Koi Growth - Matsunosuke Style

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Koi Growth - Matsunosuke Style

Postby Russell Peters » December 14th, 2016, 9:07 am

(This article was first started 12/2010)

Koi Growth - Matsunosuke Style
I am constantly asked about the size of a Koi when it is being purchased. It seems that a lot of people are led to believe that a large Nisai or a large Tosai make for a better Koi. Does the size of a Koi when it is young determine it's potential for growth later on? Not necessarily. Years ago, probably 10 to 15, the average size of a Nisai was 12" and no one thought anything of it. Then a trend for Jumbo Tosai and Jumbo Nisai started and we were led to believe that these Koi were superior. The problem is that, if a Tosai is 16" or 18" and a Nisai is 24" but the parents are 30" then that's your limit. So, is it really a benefit to push a Koi for quick growth at a young age? A Koi will very rarely out grow it's parents so, if the parents are not jumbo then the "Jumbo" Tosai and "Jumbo" Nisai will never be "Jumbo" Koi.

I have also heard quite a bit of talk about the first 3-5 years of a Koi's life being the most important for growth and after this point they don't really grow very much at all. It's important that the Koi grow as much as possible in the first three years. I am not sure where this comes from but it really isn't accurate. Its ability to grow is determined by it's genetics and how it is kept. If a Koi comes from large parents then it has the potential to grow large. If it is from smaller parents then it has the potential to stay smaller. Mr. Sakai feels that the most important element, other that water quality, is how you feed your Koi. This determines how it grows. Too often Koi are fed too much at the wrong time and not enough at the right time. Mr. Sakai has found that Koi that are fed the same amount all year tend to grow a lot less as their bodies adapt to the amount they are getting. They are being told that this is all they are getting so they grow accordingly. If, on the other hand, they are put into a cycle where they are fed very lightly in colder months, a little more from April to July and all they can eat(small feedings 8 to 10 times a day), with plenty of oxygen, from August to September / October then they get the signal that there is plenty of food and they bulk up and grow more.
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Re: Koi Growth - Matsunosuke Style

Postby Russell Peters » December 14th, 2016, 9:07 am

A lot has been said about a Koi having, or needing a long head and good body to achieve good growth. Koi with these characteristics do tend to have a higher ratio for growing big but the bottom line for Koi with good growth is their genetics. Nothing beats knowing the bloodline, of the Koi you are dealing with, for determining what their full potential really is.
Toshio Sakai has performed a few studies, on over crowding, of Tosai and how that affects future growth. Koi that grow in conditions that are over crowded tend to have smaller heads and smaller pectoral fins. These are usually indicators that lead us to believe that these Koi will be stunted or just be small Koi. Mr. Sakai put 1000 Tosai in a pond, for study, and found that, under these crowded conditions, they had smaller heads and pectoral fins. Once removed, and put in better growing conditions, he found that none of them were stunted and had growth that he considered to be normal. None of the Koi had smaller bodies after a year than they would have had if they were grown in optimal conditions. He did find, at first, that their heads were small in proportion to their bodies and if the bone structure of their heads was not stunted, then their heads eventually matched the growth of the other Koi. If the bones in the head were set then they had smaller heads but their bodies still grew. So does the size of the head really determine the growth of the body?
If a Koi has a small head, and it is not stunted, and the parent fish have the genetics for growth to become large Koi, then the size of the head is not necessarily the best indicator. That Koi still has the potential to grow large. Will there be a balance between the head and the body? Again, the potential is there. The opposite holds true as well. If you have a Tosai Koi with a long head and good body line but the parent Koi don’t have the genetics to grow large, then the offspring, even with good indicators, don’t have the potential to become large Koi. It is less likely that the offspring will outgrow the parents. The potential is there but is limited.
Knowing the genetics of the Koi is always best when determining their potential for growth. Koi with long heads and good body lines will determine whether or not that Koi has a higher potential for growing big if the parent stock has the genetics but when the parent Koi don’t have the genetics for growth then these indicators may be false.
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Re: Koi Growth - Matsunosuke Style

Postby Russell Peters » December 14th, 2016, 9:08 am

So, taking these things into consideration, does it really matter if a Nisai is 10" or 12"? Is this limiting the Koi? Is it going to stay small? No, not necessarily. If you know the genetics and the quality of the Koi you are buying then that is what you are paying for. Size should not be the determining factor. A large Nisai without quality or the potential for growth is just that, a large Nisai. A small Nisai with quality and the potential for growth is so much more.
In the next couple of posts I am going to post progress pictures of two 12" Nisai Sanke, that were purchased by our customers, so that you can see the progress these small Nisai have made. One is now 4 1/2 years old and the other is 5 1/2 years old. They have grown slowly, both are now around 27", but they certainly have not stopped growing and both will grow to 32" plus.
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Re: Koi Growth - Matsunosuke Style

Postby Russell Peters » December 14th, 2016, 9:08 am

Both of the Sanke have been kept by Mr. Sakai. One of them has been here, with my customer, for just over a year and the other is still in Japan. Mr. Sakai has a lot more Koi than he has mud ponds so, while he puts some of his best Koi in mud ponds, he also keeps a lot of his best Koi in his concrete ponds. He has told me that he feels it very important to not push growth in high quality Koi, which is why he likes to keep them in concrete ponds but he also worries about his Koi so keeping them close gives him the ability to watch over them and protect them from predators.
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Re: Koi Growth - Matsunosuke Style

Postby Russell Peters » December 14th, 2016, 9:11 am

Sanke #1
This Sanke was purchased early February 2007 and was just under 12". It was about 19 months old.
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Re: Koi Growth - Matsunosuke Style

Postby Russell Peters » December 14th, 2016, 9:12 am

The Sanke spent the spring and summer of 2007 in a concrete pond in Isawa and when it was measured in October 2007 it was about 16".
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Re: Koi Growth - Matsunosuke Style

Postby Russell Peters » December 14th, 2016, 9:14 am

From October 2007 to October 2008 the Sanke went from the concrete ponds to a "rubber" pond across the street form Mr. Sakai's home. These picture were taken in October of 2008 and the Sanke grew to about 21" - 22".
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Re: Koi Growth - Matsunosuke Style

Postby Russell Peters » December 14th, 2016, 9:15 am

The next season the Sanke made it out to a mud pond in the Ojiya area. I did not get many pictures of it then but I did manage to get one of it after it was brought back to Isawa on October of 2009. This is it at 4 1/2 years old and about 26". It was shipped back to the US about two weeks after this picture was taken. For the last 13 months the Sanke has been kept in a very small pond and has grown another 1 1/2" and is now 27 1/2". It is still growing and 5 1/2 years old.
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Re: Koi Growth - Matsunosuke Style

Postby Russell Peters » December 14th, 2016, 9:17 am

Sanke #2
This Sanke was purchased a year after the other one in February 2008. It was 19 months old and 12".
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Re: Koi Growth - Matsunosuke Style

Postby Russell Peters » December 14th, 2016, 9:19 am

The Sanke spent the next 8 months in the "rubber" pond and was pulled in October 2008. It grew to about 16". BTW, this is a pink Beni Sanke.
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