By Mamoru Kodama
On August 6, 2021, I visited Mr. Alex Valdes in Miami, FL. I was impressed by the beauty of the pond design, the many varieties of koi, and the excellent condition of the koi.
This time, in order to introduce “his pond” to many people (July 1, 2022), I visited him again and heard many stories.
Enjoy this interview article and the beautiful photos we took during our pond visit to see his over 120 koi, where 80% are from Kodama Koi Farm.
Customer Interview & Story: Alex Valdes
Read through this interview and view Alex’s beautiful koi pond. Please ask any of your questions for Alex or Mr. Kodama after the article in the comments section.
Kodama: Could you tell us why you decided to keep koi?
Alex: I have been interested in fish (tropical fish and saltwater fish) since I was a high school student, and I was especially attracted to Japanese koi. I learned that their beautiful “colors” and “patterns” have been created and improved by humans. Nine years ago, I bought this house. And it came with a small koi pond. Just two years ago, I enlarged the pond to what it is today.
Kodama: How big is the pond now?
Alex: It is 12,000 gallons.
Kodama: It is a big pond. The design is very beautiful. Who designed the pond?
Alex: Thank you. Because the pool is shaped in an oval, I designed the pond to surround the pool.
Kodama: It’s a very beautiful design. Your pond is like a stream, and I think it is a very comfortable pond for koi, because Koi are very curious, and they explore and swim all over the pond. Not only is the design beautiful, but the pond is also the best for Koi.
By the way…the pond is concrete, not liner, isn’t it?
Alex: A liner is easy to construct and can be done quickly, but I thought it would cause many problems in the long run, so I built it with concrete.
Kodama: When the pond is as long as a creek, is there any concern that it will crack and leak?
Alex: We put in a lot of rebars. I even coated the surface with FRP. So there is no worry about water leakage at all.
Kodama: The water is also very clean. By the way, how many koi do you have?
Alex: More than 120.
Kodama: That’s great. How many of them are from Kodama Koi Farm?
Alex: About 80% to 85%.
Kodama: Thank you. By the way, how did you find us?
Alex: Internet. I found out that Kodama Koi Garden is in southern Florida. So I visited the store. I met Mr. Nishino, the store manager. He was very kind and show me many different types of Koi. I bought my first five Koi at that time.
Kodama: When did you meet Taro (son of Mamoru Kodama)?
Alex: I met him at the store when he had a seminar.
Kodama: Was he helpful enough?
Alex: Yes. He taught me that Koi from Niigata, Japan is the best. But you still need to choose Koi from the right breeders. I learned about breeders and Koi varieties from him. Since I met him, I bought many different types of Koi. Every time, he explained to me about the breeders. I know exactly what variety my Koi are and what breeder they are from.
Koi explores the pond.
Kodama: That’s great. It is true that the quality of Koi is completely different depending on the breeders, even if the variety is the same. It is very good and very important to confirm breeders every time you buy Koi.
Alex: Taro has invited me to his “Niigata Koi hunting tour.” I really want to go this year.
Kodama: Niigata is the mecca for all the Koi hobbyists. You should visit the place at least once. Please go.
Alex: Almost all of my Koi are from Niigata. I would like to visit their birthplace.
Kodama: How old is your oldest koi?
Alex: Six years old.
Kodama: What is your favorite Koi?
Alex: Tancho Kujyaku and Doitsu Showa.
Kodama: I see… The Tancho Kujyaku is wonderful. Where did you learn about Koi?
Alex: I learned about koi varieties and the breeders at Taro’s seminar, and I read Mr. Kodama’s book “Kukugyo. “Especially in “Kokugyo 2,” I learned that Koi change as they grow.
This Koi is “Kage Showa” from Otsuka Koi Farm (picture is below). Photo A is when I bought it, and Photo B is one year later. Experiencing such a change, a beautiful change myself, I got interested in Koi more and more. I have learned that the change depends on the water.
Purchased from Kodama Koi Farm
1 Year Later
Alex: Also, since about a year ago, I have learned that koi have many different personalities, which is very interesting.
Kodama: How did you know that?
Alex: I know when I feed them. I use an automatic feeder as I am busy. but only in the morning I feed them myself. Some Koi come up to me and take the food from my hand, while others stay at the bottom and don’t come up. I can tell that some Koi are very friendly and others are timid.
Kodama: I see.
Alex: For example, Ogon, Chagoi and Karashi are very friendly.
Kodama: How many times do you feed them with the feeder?
Alex: Seven times. I learned at a seminar that Koi have no stomachs. So I feed them once by myself and seven times with the feeder. The automatic feeder really helps me.
Kodama: What do you feed your koi?
Alex: I feed 100% Mr. Kodama Koi Food.
Kodama: What have you noticed about Mr. Kodama Koi Food?
Alex: I like Mr. Kodama Koi Food very much because it makes my koi grow bigger. Hi (red) will get redder, too. Koi have different personalities. Some come up to the top and some swim at the bottom of the pond. So I feed floating and sinking food. I think I can feed them in a way that suits their personalities.
Kodama: I see.
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Koi Pond Next to Pool
Alex: Koi have many varieties. The quality of Koi varies from one breeder to another. The personalities are different. And the breeders continue to develop new varieties. The history of Koi development is very interesting, and that is so connected with Japanese culture. I really want to go to Japan in October or next February.
Kodama: October in Niigata is a very beautiful season. I strongly recommend you should visit them then. Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule today.
Thank you all for reading, please feel free to leave any comments below.