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Kelowna News

Business Spotlight

A Fishy Kind of Hobby

Dayleen Van Ryswyk, owner of Okanagan Koi & Water Gardens gives some attention to one of the beautiful Koi on consignment.
Original Publication Date May 14, 2018 - 12:00 AM

Some people have golf or car restoration hobbies which aren’t all that uncommon, but a Japanese Koi hobby is a little more unique, especially when some of the exotic fish carry a price of upwards of $1,000,000.

    Dayleen Van Ryswyk, aka the Koi Lady, got bitten by her hobby, turned passion, turned business when she was just 18 years old while on a trip to Hawaii.
    “I started this as a hobby that ran amuck. I love it. It’s taken me all over the place and I’m outside with my two favorite things; plants and animals,” said Van Ryswyk, owner of Okanagan Koi & Water Gardens in Kelowna.
    After that first encounter with the Japanese carp, Van Ryswyk opened a business in her Penticton garage in 1999. “It really took off and we decided if we were going to do this right, we had to move to Kelowna to a bigger property,” said the animal lover, who also adores her two Jindo dogs she rescued from South Korea where they were destined for meat processing.
    The hand-reared fish that Van Ryswyk imports from Japan and one location in the United States, are famous for their colour, size and beauty. They have become a Japanese icon and often sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Colours range from pearly white, red, grey, bright orange, dark blue, black and sunny yellow.
    As Van Ryswyk gently scoops one of her visiting consignment Koi from the pond, the calm creature remains relatively still to receive a pet on the spine and under the chin, something they enjoy, she assures, along with their love of watermelon, fresh lemons and limes that Van Ryswyk picks from her own trees.
    Self taught, and very educated on fish health and care, Van Ryswyk has even worked with veterinarians on how to feed, care for and even operate on Koi.
    “When I give advice it comes from true knowledge and experience. I find it personally upsetting when people are given incorrect advice,” says Van Ryswyk, who always quarantines her fish after they arrive from the farm in Japan at her three-acre, manicured garden which house more than nine display ponds ranging from a 500 gallon pond to a 27 thousand gallon Koi pond.
   The quality of Van Ryswyk’s Koi are of the highest standards. “We import only select grade and show grade Koi. We leave the pet store quality to the pet stores.” But the quality of the fish doesn’t make them unaffordable for the avid or new hobbyist. Her fish start at $18.99.
    Van Ryswyk says creating a home and environment for Koi is something she and her team are very proud of. Ponds can range from the small, costing about $500, to the extravagant $100,000. I tell people to make their pond as big as their budget and yard can manage.” She says it’s a lot more work and more expensive to enlarge an existing smaller pond.
    To give people an idea of what their pond could look like, and to see the fish and filters in action, they can tour the many ponds and water falls at Okanagan Koi & Water Gardens.
    “Let’s be honest, everybody can sell pond supplies, but to see them working is a different thing,” says Van Ryswyk, who says along with Koi ponds and supplies, they also build commercial and residential dog swim ponds, human swim ponds, aquatic plants ponds, streams, waterfalls and pondless features.
    The 85 year life span of Koi makes them an important and valuable investment, so their ponds should not be any different.
    The Koi Lady and her business are open seven days a week from March to the end of October. Visit for more information and spectacular photos. 

Sponsored By   Koi Gardens

News from © iNFOnews, 2018

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