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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Welcome Wendy!

Wendy joins us as of today at the shop - we are sooo excited to have her onboard to help out.

Friday, February 27, 2015

More tunnel

Fit for purpose doesn't mean things need not be straight. Dead straight! 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tunnels are hot things!

Phew - spent about half an hour in the tunnel this afternoon, catching a very nice Ochiba and a Beni Kumonryo for a customer. Within minutes my shirt was drenched and our customer had just about passed out! Still we got the job done and two very nice fish are on their way to a new home.

Humidity is about 100% inside and the temperature I estimate at between 55 and 60C. You cannot work in that environment for long - but the fish are doing well, in particular the tilapia that are growing at an alarming rate. We're almost trying to get them so slow down which is kind of precisely what we don't want!

Of interest has been the fry - jeepers- they shot from fry to fingerlings in almost days. They fed off algae in the small pond we cultivated for them and their fat little bellies are proof of the fact that all they need is good water and plenty of algae - and that we have in abundance at the moment.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The maths of Eskom

So I just had the phone call from hell.

New Koi pond, built by Koi pond experts. 8000l of water to begin with fills me with trepidation - from which it goes downhill I'm afraid.

Here we have a "koi pond" with a 50mm bottom drain feeding a 0,75 kW swimming pool pump - no surface skimmer I might add. The pump feeds a sand filter, splitting to an open filter system via a U/V draining into a water feature and the second back to the pond via a venturi.

By now my eyes had glazed over and in all honesty my mind has shut down - there is nothing I can do for this pond. So the advice given to save power by running the system 3 hours on and then 3 hours off I almost missed.

Having corrected the caller about the illusions of the 3 hour on 3 hour off power saving myth - (namely that especially on a system as poorly designed as this one that 24/7 operation is mandatory) we got into the whole "run it off solar" discussion.

The returns of running your Koi pond off solar are infinitely negative. This is all you need to know. Right now, right here, in early 2015 it cannot be done cost effectively. To run a 075 kW swimming pool pump will cost you R250k. How much electricity does that buy? Plus, solar systems have a running cost associated with them - they are not a once off purchase and then free electricity for all time panacea.

If you run an Ultra Low Power system like I do at home with a power draw of around 100W for my water pumps (which is not bad for 80kl of pond I don't think) you can also never break even - the sheet cost of solar even for this low power draw is so much higher than paying the R100 or whatever it costs me a month to run the system that the return is infinitely negative.

Hence, the best route to follow in my opinion is to go for Low Power or Ultra Low Power wherever you can and hook that up to a decent UPS capable of driving the system for 12 hours at a time for when the power goes off.

A small generator of 1 kVA is then plenty to use as a standby for the UPS in the event the power outage lasts longer than 12 hours (as in when the real blackouts start to hit).

And above all, anyone recommending a swimming pool pump of any description on any new Koi pond should be avoided. Going cheap, actually, these installations are in fact NOT any cheaper to buy and install - so perhaps let me reword this: Going uninformed when building a Koi pond these days, is really going to cost you. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

And here we go

Starting earth works... Breaking new ground... All very exciting! 

Power failures

Power cuts on a working fish farm are a real concern. Oxygen is the immediate concern of course but efficient air pumps and a big and inverter and battery backup provides air into the ponds efficiently. Generators help on smaller systems but on big farms provision must be made for substantial backup. Auto start generators are not cheap but are the way to go if your livelihood depends on fish still swimming after half an hour. 

Ups systems are cool for short outages of upto 6 hours but repeated failures of the likes we are now seeing has an impact on filters that can be very serious indeed if they are continually subjected to ongoing stresses from a lack of oxygen supply. These will force you into providing generation capacity whether you like it or not and of course the lower your farms power requirements the better all round. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Auction pictures!

We have been asked by more than one person for some better pics of the fish on auction. So here they are. Along with video clips!

