How Much Are Koi Fish? Why are they so costly?

For their gorgeous pedigree and unusual coloration, koi fish are recognized to embellish garden ponds and restaurant interiors. They’re in lounge areas even though Koi are generally referred to as Japanese Carp.

A remarkable record sale shook the world of koi a few years ago. A Kohaku koi that was in pristine condition sold for $1.8 million! It was a 9-year-old specimen with brilliant red-orange splotches on a perfect white body. This gorgeous female fish drew the attention of Japanese artists. They immortalized her in stunning artwork shown during the historic sale.


Koi fish usually cost between $40 and $600 per fish, but one has been sold for $1.8 million. Koi fish are costly because they take long to breed and not each of them has the natural beauty you’re looking for.

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If you’ve always wanted your koi, don’t despair: not every koi costs a million dollars. The wrinkled old $20 note in your wallet may get you a good fish from a good pet store. Though not all koi are valued equally, you can rest certain that each has a long cultural heritage and may provide more aesthetic value to your pond.

Kois are symbolic of affluence and longevity. They are more costly than other pond fish. A variety of things influence their worth. Color, heredity, physical form, age, and sex are examples of these factors. The price rises in direct proportion to the attractiveness and size of the fish. The value of koi is heavily influenced by its breeding. Most domesticated types in the United States and Europe are affordable. Those developed by Japanese experts can potentially cost more than a vehicle!

Rare genetic lines produce the most valuable koi. These are only bred in the highest-quality facilities in Japan and sold at live or online auctions. Individuals with the highest prices are usually enormous or jumbo-sized when they are sold. It indicates that they have been cared for by the source facility for a long time. 

Some of these facilities produce fish that compete in the All Japan Koi Show. It’s a prominent yearly event that shows some of the world’s most valuable Nishikigoi (Japanese for “living gems”).

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Why are Koi fish so expensive?

The value of Koi fish is determined by many obvious variables. It includes the quality of the fish and their colors. Koi fish are commonly divided into three classes based on their quality and price:-

  • Pond-raised Koi – The Koi we produce in ponds are the simplest to come by and the most affordable on the market.
  • Decorative value Koi – It’s a popular type of decorative fish that we raise, such as Butterfly Koi. These are less expensive than show-quality Koi fish but more expensive than pond-raised fish.
  • Show grade Koi – The highest quality Koi fish in the world and the most expensive. These are developed for Japanese Koi exhibits and competitions.
Type of Koi FishCost per Fish
Taisho Sanshoku$200-400

There are 14 reasons why koi fish cost so much:

  • Successful Spawning

Any Koi keeper will tell you that despite hundreds of Koi eggs being laid during spawning, only 20% of good Koi survive. Sometimes survival is by luck. The increased odds of survival make Koi a more prized and expensive pet fish.

But what is a spawning behavior, exactly?

  • Koi Spawning Patterns:

Male Koi fish exhibit significant interest in female Koi fish and follow them for a day or two during the spawning process. It occurs once a year. Finally, the male Koi fish chase and nudge the female Koi fish early in the morning. The spawning process begins.

Female Koi lay hundreds of eggs during spawning, quickly fertilized by interested males. This is where the high pricing and great quality come into play.

  • The Egg Stage:

Koi eggs cling to almost anything they come into touch with. Koi fish usually lay their eggs in aquatic plants such as water lettuce and water hyacinth. If you wish to produce Koi, I usually recommend including plants in the pond. Around 20% of the hundreds and thousands of eggs perish through fungus, sterility, or decay to death.

  • The Hatchlings:

The eggs hatch in around 4-5 days under ideal water conditions. Until they can eat food, the hatchlings subsist on their yolk sac. Despite this, 20% of the hatchlings perish before reaching 1 inch in length.

  • The Selection Process:

Only around 60% of Koi fish reach 1 inch in length and make it through the hatching process. The culling procedure begins here for the farmers.

Breeders toss all of the poor and malformed fish into the bargain bin during the procedure. As a result, the healthy Koi fry eats a high-protein diet for 3-4 weeks before being examined. It happens when they reach 2 to 3 inches in length. After a few weeks, breeders check the young Koi and reject another 15% of them into the bargain bin. As a result, the Grand Champion Koi list only includes the highest-quality Koi.

After successfully counting, the Koi fish are either sold locally or globally for hundreds to thousands of dollars.

  • Body Shape or Conformation

Because they are unaware of its value, Koi hobbyists sometimes ignore the morphology or body shape of Koi fish. Let me tell you something: the quality and pricing of Koi fish are heavily influenced by their body form. The award-winning Koi fish has no flaws or deformations in its body shape. The ideal Koi fish conformation is a torpedo-shaped, identical body with even fins that match the body.

