Fish aficionados will showcase their schools of thought at the Home, Garden and Remodeling Show. By Ruby Mata-Viti
It is better to go with the flow, something fish do instinctively and what Gary Hironaka, owner of Nikkei Koi, eventually learned, through his journey with japanese koi fish.
"Koi are known as a symbol of longevity, good fortune and good luck," said Hironaka -- prosperity that he appears to have experienced firsthand.
You will get to see the fruits of his labor along with other members of the Hawaii Goldfish and Carp Association this weekend at the 32nd Home Garden and Remodeling Show tomorrow through Sunday at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. There will be fish for sale as well as in competition as part of the Ohana Koi and Goldfish Show, marking the organization's 50th anniversary. First and second place prizes will be awarded in 30 categories, with the winner of the grand champion prize presented a ceramic plaque with the pattern of the winning koi.
It was at the 50th State Fair 17 years ago that a game of chance helped shape Hironakas destiny. He tossed a pingpong ball at rows of glass jars and it landed in the mouth of one, garnering him the prize of a small orange fancy goldfish. "I didn't even know what it was; I thought it was a comet (fish)," said Hironaka. He brought it home in a little jar and raised it in a 29-gallon tank, which was soon replaced with a 55-gallon one and eventually a 300-gallon garden pond his father built. As the fish and tanks grew, so did Hironaka's aspirations.
"I bought more carp fish from local breeders when I was 13 to 15 years old ... and at 15 I started importing koi carp fish from Japan. I had a friend who was from there and we worked out the shipment."
He borrowed $500 from his parents to do so, and as Hironaka sold the carp fish, he used the proceeds to pay them back. "It was like an investment loan ... and that was my high school 'job,' selling koi or carp fish." After graduating he pursued medical school at Brigham Young University in Utah thinking that the field would give his entrepreneurial plans a jump-start. "It was the only career I thought would pay enough for the japanese koi fish business," he said.
AFTER A FEW twists and turns swimming upstream, he graduated with an organic chemistry degree in '03 and finished a semester of med school, but said, "I decided medicine wasn't my passion, and I moved back home to focus on the koi." He returned to that 300-gallon pond in 2005, raising and selling japanese koi fish, and within a year his effort paid off, enough to buy a farm for the company in Kahaluu the next year. "People like koi," Hironaka said, adding they look forward to going home to look at and feed the fish, which, combined with the sound of water, calms the spirit.
Sometimes japanese koi fish are used as fashion (statements) as well," he said, telling of a woman who styled her home in black and white. "Her pond only had black and white carp fish in it to match the design of her house."
Carp fish are not as high maintenance as some might imagine, and if carefully managed, the hobby doesn't have to burn a hole in one's pocket. "All you need is the correct filtration system," said Hironaka. "If you have the right one, you spend 15 minutes out of the month to clean the filter. A nice 'juvenile' japanese koi fish or carp fish about 6 to 8 inches in length costs about $30." For mature ones, at about 26 to 30 inches, prices vary, said Hironaka.
"A nice carp fish starts at about $30, and the price goes all the way up to half a million dollars -- these are often entered into the World Koi Show -- and people do buy them," he said. "But I haven't sold one for half-million -- a third of that maybe. But not a half-million." Yet.
This article came from the Honolulu local paper: Honolulu Star Bulletin on Carp Fish
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