Apologies we didn't have time to snap pics of everyone - but to give you an idea of the quality of the Kohakus for instance....

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Auction time

Our latest auction is under way on Bid or - 28 kick ass koi going.... Going... Going....

We also have 4 bonsai up for grabs! :-) 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Absolutely soaked

With sweat from inside the q/tine facility.... Nice... Be a koi dealer they said... No heavy lifting they said... Peaceful gentle outdoors lifestyle they said... Ha bloody ha!!!

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Japan Trip 2014 Special Offer # Box 6

Fish Box #6

Breeder Yamazaki.

A mixed box of well priced attractive Koi. Yamazaki san had not yet netted out the majority of his ponds so these Koi were from the first mud pond. We were under time pressure and I wanted to go back to pick some more from his ponds but alas, we never got back. A pity.

I did not have a chance to sex the fish - the Karashigoi I am sure is female. All these Koi are well priced at R2900 and the ginrin shiro in particular is a very attractive Koi. In fact, they all are!

Japan Trip 2014 Special Offer # Box 5

Fish Box #5

Breeder Hiroi.

Hiroi is never cheap and you can see why. These are two year old just out of the mud ponds and in this bowl we have a ginrin goshiki the quality of which is simply amazing. The tancho Sanke has an amazing body and the doitsu harawake is one of the most unbelievable I have seen. These are all sold - for fairly obvious reasons as to why and the last fish left is the ginrin kohaku which I chose as a companion for transport back with the harawake as with these size fish only two to a box fits the shipping bill.

The pics are not the greates - but this female kohaku has a body built like the proverbial and she's 50cm if she's an inch.The pattern is flawless, the skin superb and the hi is outstanding. Coupled to an excellent gin and sharp white it's a great deal and excellent value for money from Hiroi at R10k.

Japan Trip 2014 Special Offer # Box 4

I even have a short video on this box...

Japan Trip 2014 Special Offer # Box 4

Fish Box #4

Breeder Otsuka.

This is a mixed bowl of good quality smaller Koi. The two ginrin chagoi are quite pretty and the big normal chagoi is a good quality fish. I cannot tell sex on any of these fish I am afraid so it is pot luck.

The pricing is excellent at around JPY7k each which translates into a selling price on this special offer of R1600 each (the shipping I am afraid pushes the price per tail up a bit). And my memory is fading on me but I seem to recall that the one tancho is in fact a tancho kumonryo. Which should prove to be a highly entertaining specimen (and which has now just been sold, along with the large chagoi). The Benigoi is an awesome, clean fish that should get nice and big to boot.

Friday, October 24, 2014

These just in.

Offer expires tomorrow.

Breeder Isa. Showa. Female.

This is a nice example of tategoi type potential Koi vs more 'here and now' more finished Koi.

Take a close look and decide which two are more tategoi type and which two are more 'here and now' type. These are all very high quality expensive Koi from one of the big hitters in Showa breeding in Japan - Isa is very, very highly regarded and many of his lines are famously used in other very well known breeders (Sakai, Dainichi being among them). 


OK the more tategoi pairing are B and D. It's close actually with A being an exceptionally good fish as it is here already. But B and D are going to take longer to present their finished pattern in my opinion. A and C still have some way to go but they present better on the day and hence are slightly more here and now in my opinion.

All of these fish have a great future ahead of them. D will take a hobbyist to the edge of what Koi keeping is about - you will need skills with this fish and perhaps just a little luck. The breeder doesn;t agree with me - this is the most expensive of the lot at JPY400k.

Runner up is... Fish C - also at JPY 400k. Fish B follows at JPY 300k matched with fish A at JPY 300k.

