I was recently approached by the Italian Koi Association (IKA) about an article for their newly launched magazine and was pleased to get involved!
Here's the first two questions from the interview, look out for more in my future blogs.
Koi Advice From a Pro - Introducing Ricky Stoddart
Ricky Stoddart is an award winning koi expert and Managing Director of the UK's leading wholesale supplier of quality Japanese koi, Koi Wholesale.
What’s more, in 2003, at just 13 years of age he was officially named the World’s youngest koi dealer.
In our IKA interview with Ricky we get to find out a little more about his background, why he is so passionate about koi and his top tips for successfully creating your own pond of stunning fish.
Q1. Your love of koi started at a young age. How did you get involved in the world of koi and what attracted you to them?
I’ve been around koi my whole life and when I was born my dad had a small koi facility in the back garden at home, he also traded from a market stall selling fish and dry goods such as fish food. My dad loved the ponds where he kept his stock and even on the day I was born he was medicating his fish. Amongst all of the commotion of his first son being born he made the mistake of double dosing formaldehyde into the pond, resulting in all of the fish scales falling off and the fish sadly being destroyed. A mistake I’m sure he will never make again, and never forget to this day!
As well as the outside ponds my parents had a large fancy goldfish tank in the house and it was one of the few things that helped me to go to sleep. At two years old I loved watching the fish, to the point where I would drift off as I watched them calmly swimming around the tank.
As my dad progressed from the market stall to his first shop I naturally got more involved and had opportunities to visit the shop with him. By being immersed in the aquatics shop I naturally had an attraction to fish, but it was always the size and beauty of the koi that meant they were my firm favourite.
Alongside the shop my dad developed an impressive and much larger koi pond set up at home, along with a couple of large tanks that he also used as stock for the shop. The first koi that I would call my own was a large black Magoi which lived in the pond - It was the biggest fish in there and simply had a presence that attracted me to it.
Q2. You’re recognised internationally as a renound koi expert. How did you develop your passion into a business?
At the age of 10 I really got into the world of koi and at 11 years old I started to make appearances at my parents shop, talking to customers and sharing the knowledge that I had rapidly built up. It was around this time that my dad took his first trip to Japan to see the koi farms in Niigata and even though I couldn’t go with him I was up all night, waiting for the phone to ring for him to tell me what he’d been up to and what he had seen that day.
Around the same time my parents also moved house to Laneham in Nottinghamshire UK, where the current Koi Wholesale premises are based. It was around this time that my dad started building the facilities which are now the core part of Koi Wholesale. By helping my dad with the building work I then started to develop my knowledge around pond building and the importance of integrating the correct type of filters to care for koi. In 2002 at the age of 12 I took my first trip to Japan, it was my reward for my labour helping my dad with the build!
At age 13, and as result of my first trip to Japan I contacted Fujio Oomo, a leading breeder in Niigata and asked to visit him. From my email he could clearly see my passion for koi and surprisingly agreed to help me. This second trip was a pivotal moment in my career, and with a small amount of money borrowed from my grandma I purchased my first batch of fish from Marusho Koi Farm which I then grew and successfully sold on through my dad’s shop. I was even taking phone calls from customers on my lunchbreaks at school!
At the age of 16 I finished my GCSE exams and left school to work full time at my dad’s shop. I knew that I wanted to work specifically with top end koi so a couple of years later I left my dad’s business and created my own company called Koi Growers, a retail venture specifically selling only high quality koi. I was successfully selling valuable fish worth up to £2-3000 each, but I could realistically see that in the longer term it was not the correct business to run from the site so decided to set up my wholesale business. Koi Wholesale has subsequently grown from strength to strength in its 10 years of operation.
Look out for my future blogs about the Italian Koi Association interview in the coming weeks!
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