  • Color and Pattern Variation

The color diversity and unique designs that leave the observers in amazement are one thing that outshines Koi. Koi colors are divided into six distinct categories. It ranges from metallic and white to blue, yellow, red, and black. Not all Koi owners like all of the colors and patterns. As a result, the exorbitant prices.

The vividness of Koi is also affected by the depth of Koi skin cells. The brighter the Koi, the more expensive it is. 

At a higher price, Koi breeders select the best colors and grow them into a brighter look through a healthy diet.

Sultry crimson spots on a white body surface shone like diamonds on the Grand Champion Koi that sold for $1.8 million in Japan. As a result, the price was justified in a specialist’s eyes.

As a result, the value of Koi fish rises due to their uniqueness and purity of colors and patterns.

  • The Biosecurity of Koi farms

Experienced Koi breeders maintain rigorous biosecurity on their farms. It’s done to avoid fish infections and maintain an active inventory system.

These Koi ponds are normally located in isolated locations to minimize disease contamination of the water. It costs a lot of money.

  • The Importance of a Big Pond

In contrast to goldfish, Koy guppies require a large pond to survive. It includes other commercial aquarium fish.

Water quality affects the depth and intensity of Koi’s color and shine. Thus breeders prefer to breed and raise them in big ponds. As a result, a Koi farm requires a large space with adequate ventilation and filtration to increase its total productivity.

  • Costs of Importation

Whatever you do, you do it. Let’s face it: Japanese koi are unrivaled in terms of quality. As a result, all countries import show-quality Koi from Japan. It raises the overall price of Koi fish.

  • Connoisseur’s Craze for the pet Koi

It’s a supply and demand situation. The bigger the demand, the more expensive it is. Koi has a cult following. As a result, Koi are costly.

Koi is regarded as a holy pet in Japanese culture, bringing good fortune and wealth to the household. As a result, people have a deep fondness for Koi. They desire it in their garden ponds and huge indoor aquariums. It’s great for winning great contests, such as the All-Japan Grand Koi Competition. It’s the most popular. As a result, the exorbitant price. Let’s look at some Grand Champion Koi from the show’s history.

  • Koi Luster of Superior Quality

The skin of high-quality Koi fish is shiny and pigmented, with no imperfections. You can tell the difference between cotton and silk just like you can distinguish between cotton and silk. The high-quality Koi is immediately identified by its gleaming, shiny body.

  • Overall Personality – Elegance & Quality

It’s an arbitrary choice to judge quality and elegance based on Koi’s personality. On the other hand, Koi specialists depend largely on this element. High-quality Koi fish have been shown to function exceedingly well in various situations. It includes swimming and interacting (aggressive or slow Koi fish are naturally devalued.)

Additionally, Koi owners evaluate the fish based on how smoothly they bend their bodies in the water. If a Koi fish appears to be healthier and more lively than the rest of the shoal, it is always given a better rating.

  • Breeding time is extended.

It is not everyone’s cup of tea to breed Koi. Koi breeding takes patience and perseverance, unlike guppies and bettas. To nurture and sell show-quality Koi on the market, every breeder will require at least 3 to 5 years.

  • Distinguishing Characteristics

Breeding Koi fish is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and breeders risk everything to hit the jackpot.

When breeders feel very daring, they may cross some of the rarest and oddest fish with specific characteristics. Consequently, an exceptional young koi emerges. It displays stunning colors and patterns. As a result, breeders charge an exorbitant premium for Koi fish with unique characteristics.

  • Legacy & Heritage

You might be shocked to learn that Koi fish were originally bred solely for food. On the other hand, breeders began to see immense promise in breeding the fish and making a career from it as time went on. Koi fish are now housed in manicured ponds and huge aquariums for their elaborate designs and stunning colors.

  • Genetics

The most valuable koi fish and those who go on to win international competitions have genetic lineages that can be traced back several generations. Sanke (Taisho Sanshoku), Showa (Showa Sanshoku), and Kohaku are the three primary kinds of Gosanke, the most valuable koi breed. In the competition to produce koi that are ideal, many of the most modern and traditional Japanese farms solely breed these extremely popular types.

When valuing certain breeds, koi tournaments and auctions follow stringent guidelines. An ideal Sanke koi must have a fully white foundation with no indications of yellow. On the other hand, the red markings of a Kohaku must be not just vivid but also well-defined throughout the margins. These variants are further divided depending on the tiniest details of the patterns and where they appear on the fish’s body. The more unique the characteristics, the more valuable the fish.

Domestic variants purchased at your local pet store or from non-specialized online fish stores might be more difficult to categorize as a specific breed. These koi are usually of mixed origin and have been raised for personal use in a pond or tank rather than for exhibition. On the other hand, some domestic koi are lovely and can grow to be stunning individuals.

