Transporting Your Koi
If you’re planning on exhibiting your koi at a show then the first thing you need to do is get them there! This may seem like an obvious point to mention, but it is possibly the most important part of showing to get right every time.
At first glance, and after no doubt watching your dealer go through the process many times, this seems like a pretty straight forward process, catch the koi, put them in a bag with some water and oxygen and get them into a box for transportation, but it is only made easy due to experience and prior planning.
Before you even grab your net you need to make sure you have the following close at hand, doing so will make the whole process run more smoothly and reduce the stress levels for both you and you koi.
- A filled oxygen cylinder
- New koi bags
- New elastic bands
- Good quality boxes
- Nets for catching
- A large bowl
- Sock net or spare bags for transferring
- A towel
- A helping hand
- Time and patience
- A measuring jug
If you’re missing any of the items listed above, STOP, and get yourself organised.
The week before
The week before going to a show is where you save on your feeding costs as you are advised not to actively feed your koi during this period; there is plenty of natural food within the pond for the koi to graze on during this time so they won’t go hungry, but by cutting out the food you actively give them reduces the amount of ammonia they will excrete in both their transit bags and the show vat they will be in all weekend.
Bags and boxes come in different sizes, so when considering the size of the bags and the boxes you will require, think about the largest koi you are planning on exhibiting and add around 20cm to its length, this will give you the minimum size of bag you need. The same goes for boxes, it’s no good trying to squeeze a 60cm fish into a 50cm box, it simply won’t happen, you need boxes that are at least 15cm longer than the koi in question to ensure space for the additional water and oxygen that the bag will contain.
Make sure you have 2 bags per box as you will need to double bag your koi, and make sure you carry enough spare bags to cover any that get damaged during transit – bags cost pennies – don’t try and scrimp by not buying spares!
Now you have your boxes, experiment with fitting them in your car, ensure the boxes are laid transversely across the axle to ensure that under braking your koi isn’t going to have its nose thrown into the front of the box. If you’re moving smaller koi however and the koi are able to turn and move around within their bag you can place the box longitudinally in order to achieve a ‘best fit’ for your car, please bear in mind that any boxes placed in this manner should not really contain koi above 20/25cm as any larger than this and they will not be able to move freely in the bag.
Now you have your box layout, draw it out and reference every box to the diagram, this makes it far quicker and easier to work out where everything is going when you come to load your koi.
Failure to plan this stage properly or not at all could result in you having to return one of your fish to its pond due to it not fitting in the car, this is a waste of your time and effort and more importantly it’s a stress the koi didn’t need to have.
Know your koi
Something else to know before you bring out the net is which koi you plan to take to the show with you, this is a vital piece of information as it will allow you to establish which koi are to go into which boxes and also to ensure that you will be within the stocking limits of the vat in which they are to be placed.
In general you will work to a ratio of one koi to one box, but if you are planning on taking 2 smaller koi of similar size and no more than 30/35cm each, you could place these both into one bag and box should you wish.
One of the most important things you need when transporting your koi is an oxygen cylinder for filling the bags prior to transport, these can be hired from places such as BOC (http://www.boconline.co.uk/products/products_by_type/industrial_gases/oxidant_gases/oxygen.asp ) where you pay for the initial fill of oxygen and then a monthly hire fee for the cylinder.
If you don’t have access to an oxygen cylinder than you may find that your local dealer will be prepared to oxygenate your bags for you, however due to strict bio-security measures at dealers premises it is advised that you speak to your dealer prior.
Catching, bagging and boxing
On the day of benching you will be able to put all your planning into practise.
You know which koi you wish to take, you know which box they’ll be placed into and you know where that box will sit in the car so now it’s time to get the net out and get them caught!
This is where the additional pair of hands of your willing helper come into play as once you have a koi in your net you’ll want someone to sock net the koi and transfer it to a bowl for final measuring and checks for signs of damage, infections, ulcers etc. If in doubt, put the koi back in the pond as it will only be excluded by the HSC upon arrival at the show if it is showing any of these symptons.
Ensuring there is enough water in the bag to cover the gills of the koi when the bag is laying in the box, either sock the koi from the bowl to the bag or place the bag in the bowl and guide the fish into it. It is now that you are advised, with the help of others, to lift the bag and check the underneath of the koi, if there is no damage visible then you can now dry the bag off with your towel and place into the box. Once the bag and koi are within the box, check again that there is sufficient water to cover the gills, if it needs a top up, grab the measuring jug and add additional water until you’re happy with the volume contained.
Be careful not to overfill the bags though as this will make the box very heavy and hard to handle as well as reducing the amount of oxygen that can be put into the bag.
You can now inflate the bag with oxygen, doing this whilst the bag is already in the box ensures that the bag will fit once inflated.
With the bag now inflated, tie it off with an elastic band before doing the same to the outer bag.
You can now close the lid on the box to create a less stressful dark environment for the koi, but if you don’t have lids for your boxes, a towel is a perfectly good way of ensuring they are kept covered.
On the road
With all the koi now bagged and boxed you can load the car to your previously configured layout plan, as soon as this is done, get on the road and go directly to the show where you will be asked to float your bags in your designated vat, the show team will now take over and de-bag and bench your koi whilst you can relax and grab a coffee on us from the refreshments tent.