 3. The Board shall meet as needed to discuss the business of the club.



Minutes shall be taken at all meetings by the Secretary or someone appointed by the Secretary in his or her absence. Minutes will be kept by all Committees and will be the responsibility of the Chairperson in charge of said Committee. Copies of all minutes will be kept by the Secretary and are available upon request to any and all members.



All records of the Society are the sole property of the Society. Unauthorized use of said records is strictly prohibited. All current records will be kept by the Secretary. (Current meaning less than one year old) Older records shall be kept by the Society Historian. Records are defined as any document, picture, tape, or video that was produced by or for the Society or pertains to the Society.



Section 1. Executive Board – The Executive Board shall be made up of the following officers: President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Executive Committee Chairperson, and eight Directors. These officers will serve a term of two years. The new Director position shall expire in October 2007.

Section 2. Vacancies – In the event of a vacancy on the Executive Board the Board shall by a majority vote appoint a member to fill the vacancy. This person will perform all duties of the office until the next scheduled election.

Section 3. Nominations – Any member in good standing may be nominated for any office. Nominations shall be submitted in writing by mail or email to the Secretary on or before the September meeting. A list of nominees will be published and distributed to the general membership before the October meeting.

Section 4. Elections – Elections shall be held at the October meeting. The election shall be by secret ballot or by a show of hands. A lottery will be conducted by the Secretary and two other Officers to determine the order of names appearing on the ballot. The President shall count the ballots and announce the winners. In the case of a tie, there will be a “run off” election immediately. Officers shall be installed on January 1st. Absentee ballots may be obtained from the Secretary and must be returned no later than one week before the election meeting.

Section 5. Holding More Than One Office. An officer or director of the Midwest Pond and Koi Society (MPKS) may also serve as an officer or director of another pond and/or fish club, excluding only the office of President of the second organization while on the board of the MPKS. He or she must abstain from voting on issues that are deemed to be a conflict of interest with respect to the MPKS and the second organization.



Section 1. Duties of the President – The President shall perform all duties previously set forth here and preside at all meetings that he or she is present at. The President shall also act as chief liaison between this Society and any other club or organization.

Section 2. Duties of the Vice President – The Vice President shall assume all duties of the President in the absence of the President or at the request of the President.

Section 3. Duties of the Secretary – The Secretary shall be responsible for the minutes and maintenance of the membership list.   The Secretary shall be responsible for sending out meeting notices, membership cards, and other correspondence with members.

Section 4. Duties of the Treasurer – The Treasurer shall collect and record all monies due the Society. To prepare and present at every scheduled meeting a Treasurer’s report. To pay all predetermined accounts as may be authorized by a majority of the Board and to pay those bills presented and approved at meetings. To prepare and submit all reports required by any governmental agency.

Section 5. Duties of the Executive Committee Chairperson – This person shall oversee all Committees of the Society. This person will also appoint all Committee Chairpeople.

Section 6. Directors shall have a vote on the Executive Board.

Section 7. All Officers shall be responsible to make sure that the Society’s activities are in accordance with the purpose of this Society.



The by-laws may be amended at any Society Meeting by a vote in favor of the amendment changes in which two thirds (2/3rds) of those attending the Society Meeting agree to said changes. Said changes must be proposed at a preceding meeting. Said changes shall be mailed or emailed to all members at least 15 days prior to the Society Meeting at which the amendment will be considered. The mailing will be in the form of a notice within the next newsletter or email of the Society.



All property of the Society is irrevocably the property of the Society and is dedicated to use for the betterment of the club. In the event that the Society is dissolved, all monies and property shall be donated to a not for profit organization chosen by a majority of the remaining members of the Society and under no circumstance shall any property or monies revert to or go to any individual or current or past member of this Society. Nor shall any property or monies be used for the betterment of an individual member. The Society may sell or dispose of any club property by approval of the Board.



Section 1. Roberts Rules of Order will govern all meetings when necessary.

Section 2. A quorum is required to hold General and Executive, and Committee meetings. The quorum for a General meeting shall be 30% of members attending the meeting. A quorum for an Executive or Committee meeting shall be 30% of the Board or Committee members.



Section 1. Unauthorized sales, advertising, distribution, solicitation by members at club meetings or events is prohibited.

Section 2. Unauthorized use of Society property, funds, or membership lists is prohibited.

Section 3. All ideas that are developed for the Society become the sole property of the Society.

Section 4. Behavior that is in violation of the rules of this Society or the Statement of Purpose can lead to expulsion from this Society. For this to happen it has to be voted on by the membership and passed by a majority.

