Challenging Domestic Koi Misconceptions

Published on February 24, 2024

indoor koi ponds at Kloubec Koi Farms
Kloubec Koi Farm has 300,000 gallons indoors for raising beautiful American koi.

There’s a prevailing misconception that domestic koi are of lower quality than their Japanese counterparts. However, it’s important to note that both domestic and Japanese koi originate from the same roots — challenging the notion of inherent superiority. Domestic koi often match or surpass the quality of imported koi, regardless of the national origin of the imports.

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Domestic koi breeders in the United States are focusing on exciting progressions in koi breeding previously frowned upon by rigid offshore criteria. Many advances are being realized in the production of customer favorites, such as sparkly Gin Rin types, graceful and flowing fins of butterfly varieties and other rare and unique types that your customers are seeking.

The domestic koi misconception disputed

Kloubec Koi farm mud ponds
Kloubec Koi Farm utilizes both mud ponds and three indoor koi houses for domestic koi production.

When characterizing koi, the term “domestic” serves as an adjective indicating that the koi is native to, bred in and currently residing in a specific country, making it not of foreign origin. Additionally, it implies that the koi is tame and under human care.

On the other hand, the designation “import” signifies that the koi was bred elsewhere and imported into a country from abroad for the purpose of sale.

Thus, all koi are domestic. Japanese koi are domestic to Japan, Israeli koi are domestic to Israel, Vietnamese koi are domestic to Vietnam, and so on. Labeling a koi as “imported” does not immediately elevate it to a superior status deserving adoration.

The trouble with importing

The process of international shipping poses significant challenges and complexities, especially when it comes to importing koi fish. Among the primary concerns is the transmission of diseases, with Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) and Spring Viremia of Carp (SVC) two notable examples. The introduction of these diseases to new populations is a serious concern, closely monitored by the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Navigating the legal landscape of importing live koi is no small feat. Strict guidelines, including health inspections, permits, licenses and documentation, must be adhered to. Any lapse in compliance with these requirements can lead to legal repercussions, potential delays in receiving the imported koi or even confiscation of the livestock.

Additionally, the stress experienced by koi during their extensive journey cannot be underestimated or overlooked. The extensive time spent in shipping boxes traveling from the breeder’s farm by truck, and then through airports and U.S. Customs and U.S. Fish & Wildlife inspections, can last several days. This process always subjects the fish to heavy stress. Poor water quality and a potential lack of oxygen during transit leads to increased mortalities and outbreaks following their arrival. The intricacies of international koi importation demand careful consideration and meticulous adherence to regulations to mitigate these inherent risks.

Cost is another huge factor when importing koi. Realize that importing koi from Japan or other countries can be very expensive due to shipping costs, licensing and permitting, import taxes, quarantine expenses, etc. The logistics of arranging international transportation and ensuring the wellbeing of the fish during transit can be challenging, not to mention the extensive mark-ups and other costs imposed by the dealer-broker. The language barrier further complicates matters, often requiring solutions to overcome translation challenges.

Critical considerations when importing koi

Domestic koi and butterfly koi
A sample of high-quality koi and butterfly koi available from domestic sources.

If you decide to take on the inherent risks of importing koi, the following considerations are critical and directly affect potential koi sales and the koi-keeping hobby as a whole.

Be sure to obtain a health certificate from the breeder. A valid and current fish health inspection report should be available. Make sure that the fish and the premises are free of catastrophic diseases such as KHV, SVC, Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis (IPN) and Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome (EUS). Ensure that the testing was conducted by a qualified laboratory, such as an APHIS-accredited veterinarian, and approved to do so in support of Export Health Certification of Aquaculture Species. The common visual inspection by a dealer is inadequate to guard against disease or to guarantee the good health of any koi. Verify the completeness of all required documentation, including import permits, customs paperwork and certificates of origin. Strict compliance with local and international regulations is essential to prevent legal issues and guarantee the safety of the imported fish.

Implement a thorough quarantine process upon receiving imported koi. Fish from multiple farms must always be quarantined separately, meaning in totally detached systems. This practice can help prevent the introduction of potential pathogens and diseases into existing populations and ensures that any health issues are addressed before the fish are released into ponds or tanks with other fish.

Develop a well-thought-out emergency response plan for potential disease outbreaks or unforeseen circumstances. This plan should outline protocols for isolating and treating affected fish and notifying relevant authorities. Also implement biosecurity measures to prevent the introduction of pathogens. This may include restricting access to the facility, requiring staff to use designated clothing and equipment and disinfecting equipment and vehicles.

Choose a Trusted Dealer or Breeder

Finally, ensure that your collaboration involves trustworthy dealers and breeders. Be vigilant against those who might attempt to overcharge for subpar fish. It’s crucial to partner with individuals who share a genuine passion for maintaining the health and quality of koi, rather than those who solely prioritize their own interests.

Home field advantage

Staff at Kloubec Koi Farm select high-end koi for sale.

For retailers, domestic koi stand out as the top choice due to their inherent disease resistance and stunning aesthetics. Bred and nurtured in local environments, domestic koi exhibit a heightened adaptability to our climate and water conditions. This adaptability often translates to hardier and more robust fish that are better suited to the specific nuances of the region’s environment. Their upbringing in specific regional environments often contributes to the development of resilient immune systems, making them less susceptible to prevalent diseases in the area.

Opting for domestically bred koi reduces the risk of disease outbreaks, lessening the need for extensive treatments and medications commonly associated with imported varieties. This is particularly beneficial for pond owners, koi enthusiasts and retailers who may lack the expertise to identify and effectively treat diseases or infections that could accompany imported koi into their tanks or ponds. Choosing domestic koi not only ensures the beauty of these fish but also promotes a healthier and more manageable aquatic environment and koi retail venue.

High-quality domestic koi

Kloubec Koi Farm has been in operation since 1981, breeding and raising domestic koi for many decades and providing extensive knowledge and expertise in koi husbandry. The koi raised at the Kloubec farm in Amana, Iowa, are direct descendants of Japanese breeder stock, which were all hand-selected years ago by koi-breeding experts to achieve the most desirable traits in the offspring, such as ideal body conformation, depth of pigmentation, pattern development and much more.

While creating a wide selection of koi varieties, including standard, butterfly and rare varieties, our farm prioritizes the cultivation of robust, lively and meticulously nurtured koi. We take biosecurity seriously to minimize the risk of introducing diseases. Implementation of strict protocols prevents the possible spread of pathogens and ensures our koi are healthy and disease-free.

This comprehensive regimen encompasses water quality management across both outdoor mud ponds and indoor facilities; meticulously monitoring oxygen concentration, pH levels, temperature, and ammonia content; and employing advanced water filtration systems. Even the shipping departments are strictly maintained for optimum koi health and comfort while in house and during transport to dealer locations all across the country.

Kloubec diligently keeps detailed breeding records for each spawning season and submits livestock samples throughout each year to USDA APHIS labs for health screening and disease-free certification. Fish health inspection reports proving virus-free status are always available at Kloubec Koi Farm.

Choosing domestic koi eliminates the associated risks of importing, offering peace of mind to both business owners and koi enthusiasts. Many hobbyists and koi sellers value the chance to contribute to their local koi breeding community, actively supporting local businesses. Opting to showcase beautiful and healthy domestic koi in your store not only promotes American domestic koi breeders but also contributes to the growth of the U.S. economy.

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