There are many myths in fishkeeping, but none more popular than the value of Koi.
To the uninitiated Koi keeper size equals money, so many people think that their common or garden "Koi carp" picked up from a garden centre at £3.50 is now worth hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds just because it is two feet long.
Worse still is the even greater myth that Ghost koi are worth something. A cross between a Koi carp and a wild-type mirror carp, Ghost koi are known for their hardiness, big appetites and, above all, growth.
But a Koi is only worth what someone will pay for it - and for a Ghost koi even less.
There are millions of Ghosties in ornamental ponds and fishing lakes all across the UK and only complete novices would pay anything even approaching £100 for a large one. You can knock a nought off that for most specimens.
Just another call to the office...
However one day the Practical Fishkeeping phone rings and a lady thinks she has an exclusive story for us…
"How can I put it?'' she says. “We've got a Ghost koi with a human face on it!"
"OK", I say, sounding underwhelmed. "This isn't the first Ghost koi I’ve heard of with a human face — and there are several examples on the Internet."
“So it isn't unusual then?” she replied, clearly disappointed.
“Not really. In fact Ghost koi are given the name Ghost because they carry these ghost-like markings on their heads and along their backs," I explained.
“If you can send me a photo of the fish I'll be able to tell you if it’s a good example.
"OK," she said. “How much do you think it will be worth?
“How big is it?”
“About £15 then,” I replied.
“We paid £25 for it!” she exploded.
“As I said, it’s not uncommon and unfortunately I'm not surprised you’re asking about its rarity and value.”
The PFK crew chuckled after that conversation which had well and truly burst her bubble. I felt a little guilty but people need to know the facts.
The lady rang again later asking that if we published a picture of the fish who held its copyright…
I bet they go to the papers with that one, I predicted. And, lo and behold, they did. Check out the story here.
And on reflection...
Things got even more laughable on reading the ‘human face fish shock’ story in the Daily Mail. A fish value of £40,000 had been quoted – but was attributed to no one! Pure gold. I nearly fell off my seat laughing!
That "face"? I've seen more convincing images in the chocolate layer of my Jaffa cake.
Check the fish’s health too. Its eyes are bordering on pop-eye, its body is swollen and if it puffed up any more I would give it a clear diagnosis of dropsy.
Couple the health of the fish with all the added stress of photography and the subsequent security measures needing to be installed round the pond perimeter. Wouldn't you if you were holding a £40,000 Koi?
I'd go so far as to predict that this fish’s days are numbered.
That brings me to the only guarantee with any fish — and that is its own mortality.
A wise old Koi keeper once said to me on being asked about guaranteeing the fish he was selling "the only guarantee I can offer on this fish is that one day it will die."
Wise words indeed...