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The following articles are reprinted from Koi Show of the Air

The Fish Wrap: January 2007
From The Koi Club of the Air


Thompson San Diego Koi Club President Bill Thompson Talks Koi Shows, Seminars, & AKCA

Bill Thompson, president of the San Diego Koi Club and AKCA Director shared a litany of thoughts on AKCA’s past, present, and future including his recommendations along with updates on the San Diego Koi Club 20th Anniversary Show in February and on their plans for hosting the AKCA Seminar and show in 2009.

“We are now calling it the ’09 Seminar and show because after a long, long discussion with AKCA that went on for about six months we have changed the dates of the 2009 AKCA Seminar to February and we are having a show in conjunction with the seminar in San Diego,” Thompson said. “So we are really excited about that. I think it is one of the major changes that AKCA has made in many years. The club negotiated with AKCA to change the date to February in part to take advantage of people from other parts of the country possibly considering a February trip to beautiful California rather than eating into their June family vacation time.

“Our concept of the seminar from the time we first thought about having it here is that there should not be a seminar without a show,” Thompson said. “It should almost be a requirement and part of the reason is that the purpose of AKCA is to expand the knowledge of koi and encourage the growth of the hobby and we think that by having a show and inviting the people in, the public in not just the koi geeks from around the country, but by inviting all the people in that would like to have a pond or maybe have heard about koi and would like see what they look like we are going to help grow the hobby by doing that.”

It will be interesting to see if future seminars will vary their dates from the traditional June date now that San Diego has opened the door. Could there be a rotation of Northern Seminars in Spring or Summer and a Southern Seminar in Fall or Winter?

“AKCA was started in the ‘70s by a great group of people who actually went around the country and encouraged people to start koi clubs and those people built a great organization and a lot of them are still around,” Thompson said. “And there are some of us new guys, and you know I’m not exactly a youngster, but those of us who have come in during the last few years have had some new ideas and are encouraging some of the things in AKCA to change and we hope that by getting the AKCA involved in promoting themselves to the public, promoting the koi hobby to the public that we will attract a lot more people.”

As Thompson is a very active AKCA Director representing the San Diego club and one who attends AKCA Board Meetings he was asked about recent news as reported in the board minutes about a loss of seven AKCA clubs. “The number of clubs has remained around a hundred for a couple of years now,” Thompson said. “And the last couple of months was when club dues were due and a couple of them were late so they are going to get dropped and then they will get a letter and then they will say, “oh I forgot about that.” And then they will send us there dues. And also there are always clubs coming in and forming. Half a dozen families will get together and form a club and there are those other smaller clubs that may exist for a year or two and then they may disappear because of various reasons, but I think that the AKCA is strong. What I would like to see is the number of clubs not necessarily increase but the number of members in each club increase. I’d like to see AKCA get out there and do what they can to help these clubs grow.”

Thompson was asked how he believes AKCA should help member clubs around the country. “AKCA has a couple of really good things going for them,” Thompson said. “It is the AKCA judging program and the KHA, Koi Health Advisor Program right now. I’d like to see AKCA start another program which goes out to clubs and teaches them how to get speakers, how to get publicity for their club, how to work with the local dealers, a little more of things like that to encourage club growth. As I said, there are gradual changes taking place in AKCA. Those of us that are new really respect some of the folks that have been in there for a long time and we are kind of phasing in some new things here and there. We got the seminar changed and then we had the big turnover and change at KOI USA, KOI USA being the subsidiary of AKCA that supplies all of AKCA’s funds and we have a new editor in Steve Childers who is a great guy and not one of the guys who is an AKCA insider as you have it. He is an AKCA judge, but not one of the inner circle. And we have a new business manager at KOI USA Ron Sterbenz. And of course we have Joe White from Florida who is the web editor for the great new KOI USA website. It is not even complete yet. When it is completed there will be an interactive section on the website for subscribers to KOI USA. So it is going to be a great resource and when we get this done hopefully we can move on to the AKCA website and get that redone as well.”

Hawley noted several diseases that might impact koi and the hobby through regulations and said, “I think it would be really nice if AKCA, through the board or various committees that you might have or through KOI USA maybe somebody like Childers could take the lead on some of these issues and actually help not only inform us, but inform some of our legislators and such as to the directions that we think need to be taken to protect us in the hobby. It is a big hobby and we don’t have many folks advocating for us.”

