How Retailers Reduce Koi Mortality and Realize Profits

Published on May 1, 2010

Koi are excellent sales representatives
Koi are excellent sales representatives

Keeping your koi alive and healthy may require a change in how you think about them. There are two key factors –

• Koi Sell Themselves

• Your Staff are the Fish Doctors

**Koi Sell Themselves**

Who often are the best koi salesmen? The koi themselves. When people buy a puppy at a pet shop, they usually find what they like by looking at the puppies that are running around cheerfully – not by listening to what the salesperson says.
That applies to koi as well. People buy koi if they look beautiful when they are actively swimming around in the holding tanks and display ponds. Therefore, a koi makes its own excellent sales representative.

When a koi dealer is looking for a salesperson to hire, most of the people who apply for the job usually have some sales experience. Therefore, they can sell koi with little problem. If they have a little bit of knowledge about koi, they may even have or will develop a better koi sales reputation. However, that could be a blind spot. Dealers will train the new person to become a better koi salesman, but dealers must try not to forget the fact that koi are better sales representatives than any salesman.

In the salesman’s mind, his job is only to sell koi. It is not likely that they are thinking about caring for the koi. It may be the lack of this thought, caring for the koi and focusing on sales that might become the reason koi die.

*Displaying Koi* – Take a look at picture A; you can’t ask for this much friendship from any salesmen. These friendly koi will be what the customer will fall in love with and will love to have. However, if the koi are tired or sick, they wouldn’t be able to show this friendliness to the customers.

I truly believe that it is more important to provide the right condition for your koi, as they make naturally good sales representatives, than training salesmen to be excellent. The job for the staff is to ensure the koi are in a lively condition like in picture A and B.

The place where koi will get sick the most is in the koi dealer’s tanks. In the tank, the koi are always being watched by customers and chased around by nets to be scooped up. They often are injured, tired and stressed by this. Stress causes them to get sick.

*Feeding* – Please look at picture B. Koi dealers usually feed their koi only a small amount of food, once a day after the store closes. This is because they want the water in the tank not to get dirty from feeding. However, not feeding enough can make the koi weak and sometimes causes them to become sick.

When breeders ship koi, they stop feeding the koi for four to five days. This is because, for shipping, it is more economical to put as many koi as possible in one bag.

However, for a typical koi dealer they normally ship a few koi a short distance; therefore, it isn’t necessary to stop feeding them. Actually, they should feed them regularly. For instance, they can feed them 50% of what they usually feed. This is very important.

Here is a little tip. Koi are not afraid of human beings and are very tame compared to other fresh water fish. However, they are not as friendly as dogs and cats. In picture A the koi are swimming toward the people because they are hungry.

Therefore, it is best if you could ensure the koi will be fed whenever they come to you, and yet keep them comfortably hungry. The koi in picture A are in that condition.

**Your Staff are Fish Doctors**

Staff members are fish doctors in that they diagnose health problems and koi diseases. There is a good possibility that your customers may have to deal with these problems.

In the U.S. there are some veterinarians that can help customers with their koi; but, in Japan, koi dealers are the ones that deal with koi health problems. In Japan when a koi becomes sick, a customer will come back to the dealer to ask questions. The koi dealer would then give them some advice just like a doctor for koi.

In the US veterinarians are not always available, so you and your staff should be familiar with basic koi health. Customers will turn to you for advice.

*Filter System* – The Staff wouldn’t do anything they don’t know, or they are told not to do. That is common sense. Therefore, you have to teach them clearly.

To sell koi is to keep koi in a healthy and friendly condition. You need to make sure to teach the staff to keep the water clean, as koi like clean water.

Going through this work, the staff personnel will learn how to care for koi naturally, and they will be able to talk to customers from their experiences.

The filtering system that the dealer has is a good example for customers. Many customers will actually use the same filtering system. The staff personnel who learned about and are experienced with the filtering system, and trained about koi disease, will be able to consult with the customers who have koi health problems.

Koi dealers’ filtering systems vary, however they still have to maintain these systems. Therefore, this is a great way to start new staff. In picture B you see one of the staff cleaning filter brushes.

There are some dealers that check their water quality everyday. That would be helpful when a koi dies, however it won’t be helpful to teach the staff personnel how not to have a koi die.

It is better to have the staff personnel to learn how to maintain the filtering system to keep koi in a friendly good condition.

*Caring for Sick Koi* – The koi dealers’ tanks is the place where koi will get sick the most often.

Therefore, koi dealers’ tanks are the best place to treat for koi diseases. If koi are put in a separate tank, the staff can easily observe a koi’s condition after the medication is given. They can learn that the treatment depends on the koi’s condition as well. The customers will appreciate knowing that the information you give them comes from salespersons’ experience. Therefore, there will be more people coming to the dealer, and after all, the koi dealer’s koi won’t easily die.

You have to train staff personnel to be specialists for koi disease by letting them take care of the sick koi.

Customers will appreciate a salesperson who can help them when they have questions. When they have questions, it is most likely when their koi are sick. It is best if the staff is trained as koi health specialists. That way, many customers will come back to their preferred salesperson.


The koi are great representatives that can often sell themselves. The staff are koi doctors. Teach your staff how to care for sick koi. Understanding the care of koi will reduce and help keep koi alive while they are waiting to be sold.

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