Some of the finest two year old Showa from this years harvest. Of course there will be better and more expensive Koi but these are without doubt show quality and best of all they have some way to go - meaning that in a few years an astute hobbyist will find themselves with a fish capable of giving a serious run at the SGC title. I love these sort of Koi - right at the edge of the hobby in terms of where a champion can be spotted and then taken to the finals in a few years.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Japan Trip 2014 Special Offer # Box 3

Fish Box #3

Breeder Otsuka

Some of these Shiro Utsuri are sold. You can see why - the quality of these Koi is very high indeed. All are female.

I chose these fish and oddly these were the best value for money Shiro Utsuri we came across on the whole trip. These were selected off the back of the truck as they arrived from the mud ponds and the reason I chose them was for the awesome sumi that was already darkening in the ponds and of course the superb white. They are fantastic Shiro Utsuri.

There are five in the bowl but we could only ship four. Pick the one you would have left behind and see from the next picture if you agree with my choice. It was not an easy one!

 To keep it all clear the fish with the black dot on the nose - Black Dot for it's name is Subject To Confirmation for a customer as it exceeds his prepaid budget by a factor of two.

The fish on the left is sold.  As is the one on the bottom right as it turns out. Which leaves the fish top right. And it's a cracker of a Shiro.

We paid JPY40k each for them and even that was a bit of a haggle and a good price for 'first pick'. This translates into a selling price of R7600.00. They are between 35 and 40cm in size and are two year old fish.

This is a once off price for early birds. When the fish have cleared quarantine and go up for sale in our retail ponds the price will escalate to R10 to R12k.

Japan Trip 2014 Special Offer # Box 2

Fish Box #2

Breeder Otsuka

All for sale with the exception of the Kujaku which has been sold. Tancho Now also sold.

This is a selection of good quality Koi from Otuska. Sex of the Tancho is probably female (now sold). The Kohaku is male but with a pattern like that it's forgiven. The ginrin Orenji is sublime and the Ki Utsuri is a rare fish that is considerably cheaper than the price of others we saw at the same breeder (who incidentally is probably the only breeder breeding these with any measure of success).

Sex of the Koi is unknown - with the Tancho probably being female (now sold) and the Kohaku male. The other two we're not sure of so take them as being male for now. The Kohaku in particular I chose for the supreme pattern - if it doesn't do well at a Koi show I'll eat my hat. The ginrin orenji I chose for it's size and body - I think this fish is female and it ought to grow enormous. The Ki Utsuri is a good quality fish without being outrageously over priced.

We paid JPY25k each for these fish which translates into the special selling price of R5000. They are between 30cm and 38cm in size and are two year old fish.

This is a once off price for early birds. When the fish have cleared quarantine and go up for sale in our retail ponds the price will escalate to R6000.00 to R7000.00.

Japan Trip 2014 Special Offer # Box 1

Fish Box #1

Breeder Kaneko

Tancho Kujaku and Goshiki (male) for sale.

In this pictures below the Kujaku we did not buy in the end. The fish for sale are the goshiki in the middle and the tancho kujaku directly below it. 

 In this picture it is the goshiki and the tancho Kujaku above it and to the right.

In this picture the tancho kujaku is the one with the tail in its face(!).

In this picture the tancho kujaku is the fish right at the top of the bowl and probably best reflects the quality of the fish, which is awesome.

The sex of the goshiki as mentioned is male. The tancho kujaku we suspect as being female.

I chose the goshiki to come home with us for a few reasons. Firstly I have had excellent success with "kohaku" that later "become" goshiki. Our water is hard and tends to bring out sumi too quickly if the goshiki already has sumi apparent. Secondly, for a male fish the body is good and thirdly the hi pattern on the fish is very good. When the sumi starts to appear I believe this fish will really be quite striking and I will double it's selling price (!) :-)

These fish cost us JPY20k each which translates into a selling price of R4000.00. They are between 33 and 38cm in size and are two year old fish.

This is a once off price for early birds. When the fish have cleared quarantine and go up for sale in our retail ponds the price will escalate to R5000.00.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Girl trip thoughts

Perhaps the girls should travel with the boys. There is plenty to see and do in Tokyo for a few days whilst the boys do their Koi thing in Niigata. It will be an interesting contest to see who spends the most I think. 

