FINS, FEATH­ERS, & FUR: The Philip­pine koi and the as­so­ci­ated in­dus­try de­serves a sec­ond look, says MANUEL YAP

Animal Scene - - CONTENTS - Text & il­lus­tra­tions by MANUEL YAP

Ihave been in the fish hobby long be­fore the “Lit­tle Mer­maid” movie was shown, and have kept aquar­ium and salt­wa­ter fish. In 2003, I be­gan be­ing in­ter­ested in koi; it was the same year “Find­ing Nemo” was shown in the­aters. Now, af­ter more than a decade, “Find­ing Dory” is show­ing, and I felt this would be a great time to write and share my ex­pe­ri­ence in koi keep­ing. Pet shops also sell koi as aquar­ium fish. I dis­cour­age this prac­tice since koi tend to grow as large as one me­ter. I have seen koi placed in large aquar­i­ums and I can­not deny that even in aquar­i­ums, they look very nice.

“Nishikigoi” or “koi” means “carp.” They are or­na­men­tal va­ri­eties of do­mes­ti­cated com­mon carp pop­u­larly used to pop­u­late out­door ponds or

wa­ter gar­dens. Carp are a large group of fish orig­i­nally found in Cen­tral Europe and orig­i­nally do­mes­ti­cated in East Asia, where they are sold as food. They are cold wa­ter fish, and their abil­ity to sur­vive and adapt in many cli­mates and wa­ter con­di­tions al­lowed them to adapt to coun­tries such as China and Ja­pan. The Ja­panese took koi de­vel­op­ment very se­ri­ously. They have raised the stan­dard and are the lead­ers in the in­dus­try.


The most com­mon va­ri­ety is the Gosanke, and its three most pop­u­lar sub-va­ri­eties in Ja­pan, are the Ko­haku, Taisho San­shoku or Sanke, and Showa San­shoku va­ri­eties.

Ko­haku: The Ko­haku has a white body, with red mark­ings across the body. The types of ko­haku, based on their pat­terns, are:

- Ni­dan: two-step Ko­haku pat­tern - San­dan: three-step pat­tern - Yon­dan: four-step pat­tern - Inazuma: light­ing strike pat­tern

Sanke: are like Ko­haku ex­cept they have a black “step­ping stone” pat­tern that runs along their back. They are white Koi with red and black pat­terns. The black pat­tern must not show up on the head.

Showa: are black Koi, with a white and red pat­tern. They are very much like sanke ex­cept they have black on their heads, other pop­u­lar va­ri­eties in­clude the Ogon, Ut­suri, Bekko, Asagi, and Doitsu. In the Philip­pines, a koi with more than two col­ors is com­monly called “mul­ti­color.” They are pop­u­lar for be­gin­ners due to their as­sort­ment of col­ors. Pop­u­lar places in Philip­pines for breed­ing are those places with good qual­ity and which are abun­dant in rain such as Pam­panga, Davao, Gil­li­gan City, Ca­gayan De Oro, and Cebu. These are ar­eas that pro­duce the most lo­cal koi. Breed­ing qual­ity koi is dif­fi­cult be­cause they pro­duce only 1-5%. Farm breed­ers nor­mally sell them from 3-4 inches, which does not show the full po­ten­tial of koi.

Com­mon ques­tions asked of me re­gard­ing pond setup are, how large would the pond and fil­tra­tion needed, and what va­ri­eties and num­ber of koi will I need? I will re­ply to them with ques­tions such as, how do you vi­su­al­ize your pond will look like? What are your resources and lim­i­ta­tions?


Pond: refers to those lo­cated both out­doors and in­doors. Both have their ad­van­tages and dis­ad­van­tages. An in­door pond keeps your koi safe from preda­tors, and keeps them se­cure from sud­den weather changes weather and free of dirt. Out­doors, the fish have a bet­ter op­por­tu­nity for sun ex­po­sure, which is good for col­oration.

