My Koi Journey
I have always been fascinated with ponds and water features, I remember as a child religiously watching 'Ground Force' in the hope that Charlie Dimmock would find some excuse to squeeze in a water feature. I'd be gutted when she didn't - shame on you Dimmock!
The obsession with fish however, started with my uncle who had built himself a large koi pond, which I loved, he then convinced my mother that it would be a good idea to build a small pond using his left over liner. An unfiltered goldfish pond was constructed and I committed myself to scooping out the waste with a net and feeding them regularly. All this was fairly harmless and my fascination with water and ponds were channelled into looking after, with minimal effort, this small goldfish pond.
Then I received a gift from my nan, a ghost koi...
What's this? It's bright, it's shiny, it's got whiskers!?
THEY COME IN DIFFERENT COLOURS!?
Books were purchased, electrics and a filter were installed as my birthday present and at the age of ten I started keeping koi entirely out of my own pocket. Birthday and Christmas presents were dedicated to all things koi and before long I had purchased my first three Japanese koi. Soon one pond turned into three, I'd even been allotted an area of the garden (right at the back) and when I turned thirteen, instead of getting a paper round, I went to clean filters at a local koi dealer.
That was it, I was officially hooked.
During my teens I spent every penny I earned on the koi hobby, I also designed and built ponds for neighbours and built and then rebuilt numerous ponds for myself, much to my parents dismay! My funds were limited so I would purchase tosai and grow them to nisai (on the odd occasion sansai) and then I would sell them to fund my next purchases. I enjoyed the risk and excitement of growing small koi and for my budget and systems, it was sensible.
I built DIY filters that failed, I built some that worked. I built ponds that failed and ponds that worked. I'd used box filters, sieves, beads, nexus, shower filters and multibays. I purchased koi appreciation books and read them back to front, I learned how to scrape and treat koi and spent lots of free time doodling my dream ponds. Whilst I've never shown my own koi I always enjoy attending the UK koi shows and nattering to hobbyists.
Throughout my teens I continued to work for the local koi dealer and then in my twenties I relocated and ran a koi dealership in London. Whilst there I selected koi in Japan, installed filters, helped on pond builds and I also ran a koi health service. Despite my age I've had 20 years of 'hands on' koi experience but I'm still trying to learn, it never ends!
Ideas get challenged, practises get refined - it's why so many of us love it.
I decided to step back from the koi industry to focus on my other passion. Nishikigoi are all consuming and in my experience in order to be a great koi dealer you must give it everything, this was something I just couldn't do. The real koi dealers in the world do it because they can't possibly do anything else. They are truly Koi Crazy, KoiKichi, UTTERLY BONKERS!
Never underestimate their passion and drive. I salute them all!
After several years the hobby called to me again, a few Japan visits later and I realised that I had to be involved somehow, it just needed to be on less 'consuming' terms. 'World Nishikigoi' has been a work in progress for quite some time, my aim is to promote and support the koi hobby, share things I find interesting and relevant in the hope that they spark debate, or provoke some thought.
"We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master."
- Ernest Hemingway