keeping koi through the polar vortex, bomb cyclone and generally frigid weather conditions

The koi are enjoying average Southern California winter weather temperatures in the garage. Completely oblivious to the pretty cold temperatures we’ve had for the last few weeks. When 2 degrees Fahrenheit seems ‘warm’ I’m not sure if my koi would have made it in the outdoor pond. I did have breakfast with another koi club member yesterday and he said his outdoor pond was holding at 47-48 degrees with covering, two small aquarium heaters and Mother Earth. Today is the start of practically a heat wave in Minnesota:

Winter warm up! Hopefully those few weeks with -11F, -14F and -16F temperatures are behind us.

I’ll be outdoors today repairing some of the plant coverings that have been blown around and checking for deer and rabbit damage. The warmer temperatures will end up melting the snow and encourage rabbits to come out to munch on anything handy. We were going to take down our Christmas reindeer decorations but we think the bright lights discourage the nocturnal deer. Our neighbors might be annoyed but we’re going to leave them up until St. Patrick’s Day, maybe even Easter. I’m sure the pond builder will be out doing something with the ponds today. Reopening a hole in the upper pond and repairing the lower pond cover are on his list.

If my koi were outside, I would not have the ability to observe them closely every single day. Billy the Kid looks like he has a bacterial infection starting up. We debated about giving him a shot of antibiotics but he’s not isolating himself, eats well and acts like a healthy koi. His skin redness appeared on Friday and none of the other koi have any areas of irritation. We’re guessing it’s possible that he damaged himself swimming too roughly around some of the items in the pool. We keep watching for any other koi to develop similar skin issues and if there is any flashing going on among the crowd…none noted. We also tested the water parameters and nothing looks off.

1.6.2018 Billy the Kid

Pool water is looking good 😄

Once again I think I really should have a microscope but my koi have been pretty healthy (knock on wood). I am always amazed to see photos of koi that have very advanced problems and no one noticed the start of the problems. It only takes a few minutes daily to check on the koi and quick treatment certainly keeps the entire crew in better shape. I decided to treat the entire pool with a broad spectrum disease treatment. A BSDT product usually treats Ichthyophthirius (Ich), Chilodonella, Costia, Oodinium, Trichodina, fungal & fungus infections. It might be overkill but I think it’s easy and everyone gets a little boost. We tend to use the BSDT just before we bring the koi in for the winter to kill off potential problems. I want to say that I might have used it in the pool before sending them to the outdoor ponds in the springtime – can’t remember.

Treated water

I really should be writing about koi development but I’m too lazy today. The kin ki utsuris are surprising us with some improvement. The “messy” sumi is disappearing and in Genius’ case, the sumi that receded earlier is coming back out. Genius has also grown a great deal. He used to be the smallest tosai this summer but is passing up tosai that were larger than him when they came in for the winter. The Lone Ranger and Genius might look their best in early spring. I’m not holding my breath about summer though because the warmer water temperatures might bring back the messy look.

The kin ki utsuris are looking a little better lately.

I’ve been doing a little research about a trip to Japan. I’m not sure if I will get to the Niigata area on my planned trip for this year. For me, Japan this time is visiting my relatives, a little sightseeing and then squeezing in a little koi farm time. I have some very elderly aunts whom I have not seen since 1970 in the Hiroshima area. So my initial planning is to spend more time in that area of Japan and I will be able go back to Japan to see the Niigata area on another trip. Everyone always say it’s so overwhelming on your first koi trip to see so many beautiful, high quality koi in one place. I’m okay baby-stepping my way through the koi farms.

My father’s family came from Kagoshima (southwest tip of Japan) and my mother’s family comes from the Hiroshima area.
My relatives’ homes are designated by the purple stars and some major koi farms are plotted in red.

Well it’s about 27 degrees outside now so time to fix plant coverings. Boring koi are the best kind to have during the winter. Every now and then I think it might be fun to bowl some, measure and take better photos – but why stress anyone? So far this has been a pretty successful winter when it comes to maintaining koi. Let’s hope we have a few more low key months.