GRANVILLE — A Granville woman has experienced a population explosion in her koi pond.
If you’re in the market for some of these colorful fish, Lee Fellows has some to give away.
Koi are ornamental domesticated varieties of the common carp that are kept for decorative purposes in outdoor koi ponds or water gardens.
They’re among the longest-living vertebrates, with some living more than 200 years.
“It’s a show fish,” Fellows said from her Granville home. “A lot of people breed them for shows or for koi ponds. They just swim in the pond. They’re pretty to look at. You can even train them to eat out of your hand and come up to you and that kind of stuff.”
Common carp were first bred for color in Japan in the 1820s. By the 20th century, a number of color patterns had been established, most notably the red-and-white Kohaku.
The outside world was not aware of the development of color variations in koi until 1914, when they were displayed in Tokyo. Interest in koi exploded throughout Japan, and the hobby of keeping koi eventually spread worldwide.
Koi commonly are sold in most pet stores, but with a recent flourish of offspring, Fellows is willing to give them away.
“I have about 125 babies,” Fellows said. Combine that with the others, about 25 mature koi already in her 2,000-gallon pond — “I have at least 11, from 8-inchers to 25-pounders,” she said — and it’s just too many for the space.
“At least four times in the seven years we’ve had babies, but the most I’ve ever had was 11 to 15 babies,” Fellows said. “But this year was absolutely unbelievable. Even the pond man was shocked.”
They both were amazed because the numbers become evident only when the koi come out of hibernation.
“They’re just now starting to come out of hibernation when they start to swim at nighttime,” Fellows said. “They hibernate like a bear in the wintertime. Their metabolism slows down, so they basically lie on the bottom of the pond and don’t move.”
Upkeep can’t be any easier.
“You can feed them fish food, or you don’t have to feed them anything,” Fellows said. “They’ll eat whatever’s in the pond. They scavenge.
“I don’t want any money for them. I just want them to have a long, happy life.”