  • Gender

Females of highly esteemed koi breeds are frequently more expensive than males. You can see it from the fixed-price catalog at Kodama Koi Farm. They have rounded fins and grow to be quite huge. Furthermore, strong females may produce hundreds of healthy eggs. It ensures the continuation of their race. Breeders are meticulous when finding the most attractive and healthy girls. It’s no surprise that a jumbo-sized Kohaku female was the most expensive koi ever sold.

Top koi breed males are likewise quite expensive, although they are often simpler to get by. When it comes to domestic koi, both sexes are priced similarly. Koi are frequently sold unsexed in pet stores because they might be difficult to sex before adulthood.


Nishikigoi is often known as living jewels or brocaded carp. It is the carp that we name Koi. Nishikigoi is known for its beautiful patterns and colors, which we still admire and enjoy today.

Even though Koi are not native to Japan, Japanese breeders are credited with fine-tuning and breeding them to today’s amazing color variety.

The Big Three are as follows:

There are 15 different types of Koi. The three varieties known as Kohaku, Sanke, and Showa are the most popular. In the United States and Europe, these Koi fish are known as the “big three.”

Type of Koi FishSize (inches)Typical Weight (lbs)
Taisho Sanshoku4840

Types of Kiwa:

Kiwa is separated into two categories based on very edgy designs.

  1. Kamisori Kiwa: Kiwa with razor-sharp edges that go through the individual scales.
  2. Maruzome Kiwa: Maruzome Kiwa gives the trailing tip of the red patterns a scalloped look, like the edge of a cherry blossom petal.

Please keep in mind that while assessing Kiwa, the trailing edge of the design is always taken into account. (i.e., the edge of the Koi fish closest to the tail)

The Distinctive Colors

Koi experts look for the following color variants when choosing a Champion Koi:

  1. Kohaku has a pearly white surface with red (hi) patterns and distinct edges.
  2. Showa is a pure black body foundation with white and red colors, for example.
  3. Metallic-looking, red, and beautiful orange markings, such as Kujaku, are preferred by peacocks.
  • Chagoi Koi

The Chagoi Koi is regarded as the most human-friendly ornamental koi type. This is due to their voracious appetites, as they compete to be the first to be fed by their human owners. Because they’re so food-driven, they’re the simplest koi fish to hand-feed.

  • Ki Utsuri Koi 

Ki Utsuri Koi is the rarest ornamental carp variety, with dazzling yellow and lacquer-black color patterns.

  • The Ghost Koi

One of the fastest-growing koi kinds is Ghost Koi. They’re a cross between Mirror Carps and Ogon Koi with a glittering sheen. They’re certainly a sight to behold, thanks to their ghost-like color pattern.

  • Butterfly Koi Fish

In western aquariums, the Butterfly Koi is one of the most popular koi. They’re a cross between traditional Japanese Koi and carps with lengthy fins. Their slim forms and long flowing fins give them the name butterfly.

  • Black and White Koi Fish

The scaleless bodies of Black & White Koi are also known as Kikokuryu. They have a white color foundation with a black net pattern running down its single row of scales. It’s followed by red, orange, or yellow patches of color.

  • Japanese Koi Fish

Japanese Koi are a species of ornamental carp that originated in Japan in the early nineteenth century. Rice farmers gathered and nurtured the most colorful and unusual wild-caught carp fish. It results in a rich gene pool that permits traditional Japanese Koi to outlast most koi fish variations.

What illnesses do koi fish have a chance of contracting?

A virus is known as Koi herpesvirus, or KHV, is responsible for most disease-related koi fish mortality.

Only common carps (Cyprinus carpio) and koi fish are affected by this extremely infectious virus. It has not been recorded in any other species.

The symptoms of KHV are non-specific, although the following are the most prevalent indicators that a koi fish is infected:

  • gill lesions that are white or grey.
  • Skin hemorrhages.
  • Sunken eyes.
  • Evident difficulty breathing.

KHV infection is almost always lethal for koi fish, and death generally occurs within 24-48 hours of symptoms.

There is no known way to prevent KHV from entering a koi fish tank or pond. There are steps you may do to keep the virus from spreading and killing all of your other koi fish:

  • look for obvious signs of KHV infection in new koi fish before introducing them to your tank.
  • Keep new koi fish in isolation for 2-4 weeks before exposing them to one of your other koi.
  • Remove koi fish with KHV-specific symptomatology as soon as possible. It helps prevent the virus from wiping out the entire koi fish population in your aquarium/pond.

Ulcer infections and fish lice infestations are also common in koi fish.


Some koi fish may live up to 50 years in captivity. The care that arises with keeping a koi fish is considerably higher!

To ensure that your pet koi fish has a long and happy life, satisfy its basic tank needs and feed it well-balanced food. Koi fish are as beautiful as they are large, and they will be the simplest aquarium fish to care for in their size category!

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