Japanese Koi Fish Types: Getting To Know Them


Koi are beautiful 'ornamental' versions of the common carp species.

They originated in China and then spread to Japan and has been cultivated mainly there ever since.

The word “koi” is Japanese for carp, and the word “nishikigoi” means ornamental carp. It was in the nineteenth century in the Niigata prefecture of Japan that koi breeding emerged.

According to history and legend, the farmers of that prefecture noticed colourful carp varieties in their rivers, that they were more easily snapped up by the birds because of their attractive colors, and began breeding them.

Over time, a classification system developed according to their color variations and qualities, and now, there is an accepted categorization by which koi varieties are known by. Depending on the quality of their colors, rarity, patterning and sheen, the price of koi vary from a few dollars, to thousands of dollars each.

They have become very popular indeed in many countries around the world now, and we’re all now exposed to the language and technologies of the Japanese when it comes to koi breeding and cultivation.

Here's a video with the different varieties of koi, including colors:

Apart from their beauty and sturdiness as fish, koi has become legendary because of the fact that they can grow to very large sizes, and is limited relatively by the size of the pond that they reside in. And also they are renowned for their ability to live very long years.

There’s a story of Hanako, you may or may not have heard, which is a story about a koi found in a pond in the mountains of Mino Province of Japan. Some scale samples of this fish was examined by Prof. Masayoshi Hiro in the 1960s and it was concluded that, to his surprise, that the koi was estimated to be 215 years old. I suppose we’ll never be sure of how accurate this is, as it was based on light microscope studies at the time.

The details were broadcast on national radio in Japan in 1965, and continues:

“Then I had the Professor examine the remaining five carp in the same pond, three white and two black ones. The examination took one year, and it was found out as the results that three were respectively 168, 153 and 149 years old, and the remaining two were both 139 years old.”

from www.vcnet.com/koi_net/hanako.html

Well, whether you believe this account or not, there’s no denying that the popularity of Japanese koi has rocketed in the last few decades all over the world including the United States and the UK.

The sheer variety of koi available now both locally and via export from Japan and other countires, makes exceptionally good koi available to enthusiasts everywhere.

For more information have a look at how to choose amongst koi for sale.

Here’s a chart of the popular koi fish for reference. You’ll no doubt get to know the names even more intimately when you look at koi fish for sale, or at auctions.


New to koi fish keeping?

Then click here to see the koi fish guide that will have you go from beginner to pro within days.