Koi carp

Not just a pond fish but a cultural icon, especially in Japan where they are most famously cultivated

Bernard Spragg

The history of koi carp dates back centuries in East Asia, with selective breeding for color variations believed to have started in Japan in the early 19th century. Originally, these fish were bred for their color mutations in the Niigata region of Japan. Over the years, breeding has evolved to enhance specific patterns and colors, leading to the diverse and vibrant varieties seen today. Koi carp can vary widely in color, pattern, and scalation. Some of the most common colors include white, black, red, orange, yellow, blue, and cream. The patterns can be solid, or they can have spots or patches. The scales may be fully scaled, partially scaled, or even scaleless, depending on the variety. Koi can grow quite large, with some individuals reaching up to three feet in length.

Koi are kept in man-made ponds or large outdoor water gardens where they can thrive in a controlled environment. They require well-oxygenated, clean water and are sensitive to changes in water quality and temperature. Koi ponds often include a filtration system to maintain clean water and a pump to ensure oxygenation. The depth of a koi pond is also crucial, especially in colder climates, as it allows koi to survive the winter by hibernating in the deeper, warmer water. They are omnivorous and have a diet that typically includes a variety of fish, food pellets, vegetables, and sometimes fruits. They are known for being especially interactive with people, often coming to the surface to feed directly from hand. This behavior, along with their vibrant appearance, contributes to their popularity in ornamental ponds.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
China
2020
Hong Kong
2020
Japan
2020
Origin Uncertain
Korea
2020
Laos
2020
Mongolia
2020
North Korea
2020
Russia
2020
Amur
Vietnam
2020

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / School

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No