Koi Fish Information – An Introduction To Koi History And Varieties


The word Koi which translates to carp in English, has become a very popular addition to many ponds and fountains. The full name is Nishikigoi which according to available Koi fish information translates to brocaded carp.

The various varieties of Koi, are distinguished by the scales, patternine and the assortment of colors. Some of the colors that you will find are black, red, blue, yellow, cream and white. According to current Koi fish information; the Gosanke is the most popular of the various Koi. It is a combination of Showa, Sanshoku, TaishoSanshoku and the Kohaku varieties of Koi.

Their History

Initially, carp were located in Asia and Central Europe. Some were domesticated in areas of Eastern Asia and used a food fish. Carp has the ability to adapt and survive in many climates. They can tolerate a variety of water conditions. The variety of colors began with breeding over one thousand years ago in China. It was during that time that the breeding of the Prussian carp resulted in the common Goldfish.

In Japan, carp are known as Koi. The common carp is the one that is used in most aquacultural settings. Koi fish information indicates that the common carp began being bred for food fish during the 5th century. This occurred in China. In Japan they began being bred for color in during the 1820’s. A variety of color patterns transpired and became known to the outside world. The most notable color was the red and white Kohaku. In 1914 the Nigata Koi appeared in an exposition in Tokyo. The beauty of the fish caused interest to explode throughout the country. It became the most popular “hobby” fish. It eventually spread worldwide and are now readily available in pet stores. The better type of Koi can be obtained in specialty fish stores or through distributors.

Due to extensive hybridization, it is difficult to determine the historical lineage of common carp. It is believed and agreed upon by scientists that there are two subspecies. One is from Western Eurasia and the other from Eastern Asia. Research of the DNA of the carp have shown that they are descended from common carp from both regions. Previously a study of mitochondrial DNA seemed to indicate that the Koi were descended from the East Asian species. Because of the many hybridization attempts, it is difficult to firmly agree on either theory.

Many varieties

There are many varieties of Koi. This is the result of continuing experimentation and hybridization. The varieties are distinguished by scalation, patterning and color. The predominant colors of Koi are white, red, black, blue, yellow and cream. The variations go far beyond these listed colors. Breeders have identified some specific areas of labeling. According to current Koi fish information; the Gosanke is the most popular and is a combination of Kohauk, Showa Sanshoku and Taisho Sanshoku carp.

During the 1980’s Ghost Koi appeared. They are one of the most popular in Britain. The Ghost Koi is a combination of wild carp and the Ogon Koi. Their metallic scales are very distinguished. Butterfly Koi also made their appearance in the 80’s. They are also known as Dragon carp of Longfin Koi. They possess flowing long fins. They are the result of hybridization of the Koi and Asian carp. Although popular, Ghost Koi and Butterfly Koi are not considered to be true Nishikigoi.

Koi VS Goldfish

An interesting piece of Koi Fish information is that Koi are different from Goldfish. The popular Goldfish was developed in China over 10 centuries ago. They are the result of the Prussian carp which were bred specifically for color mutation. Prussian carp and Goldfish are now different species. Yellow, white, orange and red and white colors were developed during the Song Dynasty.

The Goldfish was introduced in Japan during the 16th century. Koi fish information shows that the Koi did not appear until the 1820’s. The Koi is a domesticated common carp and are bred for their color. If allowed to freely breed, they would revert to original colorations in a few generations.

Goldfish are smaller than Koi. They also have a larger variety of shapes and tail and fin configurations. Koi have a common shape and greater assortment of color patterns. Koi also have barbells on the their lip. Some of the varieties of Goldfish have shapes and colors that are similar. It is often difficult to tell them apart when they are immature. It is also an interesting Koi fish information that Goldfish and Koi evolve from different species and are sterile.


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