|Buying koi is one of the most exciting parts of koi
keeping. Walking into
a shop full of beautiful koi in crystal clear ponds can be very tempting, but
you can end up buying more than your pond can handle so care must be taken.
Sources of koi. The main countries that breed koi are Japan, Israel, Singapore and the US. All of the top quality koi come from Japan and none of the other countries can compete with Japan for quality. If you are interested in showing your koi, Japanese is the sort to buy. Quality has its price though, and Japanese koi are the most expensive. Israeli koi are next in quality and they are improving every year as well as being less expensive than theJapanese koi. Koi from Singapore and America are generally lower quality (although there are some breeders producing good quality koi), but if you are not that interested in quality and just want a few cheap and cheerful koi, buy American. You will probably notice little difference unless you plan on showing your little water buddies.
When to buy. Japanese koi tend to be exported in November and December after the koi harvests, but this is not a good time to buy (unless you have a heated pond) and most people buy in the spring when the water has warmed up.
Where to buy. It is important to look at the state of the ponds and koi at the shop you are intending to buy from. Make sure the water is clean and doesn't smell. If there is a strong fishy smell and the koi don't look happy, it could be worth avoiding that dealer.
Choosing koi. When you have seen a koi that you like, spend a bit of time watching it. It should be swimming normally and it shouldn't have jerky movements or have its fins clamped to its body. Make sure it doesn't have gill problems, it shouldn't appear to be breathing hard, and its gill plates shouldn't stick out from the head. Also avoid koi with holes or raised scales, or fungus. If you decide you want the koi you can have a closer look at it when the dealer catches it, examine it for any redness or marks, or large parasites such as fish lice or anchor worms. And remember never buy a koi because some dealer tells you what a great koi it is, choose a koi because it is beautiful to you.
Transporting koi. When you have chosen your koi the dealer will bag it for you and fill the bag with oxygen. The oxygen is as important as the water, especially on a long journey. There should be enough water to cover the gills when the bag is on its side and the rest of the bag is filled with oxygen. Koi are usually double bagged to avoid leaks and should be kept in the dark on the journey. A styrofoam box will do nicely for safely packing your new koi. It is a always a good idea to put the bag in a box to minimize movement on the journey, so lay the bag on its side so the koi has more room to move and is less likely to be damaged. When you get home float the bag on the pond for half an hour so that the temperature will equalize. Add some of the water from your pond to the bag as well, but when you are ready to finally add your new specimen, net out you new koi or gently pick him up and place him in the water. This would help reduce the possibility of transporting any parasites in the transported water. Lift the bag containing both your pond water and the dealers water, and water a nearby plant. Ideally, new koi should be kept in a quarantine pond for a few weeks so no disease is introduced to the existing koi, but this is not normally possible for most koi keepers, so you might want to use a good anti parasite treatment to reduce the risk of disease.
If your pond is new and the filters are not mature, don't buy a lot of koi just yet. Patience is best used at this time, and add more when your pond is established and you know your pond can comfortably handle the bio load.