Thompson responded by saying, “yes I think that is true. One of the things we have got to do at AKCA is work with industry and government and try and establish more contact with them and let them know what our concerns are and what we can do to help. If we can offer the government some of our help and expertise maybe then some of these new regulations can be amended or bent a little bit towards the hobbyist rather than the strict interpretations that are sometimes taken.”

Todorsky noted, “Maybe we can get them (koi) into the state of Maine. It is true though that AKCA has in years past guided the hobby, but because it is getting bigger and there are issues that we never had to worry about before, we didn’t have to worry about disease at the level that we have to worry about now and the number of koi breeders is just becoming more and more and there is a lot of it out there and all of the things that are going on our flagship organization AKCA has to move into the 21st Century.”

Thompson had much more to say about the successes and enhancements that have occurred and that are underway at AKCA. Likewise, he had shared a great deal of information and enthusiasm for the upcoming 20th Anniversary San Diego Koi Show scheduled for February 17 and 18 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Judging line up for San Diego Koi Club Show include:
-Senichi Mano, chairman of Shinkokai Japan is the head judge.
-Masaaki Matsumura, vice chair of Shinkokai Japan.
- Shunichi Yoshida, vice chair of Shinkokai Japan,
-Ray Abel, Shinkokai U.S.
-Pam Spindola, AKCA & three TBA AKCA candidates,
-Ron Goforth, ZNA
Reserve your room now at great rates!

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Southern Koi Expo
Susan Reed, Co-Chair of the Southern Koi Expo Shared the Makings of The Next Big Regional Show!

Susan Reed is president of the Triad Koi and Water Garden Society a club formed in Oct. ’05 with only six members that now has about 30. Reed has added responsibility as co-chair of the Southern Koi Expo, which when pulled off is expected to be the largest show in the Carolinas and Tennessee and maybe more. “We were at the Charlotte Koi Club last November and I was talking with David of the Atlanta Koi Club, the president of the Charleston Showa Club, and a few other people about hosting a show and what it takes to put on a koi show,” Reed said. “And with so many new clubs coming about we are trying to combine. So we thought Florida has an All Florida Show in the middle of Florida once a year so why couldn’t we do it with say Georgia, we wanted to include Atlanta, but their club is already established. So we went with the Carolina’s and Tennessee. And we have gone from there. It started snowballing and like I said we started on this the end of last November and as of today our vendor space has been sold out. And from what I understand that is rare for a show to be sold out this far in advance.” Todorsky noted, “Well you can always get another tent you know. You can sell more space.” Reed responded, “that would be kind of hard since it is being held in a convention center downtown Winston Salem, but the three clubs that we have involved with the show right now are the Koi Club of Tennessee, their President is Kay Rice, Midlands Koi and Water Garden Club of Columbia, South Carolina and their President and the other Co-Chair is Cindy Coombs. And then Triad Koi and Water Garden Society and I am their president.”

Hawley and Todorsky inquired about the name for Reed’s club. “I was concerned that a triad is an ancient Chinese criminal gang,” Todorsky quipped. “How did you guys get that name.” Reed laughed and replied, “Well I’m not sure about the terminology of triad as we are fairly new to North Carolina ourselves. We are transplanted up here from Georgia. From what I understand triad stands for the triangle that goes from Winston Salem, to Greensboro, and I believe over to Charlotte. So they call it the triad.”

One anticipated newsworthy bit about the Southern Koi Expo is the unveiling of a new association. “Matt from Quality Koi and Brady with Lotus Land Koi Farm have gotten together and they are starting up the American Koi Breeders Association,” Reed said. “From what I understand it is going to be the group of all the U.S. koi vendors.” The expo hobbyist koi show will be accompanied by a vendor show. “They are going to have their own judges and trophies and the fish that are going to be in that show that will be judged will also be for sale,” Reed said. “This is another way to feature the wet vendors and their product to get them more involved with the show. I think it is a great up and coming association.” On that note Todorsky shared some of the reasons he supported the concept as described by Reed.

“You know Sue, you may not realize this as it goes back a little far, but one of the big bug-a-boos that have been dogging koi clubs for years now is what do you do with vendors,” Todorsky said. “What do you do with koi breeders and fish vendors at the show? Do they get to show; do they not get to show? You get a big dealer who has a huge farm and they get access to some substantial fish and they have resources and they can grow them out in their dirt ponds and so forth and you put that person up against somebody who has got a backyard rig, and then “oh, it is unfair, and well we shouldn’t have that, well maybe we should, but they bring the fish and why can’t we do it. And then what if I buy a fish from them at the show can I show it. The problems here and opinions are endless. And I think this idea of the American Koi Breeders is not such a bad idea where they are there and a part. They get their due from the show point of view and we as consumers and as people who want to go to the show get to see their thing and if their fish are for sale and you have the check book to back in up then it can be yours.”

