Koi Breeding: How to Breed Koi & Goldfish

Page Summary:  The first thing to clarify is the widely held belief that breeding koi is an opportuntiy to make money by selling the successfully bred koi. Koi cost money no matter which way you look at it. To be able to sell small koi is next to impossible for the koi hobbyist. This is due to many reasons but basically the value of home-bred koi is close to zero (probably negative in fact) yet there is a cost even if only in koi food. There are secondary considerations including potential disease introduction from a "strange" pond into a different healthy pond environment. Be content to breed koi or goldfish just for the satisfaction of it. This article is not aimed at koi breeders.

Conditioning Breeding Koi

The most fun way to stock your koi pond with fresh, young and healthy koi fish or goldfish is by breeding your own. However, while your koi and goldfish can spawn by themselves if the conditions are right, normally koi breeding and goldfish breeding is not such an easy thing to do. Quite a lot of preparation and hard work is required if you are going to do it right and end up spawning the beautiful and quality koi fish you desire.

Ideally, the best age for male koi fish is around 3-5 years old, while females should be 4-6 years old. To get your fish in the right frame of mind for koi breeding, they need to be conditioned a year in advance.

Start off by making sure the fish in your koi pond are well fed and healthy. Beginning in winter, you will need to place your koi in what is called a “hibernation cycle” for several months.

Koi don’t eat during the winter, and because they spawn in the spring, they will need to go through this cycle.

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Setting Up Your Koi Pond

There are four key requirements for successful koi breeding. Media, (the place where the fish can lay their eggs), comfortable temperature, privacy and good quality water.

For media, you can use yarn for goldfish. Attach the yarn to a cork or something that floats to keep it suspended. Koi meanwhile, have a wealth of options for media, including grass, tree branches tied together or certain artificial media that can be bought from koi fish shops. The media is not just where the eggs are stored while the fry are developing inside, because the newly hatched fry will also need it as somewhere to hide once they hatch.

The ideal temperature for spawning is between 20-23 degrees C. Any higher and both koi and goldfish grow to quickly and can exhibit mutations. Too low and they grow too slowly and also exhibit mutations, so the temperature does need to be constant.

Lastly, make sure that the water quality in your koi pond is very good. Koi breeding requires clean, aerated water (i.e. an oxygen pump). If you decide to use a filter, make sure it has a very fine mesh for the small fry are not sucked into it! Don’t forget, once spawning is done you will need to replace the water.

Koi Eggs

Koi eggs are naturally very sticky and adhere extremely well to most substances. Goldfish eggs are less so but so long as you use yarn for your media everything will be okay. For both fish, look for translucent eggs as this shows they are healthy. Unfertilized eggs meanwhile, will be white and fuzzy looking. Once you can see the difference between fertilized and unfertilized eggs, it means it’s time to separate the parents from the eggs, or else mum and dad might get hungry and start eating them!

Caring for your Koi Fry

The fry won’t need feeding during the first 3-4 days after hatching, but after that they will need a regular supply of nutritious food to promote fast growth. Good foods include daphnia (fresh water crustaceans) or brine shrimp. Another food you can try, though not as good, is boiled egg yolk – the fry love it, but the downside is that it will pollute your water quickly.

The water temperature needs to be kept at around 22-23 degrees C as the fry develop, and then when they are around one month old you will need to start culling the fry, choosing only the best, most healthy and promising looking fry. The culling process requires quite a lot of skill, as it can be very difficult to ascertain what a good, healthy koi is. Goldfish are easier to judge; most koi breeding experts advise to keep the darker fry and cull the lighter ones, as these generally produce the best characteristics once fully grown.

After another 2-3 weeks, you should carry out another cull, leaving as many fry as you desire to grow up, and begin to feed them on foods that are high in protein. You can find many specialist koi foods for growing fry.

***** s quite a lot of skill, as it can be very difficult to ascertain what a good, healthy koi is. Goldfish are easier to judge; most koi breeding experts advise to keep the darker fry and cull the lighter ones, as these generally produce the best characteristics once fully grown.

After another 2-3 weeks, you should carry out another cull, leaving as many fry as you desire to grow up, and begin to feed them on foods that are high in protein. You can find many specialist koi foods for growing fry.

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