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!
My obsession with fish, however, started with my uncle. He owned a large koi pond and then convinced my mother it would be a good idea to build a small pond using his leftover liner. All this was fairly harmless, and my fascination with water and ponds was channelled into looking after, with minimal effort, this small unfiltered goldfish pond.
Then I received a gift from my nan, a ghost koi..
What's this? It's bright, and it's shiny - it's got whiskers!?
WHAT! THEY COME IN DIFFERENT COLOURS!?
Immediately, books got purchased, and for my birthday, I had electrics and a filter installed. At the age of ten, I started keeping koi entirely out of my own pocket. Birthday and Christmas presents were all things koi, and before long, I had purchased my first three Japanese koi. Soon one pond turned into three, and I'd even been allocated an area of the garden (right at the back) - luckily, our three-bed semi had a long garden! Finally, when I turned thirteen instead of a paper round, I went to clean filters at a local koi dealer.
It was official - I was hooked!
I spent every penny I earned on the koi hobby during my teens. I also designed and built ponds for neighbours and built (and rebuilt) numerous ponds for myself, much to my parent's 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, this was a sensible approach.
I built DIY filters that failed and 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.
Throughout my teens, I continued to work for the local koi dealer. In my twenties, I relocated and ran a koi dealership in London. I selected koi in Japan, installed filters, and helped with pond builds. I also ran a koi health service. I've had over 20 years of 'hands on' koi experience. However, I'm still learning, I still make mistakes, and I still challenge my understanding. It never ends!
Ideas are challenged, and practises get refined - it's why so many of us love the hobby.
I decided to step back from the koi industry to focus on my other passion. Nishikigoi are all-consuming, and in my experience, to be a great koi dealer - you must give it everything! Something I couldn't do. The real koi dealers 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 you all!
After several years the hobby called to me again, and I realised that I had to be involved somehow. But it needed to be on less 'consuming' terms. 'World Nishikigoi' has been a work in progress for quite some time. I aim to promote and support the koi hobby, and share things I find relevant in the hope they spark debate, or provoke some thought.
"We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master."
- Ernest Hemingway