Local koi show attracts many

Published: Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 12:36 a.m.

Orlando resident Henry Culpepper didn't want a swimming pool in his backyard. Instead, he and his wife built a small pond for koi, the popular, often colorful freshwater fish that originated centuries ago in Asia and Europe.

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Joe White tries to net a koi into a tub held by Henry Culpepper, not pictured, to be measured at the Japanese Koi Show at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens on Saturday.

Charles Roop/Special to The Sun


Koi show continues today


  • What: Gainesville Koi Club Japanese Koi Show, with hundreds of ornamental koi on display

    When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today

    Where: Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, 4700 SW 58th Drive, off Archer Road

    About koi: The word "koi" comes from the Japanese word, simply meaning "carp." The name koi includes both the dull gray carp and the brightly colored varieties. The word koi also can mean "love, affection" and koi are therefore symbols of love and friendship in Japan.&
  • Now what started as a hobby has grown into something bigger for Culpepper: He raises koi, and now he enters contests nationwide.

    Culpepper took "best in show" in a koi competition for the seventh time Saturday at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. At this weekend's Gainesville Koi Club Japanese Koi Show, one of Culpepper's koi, a black and white Utsuri, took top honors.

    Koi, a type of ornamental carp that is closely related to the goldfish, are shown in competitions the world over - competitions that in some respects are similar to dog and cat shows, with different classes of fish based on breed.

    The Gainesville Koi Club's show, which continues at Kanapaha Gardens today, attracted more than 100 people, despite rain and temperatures in the 50s.

    Eustis resident Joseph L. Pawlak, president of Blackwater Creek Koi Farms Inc., explained there are more than 30 types of koi and each has its own special details. There are red ones, white ones, gold, yellow and any combination of each, he said.

    Although there is disagreement concerning the number of types of koi, the consensus is between 20 and 30, Pawlak said.

    Each fish is judged based on the class they are in, Pawlak said.

    "You can't judge a chihuahua versus a bulldog," he said.

    Pawlak said some of the main things judges look for when comparing koi are clarity, color size and shape. For example, a fish with a color that is cloudy or milky white would lose in competition to a fish that is bright white with great definition. For multi-colored koi, having defined lines is vital, said Pawlak, who described the desired coloring as being painted on as opposed to blending in together.

    Size is also important, he said.

    "The bigger the fish is, the tougher it is to maintain their quality," Pawlak said.

    Culpepper, who works as an engineer for the Lockheed Martin Corp. in Orlando, said he first got interest in koi nine years ago and quickly got involved with shows. He concedes he has a long way to go before he captures "best in show" at some of the more well-known koi shows. For instance, Culpepper said he only has one fish that he figures could compete in a large koi show, whereas he estimates he has over a dozen that could compete in Gainesville's show.

    Asked if he plans on making a living raising and selling koi, Culpepper said, "If you want (to make) $1 million in the koi business, start with $5 million."

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