FISH PREPARATION & TRANSPORTATION TIPS FOR A SHOW
By Ray Jordan
There are no secret water or food additives you can use a few months or weeks before the show to greatly enhance your fish. There are many that will spoil your fishes appearance.
- DO NOT feed color enhancers/high protein foods within two months of a show
- DO NOT add medications or give koi treatments within two months of a show
- DO NOT feed your fish for 5-7 days before a show
- DO provide highest possible water quality at all times but especially two months before a show: Increase water changes, pond/filter maintenance, and reduce amount fed two months before the show. Cull collection as early as possible
- DO study, check, and measure your fish for peak condition. Decide which fish you plan to bring to a show: Shoot for peak development, top of size range, and avoid bring to many fish or fish that will just compete against each other.
Netting, Tubbing, and Bagging Techniques
- A proper koi net is necessary to minimize the risk of damage to koi. It should be shallow and the netting smooth and non-abrasive. The koi net should be as large as possible (depending on koi)
- The goal is to guide the koi with the net into a tub without touching. Take it slowly and easy. It is easier to catch fish in a pond with corners. Approach the koi with the net from the front getting the net under its head and gently guiding it into a tub. Touch the tail or move quickly and the koi will dart or jump away. Never try to snag a koi that is trying to escape – let it go and start over.
- A single person can net/guide koi into a floating tub. The rim of a large koi net is used to submerge the edge of the floating tub. The koi is then guided into the floating tub. This maneuver is easier if a second person submerges the tub. A single individual can also bring the koi in the net adjacent to a floating tank or tub. The net is controlled with one hand which has been advanced on the pole to a position near the net. The floating tank or tub is submerged with the other band and the koi is gently guided into the container. Never lift koi with the koi net!
- Koi can be netted from a smaller/narrower pond without obstacles or hiding places easier. In ponds with potted water plants it might be better to remove the plants while catching koi. At times lowering the water level and or wading in the pond will make catching our koi easier. Sometimes a second koi net handler can herd koi into the net of the primary handler.
- If your pond is too wide or does not lend itself to any of the above methods, a seine my be used to herd the pond into a smaller areas. Koi are not caught with the seine. The mesh of the seine should be knotless and non-abrasive. The seine should be longer than the width of your pond. The width of the seine should be greater than the depth of the pond. The seine will need floats at top and weights on the bottom. Aquatic Ecosystems is a good source for custom made seines and they can help you determine size and type. I suggest getting extra floats and weights.
- Koi tubs also need to be properly sized and smooth. Tilt the tub to near vertical position in the pond about half submerged. As the koi is guided into the tub tilt the tub back to horizontal with enough water to completely cover the koi but not so much as to encourage it to jump.
- Koi sock nets with fine water retaining mesh are the best way to move koi from the tub into the transport bags. The koi is brought through the opening of the net head first by carefully advancing the net over the head of the koi or by manipulating the head of the koi into the net with your free hand. The koi is positioned in the middle of the net, the end of the net is closed by one hand of the holder, the other end of the net is folded over to retain the koi the hands are held tautly apart as the koi is lifted from the water. A head first exit of the koi from the sock net is preferred to avoid possible fin or scale damage. Some mucus may be lost from the skin.
- Use 3 or 4 mil plastic bags for transporting koi. Double plastic bags should always be used for safety. Bag size depends upon the size of the koi. Fish should be carried horizontally. Large koi need to be carried with the bag horizontal and held tautly between two handlers.
- The opening of the plastic bags should be rolled over. Use Koi sock net to move koi into bag or can be moved directly from a tub. (use one hand to direct the koi head first into the bag) There should be enough water in the bag to float the koi as the bag is transported to its destination.
SHOW TRANSPORTATION TIPS
Get the proper equipment: You will need a “real koi catch net”, koi sock net, large plastic bags, rubber bands and a oxygen tank and regulator.
- DO NOT FEED your show fish for 5 days prior. This is very important to reduce ammonia stress on your fish during transportation.
- Catch your fish very GENTLY as last thing you do before leaving home.
- Transport in cool covered containers (large ice chests are ideal) to maintain constant water temperature and a darkened environment.
- Ice packs maybe used inside the container but OUTSIDE the fish bags to keep water cooler and fish more relaxed.
- Fish should be “double bagged” with pond water and bags inflated with oxygen and securely closed with double rubber bands inside a cooler.
- Be sure bags & coolers are large enough for fish to stay relaxed & unbent. No more koi per bag/cooler than fit comfortably side by side. Usually two large koi “ 24 in. long, or 5-6 medium koi 12 inches long.
- Be sure to use enough pond water to COMPLETELY cover your fish.
- DO NOT put small fish in same bag/cooler with significantly larger fish.
- Orient coolers so that fish ride SIDE WAYS to direction of travel.
- DO NOT place coolers directly in the sun or near other sources of heat. ( i.e., over hot spot caused by exhaust side of trunk)
- Reduce time of transportation by driving directly to destination.
- When you arrive at new pond destination open bags and gently release water and fish into cooler. Use a koi sock net to gently net fish and transfer them into new pond.