blog - my pond adventures

I don't know how often I will be able to update this blog, but I enjoy writing and this page will be about our day to day experiences servicing, building and marveling at this amazing hobby...

We also have more neat info on our news page
May 4 2014 - Sad to be Right
How do you convey to a new client that you are trying to tell them, not sell them ? I had a call with that exact scenario yesterday, and it's a fine line between casting dispersions at the competition yet still getting your point across. Specifically, I was speaking with a client about building a small pond. I talked about depth and cited this past Winter which was deadly to many fish in shallow 2 foot ponds that pond guys recommend. I explained how we rebuild about 5 ponds every season to incorporate a concrete collar because of collapsing rock. I recommended the client come into the shop and become informed about the equipment and proper procedures
and he intended to do so the next day, today

About 4 hours after our conversation I received a text, he is thanking me for my time and already booked with the competition. The same competition we rebuilt a pond for 1.5 years ago. So did I tell him about what we found on the rebuild ? Just a bit. Because I realized he was a lost cause. He was going to have to learn the hard way, and made a snap decision without taking his time. Apparently the pond guy told him that things would be "okay" without a collar. The thing he wasn't going to understand, is that we don't need his business. We would gladly accept it, but we are so busy that it didn't matter. What I was really hoping to do is save him and his fish a lot of grief

Now I'm going to talk about the rebuild of the pond that the company he hired built. The stone work was very good and the pond looked great. But, here's where it gets ugly. There was no concrete collar, or foundation for the rock. The pond was less than 2 feet deep. The pond had rock throughout the basin. The skimmer and the waterfalls where on the same side of the pond which results in poor re-circulation. The ground had been reverse graded to the house and the client was very concerned about water damage. The auto refill was placed in the skimmer. The overflow in the skimmer just went a few feet into the ground. Underneath the waterfalls was just loose topsoil, not even compacted. The pond was leaking. There was more, but you get the point. And the kicker, my client had been calling the pond guy to come back and address some of these issues and he never returned the calls, that's when he called us in

And the ridiculous part is that this company would be charging about the same as we would for this small pond as the text informed me yesterday. Except, we would be putting in the right equipment and doing things properly. I suppose this happens in all industries, I'm just shocked that a person would spend a large sum of money without due diligence and I feel bad for the fish as they will suffer the consequences

Bottom line, people are so conditioned to being sold that they forget that companies do exist that really care, more about the product and the end result then making some sales quota. Consumers need to slow down and be smart, not fooled by placation or the fact that someone can start the job right away

Feb 12 2013 - Japan
Although I didn't sleep much and the jet lag is tough, upon reflection the trip was amazing. I had a good time with Darren [Nature's Touch Ponds] and we managed to survive each others idiosyncrasies in diminutive hotel rooms for 13 days

The trip got extended unexpectedly when our flight back to Newark got pushed ahead due to a snow storm. At this juncture it was tough - we were both missing home and our normal routines

Initially we went to Tokyo, then bright and early the next morning [I was awake at 2:30 am] we headed to Nagaoka with Taro Kodama. We would meet his brother and spend the day visiting about 6 breeders. This was a great experience seeing a number of fish bowled and the deals going down so to speak. At one breeder, Taro purchased about 3000 ogons. A sample of the fish were bowled for inspection and the purchase made based on that evaluation

The next 2 days we toured with Steve Gibbons, a dealer from England. He also took us around in 2010. This time around we got to see Torazo's tosai and nisai houses. This was great and some fish were bowled for some pictures. Torazo certainly has pedigree. We also took in some of the mountain scape which is buried in beautiful snow

The next phase was the All Japan Koi Show - 44th. edition. We got a sneak peak during the Thursday setup and this time the show was in Tokyo, at the Ryutsu Centre. We headed back to the show both Saturday and Sunday.
Of course the caliber of fish at the show is ridiculous and you never look at your own fish quite the same

Monday we were off to Okayama on our own to visit Momotaro. A much larger farm than in Niigata, we had a nice tour around by a Chicago native named Adam. Of course there were bakki showers everywhere and we got to see the huge concrete pond. We were treated to a traditional Japanese lunch - we were treated very well

The last phase was visiting Hiroshima and Nara for some sightseeing. Learning more about the bomb and seeing the devastation at the museum of enlightening albeit sobering of course. Very sad how things escalate and what people do to each other, makes one wonder just how it happened. We also made it to Konishi but it was closed ! Unbelievable, the shop was being renovated so we didn't get to see anything

The last 2 days were spent in Tokyo back at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel. A very good location - western restaurants [ie TGI Fridays] and a supermarket and JR station 5 minute walk away. This is a tough trip to make. We don't see ourselves going back for at least 3 years. The time and financial commitment can be trying but in the final analysis, anyone who loves koi needs to go to Japan at least once

There are some photos on our news page and a dedicated page for this trip will be put up in the outings section

Jan 22 2013 - Freezing Fish
Winter has finally struck here in Toronto. I had a call on Saturday - a new client with fish dying. They said they had talked to many pond companies, and got conflicting information about why their fish were dropping off. It was almost an hour drive and I headed out on a Sunday - it was quite cold to boot

After a few min tues on site I determined that the fish were literally freezing to death. A main group on the bottom, 2 isolated near the top, 1 of those 2 near death. I tested WQ etc. and did a scrape to be thorough. The water temp was just 0.08 C !

The pond company that said it was due to the weather was correct, however not for the reasons they stated. They said because it was warming up and down it was changing the temperature. The reality is water has a high specific heat capacity so resists temperature changes - 2 days of 12C 10 days ago was not going to raise the water temperature over 10 C. There are several key temperature points for koi - 4, 10,13,19,24,28 are transitional temperatures of note were we can see a change in behavior

What really happened was that the warm weather had melted the ice. The water was then being super cooled / chilled because there was no ice to protect from the strong cold wind which created a turnover. The weaker fish were dying 1 by 1. We could rule out a acute toxin because if that was the case, all the fish would be dying. Also, parasites and bacteria are not active at these cold temperatures. Gills looked great and the fish spotless

My first recommended solution was to install a sinking deicer. Our "perfect climate 300" can be installed to float or sink. I told the client to get the deicer on the bottom and create an artificial hotspot for the fish. I said the fish will congregate around it. We also got the near dead fish indoors to warm it up as slowly as possible. It wouldn't have lasted the night, in fact I thought it was dead in the examination bowl. Additionally we talked about covering the pond with a bubble blanket and moving forward even a greenhouse covering to keep the pond warmer and protect from super cooling

I also recommended they raise the salt up to about 0.15% which would help with diffusion and osmoregulation. They said one company told them not to add salt. I then explained scientifically why this addition was very important and would lessen active processes which tax the fishes limited energy reserves

The next day I got a call from Mike, he told me all the fish were gathered around the heater. The 2 fish that had isolated themselves where also better - the near death fish was happily swimming in a tote box indoors while the other fish was now back with his brethren, gathered around the deicer at the bottom of the pond

Sadly a few fish were lost, but a happy ending and a lesson learned