Section 5. The membership list shall be comprised of the names of all members, their addresses and phone numbers. If a member does not want their name, address or phone number to appear on the membership list, the member must notify the Secretary in writing. The membership list is the sole property of the Society and any unauthorized use or sale of said list is strictly prohibited. The Society has the right to sell or use it as it deems fit.



The following are the definitions and meanings as pertaining to this document:

  1. Society – Midwest Pond and Koi Society.
  2. Member in good standing – Any member who has paid current dues.
  3. Unauthorized – Anything that has not been approved by a majority of the Board in writing.
  4. Board – Refers to the Executive Board
  5. Family membership – All family members residing in the same household.
  6. Business or Corporate membership – A membership in a Business or Corporate name. Only the Owner or President will have the rights of a member.

Snag ’em, Bag ’em and Drag ’em

Even if you don’t regularly participate in the competitive end of our hobby (Judged Koi Shows) it is worthwhile getting the hang of transporting your koi in the safest and least stressful manner. I do mean stress, both on your koi and you as well.

Your own stress levels are judged best by you and your loved ones, but they will not be reduced by elusive and edgy fish, soggy pants and fish sick on arrival. Koi are primitive as metabolisms go, and being “cold-blooded”, have only so much energy to expend on basic needs, such as breathing, osmotic balance and resistance to disease. Any stress (noise, vibration, sudden environmental changes, etc.) will alarm the fish, activating its flight response and expending energy they would normally use for routine maintenance. Transporting your fish can include practically all of the harmful stressors to which it is susceptible. Minimizing them will increase the likelihood that you’ll deliver your livestock to its destination in a condition that will allow it to recover and thrive.

Preparation for the move is key, and should start well before the move. Feeding should stop five days before the event. While this will certainly earn you the “stink-eye” from your fish, the reduction in the amount of ammonia they’ll have to deal with in the bags will result in a healthier and less stressed crittur at the end of the trip. Make sure you have your gear, including bags, nets, rubber bands and boxes laid out before you begin. You do not want to deal with a cranky fish in a net while trying to find the bags or the rubber bands that have inexplicably gone walkabout.


The Snag

Extracting a koi from a pond is a task with a huge number of variables, based roughly on the design and depth of the pond, the number and size of the fish and the size and skill of you and your helpers. Larger koi are less likely to panic, move more slowly than smaller fish and are much more visible in the pond. This makes them much easier to catch. Smaller fish have “Evade” hard-wired into their tiny brains, and are fast, elusive and likely to jump. They are experts at wedging themselves into spaces too small for your net and are often hard to see, especially if your water has been clouded up in your attempts to capture them. For this reason, your larger fish should be your first targets if you are moving several fish. You want them out of the way in your holding area while you and your crew are fresh. The pursuit of the tiny will take up a lot of time and effort, and you may quit in frustration, leaving them in the pond to mock you forever (or until they get too big to hide!).


You will need the following equipment:

  • A generous holding area, if the fish are being isolated or held while the pond is cleaned
  • Many fish transport bags. These are large, heavy-duty plastic bags designed for fish transport. They are 3 to 4 mils thick and very strong, but not impervious. (If you need some, look in the Aquatic Eco-Systems catalogue, page 209 or, search on “transport bags”.) Always “double-bag”. Plastic is not reliable, seams give, pinholes magically appear and the fish arrives in a bag bereft of water, oxygen or both, mostly dead. Double bagging limits the risk and contains the potential damage.
  • Oxygen, especially if the fish are traveling a long way, or will be in the bags for longer than an hour or two. Air will do for short trips.
  • Big, sturdy boxes. These can hold one or more bags o’ fish. They can be heavy cardboard at one end of the cost spectrum, or be plastic with wheels and handles at the other. They should all have lids or covers.
  • Rubber bands. Big, thick ones.
  • Old towels, newspaper, foam rubber, whatever.
  • Cold packs, especially for summer transport.
  • Nets with long, rigid handles, big screens with small mesh.
  • Lots of help. Preferably not tanked up on caffeine before the event.
  • Seine net. If your pond is large, you’ll need to limit the area available for your fish to hide. Lure your fish to their usual feeding area and block off the area with the seine. It won’t be perfect, but it’ll help.
  • A “blue bowl” or other smooth-sided basin large enough to briefly hold your largest fish.


