Japanese Koi



Japanese Koi in the news

Negotiating Asian Businesswomen 

AsianWeek.com - Jan 12 9:08 AM
DESCRIPTION: Covers techniques to win-win negotiating, from preparing for and conducting a negotiation to maximizing value for both parties’ long-term business success.
New York Times - Jan 10 9:58 PM
Setting the Stage.

tokidoki designs reveal artist's personality 
Honolulu Star-Bulletin - Jan 11 3:18 AM
SHOPPERS passing by LeSportsac Saturday afternoon were curious about the line of 300 people leading from the front of the store to the parking lot.

There's Magic to Be Found on Indonesian Island 
RedNova - Jan 07 12:12 PM
By Karyn Lindberg, The Olympian, Olympia, Wash. Jan. 7--It's 5:30 a.m. in Ubud, our last day in Bali. The sky is a bright coral color that seeps into the rice paddies surrounding Nick's Pension, where we stayed. Across the way, a flock of ducks quack their way to work.

- Japanes Koi

Here is an article on Japanese Koi.


A group of several Japanesse Koi varieties of Koi.
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Cyprinidae
Genus: Cyprinus
Species: C. carpio
Binomial name
Cyprinus carpio
(Linnaeus, 1758)

Koi (鯉(こい), Japnese Koi Rōmaji: koi, pronounced IPA: [kɔɪ]) are ornamental domesticated Japanse Koi varieties of the common carp Cyprinus carpio, originated from China and widely spread in Japan. They are very closely related to Japannese Koi goldfish, and in fact the style of breeding Japanee Koi and ornamentation has become very similar, probably through the efforts of Apanese Koi Japanese breeders to emulate goldfish, but they are not goldfish. Koi and tattoos of Japaese Koi Koi are traditionally considered lucky.

The word "koi" comes from Japanese. The Japamese Koi original Japanese word koi simply means "carp," including both the dull grey fish and Japanesee Koi the brightly colored varieties. Nishikigoi (錦鯉: "brocaded carp", pronounced IPA: [niɕikigoi]) is a more specific term for the ornamental carp. Japnaese Koi This article is about nishikigoi, and uses the English word koi to refer Jpanese Koi to the colorful fish.

While a Chinese book of the Western Jin Dynasty (4th century) mentions carp with various colors, Koi breeding become popular in the 19th century in the Niigata prefecture of Japan. Farmers working the rice fields would notice that some carp would be more brightly colored than others, capture them, and raise them (when normally the brighter colors would doom the fish to be more likely eaten by birds and other predators). By the 20th century, a number of color patterns had been established, most notably the red-and-white Kohaku. The outside world did not become aware of the degree of development until 1914, when the Niigata Koi were exhibited in the annual exposition in Tokyo. Some of them were also presented to Crown Prince Hirohito. At that point, interest in Koi exploded throughout Japan. The Hobby of keeping Koi spread worldwide after plastic bags and shipping of Koi became both fast and safe for the fish. These factors enabled Koi to be shipped worldwide with low mortality rates. Koi are now commonly sold in most pet stores, with higher-quality fish available from specialist dealers.

Koi varieties are distinguished by coloration, patterning, and scalation. Ghost Koi, developed in the 1980s are metallic hybrids of wild carp and Ogon Koi and are not considered true Nishikigoi. Butterfly Koi, Longfin Koi, or Dragon Carp were also developed in the 1980s and are notable for their long and flowing fins. They are actually hybrids with Asian carp, and, like Ghost Koi, are not considered true Nishikigoi.


  • 1 Koi varieties
  • 2 Keeping koi
  • 3 Breeding Koi
  • 4 In the wild
  • 5 Gallery
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links

Koi varieties

Koi varieties

Koi have many different colors. Some of the major colors are: white, black, red, yellow, blue, and cream.

While possible variations are limitless, breeders have identified and named a number of specific categories. The most popular category is Gosanke. The Gosanke category is made up of the Kohaku, Taisho Sanshoku, and Showa Sanshoku varieties. The Japanese breeders have many generations of knowledge and experience when it comes to breeding and raising Nishikigoi. They know which ones will be worth a couple hundred dollars and which ones will be a couple hundred thousand dollars.

The major named varieties include:

  • Kohaku - a white-skinned Koi, with a red pattern
  • Taisho Sanshoku (Sanke) - a white-skinned Koi with a red and black pattern
  • Showa Sanshoku (Showa) - a black-skinned Koi with a red and white pattern
  • Tancho - Any koi with the only red being in a circle on its forehead. The fish can be a Tancho Showa, Tancho Sanke, or even Tancho Goshiki.
  • Asagi - a Koi with light blue scales on its top and red scales on its bottom
  • Shusui - the partially scaled version of an Asagi
  • Bekko - a white, red, or yellow-skinned Koi with a black pattern
  • Utsurimono - a black Koi with a red, white, or yellow pattern
  • Goshiki - a mostly black Koi with red, white, brown, and blue accents
  • Ogon - a Koi that is one solid color, can be regular or metallic; known colors - red, orange, platinum, yellow and cream
  • KinGinRin - Koi with shiny scales "Gold Silver Scales" There is also Gin rin versions of almost any other type of koi. For example, You could have a showa with glittery scales.
  • Kawarimono (kawarigoi) - Miscellaneous types of Koi
  • Doitsu-goi - German Carp
  • Koromo - Koi with areas of blue-edged scales (align neatly)
  • Hikari-Moyomono - Koi with coloured patterns over a metallic base, and koi in two metallic colours
  • Ghost koi - "Hybrid" of Ogon and wild carp. Not Nishikigoi.
  • Butterfly koi - Long-finned version of all others. Not Nishikigoi.

