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6 Questions to Ask Your Koi Dealer Before You Buy Koi Fish Online or In-Person

A challenge new koi enthusiasts encounter when getting into the hobby is lacking proper guidance.

Sure, you can find a lot of information online, but that isn’t always the most reliable place.

Instead, finding a reputable koi dealer should be your first mission in the journey to several on or off line purchases of live koi.

A good koi dealer can be your guide, teaching you everything to be successful from where to start, to what fish to buy, to the care and keeping of your fish and their environment. 

Read this article for our top 6 questions to consider when shopping for the right Japanese koi dealer.

One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is to keep buying koi from many different koi places. But because you may not know how many koi your pond and filter can handle, or you mix koi from various sources without proper quarantine, you may start losing your fish due to koi sickness

A good koi dealer will save you from many mistakes and troubles as you pursue this wonderful hobby. You need someone who is honest, knowledgeable, and experienced. 

How can you find such a koi dealer? Here are six questions you should ask to see if your current dealer is right for you. 

Q1: How do you treat koi when you have a new shipment?

Or, you can ask, “What is your procedure when you have new shipments?”

Yes, we want beautiful koi. But we want healthy koi even more. We do not want to introduce any sick koi to our pond, so it is very important for dealers to quarantine every new koi shipment to the store. 

Ask if your dealer quarantines new shipments. Quarantine is the necessary period where dealers can observe the koi’s health from new shipments, as well as allow a proper period for koi to recover from their travel. 

Getting the specifics is key. Ask the dealer for their detailed procedure from the time he receives the koi until the time to sell the koi.

If they sell koi right away without quarantine, we recommend you strongly reconsider purchasing from them and should find a more reputable dealer.

If they import koi directly from Japan, a one-month quarantine is a minimum requirement. If they buy koi from distributors who import koi from Japan, the degree of quarantine depends on how the shipment was prepared by the distributor. One to two weeks of quarantine with koi salt bath and parasite treatments is recommended. 

Remember, proper quarantining of your new fish after your purchase is critical too. Learn more about quarantine here.

Q2: What do you do to prevent KHV?

KHV stands for Koi Herpes Virus, one of the most dangerous diseases in the koi hobby.

If the dealer is not familiar with this disease, that is not a good sign.

Credible dealers should either get koi from distributors who perform the PCR test, or do the testing themselves. 

Sadly KHV could potentially wipe out your entire collection.

Even if koi survive, the carrier may cause a future breakout. If koi should be a risk for exposure, they will need to be terminated.  You can learn about KHV and our protocol here to prevent this dangerous disease.

Q3: Are these koi from Japan? 

Japan is the origin of all koi fish.

Japanese koi are of the highest quality and in high demand by hobbyists and professionals.

Japanese koi can grow bigger and more beautiful as they mature. If you are serious about starting the koi hobby, we encourage you to collect Japanese koi instead of domestic.

Some dealers do sell domestic koi. They may say their koi are Japanese koi, because the parents of koi are imported from Japan — however, the quality of directly imported koi is not the same as that of domestically bred koi.

Please note Japanese koi and domestic koi are in fact different koi. 

Some dealers are hesitant to reveal their distributor as they are afraid you may go directly to them for purchasing instead, so stress the question is simply to determine whether the koi are directly from Japan or domestic.

VIDEO: Why Use a Japanese Koi Dealer by Taro Kodama

Q4: Which Japanese breeder are they from?

If the dealer says the koi are directly from Japan, ask which Japanese koi breeder. His response will reveal the integrity and knowledge of the dealer. He should be able to share this information with you and thoroughly explain the origin of the koi.

If you will be serious about the hobby, breeder information is critical. If you pick this person as your dealer, you should expect them to be honest and give you information.

Q5:  Why is this koi more expensive than the others?

In this hobby, you need to learn koi husbandry and koi appreciation.

Koi husbandry is about how to raise koi healthily, while koi appreciation is about evaluating the beauty and value of the koi.

Your dealer should be able to offer a thorough explanation as to the value of the koi.

“How did you learn about koi appreciation?” and, “Can you recommend any books to study koi appreciation?” are good follow-up questions so you can continue to learn and develop rapport. 

Few books explain the principles of koi appreciation, we have produced a few from our Koi Master.

Kokugyo Volume 1, 2, and 3 by Mr. Mamoru Kodama, the founder of Kodama Koi Farm, are highly recommended reads. He also has some online courses too. If your dealer can not teach you, these are trustworthy resources to turn to.

Q6: Do you have a large selection of koi?

When you develop your koi hobby, you’ll want to see as many koi as possible to make smart decisions and add to your collection.

You would like to purchase from a dealer who has enough inventory who can show you good selections with wide ranges of size and quality. You can also inquire as to how often they bring new koi in so their selection increases.

Do You Have More Questions To Ask a Japanese Koi Dealer?

We wish you the best on your hobby, our family business has been a USA Koi Dealer importing Japanese Koi for decades and dedicated their lives to increasing the quality, as well as the availability of knowledge for hobbyists.

For more koi information, send us a message and join newsletter.

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