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Sunday, November 24, 2013


We are getting there slowly. Poles for shade cloth going up, to make space for ponds... 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Move is finally starting to take shape. We're almost there folks!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Old air pump

Three years old and it looks brand new. Keep your airpumps under cover if you can and clean the filters. It's well worth the effort!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

AASA Conf 2012

Is over for me now. Very interesting, all RAS. Told you so. But now actual money is starting to begin to flow so its looking very positive. Inspired now to get our system running as of yesterday!

Aquaculture Conference 2013

As you may or may not know we are involved in the aqua culture space for our sins. It is a fascinating look into the world of fish farming - the AASA conference held every two years is THE gathering of academics, government meddlers (!) and those who farm various things that live in water. I have seen presentations from everything from white stumpnose, sea urchins, marron, carp, tilapia, catfish and even algae through to trout, salmon, kabeljou and even aquaponics. It's tremendously exciting and being my 3rd or is it 4th such conference now one has to come away inspired by the interest in the industry which is becoming explosive. The good news success stories are still very few and far between with more tales of woe than of celebration and there are several common trends in each. Over promise and under delivery seems to be the most prominent with people drastically over capitalising and under researching. I'm sticking to my guns on this one. Fish farming is no different from other farming - it is a full time business and it requires the full time commitment to make it happen. 

Of particular interest to me has been the inclusion of aquaponics into conventional aquaculture. It is early days but using aquaponics as a treatment system as opposed to a commercial venture has gotten me thinking quite a bit about it and I think we will be doing some experiments on it in the near future. For now however I have yet to see anything to come close to our entry level learning systems in terms of price and fit for purpose model. I will blog more on this in the near future and you can see the development of the system for yourself. As always, if something is new to you there is no substitute for learning about how it works and what you need to know to make it work for you. It is this that we will shortly be in a position to offer you.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Oncology and Koi

Sometimes I truly hate what I do. It makes me defensive and grumpy because there is no easy way to tell someone that they have a cancerous Koi pond. Yet, that's what I often have to do and they don't want to hear it. They feel fine, the pond has been fine, what's the problem? Why should they have to go through all this additional hassle and expense to cure some problem they never knew they had?

The answer often lies in the simple word 'No.'. It's such a wonderful, powerful word. Two letters long, but strong beyond other words or even words combined into sentences.


It's an affirmation. It's negative and positive at the same time. It can set you free and it can make you miserable. But whatever it is, 'No' has a way of re-defining a problem from shades of grey to absolute. 

I've come to the conclusion that I'm a No fan. I like the word. It defines what we do and how we do it. No. 

We don't do shortcuts. No. That is not the correct way to do ABC. 

No. You cannot make a square peg fit a round hole. 

No. There are no half measures. Either do it right or don't do it at all. 

No. You do not have to accept cancer. No. It can be beaten. No. It will not be easy. No. You cannot continue as you have been. 

These are all positive affirmations. And they can be applied to Koi ponds just as effectively. It comes down to a decision that only you can make. No. It will not continue as it has. Or No. It will not be changed. 

I like it. There is something about saying No that really works. You're forced into an absolute. There is no doubt. It's either No or it isn't. No is honesty. No is transparent. No. No is often your best friend.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

tULiP Running at Koi Show

tULiP seems to have created a bit of a buzz. Whilst others were prattling on about their external pumps running at as low as 200W we stuck a meter on ours and discovered that using the new entry level pumps we managed to obtain a reading of as low as

which isn't too shabby. It all comes down to filtration design and installation and as the pioneers of Ultra Low Power systems for Koi ponds we've got it down to the point where you can run your pond at virtually almost zero cost if you so choose. It truly is possible.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Tastes and tips #1

Lemongrass and basil martini. Extra lemon, vodka, ice cold pineapple juice
Soya sauce, light garlic and fresh ginger whizzed up with a touch of sugar for sushi dipping sauce.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Blogging like a mad man. Why won't it do what I want it to?! :-)

A couple of very select Koi from our latest shipment...

A few of the new Koi just released from quarantine. Show quality and some truly epic Koi from Torazo, Sakuma, Takahashi, Shinoda et al.


