Language of Koi – How to be Successful Selling Japanese Koi

Published on March 2, 2010

Arriving at the KKF distribution center in Hawaii after  20 hours of traveling from Niigata, Japan.
Arriving at the KKF distribution center in Hawaii after 20 hours of traveling from Niigata, Japan.

There is only one thing you must do to be successful selling Japanese koi–That is not to kill the koi you brought in.

There are three basic types of jobs in the koi business. They are buying/importing koi from the breeders, selling koi, and customer care.

I will teach you how to properly care for koi so they won’t die and the points you have to keep in mind while you are buying, selling koi and customer service.

#Buying/Importing Koi#
What is the point that we must remember while we are buying koi? That is the condition they are in when you receive them.

#1. Koi are Very Tired. #
When the koi are shipped from the breeders or the distributors, they are packed in small boxes for 12 to 24 hours.

By the time we receive them, they have been under enormous stress that a human can’t imagine, sometimes they are even near death.

We have to relieve them of this exhaustion as soon as possible to protect them from getting a disease. You may lose the shipment if you fail to do so.

This is something everyone should know, however many dealers are not giving them proper care for their exhaustion.

• It Takes at Least a Week

We all get very tired after traveling on an airplane for more than 12 hours. That applies to koi as well. They are usually in a small box filled with dirty water with the least amount of oxygen. They are tired more than we could imagine. They will need at least a week to recover.

• Do You Have the Right Equipment to Help Them From Their Exhaustion?
You definitely need a quarantine tank specially designated for that purpose. After visiting many koi stores, I leaned that 80% of stores don’t have quarantine tanks. All varieties of retail stores have their storage spaces for their merchandise. We, in the koi business, also need to have storage type ponds where koi can rest securely. If you put the koi in the sales tank without having them rest right after you received them that could be a major reason for them to die.

When I receive koi from Japan at my distribution business, in Hawaii, they rest for at least a month in my stock tanks.

#2. What is the Ideal Quarantine Tank? #

You need to prepare a tank with, ideally, a capacity of 25000-gal. That way, you will be able to have 300 to 500, 5˝ koi. These quarantine tanks must have equipment to remove ammonia and nitrous acid. The main point for the quarantine tank is the bigger the better. If the tank is bigger, there is less chance your koi will die. The key to succeed in the koi business is not to kill the koi. You should invest well in the early stage of your business to have good roomy quarantine tanks.

• Keep the Temperature of the Quarantine Tanks at 73.4° F to 77° F

The purpose of quarantine is to remove their exhaustion from their transportation. Temperature of 73.4 to 77° F is the perfect temperature for koi to recover in. You need to have a system to control the water temperature and/or a way to heat the water in your quarantine tanks. The biggest risk for your koi business is for the koi you brought in to die. You need to avoid such risk by having the right systems. If you don’t do that, you will not succeed.

• You Need 0.5% Salt in the Tank as Soon as You Receive the Koi

When humans get tired, IV Ringer’s solution is sometimes used to help our bodies recover. Just like us, when koi get too tired, the salt in the water will help by removing the koi’s fatigue. So you must use 0.5% salt as soon as you receive the koi.

#3. You Must Develop Your Own System#

When you start your own koi business, the condition and the environment are dependent on each person’s preference. Some have a large space, some have a small space, some have unlimited water, some have a limited amount of water, some have good quality of water and some have bad. Your business is dependent on what you have.

Whatever your condition is, the main rule is not to have koi die as long as you operate that koi business. Therefore, you have to develop your own system that works for you. It will probably require half a year to a year to develop a system that fits your needs and the resources you have.

You should research and design the equipment and system for operation on your own. For example, check the water temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen of the plastic bag the koi were sent in. If you witness the koi become panicky when you transfer them from a plastic bag to the tank that is probably because of the difference of the water temperature and the water quality. You should know about the condition of the water, which you are going to use.

When you receive the bag of koi, you can tell the koi is in good condition unless it is lying sideways; seldom do these koi die when you transfer them to a roomy tank. However, some koi can get sick within a week even though they are in a big tank. The important point is how to take care and deal with them when it happens. Even healthy koi carry diseases/germs. Long hours of traveling and the change in atmosphere could cause them to get sick. We usually use an antibiotic to treat some sickness and the skill of knowing how and when to treat the koi is a must for dealers.

To be successful in the Nishikigoi business, there is at least a minimum amount of knowledge you should have.

I recommend you to have training at a trust-worthy distributor for a certain amount of time. (See bio about Koi Academy)

#4. Nothing Beats a Personal Visit to Your Supplier#

Japanese koi are coming from Japanese breeders in Japan. The shipping cost will be added to the koi. If you only purchase a small amount of koi, you might end up paying more for the shipping than the koi alone. This is because of how the shipping costs are set. It is not advisable to get koi from Japan directly if you only need a small amount. Therefore, you should find an excellent reliable distributor that will meet your needs.

So what makes an excellent distributor? You have to visit the company yourself, meet the agent, and determine if the company is excellent or not.

The evaluation points are: if they keep their koi in healthy conditions, if the skill of the operating staff is high, if they are getting ready for the shipment rationally and what the manager’s policy is and so forth. (You should not be puzzled by the amount of stock they have and the number of staff who’s working.)

**Coming up in upcoming issues…**
How to prepare your koi for sale so they do not die.
How to ensure your koi do not die after the koi is delivered to a customer.

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