Finding Japanese Koi fish in a Pudukottai farm

A Koi breeding farm in the small village of Permanadu in Pudukottai district supplies the ornamental Japanese fish to customers all over India

Updated - November 03, 2022 05:34 pm IST

Published - November 03, 2022 04:36 pm IST

Koi fish varieties from 3-5 feet in sze are bred at PVR Koi Centre (Nishikigoi Breeders) farm in Permanadu Pudukottai district.

Koi fish varieties from 3-5 feet in sze are bred at PVR Koi Centre (Nishikigoi Breeders) farm in Permanadu Pudukottai district. | Photo Credit: M. Moorthy

As the water ripples in large tanks, Japanese Koi, looking like living jewels, lie in wait for the hand that brings them food pellets. Koi carp are elegant eaters, waiting patiently for their turn and seemingly appreciative of the grub. “Koi are very sensitive to people, and will eat more when their owner feeds them, because they recognise them,” says PVR Sekaran, who has been breeding the Japanese ornamental fish in his native village of Perumanadu, Pudukottai district, from 2011.

We are miles away from Japan, but the Koi here retain the good looks of their Japanese counterparts. Costing anywhere between ₹1,200 to a ₹1 lakh, the fish from Perumanadu farm draw well-heeled customers from Rajasthan, Goa, Chennai, Delhi and other big cities.

Brilliant colours

Known as ‘nishikigoi’ in Japanese, the fish is originally from China, where its domestication began in the fourth century. Chinese invaders brought the koi with them to Japan as a source of food. By the early 19th century, though, Japanese rice farmers in Nigatta had started domesticating genetically modified koi carp with brilliant colouring as ornamental fish.

Today Koi is a label commonly used for varieties of Amur carp (Cyprinus rubrofuscus) . “I was captivated by Koi when I visited Singapore, where my brother Palaniselvam, a marine biologist, also has a small fish farm,” says Sekaran. “Since high quality Koi breeding was not being done in India at the time, I felt it could be a nice business opportunity for us.”

Sekaran’s brother trained him in the nitty-gritty of Koi breeding for two months in Singapore, following which Sekaran established the PVR Koi Centre on a three acre property in Perumanadu. The farm sources its stock from suppliers in Japan, quarantines them in Singapore for 24 days, and then imports them to India. “We give the Japanese fish directly only to those who can afford it. For others, we breed and grow them separately on the farm,” says Sekaran. Out of the 10,000 eggs that hatch, only around 100-150 fish are selected.

Travelling fish

Once the customer selects the for their pond, the fishes are kept in a quarantine tank, and trained for the new venue. “We get a sample of the water from the client’s home, and use it acclimatise our to the new tank. When travelling, the fish are lightly sedated, so that they do not get stressed. Ice packs keep the water cooler during long journeys,” says joint managing director Aravind. A small group of test fish is first sent into the client’s ponds; once these get used to the water, the chosen fish are transferred. “We usually take the test fish back, but if the client wishes, they can be left with the others,” says Aravind.

PVR.Sekaran, proprietor, PVR Koi Centre (Nishikigoi Breeders) in  Permanadu, Pudukottai district.

PVR.Sekaran, proprietor, PVR Koi Centre (Nishikigoi Breeders) in Permanadu, Pudukottai district. | Photo Credit: M. Moorthy

Koi suffers from skin diseases, especially if the level of ammonia is high in the water. It can also develop tumours. If the fish is sick, it will either exhibit erratic swimming behaviour or stop swimming altogether and park itself at the bottom of the water. “We have a ‘hospital tank’ where we take care of the ailing fish, and keep it under observation for a week before returning it to the owners. My brother Palaniselvam in Singapore helps us with the telemedicine consultation,” says Sekaran.

Online reach

With a rough track leading off the Pudukottai highway into the farm, one wonders how aficionados find their way here. “It’s mostly through our website and word of mouth,” says Sekaran’s son Aravind, who has been helping out at the farm for the past two years.

The farm grows the fish from 15-30 cm before putting them for sale through its web portal.

“We have a specially adapted ‘aquatic studio’ where we photograph each fish individually. The price is fixed according to its looks, colouring and other parameters,” says Aravind. There are at least 35 types of on offer at the centre; some, like the Sanke , with black and red marbling, costs ₹10,000. The Tancho , a much sought after white Koi that has a large red spot on its head like the Japanese flag, priced at ₹40,000, is sold out.

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