Ahh, Spring. Valentine’s Day may sell a lot of roses, but we all know that Spring is when the flowers and the love both bloom. Leaves are on the trees and the warm wind gets the blood flowing. That’s right, kids, it’s just about time for the beautiful dance that pond owners call… Spawning.
Wait. Spawning? That can’t be right, can it?
Oh, it is. Late spring to early summer is a fantastic time to get your pond fish to breed. Now, if you’re looking to seriously breed quality koi, there are a thousand articles of varying quality that can help you with that. If you’re a pond owner who just wants your koi or other fish to breed for the joy of baby fish and the satisfaction of having fish that have lived their entire lives in your pond, there are a few things that you can do to set the mood and get your little swimmers going.
The New Guy in the Pond
We all remember high school, when the new girl or guy would come around. Everyone wants the new girl. Well, fish are a lot like high schoolers (if smarter). Timely introduction of new fish from outside is a great way to get your fish in the mood for love, or at least its fishier equivalent. It’s also a good way to ensure stronger, more varied material in your pond’s gene pool. If you’re not looking for specific breeds of koi, hybrid vigor is a very good thing in your pond.
Absence Makes the Fish Grow Fonder
A great way to trigger fishy whoopee among the koi that you already have is to separate out males from females. Just a couple of weeks apart and their tiny, cold-blooded hearts will be yearning for their absent potential mates. Put them back together and a few days later they’ll likely be very well reacquainted. (Here’s a guide for telling your boy-fish from your girl-fish)
Set the Mood
A blanket of rose petals might not be the best idea for your cold-blooded little romantics, but the mood can definitely be set by environment for fish as much as for humans. Koi-tus (sorry) can be triggered by many changes in environment, such as water condition or temperature changes. Your koi also appreciate a little privacy, so good plant and rock coverages that give them a place to hide will help. And, just like so many humans, a well-timed thunderstorm gets more than just the gutters going, as fish are surprisingly sensitive to changes in barometric pressure.
Oh, and if you figure out a way to trigger a thunderstorm when you’re ready for your koi to breed, please let me know. I promise that I won’t become a super-villain if given absolute control over the weather. Probably.
Every bachelor knows that a clean apartment improves your chances of… errr… spawning, and the same is true with your fish. Water quality is important for successful breeding, so it’s recommended that you get your water quality as good as possible to encourage spawning. Water temperature around 65 degrees is best with as little ammonia as possible. Your fish are most likely to breed when they feel that the environment is the best it can be for their little spawn. Notice that I resisted the urge to make a “bachelor lily pad” pun here. Until just now.
Keep the Kids Safe
Speaking of the spawn, many breeders, casual and otherwise, recommend removing the eggs once they’re laid and keeping them in a holding tank to make ideal conditions easiest to maintain and keep the eggs safe from the numerous predators. Doing so is a good idea, but as a casual breeder I don’t find it to be necessary. I just make sure that I have plenty of underwater plants for coverage and hope for the best.
It’s important to keep in mind that most of your eggs and baby fish (fry) are not going to make it. After all, nature is a brutal, violent place (like HBO at night). Your fish eggs are a favorite snack for just about every predator around, including snails, tadpoles, dragonfly larvae, frogs, and even their own parents. Even once they’ve hatched, they’ll still spend the rest of their days swimming for their lives, and only a small percentage will reach adulthood. Don’t fret, though, because your fish will likely lay more than enough eggs to make sure that you’ve got a few new little friends that make it each year.