Koi fish are a special variant of domesticated carp well known for their unique scales and splendid colors. Some of the most common colors are yellow, blue, black, red and white.
Because of their large size, beautiful colors and elegant swimming motions; koi fish have become a popular option for people looking for a more unique type of pet. They are often found in indoor fountains of expensive homes or upscale office buildings.
Their appearance has made them a popular subject amongst painters and tattoo artists, making their unique appearance even better known across the world.
Types of Koi Fish
There are many different types of koi fish, each with their own unique colors and patterns. This gives potential owners many options to choose from. There are about twenty well-known and named varieties of koi fish, but new varieties are constantly being introduced. Some of the most popular koi fish include;
- Asagi: Red scales on their underbelly and blue scales on top
- Bekko: White, red or yellow scales with unique black pattern markings
- Butterful Koi: Comes in many different colors, it’s named after a butterfly because it has long flowing fins that resemble wings. This koi can only be achieved through unique cross breeding and so some consider it not to be a true variety, although this is a subject of debate amongst koi owners.
- Chagoi: A very friendly breed of carp believed to be a sign of good luck. It comes in shades similar to tea, such as light greens and browns.
- Doitsu-goi: This type of koi was made by a wide variety of cross-breeding and comes in many different colors and patterns; the rarest and most unique being the “armored” type. The armored koi gets its name from its large scales that resemble metal plated armor.
- Ghost Koi: Dark in color with bright metallic scales in gold or white. There is some debate whether it is a true koi variety.
- Goshiki: This koi often has a dark color forming the base of its scales, ranging from black to blue. It also has a red pattern that accompanies the dark scales.
- Hikari-moyomono: Metallic scales form the base color of this koi often with an accompaniment of a secondary color.
- Kawarimono: A general term for all koi, new varieties of koi that do not fit into the other categories are often stuck here.
- Kikokuryu: A sparkling koi named after a glittering dragon.
- Kin-Kikokuryu: Similar to the normal Kikokuryu but of a more metallic variety, named after a gold dragon.
- Kinginrin: A glittering version of koi with characteristics that can be cross bred into most main varieties of koi.
- Kohaku: One of the classic and well known varieties of koi. It has a white base with red patterns.
- Koromo: A cross between Kohaku and Asagi originating in the 1950s.
- Kumonryu: This koi has black scales with white markings. It is named after nine painted dragons. They are known to change colors with the change of the seasons.
- Ochiba: Blue base with patterns of bronze and copper. It is famous for looking like falling autumn leaves on a blue pond.
- Ogon: Metallic scales and has only one color with no accompaniment.
- Showa Sanshoku: A black koi that has white and red markings.
- Shusui: This koi has no scales except for dorsal scales, going from the top of its head to its tail. It comes in colors reminiscent of autumn.
- Tancho: Known for having a single red spot on their forehead.
- Taisho Sanshoku: Almost identical to the Kohaku except that it has additional black markings.
- Utsurimono: Known for having zebra pattern stripes, it comes in varieties of yellow, red and white.
In The Wild
Koi fish do not have any true wild counterparts the way some domestic animals do. There are relatives of the koi fish such as carp which are still considered wild breeds, but none that could be considered koi themselves.
While there are no koi fish that live in the wild naturally, some koi have entered a wild environment by being set free. When domestic animals are released into the wild in large numbers, it can often be a hazard for the environment; and koi are no exception.
When introduced into a new environment with no natural predators, the new species often runs rampant and can become a pest.
Without selective breeding, koi fish rarely keep the unique colors that they gained while bred in captivity. Within several generations of being set free, koi fish start to revert back to common carp and will lose their colors. Even after becoming common carp, they can still be bothersome in environments where they do not belong.
Koi owners who feel a need to get rid of their fish for some reason or another are encouraged to find a means of giving them to another koi enthusiast. There are koi forums online where fish can be shared or sold.
How Expensive Are Koi?
The price of a koi fish is a very common question but a difficult one to answer, since they come in such a wide variety of types and patterns. Some types of koi are extremely rare; these highly prized koi can cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.
But not all koi fish are this expensive nor is it a pet exclusively for the rich. Common types with more simplistic patterns tend to sell for around a hundred dollars.
This may seem expensive for a fish, but it should be noted that while many domestic fish do not live long a healthy koi fish can live 15 to 30 years when properly cared for.
Koi fish are legal to own in 49 states in the United States. Maine is the only state in which koi fish are not legal to own as pets or as pondfish.
They are legal to own in most places around the world and are kept as pets on 6 out of 7 continents.