Growing out young koi to huge koi can be accelerated if done properly. Below are several points that, when done correctly and together will help speed up the growth of your young koi. Depending on the reasons to grow out young koi faster, resell or just want them to grow faster, consider the investment in both time and money. The growth tips below are not easy, it will take work and some investment in time and money.
Start with a More Young Koi
Something to consider before you make your purchase of young koi is the amount you will buy to grow out. The rule of thumb is more is better, especially when trying to speed up the growth of young koi.
Nature does a lot of things right, recreating nature, specifically laws of the pecking order and survival of the fittest, are needed. Let's take the first of the laws, pecking order. You will see through natural selection, some young koi will practically jump out of the water for food, while others will not. It's completely natural and despite your efforts to feed the runt, the dominate young koi will charge to eat every last bite.
Leading to the second point, survival of the fittest. It's not like the bigger koi is going to feel sorry for the smaller koi. In fact, at some point, if the smaller koi can fit in the larger koi's mouth, it will become lunch. That's how nature works, eat or get eaten.
Here is what is interesting about these two observations. When keeping a smaller group of young koi, the difference between dominate and runts becomes quickly visible. Plus, the growth rate difference explodes, because of less competition.
When including more young koi, one or two dominate koi is impossible. Competition for food becomes fierce and everyone can get in on it. Sure you will still have a few runts, but more young koi will be competing for food due to numbers. Koi like to swim together, its power in numbers, no one fish is completely dominated over the rest. Leading to a leveling of the playing field and a better distribution of food and growth.
Feed High Protein Food
When koi are small, three to six inches, a high protein food should be fed to accelerate growth. A protein ratio of up to 40 to 50% can be used in order to really generate protein synthesis and growth.
Pellet food is a great way to get started, but it shouldn't be the only food you feed. Adding in plenty of carbs to balance out the protein is a priority. It can be as simple as a slice of whole grain bread to help round out the carbs required to help support the energy needed for growth.
A variety of protein sources can be used as well, such as shrimp, mussels or other fish sources. Shrimp and pellets are often good enough and easy to find, plus it won't muck up your water too much.
To recap, high-quality protein food pellets and shrimp will help provide the building blocks for growth. Carbs as simple as a slice of bread can help provide the energy required for growth. Consistent feeding times, several times a day will help keep your young koi fish in a growth phase.
Heat Up That Pond
You want your young koi fish to grow? Turn up the heat on your pond. Between 73 to 75 degrees seems to be the optimal temperature for triggering growth. Anything above that can increase the harms of ammonia and nitrite spikes produced by waste. So you will want to make sure you have a cycled filter system before increasing heat and the growth program.
By increasing the temperature in the water, you speed up the metabolism of the young koi fish. Young koi will swim around looking for food, hungry and competing for food. Combined with a high-quality protein diet, carbs and feeding several times a day, increased temperatures will drive growth.
If you have an indoor pond, and you can cover it, doing so will save you a lot of money in electric bills. If you have an outdoor pond, you might want to consider creating a raised indoor grow out pond. Increasing the heat of an outdoor pond 't make sense. Consider the purpose of your investment in growing out young koi. Is it to profit on reselling or for your own pond? Asking yourself this will help determine the amount of time and resources you are willing to invest for growth.
Oxygen Rich Water
Seems rather simple, but oxygenating the water helps deliver oxygen to growing muscles. You want bigger fish, it comes down to protein synthesis and the ability to sustain that muscle tissue growth. A good pond aerator is critical to keep your young koi growing in oxygen-rich water.
Fact is, when water temperature increases, less oxygen is available in the water. Koi fish will breath faster, depleting oxygen levels quicker and the downward spiral begins. A large pond aerator helps counter the effects of warmer water by increasing the oxygen availability.
Young koi are full of growth potential, releasing that requires careful planning and oxygen is critical. Like humans running in summer, quality food, water, and oxygen availability make a big difference in the outcome of the race. Being able to breath easier will help reduce the stress of your young koi. Competing for food will be challenge several times a day. Lethargy can set in if not enough oxygen is available for digestive needs.
There are at least two places to put an air stone to help oxygenate your pond water. The first is in the pond itself, selecting a high-quality air pump and air stone, place it in the middle of the pond. The second place should be in your filter box, heavily oxygenating the water as it goes through the filter. Increasing the turbulence in the filter box should help improve the removal of fish waste and food.
Lighting with LED Auto-Dimmers
Mimicking the longest lit season is important when growing out young koi. I'm talking about summer when the sun rises the earliest and set the latest. Using high quality LED lighting with timers and auto-dimming features will help achieve this effect.
Summer style lighting will give the young koi fish the largest span of time and frequency for feeding. Starting as early as 6 am in the morning and having the final meal late in the evening close to 8 pm. Small but frequent feeding will help keep your young koi consuming calories while swimming for a long period of the day.
Combined with increased protein, frequent feedings, warmer water, and increased oxygen, you can begin to see how it all works together for growth.
Of course, rest is needed for koi fish growth too. Setting the LED auto-dimmers to simulate night light will help your young koi settle down for rest. Re-creating natural light with summer hours is a bit more work, by automating the lighting, you help ease your young koi into rest times. Sure you can do it the old way, flipping on and off lights on your own. Consistent and reliable LED auto-dimmers give you the best opportunity for growth.
High-Quality Pond Filtration
Look, you can't have healthy young koi and expect them to grow in a murky pond. You need filtration, and filtration is the one place you don't want to skimp or pinch pennies.
Biological pond filtration is going to be critical to counter the heavy feeding and waste produced by the young koi. Accelerated growth creates more waste, from food and digesting. A large area of the filter should be dedicated to the breakdown of waste using bio media. Helping to breakdown ammonia and waste material, beneficial bacteria need surface area to thrive. Ceramic porous media creates a large surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow and do its job. About 50% of the filter should be dedicated to biological filtration.
Mechanical filtration should not be overlooked. Screens, padding and other fine mesh should be used to capture larger particles. Removing leftover food and fish waste will help your biological filter from becoming overloaded. The pads and screens should be easily accessible. This way you can inspect them from time to time and rinse them off when they become blocked or dirty.
Speeding up nature is not easily done. Several factors come into play and must be executed well. High protein quality koi food is not cheap. Then again, you didn't get into keeping koi fish because it was inexpensive.
Precisely because of that, making sure you keep a strict eye on water quality, filtration and environment is key to your success. To speed up growth requires attention to detail and consistency. Automating lighting, filtration, and heating help ease the burden. Difficult but not impossible, depending on your reasons for growing out your young koi, it may be a lucrative long term investment. Few people will go through the troubles, work, and investment required to grow out young koi.