Right. The goal here is to gently chivvy a fish into a bag with the minimum of alarm and stress, get the bag out of the pond, treat it with oxygen and get it into a box as smoothly as possible, with the absolute minimum of splashing, shrieking, swearing and actual direct contact. Station your netters at opposite sides of the pond, select your target, and gently ease your nets into the water. One of your crew should have the bags and maybe a sock net handy. Slowly guide your target fish towards the person with the bags and contain the fish at the surface without actually lifting it out of the water. The best thing to do here is have the transport bags (doubled, right?) partially filled with pond water and ready to slide the fish into. This does mean getting wet, but if all movements are slow and deliberate, it works well, especially with the larger fish.

catching-a-carp_thumThe smaller the fish, the harder it gets. The trick here is to anticipate its movements and block them with one of the nets. Little koi are great jumpers and capable of fantastic turns of speed. Do not try to keep up with their movements from behind. Even edge-on, water resistance will slow your net movement enough to make the exercise futile. Do not try to catch a fish with sudden net movements (hence the “no caffeine” instruction). Small koi register that as “attack” and take off. Do not give in to the temptation to get in there with them and wrassle them into submission. They are much better designed for the aquatic environment than you are, and it will only give them another opportunity to mock you forever. (See illustration, which depicts the ultimately unsuccessful and embarrassing attempt of past MPKS president Yoshinogo Wakazashi to capture and transport his prize Cha-Goi “Old Honker” to the Third Annual MPKS Koi Show. The rest of the club is up in his living room on the bluff above the pond, watching the debacle, getting drunk, and laughing themselves sick.)




If direct placement into the bag isn’t practical or doable, chivvying the fish into a sock net, then into a bag may work better.

The Bag

Once the fish is in the bag, adjust the amount of water to just cover its dorsal fin and allow it to float off the bottom. Expel as much of the air as you can and fill the bag with oxygen. This can be obtained from industrial gas supply companies or welding supply houses. If you do not have oxygen, hold the top of the bag as wide open as you can, then close the neck of the bag rapidly, trapping as much air as you can in the top of the bag. Twist the bag shut and secure it with two strong rubber bands, secured first at the bottom of the twist with a slip loop, then doubling over the twist and wrapping the free end of the loop around the doubled, twisted bag neck.  Rubber-band each bag INDIVIDUALLY! All fish should be “double bagged” and all bags should be carefully checked for leaks both before and after loading. This is a great time to carefully inspect your fish for dings, dents, ulcers and other signs of disease and trauma. Some fish will bleed from the gills when transported. This is a sign of stress, and usually is not harmful. Replace as much of the fouled water in the bag as you can with fresh pond water, and then seal the bag.

Larger fish should be packed one to a bag. Small fish will cohabit more easily. The greater the fish density in a bag, the greater the stress and the more likely it is that your fish will suffer injury.

Move the koi into a storage box as soon as you can, padding the bottom with towels, newspaper or foam rubber. Cover the bag with more newspaper or towels and then close the box. If the weather is warm or if the koi will be in the box for a prolonged time, a coolant pack under the bottom towel will help keep the water cool and lessen stress on the fish.


The Drag

Once in the box, it’s time to load. Regardless of the vehicle, koi should be loaded perpendicular to the direction of travel. Sudden starts or stops with the fish aligned parallel to the direction of travel can ram a fish’s nose or tail into the ends of the box, injuring it. Secure the boxes so they do not tip or shift.


Drive nice.

On arrival, the fish should be floated in their bags for a few minutes to allow water temperatures to equalize. You will want to move the fish out of the bags and into their destination area as quickly as possible. Do this with a minimum of water mixing. If you can lift the fish out of the bag with your hands (rings and watches off, please!) or a sock net, this is preferable. Do not allow water from the destination area to mix with the water in the bag, especially if the fish has been in the bag for a prolonged time. Even a fasted fish produces ammonia, and stressed fish produce more. The water in the bag will become contaminated with the fish waste, but the fish will be protected by the gradual decrease in pH caused by the ammonia and other fish waste. The relatively acidic conditions in the bag will ionize the ammonia to less toxic ammonium ion, and the fish is able to tolerate this. Mixing destination water with the contents of the bag corrects the pH upward (alkaline), de-ionizing the ammonium to often lethal levels of ammonia, and your fish dies right in front of you. Not a good outcome.

Discard the bagged water immediately.

You’re there! You’re done!


Note for Koi Show exhibitors: Every one of our shows is run on the English system. You are assigned a vat and only your fish will be in it. There is NO mixing of fish, and every effort is made to prevent cross-contamination. To this end, we request that you provide your own “blue bowl” (Aquatic Eco-Systems catalogue, page 209 or online, search “Koi Show Bowls) and net. Barring disastrous screw-ups, your fish should be fine to be reintroduced into your pond immediately on arriving home. If you have any doubts about this, please isolate them for at least three weeks in warm water, feeding sparingly before reintroduction. If you buy a fish from a vendor at the Trade Show and enter it in the Koi Show, your fish will be placed in a show vat with other fish from that vendor only. It is our strongest recommendation that these fish be isolated as outlined elsewhere on our site. (See links to KHV and SVC)


Respectfully Submitted,

Bob Passovoy




Posted 4/26/2016