I have seen tens of millions of koi and goldfish and have sold many of them. I’ve been present when a fish sold for $125,000. I’ve also been present when 10,000 fish sold for $1 each. All these experiences can be exciting the first time they happen, but the real excitement for koi breeders, shops and hobbyists lies in what I like to call “the wow factor.”
Perfection in koi breeding is an ongoing quest. We strive for better colors, shapes and patterns, not to mention bigger sizes. At Blackwater Creek Koi Farms, we have achieved these goals in many instances. But now what? Well, some of the most exciting things happen when we harvest a grow-out pond and that one fish catches your eye. It’s a fish that stands out among its siblings. It stands out not because it fits a typically mandated koi-show mold, but because it possesses the wow factor.
The wow factor can arise from a wide range of characteristics. The fish may have a set of scales with many different sizes. The wow might stem from unusual patterns of colors or the shape and size of the fins. The wow factor is what makes us stop and stare.
Wow-factor fish allow you to offer your special customers a fish that no one else has &151; a fish that is truly unique and one of a kind. Around the world, these fish pop up for sale on a sporadic and limited basis. Dealers compete for the chance to see them — and hopefully buy them for their customers.
The joy of owning a fish that cannot be duplicated is a proud accomplishment. Each person’s taste may be a little different, and what catches the eye is truly personal. With wow-factor fish, there are no rules to judge by. Simply unique, attractive qualities are not seen at a koi competition. In fact, many of these fish are kept in private collections, similar to famous paintings where only the lucky are invited to view them.
Wow-factor fish appear at random and are a welcome addition to sales. For Blackwater Creek Koi Farms staff, it is a passion bordering on an addiction. We maintain an enormous line of cataloged bloodline breeder fish. Those breeders are actively cross-bred to produce the coveted “wow” offspring.
This technique is not without cost, as most offspring do not possess characteristics that are marketable. But when these few fish do appear, the high-fives and bragging rights begin.
What About the Price Tag?
So, what do I charge or pay for a wow-factor fish? Wow-factor fish that can be found on rare occasions typically do not factor price as the biggest constraint to the sale. The real constraint is whether or not the fish will be sold at all. Most breeders realize what a rare find these fish actually are and price them based on odd factors that may include time of year (cash flow), size of fish (the bigger, the higher price for some) and the chance that something similar may be produced again.
Another factor that many may not realize is the purchaser’s credibility. What I mean by this is whether or not the purchaser can take care of the fish and give it the conditions needed to achieve the fish’s maximum potential. Some of these fish are so special that the producer considers them family and wants the best for them. So, if the situation arises where you are offered the chance to own a wow-factor fish that truly appeals to you — jump on it! Care for it and create a collection of truly rare and unique fish. Add it to your pond and show your customers and close friends the mystique that attracts so many to koi keeping.
Many times, I see people get caught up in the worry of what someone else thinks of their fish. They worry about how it conforms to a set of rules. They worry about how it grades in comparison to someone else’s fish. I tell them that the pond belongs to them. The fish are theirs, and what they like is a decision only to be made by them.
The enjoyment that a pond brings and the excitement of finding that wow factor is truly a personal experience. The chance of that next addition to your collection is right around the corner. Treat your fish (and your koi dealer) well and visit often. You never know when an opportunity will knock. Enjoy your fish and this wonderful hobby and business!