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Koi crazy!

The Swansons aren't coy about koi. These folks love their fish.
Koi are members of the carp family, and some special show varieties can sell for up to $30,000.
The Swansons raise koi on 40 acres in Minnesota. Mike designs and builds koi ponds across North America.
Mike has no problem swimming with the fishes if the weather allows. The koi are quite tame.

Koi crazy

The Swansons are what the Japanese might call "koi kichi" or koi crazy. All five of them--Mike, Janel, and three sons Michael Jr., Devin, and Tayler--are in the koi business on their acreage near Scandia, Minnesota. Their piscatorial affliction started at the bottom of a kiddie pool. As the kids were growing up, Mike and Janel kept eight aquariums in the house with a variety of fish. Janel then added a water feature to the yard: a whiskey barrel with goldfish. Mike ignored it. Then she put out a liner pond, about 100 gallons worth. Mike ignored that, too. Then one day he decided to be a good husband and help her clean out the pool, ripping the liner. Oops!

Being in the construction business, he brought home a backhoe and dug her a proper pond. Things got serious. Shortly thereafter, they moved from suburbia onto their 40 acres near Scandia, and they really went to town digging out and creating a three-tiered pond system. The fish soon took over their lives. Mike quit the construction business and became a pond expert. "A neighbor once asked me if I was divorced, widowed, or single," says Janel. "She never saw a man around the place. Mike was just too busy working construction all the time. He was never home."

"The fish told me there's more to life than working all the time," he says with a grin.

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