The popularity of this newsletter has been phenomenal, and I really enjoy writing them. However, in the months during peak season starting in April, I will most likely not be able to do them as often, as my work load is extreme during those few months. I will try and at least get one out every other month if possible.
I am delighted that everyone enjoys them so, and wish I had more time to do more of them. I will do my utmost to get them out.
|The Value of Koi|
I have been asked many times what makes a Koi worth a given amount of money. Well, there are many factors that are involved in putting a value on a Koi, or anything for that matter.
As with any business, there are of coarse cost factors involved. This is what it would cost to produce or raise any fish or group of fish to a given size. These costs include such direct things such as feed, medications, labor, water treatments, and so on. Then we have the indirect business costs of things like electricity, phone, advertising, and so on. All of these costs have to be factored in to be able to get to at least the beginning basis of what something may be valued at, and of coarse we then need to make some sort of profit or the business will fail. These costs are referred to as direct and indirect overhead.
Now other things come into play as well. Things like market value. This is what a Koi is worth based on the average value that is placed on them by the average business that sells them, combined with what the average person is willing to pay for them in the general market of Koi. Let's face it, everything on this planet is only worth what someone is willing to purchase it for. So in basic business 101, we have to figure these overhead costs, both direct and indirect, and then divide them by the number of fish being produced as a whole, then factor in market value and a profit margin to come to a price or value.
Now market value in the Koi world can also be varied from business to business, but in general, there are specific ranges at minimum that dictate what the average fish can be sold for. The show world of Koi drives quite a bit of that market value, as these show fish generally represent the best or at least the "average" best of the variety and such. There will be similar fish valued more, and some valued less, but in general terms this market drives these asking prices. As well when speaking of Koi in particular, what fish sell for in Japan and throughout the world is also included in that market value determination.
In general each business will have varied costs involved that may differ from one business to another. This also holds true for the business of breeding and selling Koi.
As well, there are varied markets within the Koi world that also drive prices in one direction or another. For example, a beginner Koi hobbyist in most cases will not pay over a certain amount for any Koi no matter how it is valued in the hobby overall. This is primarily because when we start out in this hobby, our perception of cost is totally dependant on how the fish appeals to our untrained eyes only and then budget is factored in. Being new to the hobby also leaves us ignorant to how the fish are valued in reality as compared to the true market value that was derived by those that know and understand what a quality fish is. Once the beginner learns and sees what the differences are from a quality fish to a pond grade fish, their perception of value will change as well.
Many times I have compared the Koi industry to the dog industry, as they are very much alike. This is especially true when talking about the value. As an example, let's say we have three Yellow Labrador Retrievers. One has won the coveted Westminister Dog Show, one is simply a full breed with AKC papers, but has never been shown at any dog show, and the last is simply a full breed that has no AKC papers to verify its bloodline. As we all know, there will be vast differences in what each one of these dogs is valued at. Most likely if you are not into the dog hobby however, you will not be able to tell the difference between each of these Yellow Labs as far as their individual values. Only someone trained in the dog world would really be able to tell the differences. Well, the same is true in the Koi world.
Now on top of all this, there are other factors that come into play when placing value on Koi. This is where you may see vast differences in pricing of Koi of similar quality. For example, I have some breeder fish, that by all rights would never win any awards, and some are even down right ugly or even deformed in some cases. However, (and that is a big however), some of these fish produce show winning offspring because of their bloodlines. So, this is added value to that individual fish. If I were to sell one of these ugly yet proven breeders, it would be priced with the added value of the offspring production it is capable of. So as you can see this is added value, and it is something that is not based on what you are seeing in that particular fish.
Other cases of added value can be due to the rarity or uniqueness of a fish. These are fish that are not only attractive to look at, but have qualities of some sort that make them one of a kind so to speak. Now this does not mean if I have some absurd looking thing born with no fins that it is valuable because it is" unique" or "rare". You still have to apply the basic rules to these fish like body conformation, skin quality, pattern, breed traits, and so on. Usually these fish are easily recognizable by most hobbyist even in the beginning stages of their advancement through the hobby. However there are many Koi dealers out there that take advantage of the lack of knowledge of the beginner, and call some inferior fish "unique" or "rare" to jack the price up. With many fish sold on the popular auction sites for example you can see these words overused and extremely exaggerated. It amazes me as well how many of the people bidding fall for this deception.
