SIX MILE — Koi fish, or Nishikigoi, have been kept and bred in Japan as far back as the mid-1800’s.
Breeders have strict guidelines they follow for producing the most coveted color patterns and a champion fish’s bloodline can be often traced back for generations.
It is an ancient art, often depicted in traditional paintings and poems, and has long since integrated itself as a mainstay within the Japanese culture which is why it was odd to find a Koi fish breeder in Pickens County.
Ernie Vaughn of Six Mile has been keeping and breeding Koi for over 20 years.
“Well, you’re not really keeping fish, you’re keeping water,” Vaughn said. “If your water’s good, you’ll keep good, healthy fish.”
Along with their families, Vaughn and son-in-law John Bruder own Fairview Water Gardens, where, besides Koi, they offer aquatic plants, garden decor, home/pool/spa filtration systems and decorative water features for homes and businesses.
“It all started because Ernie wanted to start selling Koi,” said Bruder. “I wanted to build my own business where someday I could just work for myself and be my own boss. With my landscaping experience, it seemed like a good fit.”
Fairview Water Gardens, located at 231 Griggs Road, began with just a fish barn located near the back of their property.
“We’re adding to it all the time. First we had the barn, now we have the store front, the waterfall. Pretty soon we’ll have more water features in and around the store. We’re always growing,” he said.
According to Bruder, you don’t have to be an expert if you’re interested in having your own Koi pond.
“We do whole installs, the pond, the filtration, everything and it’s year-round. A lot of people don’t think about doing this in the winter but sometimes it’s actually easier to set one up when it’s colder,” Bruder said. “The fish are dormant and it’s easier to balance the eco-system.”
Although Koi can sell for a lot of money (the most expensive Koi recently sold for $2.2 million), the fish at Fairview are more reasonably priced.
“It depends on what you want,” said Bruder. “We have around 1,000 Koi in the barn and they sell from anywhere from $7 to a grand. It depends on the size, the colors, the uniqueness of the pattern. There’s a lot of factors. But all of our Koi are from Japanese bloodlines.”
Fairview also sells goldfish.
“I think the most expensive Koi I ever saw sold for $56,000,” said Bruder.
When asked what a $56,000 fish looks like, Bruder laughed and said: “Big.”
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.