While corn and soybeans are king when it comes to Iowa crops, there are still many forms of alternative agriculture being practiced in the state. One unique farm near Amana raies multi-colored koi fish that are for viewing, not eating.
Ellan Kloubec runs the aquaculture farm with her family, and says preparing the fish involves a lot of work. Kloubec says they give the fish hormone injections to allow them to develop their eggs, they strip them of their eggs and fertilize them, and then the eggs hatch in three days.
The fry stay in the tanks for three days, and they then stock millions of little fry that look like larva out into nursery ponds. Traditional farmers keep a close eye on the weather forecast, and Kloubec says fish farming can also be impacted by storms. She says if a thunderstorm knocks out power, then there’s a danger oxygen pumps will shut down and fish could die.
She says huge torrential rains can fill the ponds too quickly and that can wash the fry away. “It’s not like cattle or hogs, you know when your livestock gets out you corral them back in — no — when the fish get out, they’re gone,” Kloubec says. After one year of growth, the fish are ready for sale.
The Kloubecs sell some of the koi to wholesale garden stores, while the more brightly colored fish are sent to a sale in Maryland, or are sold on-line to collectors. “I photograph each of the fish that I list on-line, and when they go on-line they buy that exact fish,” Kloubec explains. She gives each fish a number for their tank so when they are purchased she knows where to find them.
Kloubec’s son Nicholas came up with the idea to convert some of their game fish operation to sell the koi fish. He says they have sold a fish for as much as $2,500 dollars — but most sell for less. He says they sell some for 800 to $1,200 dollars to collectors, but the average prices is $35.
He says there are koi shows just like dog shows, and the collectors want the high blood line fish. They still raise some game fish for sale in their 75 ponds. Just like their counterparts in agriculture, once the fall season ends, things slow down a little on the fish farm until the spring season comes once again.
Find out more about the Koubec operation, chekc out their website: www.kloubeckoi.com.