Reed acknowledged the three club associations commitment to provide something special at the Southern Koi Expo. “That was one of the main goals of the Southern Koi Expo, to be a little bit different from the other koi shows that are out there,” Reed said. “We wanted to change and spice things up a little bit. And when Matt and Brady approached us about this idea about letting them come in and have their debut we jumped at the chance because I think the vendors need to be recognized. If it weren’t for these vendors we wouldn’t have a koi show.”

The Southern Koi Expo will include a koi and goldfish show with judges including Art Lembke as head judge, Nicole Lembke, Steve Childers, Jason Montgomery, Joe White and Peter Ponzio judging goldfish. A troop of belly dancers will settle banquet attendees stomachs before dinner. And Reed and the rest of the Southern Koi Expo organizers are likewise sure to shake things up producing a high quality event bringing koi enthusiasts from around the country to this Winston-Salem event. For those that cannot attend they will have webcams set up for broadcasting the event on the Internet live. For more information about the Southern Koi Expo visit

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Focussing In On KoiFixx & Lotus Land’s Brady Brandwood

Spend a little time in the koi hobby and you are bound to pick up the term KoiFixx and Brady the name behind the camera who also breeds koi as the owner operator of Lotus Land Koi. His eyes catch and
convert to DV this hobby while those same eyes develop desirable nishikigoi.

Brady Brandwood was asked first about his business KoiFixx, which is a DV video format magazine that costs $84 per year for six dvds that are shipped to subscribers every other month. “It is basically a new format to get your koi-fix,” Brandwood said. His videos include footage from shows, koi farms, select hobbyists ponds, and interview with judges and much more. “I’m always picking off fun little snippets from koi shows,” Brandwood said. “There is so much going on and it is fun to take little snippets here and there of folks watching the show, and close ups of the fish. It is amazing the things that you can see when the camera is zooming in and getting those close up images for you.

We have met probably half to three-quarters of the AKCA certified judging crew. I’ve gotten some history on them, how they got started in koi, what motivated them to become a judge, how they go about judging a show, the things they look for and we get a lot out of that in the interview; first we get what I’ve found in interviewing these judges is there is an incredible history there of how the AKCA was formed, how the judging committee was formed and who were the key players in setting that system up. And we are also finding out how these men and women got into koi. Many of them took the same route, which is what a lot of us took through aquariums and then garden ponds and then they discover koi and move on to become judges. It is pretty fascinating overall.”

KoiFixx was no accident. “That is one of the things I feel I was cut out for KoiFixx for because I have a background in koi obviously and I tend to point my camera at things that the viewers will be interested in,” Brandwood said. “It may just be a flow meter on someone’s system . I could get a shot of that and then see how it is installed and where it is installed or see which filtration system they are using and other neat little gadgets.”

How long has Brandwood been shooting video? “I’m almost embarrassed to say I’ve been in the video production business for over twenty years now,” Brandwood said. “This is the second year for KoiFixx. We are on issue number 10 now.” Although it is a subscription service back issues are available if you catch Brandwood at a show. He has considered a koi oriented television show. “I’ve approached a couple of the networks like HDTV and Discovery Channel and they are pretty tight with their programming,” Brandwood said. “They tend to have their own crews doing those things. It is not out of the realm of possibilities, but right now the koi hobby is such a niche hobby. It is really very small in the big picture of the general public and these networks like to appeal to a mass audience, which is obviously because they are selling advertisements on them and koi is still too much of a niche hobby at the moment, but hopefully it will grow and continue to grow down the road.”

As for Lotus Land Koi Farm it began in 1997. And the name, “It is an old literary term meaning "Everything is going your way,"” Brandwood said. On his 10 acres Brandwood raises primarily kohaku, sanke, and showas along with a few of what he calls “odd-ball” varieties each year to provide more variety.

