Many people are fascinated by watching koi. The large decorative fish were bred from ordinary carp in Japan in the 1800s. The name “koi” comes from a Japanese term, nishikigoi, which literally means “brocaded carp.” The koi fanciers cultivated mutations in the fish for color, making the animals collectibles. The arrangement of ponds suitable for keeping the fish developed into an art of its own, for there are many considerations to be taken into account in building a suitable koi pond. The addition of a koi pond to a property adds a tranquil beauty to the setting.
The Fascination of Koi
Part of the fascination with these decorative carp comes from the size these fish can grow to. In ideal conditions in Japan, it is possible for koi to grow to a length of 37 inches. In the United States, with a more variable climate, they often grow to 27 inches. Age also contributes to the popularity of these fish, for the ordinary life expectancy can be around 50 years. That means that providing the fish is properly cared for and protected from predators, it could live for quite a long time. A famous koi named “Hanako” reportedly lived to be over 200 years old. It was, of course, owned by several people in the course of its life.
One thing that many people are not aware of is that these carp do not breed true for coloration and patterns. If left to breed on their own, in a few short generations, the offspring will have reverted back to ordinary carp. This difficulty in fixing coloration contributes to the mystique of koi. Koi fanciers look for certain combinations of color and markings. The usual colors are red, black, yellow, brown, blue, silver, gold, pine cone pattern, orange, gray, and white. The metallic colors tend to be solid, all over, while the other colors have a variety of marking combinations.
In addition to color, koi also have different types of scales. They are even given names, in order to help describe a particular fish. Scaled are the most common type, and they possess typical carp scales. Then there are Doitsu, which have scales only along the dorsal and lateral lines. Leather describes a fish that has no visible scales, except for the occasional presence of very small scales along the dorsal line alone. The last type of “scaling” is the Gin Rin, which refers to a normally scaled fish that has a mirror-like quality to the scales, and the scales are usually of a gold or silvery appearance.
The size and coloration of these carp are what fascinate people. We like to watch them swimming amongst the water plants in an appealingly designed pond. For the more ambitious owner, there might be the opportunity for competitive display. But for most, it is the pleasure of watching the sizable fish circulate in the clear water of the koi pond, giving hours of quiet pleasure.
Maintaining a koi pond’s pristine beauty is not an easy task, and is best left to experts who know how to clean and service the pond without disturbing the fish. At Aquatech Aquarium Services (in Los Angeles), we have over 25 years of experience caring for aquarium and pond fish. One of our specialized services is koi pond maintenance. Give us a call at (310) 993-2183 – we would love to help you continue to enjoy your koi pond for years to come