Looking after the “thoroughbreds of the fish world” demands dedication and - not to be coy about it - a fair degree of skill.
Willie Morland (64), of Reddingmuirhead, is the current chairman of the Scottish Koi Club and has won a ton of national awards with his amazing fish – he is one of relatively few keepers to be officially recognised as a Master Koi Keeper.
He said: “I’ve been keeping koi seriously and showing them in competitions for 10 years now. Everyone starts off the same – they get a goldfish in the house then they dig a pond in the garden.
“In a few months you have more fish than water and you need a bigger pond.”
Willie will be present at the Scottish Koi Club annual show which takes place at Klondyke Garden Centre, Polmont, on Saturday, August 6, and Sunday, August 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
Visitors will be able to buy top quality fish during the weekend and get some advice about caring for koi and designing ponds to keep them in.
“We could do with more club members,” said Willie. “The last time we held the annual show in Klondyke it brought 16 new members in, but there are only three of them who are still with the club.”
The Scottish Koi Club currently has around 30 members, including three enthusiasts in Aberdeen and a former judge from London.
Koi can live up to 25 years and Willie has 30 of them at the moment, which he shows at events all over the UK using a special trailer tank to transport them safely and securely.
Now semi-retired from his Shieldhill-based plumbing business Morland & Martin, Willie is able to spend more time caring for his koi.
“It’s very relaxing, watching the fish, but I’m also quite competitive. Knowing you can buy a tiny fish and help it grow to a stage where it will win prizes is the thing I like.
“It’s time-consuming to look after them on this level. It’s the water you keep rather than the fish – you have to make sure it is in absolutely pristine condition.
“And you do have to watch their diets. Koi are really the thoroughbreds of the fish world and need a lot of attention because they can catch every disease going.
“If one of my koi is poorly I actually anaesthetise them and inject them with antibiotics.”
Willie took his first trip to Japan, the true heartland of koi keepers, back in 2007 and had his eyes well and truly opened.
“The size and the quality of the fish over there is just unbelievable.
‘‘It’s nothing for keepers over there to spend millions of yen on a single fish.”
It can be an expensive way of life if you are a committed koi keeper.
Willie said: “You could buy a koi from your garden centre for £25, but you can pay £200 if you go to a specialist dealer.
‘‘Some koi go for as high as £6000 and I know of fish in Japan that go for as much as £30,000.”
Visit www.scottishkoi club.co.uk for more inform-ation.