Thursday, April 04, 2013

Scheduled for demolition

It never wins any friends. But how can one paint lipstick on a pig?

Maybe it's an issue of jaded wisdom, or one of exasperation. I'm not sure but I was called to go and see a pond that a customer had some concerns over. Turned out to be a pond 10m by 2m wide by 1.6m deep - so around 32kl. Actually, exactly 32 kl because this pond had a completely flat bottom.

It also had two great big square concrete pillars in the middle each with a 'fountain' type arrangement in the middle of the pillar.

Two bottom drains were installed - and as soon as I saw a flat bottom pond and two conventional gulley type 50mm drains with those nice gulley type drain covers on them - you know the ones that block in a nanosecond there is a hint of blanketweed anywhere in the pond? - and I knew 'we was in trouble here slim jimmy jo bob pants squire'! Game over man, game over!

Two 'specially configured' external venturi's (special because the venturi unit was situated outside the pond in the wall - ever want to fix/work on that?) face off the opposite and spout water back to the pond more or less in line with the drains themselves further added to my now already high levels of discomfort. 

I was particularly heartened however by the 5kl JoJo tank sunk into the ground and then surrounded by concrete that was acting as the settlement chamber for the pond. This was bound to work well, fed as it was by the 2 50mm pipes from the sad little drains. Problem was the pipes had been brought up and fed into said JoJo tank aout 200mm below surface level of the pond, with the net effect that honestly, I could fill the tank from my bladder faster than these drains were delivering. 

A recently installed .45 kW pump was sat on the side of the pond sucking water from the pond and pushing it into the JoJo tank to provide the second pump with enough water to actually run without pulling the JoJo tank completely dry in under 30 seconds. 

Said .45 was choked back hard - to the point where I am sure a small 80w pond pump would deliver more volume. This was necessary to prevent the JoJo tank from overflowing of course.

Then things started to get really bad. I'll spare you the details of the filtration but rest assured the pond positively glows by comparison. 

My take on it was simply that I wanted nothing to do with it at all. The only way we would get involved is with a jack hammer and to rebuild the pond from scratch. It cannot be fixed, it cannot be coaxed or teased into something resembling a Koi pond. By the time proper drainage could be installed, the system would have been chopped and changed to the point where half the money for a new pond would have been spent anyway, coupled with what has already been spent, sorry, wasted. 

No. Far better to get the right thing now, and work with that than a half fix that will always only ever be a half fix of what the pond could and should have been from the beginning. 

The most annoying thing of all is that the pond wasn't cheap. Considering what we charge to build a Koi pond, I was astounded as to what was passed on as a 'Koi pond' built by an 'expert'. 

In this game I have always said you cannot afford to be ignorant. This case proves the point, literally.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Architects! Sigh!

Those dreaded words:

"The architect has made provision for a Koi pond"

9 little words that somehow manage to get my back up every time. Why is this?

Let's explore this a little. 

Firstly, what is the architect doing making provision? I have yet to meet an architect, any architect that knows the first thing about Koi ponds. So making provision tells me a few things. 

A). The owner is not dictating to the architect to do this and to do that.This tells me he is not a Koi hobbyist to begin with. 

B). Secondly, 'making provision' is another way of saying leave to an expert. This is fine and well but by the time the expert (poor old us) gets involved things are so far gone there is little anyone can do to make the project work as it should. 

C). Budget is completely undetermined at this stage - making provision is generally done along the lines of a swimming pool cost, which means that by the time the poor old expert arrives they are already on the back foot from a budget point of view.

So when I get a phone call that starts off with the words 'Hi I'm looking to find out if it is possible to run a Koi pond on a variable speed pump because the architect has made provision for a Koi pond and as the consulting electrical engineers on the project we need to know what pumps are to be used on the Koi pond' I get extremely short and ill tempered. 

Normally such conversations end up with 'Oh we haven't thought this through and in fact the Koi pond is perhaps not a great idea' which goes to show that sometimes the universe does work as it should. Such a Koi pond has only disappointment and failure etched into it's future - it has no real interest or commitment from it's owner and it is being considered as a feature rather than as a home for the ongoing prosperity and well being of it's occupants. 