Brandwood stated that when starting out dealers and higher end hobbyists told him quality koi could only be raised in Japan. That challenged him and he believes the soil is the principle factor in raising quality koi anywhere. The soil he believes impacts their bone structure, how they develop, how quickly they grow, how quickly they color up, and how it finishes and what it looks like. The soil needs certain minerals and should be low in organics. It should be clean soil that with water produces a good food chain. He adds certain ingredients to his mud ponds to enhance soil composition to yield certain coloration in the koi.

Brandwood is working to produce a larger, stronger gosanke that is more resistant to diseases. “I’ve been working with magoi breeding back into my gosanke stocks,” Brandwood said. “I’m still early on in that as it takes years and years obviously to refine that. Basically you find you are taking a fish back to the beginning and we find obviously that the magoi is a really strong and resilient fish. I’ve got some at the farm that I think I could literally keep in a tub full of gasoline and they would live and be happy. I mean they are so stout and their bodies are nice and strong. They never get sick. What I’m trying to do is breed some of that back into gosanke. My primary goal is to get that body. The body shape is just so stout, but also to be able to bring back some sturdiness and resilience in the fish so that they are not quite so fragile. I think that the genetics are basically pure and wild. Mother Nature has kind of set them up to be resistant with a good immune system. I think that particularly with kohaku inbreeding and refining that fish over the years the immune system takes a toll. When I harvest every year, I harvest my tosai, the babies for the season, the kohakus are always the most fragile. They are the ones that if there is an issue they show it first. Sanke and showa seem to be a little more strong and resistant, but the kohaku are just so refined and they are the ones that show issues first. If they are unhappy when they get moved from a mud pond to a filter tank I see that immediately in the kohakus.”

How is it that this resistance manifest itself in such highly refined fish? “The best quality fish if you look at what we are doing with koi it goes completely against what Mother Nature would like,” Brandwood said. “We’re picking for beauty rather than for strength and when you breed for beauty rather than for strength obviously over the years the fish tend to become just a little more weak. So what I’d like to be able to do is first get a fish that has the body that I like, but also to have a really strong fish that is resistant to a lot of the common ailments.”

Brandwood makes a point of not finishing a young koi too soon. “You can easily take a tosai and prep it for a show young, but what you are doing is a little like developing film,” Brandwood said. “When you take a baby fish and start prepping it for show at a small size and you are trying to thicken the beni or the hi plate on it with color food and forcing it into a live in a smaller environment, which causes the hi or beni plate to finish or harden and then when the fish starts to grow again the beni just can’t stand the growth. Ideally what you want to do if you are looking for a long term project with koi is you want to get one that hasn’t been tainted in that way. In other words, you want to get one right from the breeder and work with it from harvest time on and make sure you continue as you are raising it to give it the right diet and enough space to continue growing rather than coloring up. The most important thing is once you compromise the hi plate by artificially finishing it the fish has nowhere to go, but down because once the body grows it is not likely that the hi plate is going to be able to keep up with it. And then you start getting cracks in it and color fading, color loss, and unclean edges and things like that.”

Finding a good quality breeder who regularly sells direct to the public is not always easy. “I produce a set number of fish per year,” Brandwood said. “Some breeders are mass producing and selling to dealers, but I’m at a size right now where I sell mostly retail everything that I produce directly to hobbyists. I don’t do a whole lot of wholesaling and particularly in the higher quality fish. If I wholesale it is generally lower end pond quality stuff. The higher end fish I sell directly to the hobbyist.”

Brandwood is rather well known amongst hobbyists for his willingness to sell koi to hobbyists and hold them for growing longer at his facility. “Folks are starting to buy them from me young and leave them with me to grow in my mud ponds for another year or two and then take them home,” Brandwood said. “They for instance will buy them as a nisei or an 18 month old fish, leave them with me for another season or two and take them home as a four year old fish. That way they are able to buy a better quality fish at a more affordable price. One of the issues with koi keeping particularly these days is our eyes tend to grow faster than our wallet can stand and we learn and then we at some point we realize how the fish that we really want we cannot afford anymore. So that’s where a lot of customer come to me and they say, well I want a really high quality fish, but I can’t afford to spend thousands and thousands for it.”

Some wonder how Brandwood can keep track of so many fish that remain at his facility in a mud pond after being sold. “I take photographs of every fish that go in, but I also tend to have a really good memory of details and I rarely forget a fish that goes into the mud,” Brandwood said. “Everything is backed up with photographs. The most difficult ones are the showas because the sumi can change so much on them, but the hi plate generally will stay the same. So you just look at the face or look at the patterning on the body and if that is in the same area and is the same as the picture you took of it when it went in then you can easily match it up.”

