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Koi Owner Shares Secrets to Grooming Grand Champions At Home

June 4, 2021

Rabbits, cats and dogs are the most common household pets. But if you're allergic to pet dander, keeping Koi fish can be a great alternative especially if you have an outdoor pond or aquarium at home. Koi is a type of carp that originated from China, then bred by Japanese rice farmers in the 1700s for their distinctive colours and beautiful patterns, similar to how pedigree dogs are bred for their unique characteristics.

Koi pond
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Competing in Koi competitions

In Japan, Koi breeding is taken very seriously, and regular Koi competitions are held annually to recognise the best Koi. When a Koi is awarded the Grand Champion of Japan, (the most prestigious recognition available for Koi today), its value increases, reaching up to more than a million Ringgit, making it one of the most expensive pet fish in the world.

Despite their increased value, some Koi owners, like Thaim Hoi Yap, who regularly competes in Koi competitions prefer not to resell his prized Koi after a win. He has been collecting and keeping Koi since 2003 and owns up to 30 ‘jumbo’ size Koi that measure up to 1.1 meters long ( Note: this is not an average sized Koi!)

Koi pond
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According to Yap, once a Koi has been exported from Japan, it is no longer eligible to compete in Japanese Koi competitions, which are only open to domestic Koi.

“However, you can participate and compete in various Koi shows held in Malaysia or in other regions, such as the Asia Koi Show, which takes place every 10 to 12 years. This is where you can receive the highest Koi award outside Japan, where two of my Koi were crowned Grand Champions.”

Koi pond
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"Beautiful patterns may catch the judges' eye, but they may not be enough to earn you the competition's top prize. A Koi's size (between 90-100 cm) and body shape (large but not bloated) are the main criteria for winning."

An outdoor pond built to groom Grand Champions

To win in such competitions, Yap would purchase and groom his Koi since they are very young.

“I used to have around 60-70 pieces of Koi in my pond, but I've reduced the number to allow them to grow bigger and provide them with more space to swim around.”

To create the best environment for the growth of large Koi, Yap built a 28 foot long and 10 feet wide pond on his home’s side yard. The pond is a great addition to his house and the shape and the size of his pond perfectly complement his home’s exterior.

Koi pond
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The pond is secured with a glass fence and it is partially shaded to allow the fish to enjoy some sun during the day.

Yap believes that if you want your Koi to flourish to their full potential, you should keep them in a rectangular shaped pond. The pond should also be large and deep enough to help to maintain the fish's elegant, streamlined shape while at the same time providing sufficient room for them to swim around and tone their muscles.

“The ideal length of your pond should be around 30 feet long and 10-12 foot wide; large enough for you to net the fish,” said Yap.

Koi pond
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Maintaining the ideal habitat for Koi in Malaysia’s tropical climate

Yap also notes that Koi need a good environment to thrive. He doesn’t recommend building a landscape pond if the owner is planning to groom their Koi for competition purposes as
landscape ponds trap a lot of bacteria and viruses, especially if the water is not properly filtered, and this can cause a lot of skin issues.

Besides the shape of the pond, Koi also needs to grow at a proper temperature of between 18-24 Celsius. According to Yap, In Malaysia, the average lifespan of a Koi is around 10 to 15 years due to our warm tropical climate. But in colder countries like Japan, this fish can live much longer. Yap maintains his pond temperature at 24 Celsius all year round.

Koi pond
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“If you are keeping Koi for landscaping purposes, you can feed them 2-3 times a day. But they won't grow as big as you keep them for competition purposes. I usually set it on a timer to feed them every every hour up to 12 times per day, and I will feed them more frequently if I’m preparing them for a competition,” said Yap.

Regular pond maintenance, such as filtration and oxygen, is essential to keep his Koi in top condition. Yap also mentioned that a Koi owner also needs a good eye to ensure that the Koi’s habitat promotes good health.

He's also grateful for the help he's received from his family when it comes to keeping Koi, “I'm thankful for my supportive family, or else, I wouldn't be able to keep Koi as a hobby!”

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