Furious swooshing, whooshing and splashing water greets intruders of the secluded, romantic and peaceful back yard. Jumping, twisting and chasing meet our eyes. What have we stumbled into? What X Rated scene is going on in our own back yard? In the pond?
The pond is usually the calmest, most peaceful place in the garden. The quiet, dreamy hideaway offers surprises like the beautiful, colorful koi pond. The Koi smoothly glide by, unperturbed by human worries, blissfully involved in fishy meditations.
Unexpectedly and abruptly, the scene changes from one of contentment to a maddening chase. There is rapid, panicky, hysterical action swishing through the water. “What is going on?”
Have demons of the deep pervaded the pond? Has the Loch Ness Monster slivered into it? Is“Jaws,” threatening to invade the peaceful Koi Kingdom?
This is spring fever in the wild. Spring fever may turn a human young man’s heart to thoughts of love, but springtime turns Koi thoughts to breeding. There are no charming mating dances that some birds perform, or showy, flirtatious showing off of colors seen in other species. No songs of love and devotion. This is raw, violent, passionate need, graphically clear to anyone indecent enough to watch. Suddenly, unexpectedly there is a violent, ardent chase: the pursuit of males after females. The females swim away for cover, but the males surge in power to overtake them. The females often bruise their bodies on the pond’s rocks as they move to escape marauding males with mating on their minds. This destructive behavior is reminiscent of scenes from “Shades of Gray.”
The plants get pulled up by the roots, the water gets splashed out from pond to patio in the violence of their chases.
And then, in a few hours, all is quiet again. Peace reigns. The female Koi have dropped their eggs and the males have fertilized them. Relaxation returns.
Shortly after the orgy something looks different in the water. Upon closer inspection we see microscopic eggs. My husband, Harvey, gets the fish net and swoops a batch of them out and places them into a three gallon plastic pail. “Let’s see if we can save any. If we leave the eggs in the pond the Koi will eat them.”
So the mass of water plants filled with eggs lies at rest in a work sink in our basement. Harvey puts an aerator into the pail to oxygenate the water. And we wait. Will they hatch?
In a few days this is what we see:
As a life long fish enthusiast and collector Harvey knows what to do next. “If we have any hopes of keeping these babies alive we have to find a way to get some nourishment into those little bellies.” Now that they have advanced from eggs to baby fish he moves them into a five gallon tank, where they have room to swim around.
One trip to the Dover Pet Shop and he comes home with a small container of a product called “Baby Bites.” This stuff is as powerful to Koi as spinach is to Popeye. Look at the change in those little guys in a single week; they are starting to look like fish. They even have those black, button eyes that baby fish have. Not Koi yet, but recognizable as a member of the fish family nonetheless. They are beginning to exhibit some of the Koi colors: mostly orange and yellow. The experts tell us that in a year they will be the size of Guppies. Which means it will take at least two years for them to resemble the traditional Japanese fish, the Koi.
Watching the development of the tiny tank critters has become a daily occupation. They change and grow before our eyes.
Some day when they are grown perhaps some can be returned to the pond. Maybe they will be part of the serene, romantic, peaceful scene. Or maybe they will be members of a future orgy some time in the future.