Sunday, September 20, 2009

Allow Me to Introduce You to KOKO

Occasionally we will be introducing some of our fish. Each one has their own personality and each is really quite funny once you get to know them. We have purchased most of our KOI from Oasis Water Gardens in Seattle, WA ( The owner, Diane Torgeson, has wonderful fish directly from Japan and is of great assistance in choosing the right one for you.

We have also named each of our fish – partly to distinguish them from each other and partly to remember what type of fish they are.

For example, KOKO is a KOHAKU (or was…more on that later). A KOHAKU is a Japanese Koi that is white with one or two large red spots of color across the body. With KOHAKUS the color is usually on the upper half of the body and doesn’t extend below the horizontal line. And according to the Japanese koi rules, the color should not extend onto the tail or into or below the eyes. As KOHAKUS grow larger, the red spots will likely separate with more white becoming visible inbetween. With KOHAKUS, the red and the underlying white should be the only colors on the fish., But just because a koi may fail these rules, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t still beautiful fish.

Sample Japanese KOHAKU

Now back to KOKO. After having KOKO for about two years, she started developing black spots. They have grown progressively more pronounced. It is not a bad look, just introduces a problem. Those black spots mean she is not a KOHAKU, but instead a SANKE. A SANKE is a fish with the big red spots of a KOHAKU, but also has smaller, black spots. OK, Fine, she is still a beautiful fish, even if her name doesn't correspond to her class. We will not confuse her by changing her name....

KOKO is a voracious eater, which might explain why KOKO is one of our largest KOI. KOKO was about 3-4 inches when we got her 3 years ago and now she is about 13 inches. She apparently thinks that food should come to her as she sits there with her head halfway out of the water, mouth wide open during feeding time. She looks like she is screaming “Feed me” but won’t really move to the food. She wants delivery!

KOKO has a sway back that also removes her from winning any Koi modeling contests. But I think that makes her more endearing. We are not sure when she got this but we think she may have been born with the problem which just became evident as she grew up. The sway back may also be related to a seizure she had when she was a smaller fish. The pond environment and or diet may also have been factors. Who really knows?! . This is a good reminder to keep a clean pond and provide a proper diet for healthy fish!

KOKO, like our other fish, has some distinct personality and heath quicks. For example, she is very sensitive to Ammonia. She is our “canary in the coal mine.” She will show ammonia damage earlier than any of our other koi. Her lips get swollen and her fins always get Ick; You cannot miss it!!!. When she starts indicating these problems, it means we need to really focus on the water quality of the pond quick! But we never wait for KOKO to show these problems before acting. As we indicated in a previous post, timely testing of the water is manditory, especially in the spring and summer.

This year we have solved most of our filter problems and the fish are able to eat as much as they can, without introducing any undue amounts of Ammonia into the water. This has definitely helped KOKO's back problem and we are hopeful that it will only improve with time.

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