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    Thread: Tobi Observations

    1. #1
      Matt24's Avatar
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      Tobi Observations

      Having raise up a few koi to three years old (about 16"-20") from my 2015 backyard showa spawn (http://www.koiphen.com/forums/showth...owa-spawn-2015), including some tobi, I wanted to first share some of my observations. Feel free to agree or disagree or tell of your experiences with tobi.

      For those not familiar with the term, tobi are koi that, when very young, eat large numbers of their siblings and grow very rapidly, dwarfing the others. Below is a photo from October 2015 of the three tobi (about 10") with lots of their 4"-5" siblings. The size difference at that time was pretty huge.

      Before getting into the backyard spawning aspect of the hobby, I read up on various theories about tobi. Included among this are "theories" that tobi are usually male, that they are low quality ugly koi, and that they are genetic freaks. But I got to thinking ... if virtually all commercial breeders throw them out to save their large numbers, and most backyard breeders follow their advice, and there are so very few backyard breeders, then who really knows? So I decided to keep a few of the better looking tobi to grow out to see what I could learn and to test these theories. After three years, here are my findings:

      Theory #1: Tobi are usually male. There may be something to this. All three of the tobi that I kept ultimately proved to be male. Of course, three is too small of a sampling for one to say with certainty that they are usually male.

      Theory #2: Tobi are low quality ugly koi. I don't think there is anything to this theory. I am seeing the same level of quality in the tobi as the regulars. Perhaps someone using really expensive oyagoi, trying to breed a grand champion, could find a difference in quality. But I don't see it at all, unless you are one that believes "male" = "low quality". It is probably hard to get a good looking koi from tobi, because good looking koi are only a tiny percentage of a spawn anyway, and there are only a small number of tobi in a spawn if any. But I don't see average quality of tobi being any lower than the non-tobi.

      Theory #3: Tobi have a special "tobi gene" that makes them grow freakishly large. I have not heard of anyone having done a genetic study of this. I had sort of hoped that the tobi would grow to be giants, but after three years, the "regular" koi have almost caught up with the tobi in length, and a couple of the regular females are nearly as long and appear heavier than the tobi. I doubt anyone who had not seen my 2015 spawning thread could look at the group of three-year-olds now and pick out which ones were the tobi. Maybe they will always be bigger than the regulars, but it looks like only slightly. Rather than having a "tobi-gene", I suspect some fry are just a little more stronger than others, and when they eat some tinier siblings, they grow faster and can eat more, and this growth can become exponential.

      One other note: It seems from my experiences from subsequent spawns, if you give the little fry lots of protein in their diet early on, almost all will grow quickly. And since there there are fewer runts for their larger siblings to consume, the larger ones don't get as big as fast. And when they run out of runts, they all start growing about the same speed, and there is very little problem with tobi.

      Name:  showa fry 10-4-2015 143 days.JPG
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      Last edited by Matt24; 01-28-2018 at 07:22 PM. Reason: spelling

    2. #2
      Orlando is offline Senior Member
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      I agree with you Matt, in my backyard tobies have not favored either sex it's been pretty much 50/50 as far as tobies being fugglies don't know what to say one of them all be using as Oyagoi this spring(male) and the female Oyagoi also fell under the tobi category. I do have to add this I have never witnessed such cannibalistic behavior till I started breeding koi and I have been keeping fish for over 45yrs.
      Last edited by Orlando; 01-28-2018 at 08:33 PM.

    3. #3
      Matt24's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Orlando View Post
      ... in my backyard tobies have not favored either sex it's been pretty much 50/50 as far as tobies being fugglies don't know what to say one of them all be using as Oyagoi this spring(male) and the female Oyagoi also fell under the tobi category ...
      Well I guess they must look pretty good for you to select them as oyagoi. Maybe my three all being males was just the luck of a small sampling. Thanks for your insights Orlando. Have you found that your tobi grow up to be extra large or pretty much normal size?

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      Thanks for sharing Matt. I never knew what a Tobi was until I saw your posts. Learn something new everyday

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      Last edited by BWG; 01-29-2018 at 12:12 AM.

    6. #6
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      I stand corrected BWG, I guess they do grow up to be large!