The big­ger the bet­ter: Re­mem­ber that a sin­gle koi can reach up to 30-36 inches

Depth: The ad­vice of­ten given re­gard­ing this is to make the pond depth 6 feet or more. This de­pends, al­ways on what your ob­jec­tives for keep­ing koi are. Do you re­ally in­tend to grow them to their max­i­mum size? Are there no chil­dren at risk of drown­ing? A depth of 3-4 feet is a good start for a stan­dard pond

Ba­sic shape: It’s bet­ter to stick to rec­tan­gles or squares as these are eas­ier to clean. But some pre­fer kid­ney- or gui­tar-shaped ponds

Fil­tra­tion: I al­ways rec­om­mend that keep­ers in­vest in fil­tra­tion since this is your 24/7 dial­y­sis-like ma­chine for your koi’s health. Some notes:

• The big­ger the vol­ume, the bet­ter • Choose a fil­ter de­signed for ef­fec­tive­ness and ef­fi­ciency • Con­sider the kind of fil­ter media used • Look into the ease of main­te­nance • Should be pro­por­tional to its bi­o­log­i­cal load (num­ber of fish and their size ) • Con­sider the size of the pump to be used for the most cy­cles of wa­ter

Fish: This is the best part of the pond project. What is your pur­pose in car­ing for koi: as pets, for ap­pre­ci­a­tion, or for show

com­pe­ti­tion? You also need to de­cide if you want an ac­tive pond or a serene pond. There is a pond full of koi in Nu­vali Sta. Rosa La­guna. When cus­tomers feed them, the fish go into a frenzy. This is an ex­am­ple of an ac­tive pond. You will have dif­fi­culty rais­ing qual­ity koi in this kind of pond setup. A serene pond is one where some­one sim­ply ap­pre­ci­ates the slow, quiet move­ment of the koi. This can be ob­tain­ing by keep­ing only a few koi.


Three ma­jor things to con­sider in find­ing a good koi are body shape,

color, and its pat­tern. There is a wide range of prices for koi, from a hun­dred to thou­sands of pe­sos. It is a lu­cra­tive busi­ness, and hob­by­ists should be care­ful when buy­ing; they should know pre­cisely what they need rather than lis­ten­ing to the seller. Re­mem­ber that koi can change as they grow bet­ter—and vice versa. Be wise in buy­ing and an­a­lyze both price and value.

Some peo­ple like lots of color in their fish. I per­son­ally cre­ated a black pond with all white plat­inum koi. They are such an el­e­gant sight.

The im­por­tant thing is not to over­load your pond with fish. FEED­ING Feed koi only once or twice a day, and no more than they can con­sume within 10 min­utes. • Find a source of food with a good amount of pro­tein that does not cloud the wa­ter eas­ily. Good food also has a good smell. Al­most all koi food avail­able are float­ing pel­lets. • Float­ing pel­lets size nor­mally avail­able

are 3mm, 5mm, and 6mm. Find the right one based on your koi’s needs. • Adult koi will re­quire less pro­tein. • Food with spir­ulina will en­hance red col­oration.

A price­less ben­e­fit in this hobby is meet­ing peo­ple and even­tu­ally be­ing friends with them. Jun Hi­zon, Ed­die Martinez, Jose Lee, Der­rick Pas­cual, and Jessie Cruz make my jour­ney more in­ter­est­ing. I re­spect them for their pas­sion, mas­tery (of the hobby), and un­selfish­ness in shar­ing their knowl­edge.

I en­cour­age ev­ery­one to sup­port lo­cal koi breed­ers be­cause it is a win-win sit­u­a­tion for both seller

and the buyer. They are cheaper, so more peo­ple can ex­pe­ri­ence tak­ing care of them. The more we pa­tron­ize lo­cal koi, there will be greater in­come for our lo­cal breed­ers. I per­son­ally agree that in terms of size and qual­ity, we have a long way to go, in com­par­i­son to their im­ported coun­ter­parts. How­ever, most of the koi keep­ers would not want to have 36-inch fish.

Koi fish have a lot to of­fer. They are col­or­ful, lively, easy to care for, and can be trained to eat from our hands. The joys they of­fer are end­less. There­fore, when you see a pond with koi fish, stop and spend some time to dis­cover how won­der­ful these fish are.

A koi breed­ing fa­cil­ity in Tar­lac

An ac­tive pond

How koi are mea­sured

An ex­am­ple of a serene pond

Koi grow­ing fa­cil­ity in Batan­gas

Qual­ity se­lec­tion process

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