Evolution of an American Koi Farm

Kloubec Koi Farm
Kloubec Koi Farm

The Kloubec Koi Farm hasn’t always been one of the largest Koi and goldfish producing operations in the nation. It has evolved over 40+ years and 3 generations, it remains a family owned business that caters to fish retailers and Koi hobbyists all across North America and beyond. Our beginnings were modest yet one common thread remains as a link to the past; the passion for all aquatic animals. In the family’s farm ponds, Myron and his father always raised one species or another for as long as anyone can remember. What began as a hobby for Leonard Kloubec has grown into a full time aquaculture business for the current owners, Myron & Nick Kloubec.

How did it all start?

Leonard Kloubec, Myron’s father, was always an avid outdoorsman and fisherman. In fact, Myron’s Babi (grandmother) once joked that she tied her son, Leonard, to a tree in the front yard to keep him from going to the river! He was always fishing or bringing home creatures that he’d catch during his outdoor excursions. He even made a small pond and raised goldfish as a boy on their rural Iowa farmstead. It’s no wonder that the love of aquatic life has been passed down to his son, Myron, and grandson, Nick.

Fast Forward to 1970

Leonard Kloubec first discovered Koi while on a tour of Asia with his wife and friends in the summer of 1970. As the story was told by Evelyn, Myron’s mother, the tour was almost thrown off schedule due to Koi. Leonard had gone site seeing alone instead of visiting the market and another shrine with the group. When the time came to meet back at the bus Leonard was nowhere to be seen. The group assembled and began boarding the bus. Evelyn started to worry when Leonard was not there. He knew what time to be back, he had checked his watch prior to leaving. Where could he be? The last few tour members had taken their seats and now the bus driver was getting anxious. The bus HAD to stay on schedule and it was time to go! Evelyn was close to panic when she noticed a large figure on a bicycle coming towards them. It was Leonard peddling as fast as he could to get back to the bus stop. See, an American riding a bicycle among a mass of Japanese, on bicycles, sticks out like a sore thumb! What a relief. They jumped on the bus and off it went. Leonard had a great story to share about the beautiful ‘colored carp’ he had seen. He was mesmerized by the Koi’s stunning colors and peaceful motion, gliding gracefully in the pool. Just like many Koi lovers of today, Myron’s father had lost all track of time as he was drawn into the Koi’s world. Through the years when asked about their tour of Asia Leonard didn’t recall his visit to The Great Wall of China, or the awe of Mt. Fuji, it was the ‘colored carp’ that he’d speak of.

Myron 1980

Myron and Ellen Kloubec began their career in aquaculture over thirty years ago. The farm was originally dedicated to the production of game fish species.

They developed one slough on their farm into mud ponds to grow catfish, bluegill, goldfish and white amur (grass carp). The following year another slough was turned into ponds.

It wasn’t long after that when their son Nick became very interested in goldfish. He loved the goldfish with their pretty long swishy tails and bright colors. Nick helped Myron feed the goldfish ponds daily and took a real interest in their care. He was so crazy about them that one day he begged to stay home from kindergarten in order to help harvest a pond of goldfish. We caved in, and Nick was thrilled! Harvesting a mud pond is a lot of physical work, but in the end is very rewarding. After months and months you finally get to see all of the fish that you only had a short glimpse of at feeding time. So, off we went to harvest “Nick’s” goldfish. It just happened that while we were working the pond a reporter from a local newspaper drove by. The goldfish pond was visible from the road so he stopped and asked if he could watch and take a few pictures. We agreed. Boy, were we surprised the next day, there in the Cedar Rapids Gazette was a picture of Nick seining goldfish!

What began as a few mud ponds has expanded into over 55 ponds covering 80 acres. Myron also designed and operated an indoor grow-out facility with a partner and a power company. He produced over 1 million pounds of tilapia annually. He raised over 10,000 lbs of fish in 10,000 gallons of water in each of his 38 individual re-circ systems! So, sometimes when Myron is asked, “How many fish can I put in my pond?” his answer is, “A semi-load… of course with the right filtration.” His experience and knowledge of bio-filtration on high-density levels has been extremely valuable in the field of water quality and Koi ponds. Years later Myron sold his potion of the partnership and has concentrated on Koi production and their environments.

Oh Boy, It’s Koi-Nick 1988

While we were on an out-of state game fish delivery Nick received several Koi from a kind gentleman who owned a trout farm. At the trout farm Nick spied some Koi in a pond. When he was encouraged to toss them some floating fish food he was hooked. (No pun intended!) He stood on the pond bank throwing small handfuls of pellets until it was time to get back on the road and head for home. Before leaving Nick asked all sorts of questions about the ‘pretty fish’. He learned that they were called Koi, and they were from Japan. Our customer, the trout farmer, soon realized that this young boy had a genuine interest in Koi, and aquaculture. Before long Nick and the trout farmer were seining the pond edge in order to catch a few Koi. It ended up that we were loading fish back on the live-haul truck to take home with us! Nick was ecstatic. He had just obtained his first Japanese Koi, just like the ones his Jeda (grandpa) talked about! Next he’d start spawning them and get gobs of gorgeous little fish! This generous gift, from an elderly fish farmer, was the beginning of a new chapter in our lives.