    7. #7
      lukef's Avatar
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      Matt,
      I loved your post...just because you actually took the time and energy to do something, and you spoke intelligently about it
      now I will give you some more thoughts I have on tobi.
      They aren't any worse or better quality than \. What I believe happens is the human factor get in the way... we see a big tosai and think, "Oh man that is sure enough going to be a whopper." and then we are more critical of it, and we had hoped it would be a higher grade, and we can actually see its flaws because it is bigger than the small tosai. So we end up thinking all tobi suck because we are let down because we wish this thing would be superb more than we wish for a little one to be.
      Next as to how fast and why they grow so fast. some believe they get out on the leading edge of what the whole spawn can put in their mouths... If the smaller foods are eaten by every one of the fry then those fry that get just the slightest jump will exponentially outgrow all the ones smaller than it. They have an "unlimited" bounty, even if they don't eat their own. Now as to eating their own. Some people in the hobby once argued with me that koi don't eat koi. I know koi under a ft long will actively feed on small koi. I watched it happen to my dismay. I had a 2500gallon tank of various 12ft koi and put some high grade tosai that were less then three inches in there... the koi in the 6-12 inch range actively hunted down the tosai, chased them in to corners at the waterline, and attacked. the tosai were scared shitless. I was able to net a few out before all were lost because they wanted to get in the net. So young koi do it smaller koi. I do not believe older koi do for two reasons. They are not in need of all the nutrients that are in a little tosai; they need a more energy based not protien based diet because they are out of their rapid growth phase(who knows perhaps the young koi eat their siblings for the additional growth hormones as well?). And big koi aren't maneuverable enough to catch a tosai. Sure every so often a hobbyist sees a koi slurping on pellets and it accidentally slurps in a tosai, and then spits it out... A big fish could just be targetting pellets, and doesn't recognize a tosai as food at the time.
      Now a bit of info you might really like...TADPOLES. The studies have been done. Many amphibians genetically fix some of their eggs/tadpoles to be cannibals. the reason is thought to be that when an amphibian spawns in a puddle, the puddle may dry up before the tadpoles mature. tadpoles mature slower when they consume a low protein diet. So in order for "some" of the tadpoles to mature soon enough the cannibals consume a number of the none cannibals which were living of a more plant-based diet. Now consider carp...they spawn in the shallows in the wild when they can. Often flooded low-lying fields. Of the hundreds of thousands only a few need to make it to maturity for the species population to remain stable or increase slightly.... therefore it is beneficial for some carp to be genetically-programmed to "exploit" an abundant high-quality protein source so they can get out of the shallows before it recedes.
      One other bit of info...many predatory fish species become target-size fixated, so having shooters and runts is a genetic survival tool to avoid obliteration.
      "Those aren't poodles. They're Dobermans with afros."

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      Quote Originally Posted by Matt24 View Post
      Well I guess they must look pretty good for you to select them as oyagoi. Maybe my three all being males was just the luck of a small sampling. Thanks for your insights Orlando. Have you found that your tobi grow up to be extra large or pretty much normal size?
      The largest one being almost 20" and the two smaller ones 15" to 17" but doubt anyone of them will reach much more now they should bulk up a little and get a fuller koi body but being males That's what's expected, now the female that I selected has really got my attention nice body and skin nothing you could call a pattern on her but her beni is just like her mother's very thick and soft she's reached 22 to 23" and starting her third year.

    9. #9
      Koigrl's Avatar
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      Matt and Luke, this is a cool conversation.
      I want to add a few anecdotal strokes to the thread.

      Matt, you know I breed my koi in mud. Luke - ki shusui is my passion and my goal. All, i am not following individual tobies. Couldn't see all the fish at any one time until harvest and the final count of 7,000 kids. Here are my observations in two photos.

      1. Re: the tobi issue in a mud environment - meaning hiding places in the reeds and more water, fewer box canyons. This is a photo of a handful of the keepers. (If I had been culling with fewer pool of fish, I prob would have weeded out the smaller ones.) But for many reasons, I didn't cull until 4 month harvest.

      See here Big sibs, Small sibs together. I don't know if big sibs ever ate small sibs, but i didn't see it happening. (Obviously, the adults ate eggs and micro sized fry) But based on this photo, I think the Big sibs have better prospects. And they look female. Would they be tobies? Or genetically, bigger, more successful getting food.

      2. There were six 20" fish in the same 150k gal pond with their offspring. My observation is that they actively tried NOT to eat their offspring. At feeding time, I fed 5mm food for big fish and 2mm food for babies. All fish wanted all of it. Here when the fry were about 2 mos, the Bigs were quite annoyed by their presence around the food - if fish can be annoyed! They made a chuffing sound, expelling air/water to clear out the kids so they could get to the processed pellet food. This photo of the Big coming up to the surface; she has warned them and is now going to actually blow them out of the way. Somewhere I have pics of a plume of water with babies in it.

