Koi are ornamental, domesticated varieties of the common carp that are commonly kept for decorative purposes in outdoor ponds and water gardens. They are sometimes also called Japanese carp.
Koi were developed from common carp in Japan in the 1820s, and are still popular there as they are a symbol of love and friendship. Many different colors and color patterns have since been developed. Common colors include white, black, red, yellow, blue and cream.
New koi variaties are still being developed. Ghost koi were developed in the 1980s, and have become popular in the United Kingdom. They are a hybrid of wild carp and Ogon koi, and are distinguished by their metallic scales.
Part of Ripetide Koi Farm, the murky pond is home to 500 brightly colored fish, each with the capacity to grow well over three feet long. When fully grown, these koi command a few thousand dollars each from fish collectors and koi enthusiasts.
Jason Manwarren, partial owner of the farm, plans to expand to more than 20 ponds. He said customers often buy the ornamental fish for private ponds or to enter in koi competitions around the nation.
Manwarren isn’t growing ordinary koi that he picked up at a pet shop.
“I breed the fish based on specific characteristics I want,” Manwarren said. “I went to Japan and hand-picked the ones I wanted to breed. You have to understand the genetics behind each fish and know their parents’ genetics and the whole bloodline.”
He said he chose fish that would be able to produce offspring that would fare well in the shows and that the main thing he looks for is consistent and bright patterns.
Late last week and over the weekend, Manwarren and his two partners, Paul and John Spradley, took inventory of their stock after being open for just a few months. They’re preparing for their first fish sale. The fish farmers checked on their scaly crop by pulling a large fishing net with anchors and buoys across the pond and picking out the fish.
“It’s like Christmas every time we do this,” Manwarren said, excited to see how much the fish have grown and how their patterns are forming.
They put the fish in a big pool of clear water so potential buyers can see them. The little ones sell for less than the fully grown fish. After a day of being in the pool, they go right back into the muddy water, which Manwarren said is better for their health.
“Basically, they have mud ponds in Japan that they normally raise the fish in because of the quality of the mud,” he said. “It actually has a bunch of minerals and nutrients they can get from it, so you’ll get better quality and color and better fish growth.”
Manwarren said he was pleased to see that Georgia clay is similar to the mud found in Japan and Korea where his breeds of Koi are native species.
Now he and his partners hope to spread their passion for the fish to others in the area.
“Our prices are very reasonable,” he said, in comparison to the general koi market.
Rip Tide Koi also has food and other items needed to care for exotic fish, which Manwarren said can live for more than 100 years.
For more information about prices, shows or fish sales, go to www.riptidekoi.com.