You have decided that you want to stock your pond with koi. Knowing what to look for when koi shopping is the next step. Consider fish shopping in the same way you would when car shopping. You need to observe the fish, watch it’s movements, notice it’s color and size and most of all, make sure it’s what you’re looking for.
First of all, watch the way the fish moves. Its movements should be smooth and fluid, not jerky. Consider how it interacts with its surroundings and other fish if applicable. Check to make sure that its gill movements are slow and steady, using both gills. The gill plates of a healthy fish are close to the body. Fish with gills that are protruding and show irregular movement should be avoided.
Keep a mental checklist of deformities to be aware of such as white blooms (Ichthyobodo-parasites), raised scales, holes, cloudy eyes, fin rot, bumps on the gills or the head, to name a few. These illnesses can be treated but can get costly and lengthy in treatment time. Find a dealer that will allow you to “bowl” the fish you want to consider buying so you can examine it closer and away from other fish.
Once in a smaller container, check for redness on the body or around the fins. If it shows signs of redness that could mean it has just been imported and is stressed but could also be the starting symptoms of internal problems. Check closely for parasites at this time. Fish lice (Argulus) and anchor worms (Lernaea) show around the dorsal fin and tail area. Again, this can be treated but knowing about it before you buy is advised either way.
Once you have found the fish you wish to purchase, be sure to ask the dealer what variety you have chosen so you can have a better understanding of what to look for in the future. Dealers can indeed be very helpful but just as you wouldn’t buy a car just because the dealer wants you to, be sure to keep your personal preference a priority when shopping for your new pet koi.