The Four Seasons and Your Koi Pond

how to breed japanese koi fish Breeding your koi is not a decision to take lightly. It is definitely not something you can accomplish in a weekend! You need to realize that breeding koi will be a long-term investment of both time and money. The prime time to breed koi is from April until July, so if it is later in the year when you are reading this, all the better. You will have plenty of time to plan and prepare for koi fish breeding.

Healthy Koi Mean Healthy Offspring
You will need healthy koi for breeding, of course. Pick your healthiest Koi for this venture, as this will assure that they are able to spawn offspring that will be of high quality. Choose koi that are around 25 cm in length. This will ensure that the fish are sexually mature. Your Koi male needs to be about three years old and no more than five years old. The female koi should be around four to six years old. Interestingly, the age of the female Koi has a lot to do with how hard the shells of her eggs will be. Thin-shelled eggs may not live, while eggs from a female older than five will have such hard shells that the sperm from the male is not able to penetrate them.

Time is of the Essence
Once you have picked out the fish you want to breed, it is best if you do not rush into breeding right away. Take some time to feed up and condition your fish so as to assure yourself of good results. Set up a tank or a pond for spawning, and then place one male and two females in this area when they are ready for best spawning results.

Signs of Spawning
The white, raised spots on the pectoral fins and on the head can help you spot males who are ready to spawn. These are called breeding tuberdes, and if you were to touch them, you would find that they feel rather rough, something like a day old growth of facial hair. The breeding tuberdes are used by the mail to try to encourage the female to spawn.

Your Koi Breeding Area

While you are waiting for your Koi to show signs of spawning, it is a good time to get the breeding pond or tank ready for them. A place to lay eggs is needed by the fish. This can be as simple as some evergreen branches tied together, or a piece of plastic pipe attached to an old, half-unraveled piece of rope. The eggs of the koi are quite sticky, and they need something available for them to stick to.

While you are waiting for your Koi to show signs of spawning, it is a good time to get the breeding pond or tank ready for them. A place to lay eggs is needed by the fish. This can be as simple as some evergreen branches tied together, or a piece of plastic pipe attached to an old, half-unraveled piece of rope. The eggs of the koi are quite sticky, and they need something available for them to stick to.

koi cross breeding aThe Koi Eggs
You should be able to see the eggs with the naked eye. Any eggs that are going to be infertile will turn opaque. Fertile ones will be clear, and you might have to look harder in order to see them. When it is almost time for the eggs to hatch, you can see a couple of tiny black spots inside them. These are the eyes of the baby koi.

Remove the Parents
Once you think the Koi have spawned, you will want to remove the fish from the breeding pond or tank. This is because the parents will eat the eggs first chance they get if they are allowed to stay in the tank. Keep the temperature in the breeding area around 23 degrees Celsius for the next few days until the Koi fry hatch out.

Look at Those Eggs!
When the fry have hatched, do not feed them for three days. Keep the temperature at around 70 to 75 degrees, a perfect temperature for growing Koi fry. If your female Koi are like most, you are going to be astonished at the number of eggs you will see. Estimates have placed the number of eggs a female Koi is capable of releasing at up to 300,000!

The Babies are Here
Koi fry have marvelous instincts. They know to hide in any kind of cover they are able to find in the breeding tank or pond. Many people use spawning ropes for this purpose. The fry are specially equipped with a sticky pad on their heads. This enables them to attach to either the walls of the pond or tank, or the fronds that make up the spawning rope.
Still Developing
Baby Koi do not yet have a mouth, a vent, or a swim bladder. They are able to absorb oxygen that is in the tiny capillaries that are in the yolk sac of their egg. The fry need plenty of oxygen during this stage, or you take a risk of losing all of them.
The baby koi have just one posterior fin when they first hatch out. They grow quickly, and develop their vital organs, the rest of their fins, and a mouth fast than you can imagine. At two days old, many of the fry are swimming to the surface in order to fill their swim bladder with air. At three days, all of the fry should be swimming around in the tank or pond.
Feeding Koi Fry
Any fry that have developed this far should be ready to eat. Remember that at this point, their taste buds are not mature, and the only way they will know that food is available is to see it floating around them. Most Koi hobbyists use hardboiled egg yolk as the fry’s first food. Brine shrimp are also a fine choice of food for baby koi once they have reached about seven days old.

Keeping Things Clean
Feeding the fry is a messy chore that can really make the water dirty. Keep it as clean as possible using a siphon, then add fresh water as needed. This will help to take out both the nitrates and the ammonia from the water. Make sure you have let any tap water sit for at least twenty-four hours so that the chlorine can evaporate from it.
After around four days or so, you will want to take out the material that was placed into the tank or pond for the eggs to stick on. By now, the healthiest eggs have already hatched. Since you do not have a filter on your fry pond or tank, you want to keep it very clean. Taking out the leftover eggs will help the ammonia levels.
From the beginning, Koi fry need water changes several times a day. This can take up a couple of hours of your time, but is essential if you want your baby Koi to be healthy and vibrant.
Growing Up
By this time, your baby Koi should be ready to go into what Koi hobbyist called a growing space. This can be another pond or a good-sized aquarium. You will need to watch the babies carefully when they are at this age, as it is not unusual for the larger babies to eat the smaller fry. If you see this happening, you should certainly take out the larger fry that are munching on their brothers and sisters.
Proper Temperature is Crucial for Growing Fry
The tank or pond that holds the growing baby koi should be kept at a temperature of about 20 to 25 degrees Celsius, which is 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. This is to make sure that the growth rate of the babies stays steady. Just be careful that these babies do not grow too fast! This can cause the fish to lose their color.
A baby koi that is a week old is going to need to eat five percent of his or her body weight in order to grow properly. The trick to this is not to feed too much, but to feed them just a little several times per day. Once the babies get a little bigger, they will only need around two percent of their body weight in food.

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