Another factor that plays a role in the value of a fish can be simply what the fish is worth to me, John Fornaro of Hanover Koi Farms. These are fish that for whatever reason I don't necessarily want to sell, or fish that I personally have placed a high value on for my own personal reasons. With these types of fish I simply will not sell them unless the money is almost rediculously high, and you can bet anyone that wants to buy them will be told this right up front. Basically put, these are fish that I normally do not want to sell but will for the right price. I try to keep all of my customers from purchasing fish outside of their level of the hobby are budget capabilities. In other words when it is in my control I try not to sell anyone expensive fish if they do not have the knowledge, experience or proper system to keep the fish alive and healthy. As well, everyone should have a maximum they would pay for any given fish, and this maximum should be based on the above criteria.
Even as a breeder, I personally have a maximum amount that I would ever pay for ANY fish. We all should have this. It can be based on many things such as budget, finances, and simply the most we think any fish could possibly be worth.....to us. Let's face it....it's a fish! However, this maximum price can vary tremendously from one person to another and rightly so. We all have our own reasons why, and that is what matters the most. Generally speaking, you should never buy anything you think is too costly and the same holds true for Koi. Buy what appeals to you, and to your budget and lifestyle and not what someone else says you should buy. I get upset sometimes when some of the so called "advanced" koi hobbyist say that pond grade fish is literally worthless, and they try to sway the beginner hobbyist into buying fish that are out of their price range and husbandry skills. Every beginner should start at the beginning, and this means pond grade fish. You should not start with high quality show fish if you are just starting in the hobby.
As for pond grade fish being worthless, well first of all it costs the same to produce that fish as any other fish no matter the quality. So that in itself gives any fish out there a minimum value. These same "advanced" folks think that some fish are worth six figures! Hmmmm, so who is smarter, someone that pays $50 for a "so-called" worthless pond grade fish, or someone that pays six figures for a "so called" show champion grade fish?
When you come here to buy fish you will be told exactly why a given fish is valued as it is, be it market value or simply my own personal value placed on it, and why. Then you will be prompted to buy what you like that is within your budget and suitable for your husbandry skills and pond.There is no hype here at Hanover Koi Farms, as I always tell it like it is...good or bad. I like to teach the beginner and watch them advance through the hobby over a period of time.. I enjoy seeing their eye/tastes advance to the varied levels of Koi. In this manner they will learn what truly is quality and why, as well as gain the valuable experience and husbandry skills that are needed. This all takes time, so be patient and I will do my part to help.
|Spring Health Issues|
As discussed in other articles in this newsletter, springtime can bring with it a host of fish problems. Let's discuss some of them and ways to combat them.
One of the most common problems in spring is fungus problems, specifically Saprolegnia (Sap for short). This particular fungus is always present in the pond, but the only thing that changes is the amount of it in the water. It loves dirty systems, and it loves to attack fish that are in a weakend state such as the springtime when their immune systems are just coming back to life. It also shows itself more in the colder water temperatures of spring. This is not necessarily because it favors cold water, but more because this is when the fish are the weakest, and under the most stress.. As well, this time of year is also favorable for water quality issues as the filters are just starting to come back to life as well. On top of all of this the parasites that live on the fish and in the water are also trying to attack the fish as well. So as you can see, this time of year can be very dangerous. This fungus can attack especially fish that have thin slime coats due to water quality issues or parasitic infestations. As a matter of fact, most Sap cases will be because of slime coat degredation form some other factor.
Sap appears as a fuzzy spot or patch and can appear on any part of the fish. Sometimes it is white to off-white in color, but there are times as well that it is green from algae growing on and amongst it. So look for it. It will require hands on treatment in most cases, and you will have to find out what if any other variables may have been involved. As discussed poor water quality and parasites as well as dirty systems can all contribute to its appearance in the spring. You can read more detail treatment protocols on my website that will give the specifics of combating it.
Springtime is also the most critical time to be testing your water on a regular basis. This is when your filter is coming back to life, and you need to give it time to re-establish itself and the nitrifying bacteria that reside in the media. This can take a few weeks depending on the water temps. The warmer the water, the faster the filter will cycle. Water testing becomes even more critical once you start feeding the fish for the season. As well, this time of year is when you can actually watch your filter come to life by testing the water on a regular basis. You will see the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels rise as it is cycling, so once you see any of these given toxins, you will know what phase your filter is in with the cycle.. This will really help as well, if you do have health issues later in the season.
If you can rule out prior springtime water quality issues, it will better help you diagnose any later health issues you may have later on. You see if fish are left in poor water quality in the early spring, this will allow the parasites to attack them even easier. So a few weeks to a month after the fish were in poor water for any period, this is when the symptoms from the bugs may show themselves. When trying to diagnose what is wrong with a fish it it very helpful if you already know for sure it was not from a prior water quality issue. This is why it is so import to test your water on a regular basis, and especially in the early springtime..
