A stitch in time...
When a Koi gets a serious damage it's always very difficult to repair it. However this article is to show people how Koi can re-generate, and heal up perfectly after a bad damage, and this damage was BAD!
Around 3 years ago when I was in Japan I saw 2 very nice Torazo Kohaku, Nisai. I asked for them to be bowled up and I messaged the video to a client in South Africa who I knew would like these Koi. They had just been harvested and I kind of got one of the first picks on that day. The client loved both Koi and bought them.
On arrival we saw that one of the Koi was in some distress and there was some debris in the bag, we immediately opened the bag and released the Koi into a bowl so we could check the situation. One of the Kohaku had split her leading top tail bone all the way down! She was not in a good way.
So the next day I had a call with my client and we looked at the options, there was no way she would be able to be shipped to South Africa anytime soon.
So the plan was to treat the Koi and see what we could do for her, confidence was not high at this stage.
I know a lot of people in the Koi industry from all parts of the world, and with the ability to message video anywhere I wanted, I was getting some valuable feedback and advice on how best to tackle the issue. After getting all the information I spoke to the client and we decided the best course of action... STITCHES!
Now I have tried to stitch fins and even glue them over the years but its very difficult to actually get them to stay in, and even harder to get the fin in the perfect place to stitch while the fin stays perfectly straight, or the fin could grow in the wrong place.
It did not help that the actual top lead tail bone felt loose which is never good, with a bit of effort I am sure I could have pulled it straight out.
So with the help of my good friend Majdi Jerbi, we put the Koi under anaesthetic...
We made sure she was really well out and we dried the wound until it was really dry, the dryer the better when doing this kind of thing, it will help anything stick to the wound better.
Majdi had some stitches so that's what we did. We stitched just the top of the tail, closest to the Koi's body. We only added 2 stitches, the idea behind it was to strengthen the bone at the source, so then once that had started to heal, the rest of the tail would just grow on its own. It was more important to save the top of the tail than anything else, in fear of actually losing the top bone, which would have been a disaster.
So we stitched and treated her, and we started a course of antibiotic which she would need. Throughout the treatment and even from the day after she arrived, she never missed a feed.
The next problem was the Koi was at my shop. This is not a good environment for an injured Koi. We net Koi quite often when clients are in and this would not have been good for her, we needed to see progress so we could actually get her out of the shop. Somewhere warm, with excellent water quality where she could rest and heal, we hope! However this was all happening while the Koi were still in QT so we had to keep her for a minimum term anyway.
In the first week we gently netted her and put her in a bag with anaesthetic in it, while we could not see progress in the first week we had to finish her course of antibiotics. Catching her to do this was risky but vital for the Koi. She was always quite peaceful and we found out later, it was the other Kohaku from Torazo which was totally CRAZY and that Koi must have thrashed in the bag and damaged this Koi, we thought it was the other way round. We learnt when we shipped the other Kohaku to South Africa and got soaked trying to bag her.
So she had antibiotics every 3 days for 3 treatments. We had her in a pond with a couple of other Nisai so she had good space of water with heat, so she was not with a lot of other Koi.
After about 3 weeks we had to lift her up again, trying to catch a glance when she fed was not really the best and the area was still red, not as red but red. The problem being is if the fin was healing, netting her could take us right back to square one because it's easy for her to damage it while netting, so we had to be so careful and we used the biggest net we had, with the deepest pan.
To our surprise when we got her out and put her under again, the tail had actually started to generate at the top, this was excellent news. We could now take the stitches out and let nature take over, this was so good to see.
We kept her at Quality Nishikigoi for around 8 weeks in total after she was brought in. However we really did need to get her out. On one of Majdi's visits to see us, and the Koi, he decided, with the permission of the owner in South Africa he would take her down to his pond in Wales. He is lightly stocked and has amazing water quality and heat, which is always high.
At this time when she left us, you can see how much better the tail was, and how much generation the tail was doing...
However the worrying part was the gap between the top bone and the rest of the fin. It was quite big, but at this stage there really is no more we could do, apart from wait. The treatment stage was finished.
While she was in Majdi's pond he got her out a couple of times and just cleaned the top bone, to make sure no skin was trying to grow on the actual bone, if that happened then it would stop the skin coming all the way down, so in some ways we had to keep the top bone raw, so the new skin would attach.
You can see how well its healing from these video's. There was no red at all in the tail and no infection. We just had to wait while occasionally checking her to make sure the progress was still coming along.
So while this was all happening the client was checking back with us regularly to also find out the status on her.
It was an entire 12 months before we could ship her to South Africa.
Its also hard for a Koi to grow as well as she should when carrying an injury, they never do as well. However she had grown around 4 cm in the 12 months period and the tail was 90% healed. So we shipped her... On her own, in a big box...and hoped for the best. The client was anxious to get her into his pond where he could grow her well, which he always does.
She arrived without an issue to the tail, a big sign of relief rang out. She actually was entered in the Durban Koi Show in South Africa last year, the Show here we supplied the Grand Champion. It was hard to get a video but her tail was perfect.
Around 2 days ago the client sent me an update on her, and her size. She is now almost 5 years old and 71cm. I think for what she has been through its very good to see her doing so well, he also sent me a video of how she is looking now, the body is just amazing.
She looks amazing and a real success story, which does not happen too often!
Koi really are good at generating and repairing themselves, many people won't even try and do it but it can be done. Luckily fins are one of the fastest growing things on a Koi, so we did have that on our side.
Patience, good water quality, heat and TLC.
Thanks to Majdi Jerbi for all his time, and skills!
Thanks to the client in South Africa for his Koi Keeping skills in getting her over the finish line.
Lets hope she pushes on now and takes some awards.