Whenever people think of pets, koi probably aren’t the first thing to cross their mind. So you might be asking “what is a koi fish?”. People are probably more likely to think of dogs, cats, goldfish, but not koi when it comes to family pets.
I want to change that. I want to get you to start considering the koi fish as a wonderful pet in this article. You may already know quite a bit about them if you read my other articles, but the newbie might still be wondering about them. Wonder no more!
I’ll tell you what koi fish are in this post. Hopefully, you’ll be ready to learn more. I just want to pique your interest and give the koi fish some much-needed love in the spotlight. I give you a general overview of what a koi is, tell you why I think they’re awesome, and how to determine if yours are really valuable-for the ones interested in selling koi. Yes, they can be a very lucrative business too.
What Are Koi? A General Overview
Koi are colored varieties of the Amur carp- a group of carp native to Eastern Asia in an area expending from northern Vietnam to the Amur River on the Siberia-China border. Koi are decorative fish used just to attract attention to people’s outdoor ponds or water gardens.
The koi fish is a cold water fish. The young version of koi can be kept as an aquarium fish when they are small. However, keep in mind that they reach three feet in length at adulthood. Koi need space and the water requirements for them are 10 gallons of water to every one inch of fish.
Koi fish are adaptable to many climates and that allows them to be pets in koi ponds all across the planet. Just don’t keep them in very extreme heat like the Sahara or freezing areas like the poles. This adaptability allowed them to be spread to a lot of locations-including Japan.
Koi fish can hibernate in water at the freezing point as long as it doesn’t completely freeze solid: they’ll just hang out at the waters bottom where the water’s warmer. You can get pond deicers that keep a constant hole in the ice during the winter. This is how you keep a pond from freezing solid.
Some like it hot-not koi though. In temperatures of 90 degrees F the oxygen levels start to shrink in your pond down to 7 parts per mil. Koi start dying once oxygen levels reach 3 ppm. Pond aeration devices like waterfalls, bubblers, and fountains break up the water and encourage better gas exchange. These devices help your koi pond stay oxygenated.
If you live in a desert or in Alaska maybe koi-keeping isn’t for you. Most people don’t live in extreme cold or extreme heat so they live in fine conditions for pet koi fish.
Fact: Amur carp were originally aqua farmed for food going back as far as the fifth century B.C. in China and didn’t get started being bred for color in Japan until the 1820s. These carp were raised in the town of Ojiya in the Niigata Prefecture on Honsho Island
Great Qualities Koi Fish Possess
For those of you who have interest if feng shui, it teaches that having a kois spirit around you means good luck for you, good fortune, and spiritual benefits. Feng shui is a spiritual form of organization and placement of objects.
Koi fish are fun at feeding time. They move along elegantly in the water and get along with their fellow fish very well. This is one trait that might make them preferable to dogs or cats. I like dogs and cats too, but they do sometimes get in brawls over the food dish. Koi don’t seem to do this as they are a docile fish.
There are hundreds of varieties of koi and they all brighten up your pond with different colors. This gives your pond an awesome display of awe-inspiring color.
Koi carp are docile in nature. They are also a social fish that enjoy the company of others. In nature, koi are shoaling fish-living in large groups. Being a lone fish might not stress them as much as some other schooling fish, but it isn’t the way nature intended koi fish to live either.
Koi get big. You should consider eventually building out a koi pond as opposed to keeping them as aquarium fish. Koi need a lot of wiggle room for their own comfort as well as mating. I’m just letting you know your options for dealing with pet koi when they get larger. A tank might not be a viable long-term solution.
Some koi fish, like your more traditional pet, even like being petted. These braver souls will pop up to the surface for a pat on the head. You can also train koi to eat from your hand whenever they get comfortable enough around you
Can You Eat Koi Fish?
Chinese farmers were raising carp as a food fish all the way up to the 1800s. Koi are just a colored version of carp. This being the case you can eat them. It’s just not recommended and I’ll tell you why.
The koi being kept as pets in koi ponds should not be chowed down on. It’s not that they’re toxic or anything: I just don’t recommend it because they aren’t the cleanest fish out there.
They produce a lot of waste and like nothing more than to settle at the bottom of their ponds and stir up the sediment. This waste material in the water and the stirred up sediment can let bacteria flourish and they can’t help but absorb some of it in their skin. Maybe I’m wrong, but I just wouldn’t want to try it personally.
Bottom Line: Koi fish are just for looking at. They are not what’s for dinner.
Are Koi Fish Dangerous To Humans?
I’m answering this question because it comes up in forums sometimes.