      Only once in four months, did i see a young'un disappear into the mouth of a grown up and it seemed accidental.
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      Last edited by Koigrl; 01-29-2018 at 01:11 PM.



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    10. #10
      lukef's Avatar
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      koigrl,
      I remember you. So you still have not gone to a psychiatrist concerning ki koi?
      I like the fact you thought of the sound bigger koi made as something emotional...I only hear it when they are trying to suck pellets out from between vegetation, but you might be on to something!
      I will venture a guess that you do not see the tobis eating the younger ones because there are so many opportunities to do it, whereas when you feed the fish the big koi are concentrating on getting whatever they aren't getting from eating smaller fish..they can eat the little ones anytime.
      "Those aren't poodles. They're Dobermans with afros."

    11. #11
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      koigrl,
      I remember you. So you still have not gone to a psychiatrist concerning ki koi?
      I like the fact you thought of the sound bigger koi made as something emotional...I only hear it when they are trying to suck pellets out from between vegetation, but you might be on to something!
      I will venture a guess that you do not see the tobis eating the younger ones because there are so many opportunities to do it, whereas when you feed the fish the big koi are concentrating on getting whatever they aren't getting from eating smaller fish..they can eat the little ones anytime.
      "Those aren't poodles. They're Dobermans with afros."

    12. #12
      Koigrl's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by lukef View Post
      koigrl,
      I remember you. So you still have not gone to a psychiatrist concerning ki koi?
      I like the fact you thought of the sound bigger koi made as something emotional...I only hear it when they are trying to suck pellets out from between vegetation, but you might be on to something!
      I will venture a guess that you do not see the tobis eating the younger ones because there are so many opportunities to do it, whereas when you feed the fish the big koi are concentrating on getting whatever they aren't getting from eating smaller fish..they can eat the little ones anytime.
      Luke!
      I remember you, too. lolol. You said one of my favorite things about my psychiatric condition and I wish i could have it on my signature line. It was to the effect that Luke: "No one is as crazy as you. Not me, not Height -- "
      That I am the craziest is debatable! But I also accept the award.
      But FYI, it takes a long time to create a line of ki shusui. The babies pictured are F2. I have to wait a few years for them to grow up and spawn, but by F3 -- fingers crossed -- I hope to have done it. And it will have been documented here.

      I take your point that the tobies may be consuming smaller sibs while I'm not watching. Visibility is low in mud. And I take your second point that the big fish prefer manufactured food to fresh wriggling total fat and protein food, but this could be proven scientifically. Matt. pls. pick up the challenge when you cull next year. Do bigs prefer pellets or fry. :ughh: But it would qualify as scientific.

      Luke: Here are two of my fave (off topic) photos.
      1. What ki koi kichi looks like.
      2. Father and children reunion. Love this photo.
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      Last edited by Koigrl; 01-29-2018 at 01:51 PM.



      Ki Shusui Project : 300k Challenge : 500k Build : Flock Spawn Jamboree : Our Ki Midori Champions




      Ten minute video of Russ Peters sexing our future ki shusui oyagoi. : http://youtu.be/AhROs1cjC18

      Updated for the 2018 Harvest: What is "ki shusui?" Short version http://www.kishusui.com

      Twelve seconds that are the entire point of the last seven years!
      https://youtu.be/zNqTJgM3lpY

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      Quote Originally Posted by lukef View Post
      Matt,
      I loved your post...just because you actually took the time and energy to do something, and you spoke intelligently about it
      I agree with lukef

      thanks for the post. Really interesting!

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      kigrl
      I said that the big uns eat pellets over smalleruns when the pellets are available. This does not mean that they prefer the pellets over the swimming packets of koi goodness, but that they get satiated eating smalleruns. And then whenpellets are offered the pellets have some essential goodness that is not as available in the smalleruns... consider the all you can eat buffet... you don't even want to eat all the ribs and shrimp you can when you can also eat some good veggies too....
      "Those aren't poodles. They're Dobermans with afros."

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      Matt24's Avatar
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      Luke: Thanks for the kind and insightful comments. You are probably right about the "human factor", people's disappointments causing them to think tobi are ugly in general. They wish for the larger ones to be beautiful more than they want the small ones to look good, and see their shortcomings more easily because they are big. I had not thought of tobi acquiring additional growth hormones when eating their siblings. That may just add to the growth caused by the high protein.