Then there is another competitive project which Brandwood and numerous clubs are involved in. “A lot of folks are doing the grow-out competitions, which is a lot of fun,” Brandwood said. “Basically if someone contacts me and tells me what they are looking for I see what I have and if we can accommodate them. It depends on the season also. Being a farmer I have good years and bad years for crops. This year for instance was a very good year for kohakus and not such a good year for showas. So if I have a lot of kohakus available in a particular season that would be a time for a club to come to me and say, well we would like to do a kohaku grow-out. I can easily supply them with 20 siblings that are from the parent set, same age, grown in the same conditions. So when they order 20 fish they are getting 20 fish that are very comparable, which for a grow-out contest that sets all the competitors up pretty evenly from the beginning. And then once the hobbyist takes the fish and grow them for a year we can really see who actually won the competition. They took it home and raised it well, or they took it home and killed it, or they took it home and didn’t raise it so well and it is still small. So it becomes a really fun competition at that point."

For more about Brady Brandwood’s KoiFixx visit and Lotus Land Koi at


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Koi Not Cool With Big Temperature Changes

Todorsky led a discussion of how he believes in the Southern regions of the United States temperature fluctuations are difficult on koi health. “We have had a cold snap here locally,” Todorsky said. “It got to the point where the water temperature was getting down to where you don’t feed the fish. Then we had a warm spell and back and forth. This is a problem we have in this area with the cooling down and warming up, and cooling down, and warming up. You know that is hard on the fish through the winter. It is better if they just go cold and then come back in the spring. This is something for hobbyists such as in Texas, here in Florida and across the southern band where we have a problem with this time of year.”
Air temperature fluctuations can vary by 50 degrees in a single day. If your pond has a large volume then this is less of an issue, but for small sized ponds this can be of particular concern. Heating the pond is an option, but there is little that can be done to otherwise protect the koi from such concerns.

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Here's information sent to us by the San Diego club:
 Just wanted to be sure you were up to date on our 20th Anniversary Koi Show coming up this February. 
Our Head Judge with be Senichi Mano of Izumiya fame who is not only one of the most respected koi breeders in the Niigata region, but is also Chairman of the Shinkokai. 
Shunichi Yoshida is Vice Chairman and Director in Charge of Fish Disease for the Shinkokai as well a being the third generation of  Yoshidas who have dedicated their lives to Nishikigoi. Shunichi's father Hiroshi was one of the founders of the Shinkokai, and  Shunichi's position as Director in Charge of Fish Disease for the Shinkokai makes him an invaluable resource for questions regarding  the state of the industry in Japan. 
Masaaki Matsumura is also a Vice Chairman of the Shinkokai and is the owner of Matsumura Fish Farms, a Koi and dry goods distributor in Nagano prefecture. 
In addition to our esteemed panel of Shinkokai Judges from Japan, we will also feature judges from AKCA, ZNA and Shinkokai of U.S. The  AKCA judge will be Pam Spindola, an experienced judge and a long time Koi hobbyist. The judge from ZNA is Ron Goforth, a certified ZNA  Judge and long time ZNA leader. The Shinkokai U.S. judge will be Ray Abell from Nishikigoi of Niigata, well known for his keen eye, and high quality koi. There will also be three AKCA candidate judges, and professional fish handlers from the Shinkokai of U.S. 
Our benchers and fish wranglers will be Shinkokai member dealers, so your koi will receive the best possible TLC. 
We moved our show date back to President's day weekend to allow a larger gap between our show and yours, in hopes that you and your members would be able to bring koi to our show this year. The dates are February 17th and 18th, President's Day Weekend. 

We have special lighting for every tank this year, so the brilliant reds and whites will be able to compete as they should. 
And if that is not enough we also will feature Cash Prizes, sponsored by AQUA ULTRAVIOLET. Grand Champion will receive $1,000 cash. 
Here is the breakdown 
Grand Champion -$1,000 
Reserve Grand Champion - $350 
Best Non-Gosanke Champion -$350 
Best Mature -$100 
Best Young - $100 
Best Baby - $100 
That's $2,000 in Cash Prizes up for grabs! 
Please spread the word about our upcoming show, and reserve a tank early. We expect a super turn out this year. 

Tom Graham 
Show Chairman 
112 Gardenside Court 
Fallbrook, CA 92028 
United States 
Phone 760-451-2255 
Fax 760-451-1692 

Questions - contact