I’m not sure what these Google browsers mean or the context in which they might view koi as dangerous, so there is going to be multiple parts to this answer.
If they are asking “will koi bite you in the jugular and drag you down to the depths of your 3 foot pond where the other koi will eat you down to the bone?”, then no. What a horrendoes thought? And luckily for you, the answer is no. You are thinking of a cross between a lion and a piranha and there should be a movie about it. If you ever see a lion piranha run! Koi are not lion piranha and won’t attack you. You are safe with koi.
If these Googlers are asking “are koi sicknesses dangerous for people?”, the answer is still no. Species as different as human and koi don’t normally transfer diseases betwixt each other.
If the koi Googlers are asking”are koi dangerous to eat with fava beans and a nice Chianti?” Technically the answer is no. Koi aren’t toxic. LIke discussed earlier, koi fish are a species of carp-which are still kept as a food source in some countries. They are an unsanitary fish though. Also, some will be opposed to it due to it being a sacred animal in some cultures. Some Japanese people will look upon it the same way you would if you saw them eating your dog. They would probably not like you doing it is the point I’m trying to get across here.
Koi Fish-A Money-Making Side Hustle?
A lot of people look at koi as valuable assets. The koi fish industry is big business for many opportunity-minded entrepreneurs. If you are considering this, then you might be asking yourself what makes one koi fish valuable while the other similar looking one sells for just $25.
According to BusinessInsider.com, the most expensive koi fish of all time fetched a hefty $1.8 million price tag. How’s that for a payday!
Determining a koi fishes value is a topic that I imagine comes up on the daily for koi experts. People hear these stories of koi being worth millions and, being of the curious sort, going to find the answers to see if they can plan early retirement now or if they just got a “mutt”. The most popular question in the koi industry is without doubt “what is my koi worth?”.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to get down to brass tacks on a specific koi’s dollar value.
The best way to get on the right track is by using the standards that koi show judges use. These same standards that the judges use is the same standards sellers use to determine sale prices of koi. They are a good source for you to get an idea of your own pet koi’s value. Maybe you have a gold mine swimming in that koi pond. Let’s cover what is looked for in high-quality show-worthy koi.
Koi shows have judges that have a very rigid set of standards to check for in their koi contestants.
The 3 “Koi Quality” Categories
- Conformation- the body shape. High-quality koi should have as perfect a body shape as possible. The koi fishes body has to be balanced, symmetrical, and possess an even torpedo-shape. The fins need to be proportional to the body and they need to be intact-no rotting-to be considered a high-quality koi of immense value.
- Color-the ground, or the main underlying color of the koi should be even throughout. Borders of the colored patches should be well-defined and stand out sharply whether they are black, red, or yellow.
- Pattern- Patterns are very dependant on the type of koi you have. All koi varieties have different characteristics with different featured color patterns to their scaled, or scaleless, bodies. The head, shoulders, the mid-section, tail, and pectoral fins need to have a symmetrical pattern going down the middle. No unevenness.
A champion koi will be flawless on all three of these departments. As you can see, it would be a rare living jewel that has all these qualities. If you judge that your koi has these traits in spades, then you might indeed have a million-dollar on, or in, your hands
Koi are a colored version of Amur carp. The koi fish didn’t start becoming the koi pond variety we now know until the 1820s. Up til then they weren’t being bred as colored, decorative fish, but were aqua cultured as a food fish instead.
Koi fish possess many nice qualities that you will admire whenever if you get your own. There are traits that they have that other pets wouldn’t have. Some of their best qualities are:
- their spiritual link to good luck and good fortune
- the fun atmosphere they create at feeding time
- the many different colors that can make your pond really stick out on your property
- their gentle, docile nature
- their impressive size
- their friendly demeanor, such as some wanting to get petted, just like a dog or cat.
Eating koi fish isn’t on my to-do list. You learned why I don’t think eating koi is a good idea. They are not a very cleanly specimen and besides that, they are considered sacred animals in some cultures. The way Egyptians worshipped-or were just afraid of-cats. They are revered. There’s already fish you know you like-why try koi? They should just be for your viewing pleasure.
They aren’t dangerous in any way to humans. So no worries about getting attacked, poisoned, eaten, or sickened by these gentle giants. They’re just friendly fish who I believe you will delight in having.
You may be one of the lucky koi owners with a real living jewel koi that is flawless. Follow my criteria in the post to check your koi over with. If you think one of them is a good candidate for a high-dollar valued koi, then get an expert to appraise it.
Do you have any burning questions about koi not covered here? Ask me in a comment as I am also a docile creature that doesn’t attack people. Maybe a taco every now and then. Thanks.