Keeping koi

The common carp is a hardy fish, and koi retain that durability. They can be kept in anything from small containers to large outdoor ponds (see water garden).The traditional indoor aquarium is less desirable than a round plastic tub. Koi are cold water fish, so it's advisable to have a meter or more of depth in areas of the world that become warm during the summer. In areas that get harsh winters, it is a good idea to have a pond that is a minimum of 1.5 meters (4 1/2 feet) deep so that it won't freeze solid. It is also a good idea to keep a space open with a bubbler and a horse trough heater.

Traditional Japanese garden with koi.

Koi's bright colors put them at a severe disadvantage against predators; a white-skinned Kohaku looks like a visual dinner bell against the dark green of a pond. Herons, kingfishers, raccoons, cats, foxes, and badgers are all capable of emptying a pond of its fish. A well-designed outdoor pond will have areas too deep for herons to stand in, overhangs high enough above the water that mammals can't reach in, and shade trees overhead to block the view of aerial passersby. It may prove necessary to string nets or wires above the surface. The pond should include a pump and filtration system to keep the water clear.

Koi are bottom-feeders, so koi food is not only nutritionally balanced, but designed to float so as to encourage them to come to the surface. When they are eating, you can also check for parasites and ulcers. Koi will recognize the person feeding them and gather around at dinnertime. They can even be trained to take the food from one's hand. In the winter their digestive system slows nearly to a halt, and they eat very little, perhaps no more than nibbles of algae from the bottom, and their appetite won't come back until the water warms up in the spring. When the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 °C), feeding, particularly with protein, should be halted or the food can go rancid in their stomach causing sickness. If kept properly, koi can live about 30-40 years. Some have been reportedly known to live up to 200 years [1].

Breeding Koi

Koi in Japan

Like most fish, Koi reproduce through spawning in which a female lays a vast number of eggs and one or more males fertilize them. Nurturing the resulting offspring (referred to as fry) is a tricky and tedious job, usually done only by professionals. Although a Koi breeder may carefully select the parents they wish based on their desired characteristics, the resulting fry will nonetheless exhibit a wide range of color and quality.

Unlike a purebred dog or cat, even the finest champion-grade koi will produce literally thousands of unacceptable, unrecognizable, or even genetically defective offspring in a single spawning. These (and hundreds of marginal offspring) are culled at various stages based on the breeder's expert eye and closely guarded techniques known to a rare few outside Japan. Culled fry are usually destroyed (perhaps fed to other fish) and older culls are often sold as lower-grade "pond-quality" koi within their first year (also called "Tosai") at 3"–6" in size. The semi-randomized result of the Koi's reproductive process is both a blessing and a curse. While it requires diligent oversight to narrow down the favorable result that the breeder wanted all-along, it also made possible the gradual transformation of wild river carp into the exquisite art form that we see in modern nishikigoi.

In the wild

Koi have been accidentally or deliberately released into the wild in every continent except Antarctica. They greatly increase the turbidity of the water because they are constantly stirring up the substrate. This makes waterways unattractive, reduces the abundance of aquatic plants, and can render the water unsuitable for swimming or drinking even by livestock. In some countries, koi have caused so much damage to waterways that vast amounts of money and effort have been spent trying to eradicate them, largely unsuccessfully. Because of the danger to the environment Koi possession is illegal in the State of Maine.



  1. ^ Dr. Komei Koshihara, "The Story of Hanako", NHK, 1966 - about the carp that died 226-year-old, and century-old carps
  • "Cyprinus carpio". FishBase. Ed. Ranier Froese and Daniel Pauly. 10 2005 version. N.p.: FishBase, 2005.
  • George C. Blasiola (1995). Koi: everything about selection, care, nutrition, diseases, breeding, pond design and maintenance, and popular aquatic plants. Hauppauge, New York: Barron's Educational Series. ISBN 0-8120-3568-2. 
  • David Twigg (2001). How to Keep Koi. New York: Howell Book House. ISBN 0-7645-6242-8. 

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Cyprinus carpio
  • British Koi-keepers' Society
  • Associated Koi Clubs of America
  • Nishikigoi Information Directory
  • NIWA June 2006
  • Koi Wiki
  • Feature article on treating sick fish, especially koi, "Surgery to Scale"| Cosmos Magazine
Search Term: "Koi"