Considerations in Koi Breeding
When starting a koi breeding or
koi propagation program, several aspects must be carefully taken
into consideration by the prospective koi breeder (note that in this
article, the term 'breeder' may refer to either the person breeding
the koi or the koi being bred). Some of
these important considerations are discussed below.
1. The Brood Stock.
The term 'brood stock'
refers to the group of koi that is used for breeding and propagating
new koi. It goes without saying that proper selection of the
brood stock is very important for the success of any koi breeding
program. All koi spawners must be healthy and sexually mature,
i.e., they should at least be 2 years old. They must have
absolutely no genetic deformities and must possess all the good
qualities of excellent koi - perfect body conformation,
excellent color quality, balanced pattern distribution, graceful
Koi are prolific breeders, with
a single female capable of producing hundreds of thousands of eggs.
As such, a breeding program doesn't need a brood stock of enormous
size to produce sufficient quantities of fry. It is therefore
logical to put emphasis on the quality of the breeders rather than
the quantity. The only problem with having limited brood stock
is the possibility of genetic inbreeding, so care must be taken to
avoid this situation.
The size of brood stock
required for breeding depends on the goal of the program. A hobbyist
can get what he or she needs simply by pairing two nice koi, while a
commercial koi farm that needs to produce millions of saleable fish
must have around 100 females and about the same number of males.
Many of us experienced
seeing their first koi fry swimming in the main pond itself.
Indeed putting a bunch of healthy male and female koi in a pond with
good-quality water and some plants can lead to koi spawning and,
consequently, the arrival of baby koi. This is not a good way
to propagate koi though. Fry almost never survive in such an
environment because they become dinner for their elders first.
Fortunately, koi experts have already come up with other ways to
propagate koi more efficiently.
Many hobbyists mimic natural
koi reproduction under a more controlled environment, following
these basic steps: 1) selection of the female and male (2 males may
be used but not more than this) for the
breeding; 2) preparation of the spawning area including the
installation of adequate spawning materials; 3) 'conditioning'
of the spawners prior to breeding; 4) introduction of
the 'ready' male to the 'ready' female; 5) monitoring of the
spawning until the eggs are released onto the spawning material and
fertilized by the male; 6) removal of the breeders (or the
eggs) from the
spawning pond; and 7) adjustment of the pond parameters (e.g.,
aeration) to achieve successful incubation and nursing of the fry.
Basic Koi Breeding Method.
Many advanced koi breeders, however,
now employ what is known as the dry
fertilization method, wherein a tranquilized ripe female is
manually stripped of her eggs, which are collected in a clean, dry
bowl. This is done by gently squeezing her belly under dry
conditions. The sperms of a koi male are then collected in a
beaker by similar methods. The milt in the beaker is then
poured into the bowl of eggs so that the sperms can fertilize the
eggs. The fertilized eggs are then deposited onto the spawning
material in the incubation
3. Egg Incubation.
At this point, the fertilized eggs of your prized koi breeders must
already be attached to the spawning material, whether this is
immersed in an outdoor spawning pond or in an indoor incubator or
hatchery. Regardless of egg incubation environment, the water
quality must be monitored and maintained at optimum levels at all
times. Experts recommend
a water temperature of 22 to 25
deg C during incubation. Adequate aeration must be provided
but it should not disturb the water. And of course, as any koi
hobbyist knows, the water must be clean. Some breeders don't provide
filtration during incubation so as not to agitate the water.
4. Nursing of the Fry.
Once hatched, the fry are
liberated from their confinement, but become exposed to the harsh
realities of the outside world. If they are in a well-planned
koi fry nursery when they hatch, then they are lucky enough not
having to worry about being eaten by predators (mainly their
parents). Newly-hatched fry can't swim well, so water
turbulence must be kept as low as possible without sacrificing
aeration and filtration requirements. The larvae must likewise
be provided with high levels of illumination since they are
dependent at this point on vision to catch their food. Food supply must also be
ample once the fry have hatched. The fry may survive on
microscopic organisms in a mature pond. In an indoor hatchery,
live food such as Artemia (brine shrimp) nauplii may be used.