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This Homeowner Says Koi Keeping Helps Relieve Stress
With Malaysia in the midst of yet another nationwide lockdown, many people are doing their best to break the monotony and boredom with new and exciting pastimes. A homeowner has discovered Koi keeping as an enjoyable hobby that reduces stress and helps to keep him busy while spending days cooped up in the house all day long.
We had a chat with Steven Chong to find out more about his newfound hobby and how Koi keeping grew into something that he really enjoys.
Qanvast: Hi, please tell us a little about yourself and your home
Steven Chong (SH): Hi, I’m Steven Chong. My family and I live in this four-story landed home. We've been living here since 2003, and it took a couple of years to build and renovate this home from the ground up. It features two outdoor ponds; one located on the side yard and the other in my backyard.
Measuring 22 feet long, 15 feet wide and 4.5 feet deep, this side yard pond is designed in such a way that it can be seen not only from the outside but also from inside the house, through glass windows.
The landscape pond in my backyard is a new addition to this home, completed just a couple of months ago. The renovation took roughly 6 months to complete and cost roughly RM150,000. The landscape designer designed the pond around the coconut tree because it was originally in my backyard and I wanted to preserve it. For good Feng Shui, we also added another man-made tree.
Q: How did you start keeping Koi as a hobby?
SC: I've always enjoyed keeping fish since I was young. I recall having a salted egg pot when I was a small child, and I used to keep guppies in it. All I could afford in my previous homes was an aquarium, so when I bought this property, I wanted to build a dream home with ponds.
In the past, I was more interested in keeping Arowana fish. Many people, including myself, have stayed at home since the first MCO began in April 2020. That's when I became interested in Koi keeping, and it turned into a hobby that I really enjoy. So one day I decided to get rid of all fishes in my pond (I used to have a lot of mixed fishes including local Koi) and replace them with Japanese Koi.
Q: How many Koi do you own now and where do you purchase them?
SC: Currently, I own a total of 137 Koi (as of writing). I purchase them from a variety of sources; I bid for some of them from Japan and some from local importers. There are a lot of online bidding in the Koi business. People use online platforms to sell, exchange, or bid on fish, or sell them at auctions.
Q: What do you look for when you purchase a Koi?
SC: In general, I will look for a diversity of styles and colours. Koi fascinates me since there are no two identical Koi in the world. They're all very unique. This is what makes Koi so fascinating.
Q: How much would you spend on a Koi?
SC: My most expensive Koi purchase is between RM10,000 - RM12,000. I also purchase more affordable ones that range from RM1,000 and above. While some people will pay up to RM100,000 on a Koi, I will not spend more than RM12,000 unless I intend to groom my Koi for competition purposes.
Q: What kind of maintenance is required for a Koi?
SC: To keep Koi you need to set up a proper environment for them to live. Koi needs good water to live in so the filtration system of the pond is very important.
Besides filters, oxygen is equally important as well. Koi can die if there’s no electricity to generate oxygen so I keep a backup battery on standby to prevent this. All of this has to be planned ahead of time before purchasing a Koi.
Q: What is the general maintenance cost like?
SC: The cost of maintenance is minimal compared to the potential for disaster if your pond is not properly maintained. In November of last year, my entire fish collection became sick with a virus, and half of the Koi in my pond died.
Normally, once you have set everything up properly, the only recurring cost you have to bear is the food, water, electricity. I would say I spend around RM1,000 to RM2,000 a month for this general maintenance.
Q: How much time do you spend daily with your koi?
SC: 2 to 3 hours a day. I'll make my breakfast first thing in the morning and then go down and enjoy my breakfast at the pond. In the evening, I will usually sit next to the pond and feed the Koi with my hands. These are the things that make Koi keeping very interesting.
Q: What is the average lifespan of a Koi?
SC: If you keep them in a man-made pond with the right condition that I mentioned earlier, they can live more than 10 years.
People who keep Koi as a hobby tend to overfeed the fish because they enjoy looking at big size fish, however, this is actually harmful to their health and shortens their lifespan.
Q: What do your family think about this hobby?
SC: Well, initially they were very unhappy with my newfound hobby but after a while, they learnt to accept it. They still think I’m ‘crazy’ but it’s better than going out and drinking every night or wasting my money on expensive cars!
Q: Would you recommend this hobby to others? And what’s your best advice for people who want to start keeping Koi at home?
SC: Yes, I believe it is a worthwhile activity. I'm an extremely busy person with numerous demanding jobs. Keeping Koi is one of the most effective stress relievers I've found. It’s a fascinating hobby because you get to see so many different varieties of Koi. And Koi are really calm fish; they do not fight with one another where the little and large fishes coexist together.
If you wish to pursue this hobby, you should start small and see if you grow into liking it. Don't go out and buy the most expensive Koi you can find, especially if you've never kept a Koi before.