The bullet trains continue to impress. Despite the annoying loud Yanks at the back of this train, we have three and a half hours from Himeji back to Tokyo. It's quick despite this not being the super express which does only the major stops.

For those of us with small children Japan represents a real challenge. Two days travel either way really eats into your trip time and the length of time needed to really see Japan is really tricky to manage. Over the years I have slowly reduced Koi buying time to what is needed as opposed to what we think we need, but even so I think I can improve somewhat. A minimum trip is going to be around ten days, a big ask for small children to put up with. Still, it can be done I think if the planning is done with military precision. This is something that can be achieved in Japan, thanks to the incredible precision the country runs with. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014


A special gift

I was given this book by the president of Kamihata Group (Hikari). He autographed it for me and although he is now 88 he still comes into work every day and climbs 4 flights of stairs to his office. 

I have started reading it already and within the first few pages I can see the stoicism of the Japanese combined with a genuine adventurer at heart. 

Some of his insights are hilarious and accurate to the point of almost stinging. I catch myself chuckling often with my mind thinking 'that's a typical Japanese way of thinking or doing X or Y'. Am looking forward to devouring the rest of the book on the plane trip home. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Departing Kyoto for Himeji

Walked the streets of Kyoto quite a bit now. It is so clean you could eat off the pavements. Shop keepers vacuum their pavements. The Kyoto market was a wow - a definite must see. We did the golden pavilion yesterday and chatted to all the school kids. We were also interviewed by university students for a research project. Ha ha the less said about that the better! Lunch was Thai. Most authentic meal so far. For supper we hunted Indian, but failed and the best thing we ever did was to ditch the mall restaurant and jump into a cab and tell the driver to take us somewhere local. Predictably he took us to a safe sterile type place so after he drove off we skipped that too, spotted a dumpling place and ended up in a local wild game fowl speciality place. It was unbelievable. - we had a really special meal with plenty of laughing, red wine, beer and some of the best food I have had in Japan. It was truly memorable. Am definitely going back there when I am next in Kyoto! 

The train station remains one of the most amazing buildings I have ever been in. The sense of space is staggering. I want everyone to experience it - watching people's expressions as they take it all in gives me a kick!!

Peeling back the layers of Japan - the Trip for Girls

The survival guide to Japan

1. Small suitcase. The one size up from carry on luggage. We will be travelling girls and you will need to man handle your own case. The stations get busy.

2. Pack it light. Pack your own soap in its own travel box as the hotels all use these pump bottle things for body wash, shampoo and conditioner. It is always excellent quality as you will come to expect from everything in Japan but some people prefer a bar of soap.

3. Comfortable walking shoes. Super mega NB. We're not doing the Groot Trek by any means but we will be walking more than perhaps you may be used to. Especially sight seeing - most of it is done on foot.

4.  Baths in the hotel vary from massively small to incredibly tiny. Not important - just thought I'd chuck that in for amusement.

5. We normally stay in the more affordable hotels - singles can expect to pay between JPY 7500 and JPY 9500 per night. Some hotels are as low as JPY6000 and we really don't spend much time in them. Room sizes vary but they are not large. The one I am in at the moment requires me to step outside to change my mind.

6. Breakfasts are mostly included. Toast is not big in Japan. But you will not go hungry, even if you have to fill up on just fruit and juice.

7. Food in general varies as it would in SA. The wine is simply shocking unless you get to a good restaurant where a bottle will set you back around JPY2500 to JPY3500. We try to eat well in Japan, and head prices will vary from around JPY2500 to JPY 6000 (for a really big night out) including drinks. Beer is super expensive - around JPY450 to as much as JPY750 for a big draught. Without exception beer drinkers have Japanese beer to be excellent quality however.