Over time the ongoing maintenance and expense is going to sit in the new owner's craw with the feeling that he 'didn't sign up for all of this' and that is going to end only one way, badly. Sadly the fish are the ones most likely to bear the brunt of all of this - and as we don't associate with bad news stories I am far happier talking someone out of such a 'pond' than I would be talking them into it and selling them down the river as to how fabulous it can all be. 

I am not in the business of selling piped dreams. So my approach has always been to level the playing fields and describe the playing rules. There is no point in lying about things - or in leaving out pertinent facts - after a few weeks or months or years everything is going to be exposed anyway! There are no shortcuts, no places to hide and no way to run from the reality of a badly designed Koi pond. 

Rather, we choose to work on stunningly designed, exquisitely crafted and essentially beautiful, functional living organisms called Koi ponds that graft functionality with efficiency. We build ponds that can be run off the grid if needs be, and we build Koi ponds to enrich your life, not detract from it.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cheap Koi - oh really?

Just had a phone call that makes me wonder. If you are keeping Koi, in a Koi pond, why on earth is R300 (our more or less entry price for a Koi) too much money to spend? 

You need to feed the fish for, say, the next 20 or 30 years assuming nothing happens to it. 

You need to spend the electricity to run the pond.

You need to spend on the water to go into the pond. 

You need to spend your valuable time, effort and energy at the same time. 

You will occasionally need to medicate the pond. 

And of course you need the pond in the first place, hardly a cheap exercise in and of itself!

We're often talking about getting back to basics - understanding the nature of the animal and what it takes to care for it is only the beginning. It worries me that people who think R300 is expensive for a Koi simply have no idea what they are getting themselves, and the Koi, into. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Diaries of a Koi Advisor

There is no such thing as a 'small' Koi pond. If there were, we'd have a far bigger market than we do. 

Koi are fish that are the elephant of the ornamental fish world. You cannot keep an elephant in a mouse cage - it is cruel to attempt to do so. 

Koi do not grow to the size of the pond they are in. Koi are selectively bred carp that have been many generations in the making with size being the single most important criterion, even before pattern.

A typical Koi bred today can expect a minimum size of 65 to 70cm with the vast majority exceeding 75cm and heading well over 85cm when fully grown, which can be in as little as 7 or 8 years. 

This is a massive fish. It cannot be reasonably expected to live in a bath tub. Not can it be reasonably expected to live on a starvation diet. 

As a Koi owner you have the responsibility to ensure the well being of your Koi. This requires a Koi pond of suitable size along with suitable filtration that can cater for your pet.

A Koi pond should not be anything less than 10 000 litres.There should never be more than 10 Koi in this pond at any time, IRRESPECTIVE of size!

Filtration should be sufficient to cater for 10 full grown adult Koi! This cannot be achieved with small filters. Simple physics dictates you need space and you need capacity. Small filters simply cannot have the physical capacity required. 

Koi keeping is, as a result, not a cheap hobby. You need to be fully aware that it is not a fad, it is a multi decade long commitment you are undertaking. Go in with your eyes wide open!

Sunday, February 17, 2013


10 kg lasts me around two and a half months on my 80kl pond at home.

Clay addition

Its not green! Just weekly addition of BioEarth after the filter backwash... :-)

Saturday, February 16, 2013


The first prototype tULiP up and running. One or two little issues and fine tuning taking place but on the whole working exactly as intended which is great news.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

February off to a bang

February is already here and it's off to an absolute flyer this 2013! We have released a lot of Koi from quarantine and will be posting pics and prices shortly. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

We're running here at Happy Koi. The latest Hikari shipment is here and the Saki Hikari is moving faster than ever before. We're going to run out again...Best get your orders in to avoid disappointment. Our winter order will be placed shortly with Hikari - and we will be importing the slightly more expensive but excellent Hikari Multi Season (hint - colour enhancing food digestible at all temperatures and fed to many, many Grand Champions). Many feel justifiably, that this is the premium Hikari Koi food - with excellent reports streaming in from around the world about better skin quality, better bodies and better lustre. That's a tall order to match!

Sunday, January 13, 2013