Nature Boy Strikes Again!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have always had a deep appreciation for the natural world. WhenI was a little kid I was up in the Catskill Mountains catching bluegills with dough balls and big ole bullfrogs by hand…much to the chagrin of my mother and her friends. I collected salamanders and newts…kept toads in terrariums…took care of an ant colony I dug up and even caught some awesome spiders and kept them as pets in gallon jugs. Let’s not foget the snakes we caught…the hamsters we raised and the ever popular chameleons (Anoles)

My father was big on tropical fish and I remember him setting up a big aquarium in the family family of our house in Brooklyn. From that moment on I had the bug! I soon found myself on a lifelong mission to create as natural an environment as possible for just about any sort of watery friends I could try.  Freshwater fish, saltwater fish, in the house or in the yard.

The “disease” started with silver angelfish, a fairly common freshwater variety that my father was partial to. Then I was off to the beach with my buddy Stevie catching some crabs, spearing and killifish and maintaining them in my mother’s basement. The equipment was primitive in those days so it was a real challenge. Then as a teenager Stevie I dug a pond in my father’s yard and went out fishing to stock it. We managed to catch a bunch of sunfish and a large bullhead catfish which we released into the 10 x 12 foot area.   It lasted for a season or too and when the cement cracked, and the winter was upon us this little pond was history.

In the ensuing years I became one of the largest importer-exporters of marine tropicals in the USA. We wholesaled all types of exotic coral reef fish and invertebrates to pet shops in both North America and Europe. It was a stimulating business. A young man’s business…challenging both physically and mentally. I made a lot of money in a short time and decided that the crazy hours would be best left to someone else. I sold out but I never lost the love and fascination the amazing creatures I had come into contact with.

Fast forward many years. I’m living in a new home and I’m thinking I’d love to build a pond in my yard. A nice freshwater environment to relax and enjoy nature up close and personal. So around 2001 I started building a pond with a waterfall right in the backyard of my home within 10 feet of the back door. I could never understand why anyone would build something like this far far away from the house. I wanted to interact with these critters.  One morning while feeding the adult fish I noticed quite a few smaller fish with the distinct and unmistakable markings of baby koi. They were resembling the markings of some of the adult fish and I was pretty excited and amazed. There are SO MANY OF THEM !


This is the largest koi in the pond.  Distinctive black flecks on a bright orange body.  A few of the small fish are exhibiting similar markings so I’ll assume they are the children of this one. Not sure what sex the fish is but I suspect female.

Here are the kids…sorry the photos are tough to take in moving water with moving fish


The pond has been running with a filtration system I devised for about 15 years now and for the first time the koi which inhabit this spot are breeding with great success. Up until this point I had only one koi survive to adulthood and I’d never really seen too many juvenile fish in the pond. The goldfish on the other had breed regularly and I’ve given away quite a few to other pond enthusiasts but the koi are a lot tougher to propagate…that is until this season.


These adults have a more typical color pattern and here are the baby fish on the left in this shot  that resemble them.


This large yellow koi called a Sunshine Koi for obvious reasons also has some progeny swimming about.



I decided to try and give them a better chance at growing into adults, I’d take some of the responsibility out of the hands of Mother nature, and I started feeding them

Some really nutritious flake foods that I ordinarily feed my satwater fish in the house. It seems to be doing the trick. The young koi have gone from 1-2 inches to 3-4 inches in a very short time. They seems healthy and active and their color patterns are more pronounced. I have a couple of large bullfrogs and a red eared slider (turtle) also living in the pond at the moment, and they don’t seem to be causing any problems with these young fish. I also have a large channel catfish that generally eats anything that fits in it’s rather large mouth. So far they seems to have avoided him as well.


As the summer rolls on I’ll try and collect btter photos and report on how the baby koi are doing.

This entry was posted in Gardening, ponds, water gardening and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Nature Boy Strikes Again!

  1. Dorothy Senft says:

    Joe quite an accomplishment nedless to say mom very proud of what you did to produce these koi in a backyard pond

  2. joeref says:

    ahhh Mom chiming in!

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