It was the end of February, a leap year, when we moved from the rental on the far north end of town into our own home just 8 miles south. The ground was thawing, at least just enough to dig a hole for the pond that would be the new home of our 7 koi we acquired the previous summer: Fuego, Azul, Ninja, Wasabi, Cochise-Shadow, Bogie and Bacall.
There were over a dozen large Comet (gold fish) in the backyard pond when we moved into that 1970's tri-level rental, but they had been slowly disappearing. We discovered a Great Blue Heron had been making its rounds every evening, taking the golden feast back to its hungry nestlings. After searching out the many possible deterrents to save the fish, we chose the Rosie Method. Over 30 tiny sacrificial Rosie Goldfish were purchased to join the few Comets remaining in the 1000 gallon contoured pond. Swimming closer to the surface, the Rosies would easily become the next meal for "Big Bird's" family, serving as decoys while protecting their more expensive cousins.
The Great Blue quit coming by mid-summer, but a terminal illness struck the pond, taking the lives of the last 3 Comets. We decided to purge the water and add lots of new good bacteria to prepare for genuine koi. That's when we introduced Fuego and Azul to their new home.
Fuego got his name because of the silvery specks that flash atop his body of red and black spots set against a cream background. He also would jump quite high when we first brought him home; we thought he was "full of fire." Azul is similar in color, but without the silvery specks. She carries a slight tinge of blue hidden just beneath the translucent cream of her head. Both fish are fantails, which the Japanese do not recognize as "real" koi, so we conceded somewhat by giving them Spanish names. This led to us buying 2 more.
Ninja was a pure black genuine Japanese koi with one small red-orange spot on its side. You would never really see him coming; he'd just suddenly appear. Wasabi is another genuine Japanese koi. He's black with the pattern of a white fish skeleton from head to toe, and swims with a saucy-spicy attitude.
At this point we were hooked, so we brought home 3 more. My husband and I couldn't agree on the name of the beautiful, burnished brown (char-goi), fantail. Kelly thought he was somewhat stealthy, like the Indian, Cochise. I thought he was stealthy and obscure like The Shadow of 1930's radio fame. He's actually quite friendly, so we let our guests decide which name fits best. Which brings me to Bogie and Bacall. Both are yellow and golden-orange domestic koi, that really stand out wherever they go, whether exploring, swimming or just relaxing. Not sure exactly, but they remind us of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
There we have it. All 7 of our koi that had to move because we were moving. But koi hibernate in the winter. They don't completely stop moving, but they don't eat much, so their immune system is at its lowest. It's very risky. We were only given one month to install a pond at our new place, then the fish had to move - hibernation or not.
The ground is still pretty hard here in March, but Kelly managed to get a huge pit dug out under our Aspens by the front door, where we sunk a 300 gallon livestock tank that became our koi pond, complete with filter and air stone. By the end of March, we had transported 6 "sleepy" fish. That's right, I said 6. Ninja, just like his name implies was simply out of sight, not found when we scoured the old pond (sigh). If you look really close, you can see all six coming over to say "hi."
Oh yeah, I almost forgot to tell you... thirteen heroic Rosies survived to enjoy their new surroundings, hanging with the big fish, under the Aspens.