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Oklahoma koi farm produces decorative fish for individuals and retail firms

Stillwater-based business develops after local professor hooked by species
BY CATHERINE SWEENEY Published: July 3, 2014
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Koi swim to the surface of the water as they are fed by Conrad Kleinholz at the Kleinholz Koi Farm in Stillwater on Wednesday. Photo by K.T. King, The Oklahoman
  KT King
Koi swim to the surface of the water as they are fed by Conrad Kleinholz at the Kleinholz Koi Farm in Stillwater on Wednesday. Photo by K.T. King, The Oklahoman KT King

— Cowboy memorabilia isn’t the only profitable orange-and-black merchandise coming out of Stillwater.

At Kleinholz Koi Farm, a family-run operation a few miles outside town, the inventory is brightly colored domesticated carp that often are seen in ponds or water gardens. Although they can be a variety of colors, many are a shiny orange.

Multiple factors determine the price of koi, which can vary widely. Some fish sell for as little as 50 cents; others can bring thousands of dollars.

The chief fish wrangler, Conrad Kleinholz, is an aquaculture professor at Langston University.

“I have been a fish guy forever,” he said.

He sold tropical fish for extra money in high school and college, and eventually began studying them. After raising fish for most of his life, he started raising koi “accidentally,” he said.

In the early 1990s, Kleinholz was working with aquaculture extension and agreed to help some koi hobbyists whose fish were sickly and wouldn’t reproduce. After some testing, the group realized the water had been contaminated. He helped them clean the ponds and create an environment more conducive to spawning.

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