Parasitic infestations can also directly affect the health of the fish, even if you did maintain proper water quality. This is why it is also critical to monitor the fish closely for symptoms this time of year. One thing to realize though is if you do discover a parasite from or any problem that require any in pond water treatments, you will have to wait for the water temperatures to be at least 55 DF before treating the fish. This is because most treatments will not work in water colder than that.
This is a good time to re-aquaint yourself to the list of body language symptoms on my website. To read more details about water quality and spring health issues, please go to :
HANOVER KOI FARMS WEBSITE
|Monthly Contest Question |
Each monthly newsletter will have a question or questions that if answered correctly will make you eligible to win valuable prizes.
The specific answers to every question for this contest should be found somewhere on my website. These are the only answers I will accept as correct.
Last month's winner:
The winner from the Febuary issue was Diana Fasset of New York. Congratulations Diana, as you had the correct answer. The minimum salt level to house a fish with dropsy is .6%. You should see your Gift Certificate in the mail shortly.
By the way folks, there were only two answers sent in for the Febuary question. You can't win if you don't play!
This issue's question is:
What is the minimum ratio of salt to nitrite needed to protect the fish from Nitrite poisoning?
The answer needs to be in ratio form such as ?:? or ?to? and represent the amount of salt to the amount of Nitrite in the system to safely protect them.
The names of everyone that answers this question correctly will be put into a hat and one winner will be chosen. This month's winner will win a $25.00 Gift Certificate redeemable only at Hanover Koi Farms but only after April 1, 2009. It is redeemable for fish only, and not products. All answers must be submitted by March 31, 2009 to be eligible for the drawing.
Please e-mail all answers to: firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE: As of March 6th, 2009 only four donations have been sent in, and one was from me. I felt guilty for all those that helped me personally with my finances by buying the gift certificates, so I donated some of the sale money to the church. I know it is asking a lot, but could you please consider helping them out.Also some of you have expressed concern that if you donate to them you will be solicited in the future. This will not be the case I promise you. You will get a thank you and some prayers, and nothing else in the way of solicitations. Remember, I am still giving away a free 4"-6" Select Grade Koi or Butterfly Koi to all those that donate to this cause. Read below for more details.
While I normally do not do things like this, I would like to take some time here to ask for the help of my loyal patrons as I feel this is a very important issue. The building in this photo is a very small rural church that is near the farm, and is in desperate need of financial aid. While it is winter, and even though I am broke financially (as usual) I have donated all I can in the way of monetary donations to this worthwhile cause.
As stated, this is a very small one-room community church in the country. While I was raised Catholic, and this church is Lutheran, I still attend the services there. The primary reason is that the doors are open to all denominations, and the congregation there truly welcomes all with open arms and hearts. They have a youth group as well that truly helps the young folks in the community, and as we all know, kids today need all the guidance they can get.
Also, most of you know that I have 21 stents in my arteries due to coronary artery disease. Yes, that's right: I said 21 stents, for those of you who did not know. I think I hold the record. So, as you may guess, this tends to make you think a little more about your spiritual standing with the "Man." This church and its pastor have been of great spiritual guidance to me, and all that do know me know that I need that... stents or not! I will say, however, that even before my health issues, it was the ambiance of this quaint little church that got my wife and I attending services again.
If at all possible I would like to ask everyone to help them with monetary donations. Of course, you would all receive receipts as these donations are totally tax deductible. Even if you are not a religious person, so to speak, I am sure you can see the value of this small yet valuable community church and all of its associated programs.
To help encourage your participation, I will offer you one FREE 4"-6" Select-grade Koi or Butterfly Koi if you bring your receipt of any financial donation to the church of $25.00 or more. So be sure to request a receipt from them, but I am sure they give one automatically anyway.
Please send all donations to:
MT. Carmel Lutheran Church
1398 Moulstown Rd., N.
Hanover, PA 17331
Spring is finally approaching and not a moment to soon! It's been a long cold winter for some of us and I hope all of your fish made it through it. I hope everyone maintained a hole if the pond froze, and also that the pond was fairly clean of muck going into and during this tough winter. However, even if they did survive the extreme winter we had in the Northeast and some other parts of the country this may have really put them under a strain.
