Thursday, December 16, 2010

Post Apocalyptic Bed Check

In my last post I mentioned that as the flood warnings progressed we got a little panicky. On Sunday we shifted into the big ring and got busy with the great Koi round up and fish transfer from the pond to the Quarantine tank. It went pretty well but we didn’t get all the fish and we discovered one of them either suffered a slight wound during the transfer, or he had a ‘pre-existing condition’ which we discovered when we got him in the Q-tank, more on that later.

Well that whole flood thing is so last week so the other day I came home a little early and transferred the captives back to the pond. This was a more measured, calm and less stressful process, for the fish and for us. Netting fish in the Q-tank is like shooting fish in a barrel so to speak: Much less room for them to roam and there is no place to hide: I can stand in one spot with the big net and cover the whole 8 foot tank. No need to go fast with the net to cut them off before they sneak into the cover structure. Motions with the net in the pond telegraph tension to the fish, so if I can remain smooth and calm with the net the fish are not so frantic to avoid capture.  In this more orderly process we took some time to take individual ‘measurement’ photos. Whenever transferring fish it’s wise to do any and everything you may want to at that time and thus avoid multiple handlings. Here’s how they look:
Some have grown more than others, which was most obvious with the biggest fish. It looks like my blue bowl has shrunk (it’s 20 inches across) and I will need to keep my eye out for a deal on a larger one. The Ochiba has gotten so big he really can’t stretch out in the bowl.

The one with the sore or wound on his side is the Aka Matsuba:
He’s no show pony, in fact his markings are so far from the standard that it is a surprise he made it through the multiple cullings that the dealers employ in the early stages of raising fish for sale. The standard for his variety has no black on the head, and black rings around the eyes and snoot are probably the worst set of markings he could have. But he is a real character in the pond, the animator that always stirs things up at feeding time. I suspect this characteristic has as much as anything to do with him winding up in our pond and probably explains how he survived the ‘ugly duckling’ culling process when he was little.

I was in the market for a ‘pretty fish’ when we bought him. I had found a place that had a good supply of Platinum Ogons and so had the dealer net out this fish:
The Aka literally jumped into the net as he was trying to net the Platinum. He did this twice and the dealer said he’d give me a real deal on both if I took the Aka, and so it was that he came home with me. Real Koi aficionados scoff at his looks, but I’ve always had an affinity for mutts, especially those with enough spunk to defy the odds when the deck is stacked against them. This guy has been sick twice since I’ve had him in the pond, and both times I have nursed him back to health. Anyway, the Aka remains in the Q-tank and is receiving medication for the next week. So far he is displaying excellent vigor and swims appropriately; no sinking to the bottom or rolling over to one side. The Q-tank water is a little warmer than the pond which is therapeutic, and the smaller enclosure requires smaller doses of meds to be effective.

Due to his ‘distinctive’ markings, some folks around the ranch have taken to referring to him as ‘Skeletor’. I just call him the Aka, and I look forward to him mixing things up next summer at feeding time. He’s funniest when I put orange slices in the pond: They float and some of the fish really go after this vitamin rich treat, none more enthusiastically than the Aka. He rips into the orange slices and shakes his head like a great white shark all the while pushing the thing across the pond in the process.  When mltiple fish go after the same orange slice it looks like fishy water polo.  Cheap entertainment, provided by a ‘bargain’ priced fish.

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