8. Normal cash spend on odds and sods - snacks, what have you - I'd budget JPY5000 a day  - that ought to give you some wiggle room. Clothes, hand bags, shoes and the like are probably best addressed using plastic - and handbags at JPY200k are not uncommon in the more upmarket department stores. If you want to shop, Japan will give you one of the best experiences you will ever have - that much I can promise you. 

The Trip for Girls that I have the rough outlines for is a simple one. The boys will fly out two nights ahead of the Girls (optionally - you may want your better half bored out of her skull in Niigata) where we will visit breeders, do the Koi thing and generally get a sense of Koi buying in Japan. On day three I will head back to Narita, collect the girls and we all head off back up to Niigata, and the girls can then spend one day with us to see what is what and why we boys do what we do when buying fish. No prices will be quoted so the boys can relax! :-) So we get three full days in Niigata.

Then my thinking is to head off to Kyoto - you will need half a day to travel there and we can do some sight seeing that day. Overnight in the hotel, and then the next day a full day in Kyoto to shop, see the sights, and etc.

Then I think we should head off to Hiroshima. That will be another half day's travel and I think two nights there as well would be good. I also think it might be an idea to see if we can take in some of the fish farms in the South for the boys so everyone can see what is what there. A trip to the bomb site and the likes would obviously also come into it.

We can then all fly back to Jhb via Kansai which is only more or less a half days travel out of Hiroshima.

These are rough brush broadstrokes at this stage but I have wanted to put together such a trip for ages. A day or two in Tokyo in the Ginza district and Akihabra are also something I'd like to work in - so I will see what we can do in that regard.

I'm thinking of putting the tour together in a similar fashion to our MG Indabas. It makes it more affordable - well, easier to budget for and to plan as we go. I'm excited!

On our way to Kyoto

Ditched our agent. Now on our way to Kyoto. Dinner last night was western style. We aimed for steak and hamburgers. We ended up with a considerable quantity of beer. 

It was good fun and despite the mild hangover this morning we are in good spirits. It is so useful to travel light on the trains that I think I will make it a hard and fast rule for future trips. Weather today is awesome so the typhoon turned out to be a bit of a damp squib for us thankfully. 

Maybe we will have an earth quake instead but these things are not worth hoping for. We learned that Japan has an early warning SMS system about incoming quakes. Apparently it gives you about a minutes warning which may. It sound like much but I guess it's better than nothing at all. 

Have also not watched any Japanese game shows on TV yet - we've been too busy/tired up until now. I'll post pics of Kyoto as we get them. For now some pics of the latest koi purchases...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

More Japan

Good end to the day yesterday, picked up two of the best torazo female nissai kohaku I have seen. Both sold before I even got the price! And they were such good value I honestly couldn't believe my eyes. Could have easily doubled the asking price, but still that's the way it goes I suppose. My customer is delighted! 

Trains and the Internet

Useful to know they now have wifi on the trains. Trying to find the right network is proving tricky! There must be about 30 wifi networks available! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

 Japan is not just about fish - this is a present for our agent. He's partial to chocolates and so far the bribe seems to be working more or less OK. Pricing has been reasonably good this far and the results fish wise have been excellent.

The gate to the shrine. I love these - there is an elegance to them that is uniquely Japanese. 

Our agent. Wouldn't be too far off  in a chair on the stoep in the Free State....

Fish have to eat as well. Typical Japanese - engineered to last forever. Built to take a typhoon - guess we'll be testing that soon enough...

Japanese whiskey. Delicious. Easily comparable to the best in the world. 

Japanese white wine. Awful. Terrible. Easily comparable to the worst in the world - the sweet white wines from the Rhine region in Germany which should just be banned as toxic drugs.

Tea. The endless cups of tea. Everywhere you go - if you are a tea fanatic, Japan is your Mecca. I swear sometimes that they drug the stuff - it is so super insanely popular people choose it over Coca Cola. I just never will understand it.