Springtime is always the season when our fish have the most problems, especially when coming out of a tough winter season. One of the primary reasons we see more fish health problems in the spring is due to the fact that the fishes immune system is virtually non-existent as they come out of the state of torpor of the cold winter water temperatures. This combined with the fact that all the pathogens come to life a lot sooner than the fishes immune system during this warming in spring, can be the straw that broke the camels back. This is the time that the fish are most vulnerable to attack by these pathogens. For this reason, it is critical to maintain superb water quality and inspect and watch the fish closely for signs of ill health.
As the water gets to around the low to mid forties, you will see the fish start to become more active. Remember though, do not feed them until the water temps are at least 50 DF and holding, and even then start off with very light feedings and not every day. The weather and exact water temperatures will dictate how much and how often, but just remember to keep it light. You do not have to ever worry about them starving as there is plenty of natural foods in the pond to keep them alive, and Koi can go a long time without eating. Weeks even., and in cold water even months.
Spring is also the best time to clean the pond and filtration systems thoroughly, as the filters have not yet begun to cycle and grow the nitrifying bacteria to any great degree. So, this would be the time to tear the filtration down and give it a good cleaning and do any improvements. As well, this is the time to clean the entire pond, even to the point of completely draining and powerwashing everything which I would highly recommend. One reason is that it will be much easier to temporarily house the fish outside the pond in some type of pool or tub and not worry as much about oxygen and water temperature variances from the new pond water to the tub water.
If you do decide to do these cleanings, make sure you have an appropriate temporary housing for the fish while you do it. Kiddie pools, large tubs and so on are fine as long as they are the appropriate size for the number and size fish you have. A minimum of 200 gallons will usually suffice, but the bigger the better. I would also suggest they be filled with the water from the pond that the fish are coming from as you will not have to worry about acclimating them to new water at that time. As you fill the temporary system with the pond water, it will make catching the fish much easier and less stressful as well.. I would wait until it is almost empty, and then catch and relocate them to the temporary systems. Make sure to cover their temporary home with netting or something to keep them from jumping out. I cannot stress enough how secure and strong this cover needs to be, as these fish can be very forceful at times and they will most likely try to jump out. This covering is a must. You don't want to find them on the ground dead because you did not secure the cover properly or did not have one at all.
Most ponds can easily be cleaned in a day, but at times, it may take another day or even two to refill the ponds due to their size. In these cases when the fish will be in these temporary homes for more than one day, you will absolutely have to test the water, and have salt and ammonia binder on hand for the spikes that will occur in ammonia and possibly nitrite. You do not need filtration, but you should have some sort of areation for sure. Also make sure to have these temporary systems put in a shady place so the water does not warm too much in the sun. Remember, the goal is to keep the water in these systems as cold as the new water will be when you refill the ponds. This will make re-acclimation to the pond a much easier and safer task. Also, do not feed the fish whatsoever while they are in these temporary systems. NOTHING AT ALL, as it will only promote more ammonia spikes.
When relocating the fish to these temporary homes it is also a good time to give them a thorough inspection for signs of problems, like parasites, ulcers, fungus and other issues they may have. If there are any issues like these that require any topical treatments, wit until you are ready to put them back into the pond before applying any of these treatments. As well, if you think they will require further treatments, then you may want to consider putting them in some sort of cage inside the pond so that you can easily get them again to apply the treatments. Then once you feel they are getting better you can release them into the pond.
Your goal during this whole process is to try and keep the water in the temporary system from getting any warmer than what the temperature of the water will be in the pond after it is refilled with new water. If you can keep them within ten degrees of each other that would be good, but the closer they are to each other the better it is. It is more difficult to acclimate a fish from warm water to clod water, than it is from cold water to warm water. So if you allow the temporary system to get too much warmer than the pond will be after it is refilled, the more difficult and dangerous it will be to re-acclimate them to the pond. This is why it is best to do this cleaning in the spring while the outside temperatures are still chilly. If you attempt this in the =summer the temporary summer will most likely get very warm, then you will be left with trying to acclimate the fish to the newly filled pond which will most likely be cold.
In general, the sooner the pond is cleaned in the spring, the better it will be for the fish. They will have less issues with pathogens in the newly filled pond that is free of any muck and what not. As well, if for whatever reason you may end up having to treat your fish due to springtime pathogen attack, then the treatments will be much more effective in the cleaner water that has less organics and muck to bind the treatments. When treating fish in dirty or high organic water, the treatments end up getting absorbed by these organics and therefore never make it to the fish to kill the bugs.
|Hanover Koi Farms LLC|
1332 Moulstown Rd. N
Hanover, Pennsylvania 17331