      Orlando: Thanks for giving the sizes that your tobi have grown to. A 23" female just starting her third year sounds like really rapid growth. Since different folks' koi can grow to very different sizes depending on feeding, pond size, etc, I am wondering: Have your tobi grown a lot more than their non-tobi siblings, or just a little more or about the same?

      Max [aka Koigrl]: Some of your larger ones in the photo may have picked off a few of the smallest ones (that may have been even smaller than the little ones pictured). But they probably did not do it that much, given the fairly good uniformity of size and the great numbers you had. I gather you must not have culled out a few 8-10" freaks last fall.

      Kevin and Giacopuzzi: Thanks very much. Tobi are indeed interesting. Figuring out ways to keep them from knocking out most of your spawn while preserving the best tobi themselves is even more interesting.

    16. #16
      Koigrl's Avatar
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      Matt and all, it's great to have folks to gather around a subject as arcane as this one! Speaking for myself, i've got no one around here even slightly interested. Matt, when you cull your upcoming spawn, perhaps you can test out Luke's buffet theory. By the time we've got fry around here my water visibility is about two inches deep.
      Thanks for starting this thread.



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      Updated for the 2018 Harvest: What is "ki shusui?" Short version http://www.kishusui.com

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    17. #17
      Matt24's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Koigrl View Post
      ... when you cull your upcoming spawn, perhaps you can test out Luke's buffet theory ....
      Hi Max. Unlike prior years, the last couple of spawns have been relatively tobi-free. So I am inclined to try that 2016-2017 method again. That was feeding Wombat-style blended high protein recipe type food to the little ones, but at very early ages, as soon as they can eat it. Maybe this will continue to keep the tobi from getting going in the first place. Most all of them grow pretty fast that way. So the big ones can't push 'em around so much.

      I found this old photo from 2012 of this 2" platinum tobi stalking the little ones (mostly 5/8" - 7/8"). They were all 6 weeks old at that point. The tobi would occasionally strike at one, until I could get it separated from them.

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    18. #18
      Koigrl's Avatar
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      Matt, i hear the theme song from "Jaws." Did you keep the plat? love to see its size now.
      ok, i'm going to say 'uncle' on this. This photo of yours reminds me of my 2014 Intex spawn and I did have tobies - i never saw them eat, but i did see them chase. I think I switched the topic from tobies eating their small sibs to BIGs eating smalls. And I remember hearing that Bigs stop eating fry as soon as they recognize that they are fish. That was my experience and it was striking to see the Bigs go out of their way not to eat fry. Tobies = different story. re: your Q to me. I didn't cull 8" fry early on. That pic is representative of the sizes of babes at the harvest.



      Ki Shusui Project : 300k Challenge : 500k Build : Flock Spawn Jamboree : Our Ki Midori Champions




      Ten minute video of Russ Peters sexing our future ki shusui oyagoi. : http://youtu.be/AhROs1cjC18

      Updated for the 2018 Harvest: What is "ki shusui?" Short version http://www.kishusui.com

      Twelve seconds that are the entire point of the last seven years!
      https://youtu.be/zNqTJgM3lpY

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    19. #19
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      NO! Bigs stop actively preying on smalls because they get to big to maneuver well enough to catch them, and their nutritional requirements change from growing to maintaining. They do not have a brain capable of thinking that high. If they did they would also recognize that the eggs and fry they vacuum up by the thousands are their own babies.
      "Those aren't poodles. They're Dobermans with afros."

    20. #20
      Koigrl's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by lukef View Post
      NO! Bigs stop actively preying on smalls because they get to big to maneuver well enough to catch them, and their nutritional requirements change from growing to maintaining. They do not have a brain capable of thinking that high. If they did they would also recognize that the eggs and fry they vacuum up by the thousands are their own babies.
      Luke, do you believe me when i say that the bigs would come up under a field of fry and blow/chuff them away to get to the pellets? (let's leave the "why" aside for a moment). i hope you say that you believe me or i'm going to have to spend the day looking for the photos with no guarantee i'll find them!



      Ki Shusui Project : 300k Challenge : 500k Build : Flock Spawn Jamboree : Our Ki Midori Champions




      Ten minute video of Russ Peters sexing our future ki shusui oyagoi. : http://youtu.be/AhROs1cjC18

      Updated for the 2018 Harvest: What is "ki shusui?" Short version http://www.kishusui.com

      Twelve seconds that are the entire point of the last seven years!
      https://youtu.be/zNqTJgM3lpY

      If you're reading this, you're on Team Ki.
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