As Nick grew, so did our commitment to, and fondness for Koi. He accumulated every book and article that he could find on Japanese Koi. We devoted a portion of the fisheries business to the spawning and raising of Koi. If we were on the road for any reason, then we were on the look-out for Koi. In fact, during a trip to Chicago for a nephew’s baptism Nick insisted that we could find some Koi. He spent several hours with a local telephone book trying to find some Koi. Finally he located a shop that sold Koi, and it wasn’t far from our hotel. So off we went in this huge city to find the small shop and view some Koi. When we arrived at the pet shop we were very disappointed. The Koi that were for sale were sort of gray and white and blotchy. Nick said, “Dad, my Koi are much better!” Gradually, the farm reduced its production of game fish species and devoted the majority of the farm acreage to the production of Koi.

Kloubec Koi –Today

Nestled in the rolling hills of Eastern Iowa, Kloubec Koi Farm looks like a scene from Niigata, Japan. Over 55 mud ponds can be found on the 80 acre farm, terraced into the hills so that the melting snows adds pristine water into the ponds—water that is essential to the development of Koi. But good water is not the only attribute of the farm; excellent clay is vital to the development of Koi, and here too, Kloubec Koi Farm benefits from an ideal location, rich in minerals and clay.

Pond preparation and renovation is an ongoing task on the Koi farm. Each year prior to the hatching season all of the nursery ponds are drained completely, dried and renovated in order to receive newly hatched Koi fry. Nick and Myron have become very proficient at dirt work, so much that they always receive numerous requests for pond construction and pond repairs.

Good water, good clay, and good blood lines are essential elements in the production of good Koi. All Kloubec’s stock comes from Japanese parents with the best blood lines. Myron, Ellen and Nick carefully select their parent stock to yield impressive spawning results. Recent spawns have emphasized the development of strong shiroji (white ground), which acts as the base color in most Koi.

Providing a strong hi (red) color is essential to developing a sense of vitality to the fish, and when combined with a forceful sumi (black) lends an air of strength to Kloubec Koi. The farm’s efforts in developing their Koi have produced outstanding Go-Sanke in recent years. In addition to producing high quality traditional Go-Sanke, Kloubec Koi Farm also caters to the hobbyist who desires something different in their Koi. Kloubec Koi Farm produces outstanding Kawarimono, Hikarimono, and has developed a reputation as one of the nation’s premier breeders of Longfin. In fact, the Kloubec Koi Farm has gained national recognition for their Koi and Butterfly Koi in The American Koi Breeders yearly competition since it began in 2008.

But being able to produce good Koi is only part of the equation in developing a successful Koi facility. The other part of the equation is being able to supply healthy fish to the customer on a timely basis. All fish at Kloubec Koi Farm are produced on our farm so there is no chance of outside contamination of stocks. Our stock is tested frequently by veterinarians from the University of Iowa and others. In addition, our treatment and quarantine facilities are state of the art, as is our packaging and shipping areas. All Kloubec Koi are packaged late in the evening and shipped via FedEx Overnight Service. They arrive at the customer’s door in the shortest time possible which ensures strong and healthy fish that are ready for retailing.

Our passion for Koi health extends to Koi nutrition. We have developed exclusive feed formulas to enhance the hi (red) in our fish, and have contracted with a Koi food manufacturer to produce our exclusive line of Koi feed that we use on the farm. Kloubec Koi Farm Platinum Koi Cuisine has recently been made available to our customers. With the addition of Platinum Koi Cuisine Cool Weather Wheat Blend we now offer both high protein Koi food as well as a lower protein food for cool weather. Each batch of our Koi food is stored in a climate controlled environment on the farm. This ensures that all Platinum Koi Cuisine is a top-notch product that retailers are proud to have on their shelves, and Koi hobbyists are glad to feed to their pets.

In addition to the Kloubec branded feed, a new line of fish and pond care products is hitting the market in the spring of 2011 bearing the Kloubec name. Our new line contains six of the most requested products in use by Koi hobbyists. As always, we only sell products that we believe in and use on the farm.

At Kloubec Koi Farm, we bring all the elements of Koi husbandry together in one place: extensive personal commitment, excellent location, water and clay qualities; the ability to produce outstanding Koi, and the diets needed to achieve excellent growth, color and conformation.

After many years in the Koi business we still take pride and a personal interest in our customer’s search for the perfect pet, and we appreciate their business; because our name is on every Kloubec Koi.

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