Koi fish are a great hobby. They also help you to relax and relieve stress. Koi are particularly fun to watch eat. Although Koi will eat many natural food sources such as algae and other natural pond residents, the greatest pleasure for many Koi keepers is in feeding them.
They are truly hogs. They look like piranhas at feeding time, churning the water, jumping, and I have seen some perform like porpoises, walking along the water's surface on their caudal fin. Once you hear the sucking sound of Koi sucking down food you'll never forget it. They remind me of water polo players who are about to get to the ball when suddenly other players from behind swim up and over them pushing them under the water. Koi will even swim up on lily pads to get trapped food.
They are very smart, and can be trained to eat out of your hand. They are by nature bottom rooting and feeding carp. They quickly learn to eat floating dry food. The food typically runs $1 to $2 per pound. I have found floating feeding rings add to the enjoyment. They learn to "hang out" around the feeding ring.
Koi are very expensive when they are full size (30 to 40" in 5 to 8 years), but as small fish they are only a few dollars each. The prices are listed on our "Koi For Sale" and "Koi Pricing" pages. Koi can live for 30 to 40 years, and even longer.
Many Koi ponds can come close to breaking even by selling off the excess Koi after they have grown larger.
On the other hand, an investment of $500 to $1,000 of small Koi each year for 5 years, could possibly yield 1,000 or more Koi worth more than $1,000,000. Large size Koi can easily be worth $1,000 each, great quality Koi can bring $250,000 each or more, but are rare.
However, to do this you would need to have a unique resource such as a 50,000 - 200,000 gallon pond. Once you have the pond you would have an inexpensive way to raise large numbers of Koi, while enjoying them. After 3 or 4 years the Koi should start breeding themselves. One female can lay 100,000's of eggs. Of course there could, and probably would, be unknown complications to such a rosy story.
There are predators about such as Great Blue Herons, Kingfishers, some snakes, raccoons, etc. However with a large pond the majority of the Koi should be able to evade, escape, and survive the predators; any hideouts or shelters would help. Natural selection would tend to favor the quick, smart, and wary Koi. There are 2 footed predators with fishing gear and nets. However, even if they could get access Koi would not be an easy catch.
Any sources of water runoff feeding your pond which could contain large concentrations of insecticides, herbicides, etc. could be a serious problem. You would need to control and divert such runoff.
Koi stay healthy by having a large pond to live in. Testing the water quality for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, carbonate hardness, salinity, pH, oxygen concentration etc., is an important and frequent requirement. The water quality must be kept high.
There are parasites, fungal, viral and bacterial infections to be sure, but they can be kept under control with good observation and some testing, such as microscopic examination of skin scrapings, small pieces of gill tissue, and an occasional autopsy. You may need to hire help in this area.
Most remedies are used in the ppm concentration, so even large ponds are fairly reasonable to treat. Some sick Koi will require injections. Fortunately, when they get sick they are easy to catch. Koi are comfortable in water with around 0.1% salt, which is low enough not to bother most pond plants. 0.3% salt is supposed to keep most parasites under control, but that doesn't always work as well as some claim, and the higher salt concentration can play havoc with some pond plants.
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