Buying Baby Koi – Part I
BUYING BABY KOI-Part 1
By: Chai Taevanitcharoen
Before we learn about quality, body conformation, and the pattern of the fish, I think we should learn to understand the most important part of the fish, body deformities.
Deformities affect excellent fish, good fish, mediocre fish, and fish of no value.
Some deformities make a fish not worth keeping at all. It is easy to learn and observe, but we often miss them. It doesn’t matter if you want to have a pond fish or a show fish; a fish with a deformity is less pleasing.
I, along with most experts, would not consider it a pretty fish.
Every deformity has a certain degree of importance. Some deformities only decrease the value of the fish, while others may make the fish be of no value at all.
Below is a list of serious deformities.
DO NOT BUY THE FISH IF:
1. The fish is missing any part of its anatomy. (Ex. pectoral/dorsal fins, eyes, etc.)
2. The mouth, head, tail, spine, or upper and lower lips are crooked. (It is hard to see when the mouth or head is black, especially in utsurimono which are often deformed.)
3. The fish has dents in its head. (When the head is black, touch it to make sure.)
4. The fish has any tumors.
5. The tail joint curves up.
6. The tail folds to one side only.
7. The body is too short.
8. The fish has a bowl or curved-out gill plate.
9. The fish has any fins, which are crooked, missing, or disproportional.
10. The head is too short or pointed, or the mouth is too small or too pointed.
11. The pectoral fins are too small,
12. The fish is missing whiskers.
13. The fish makes a jerking motion while swimming, or when it starts to swim. Also check to make sure that the fish does not swim for a short time then sinks to the bottom to rest.
14. The fish is sick.
Some items on this list are less important than others.
Some of the flaws listed above may disqualify a fish form competition, other may not if the fish has outstanding quality, body conformation, and pattern. Remember the bigger the fish, the easier it is to spot deformities. The smaller they are, the harder it is to see. Especially with fish 4″-8″ and what you cannot see from above.
TIP: Look For Deformities On a Fish
First, using the dorsal fin as a center divider, divide the fish into two parts, left and right. Draw a straight, imaginary line from the tip of the upper tail all the way to the lip of the fish. Fish often move, which may cause you to lose focus, so always remember to use the front of the dorsal fin as a guideline.
Look from the lip of the fish slowly toward the tail; comparing the each curve from left to right.
Compare the curve of the mouth, head, the curve of abdomen all the way to the tail joint. The left and right side should be the same shape and curve.
If any curves are not symmetrical, it is most likely to be a deformity.
Now turn around- this time start form the opposite end. Compare the body curves, left and right, all the way to center of the lip. Keep changing starting points. The more you change direction, the better because sometimes fish movements may cause small deformities to go undetected.
As your eyes improve and you improve your understanding of what to look for, spotting deformities will come easier. After you’re sure about body deformity, check for deformities and size of the whiskers, eyes, and pectoral fins.
When the fish is in the bag, check the underside of the fish.
Once again, using an imaginary line and divide the fish in half. Continue checking for deformities, using the same method as previously described.
When we look at the tail, by itself, it normally stands straight up and down. When fish are nervous or trying to swim it might fold slightly from right to left. Let the fish relax and it’s tail will straighten out.
Although the fish will not “pose” and hold it’s tail still, you will be able to determine it’s straightness as the fish relaxes and stops trying to swim frantically away.
If the tail always stays folded to one side and never folds back to the opposite side, then there is a possibility that a tail deformity exists.
TIP: When Picking Out A Fish: When you see fish you like, put them in a tub, then take one out put it in other tub and look at them one at a time, taking your time to observe.
If many fish are together at once, you may get confused.
Most of us get excited when we see fish we like, and most often, it’s the pattern of the fish, which attracts our eyes.
Mistakes may occur when you get too excited about a fish that looks so beautiful under the water.
Sometimes when too many people are looking to buy fish at the same time, it will rush you into buying a particular fish before someone else takes it and you’ll forget about the list. Don’t forget to use it and before you say, “I’ll take it” or “Bag it,” ask the dealer to put the fish in a bag for a final check.
Check the under side of the fish and the lateral line for a curved body.
Check the mouth, ventral and anal fins, and the lower part of the tail. You’ll be surprised by what you can find during a “final check.”
Without a final check, the diseases and deformities may go unnoticed.
Don’t let pattern, quality, or body conformation cause you to overlook deformities. Take your time when buying that next special koi.
HAPPY KOI HUNTING!