“Koi” is Japanese for carp. There are two ancestral species that have contributed to the modern variety — the Prussian carp (Carassius gibelio) and the common carp (Cyprinus carpio). Not very romantic so far and certainly not very indicative of the beauty of the modern version. The modern fish has been selectively bred in captivity over the course of at least 1,000 years to produce the colors, patterns and variations that we are able to enjoy today.
History tells us that the koi started as a food fish and was aquacultured as far back as the 5th century (400 AD) in China. Breeding for specific color may have started in the early 1800′s in Japan. Koi culture is fairly new in the western world. This was probably triggered by the Niigata koi (red and white) were exhibited in the annual exposition in Tokyo. At that point, interest in these fish exploded world-wide.
Koi are frequently sold in regular pet stores but higher quality fish are almost exclusively available only from koi farms. Koi farms are businesses that keep and breed the carp in tanks specifically for market. These farms are wonderful testing grounds for exemplary koi maintenance because these specialized farms must practice absolutes in maintaining their fish to keep disease and stress at bay. If they do not, they will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of investment. Because of koi farms and their testing and standardizations, small keepers and breeders benefit greatly. Find online koi farms with a simple search for “koi farms”.
One way that koi keepers and small breeders benefit is in pricing. The fish travel better and are less expensive as youngsters. The younger the koi, the less it will cost. My research has shown that April is the best month to buy because potential breeders go to the mud ponds late in April/early May. Always look for good fish of good color and good pattern and don’t get too hung up on buying a specific color or pattern. You may miss out on a really good buy simply because you weren’t looking for that specific color or pattern. Remember that koi are a crop like corn or wheat. Good years produce lots of quality which is good for the buyer because good quality stock can be obtained for minimum cost. In lean years, good quality stock will be scarce and pricey. As when shopping for anything, do not be in a hurry and shop till you drop.
Autumn is a good time to buy because farms and breeders are wanting to prepare for winter by cutting down numbers. Even agents want to clear some of their ponds in preparation for spring and will have great sales. This is an opportunity for beginners and seasoned collectors to acquire really nice specimens at a very reasonable price.
For a minute, let’s talk about prices in general. This hobby can be expensive. Keeping a koi pond is expensive. It is extremely rewarding, too. One 18 inch koi of good quality and respectable pedigree will cost at least $450.00 (US). If you were to purchase one male and one female of breeding age of the same type at $450 each (totaling $900), your first crop of offspring would produce many offspring worth the same amount in 24 months. The price of koi is pretty stable.
To conclude, any investment you make in stock will probably be returned many-fold if your koi ponds are properly constructed. Be informed and educate yourself on where the value lies in these fish and you will not be disappointed.