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Home > Fish > Are Koi Fish Rare? Everything You Want to Know

Are Koi Fish Rare? Everything You Want to Know

koi fish in fish pond

Koi are perhaps one of the most beautiful pond fish you can own. The many varieties these fish are available in range from common to rare, with varying prices depending on the fish’s rarity. Koi fish make lovely additions to those looking to start a large outdoor or indoor freshwater pond and are a top choice.

Due to their popularity as pond fish, Koi fish themselves are not considered rare. However, several varieties of Koi fish are rare. This rarity is not only reflected in the appearance of the Koi but in the price too.


How Rare Are Koi Fish?

Most standard ornamental Koi varieties are not considered rare, but some varieties are rare and difficult to find. Their commonality is primarily due to their wide availability and easy accessibility at many fish stores or Koi fish breeders.

One of the main reasons you might think that Koi fish are rare is because of his fish’s spectacular appearance, which is unlike much typical fish you see in pet stores or the wild. The Koi fish’s vibrant colors and unique patterning make them stand out in comparison to other fish/

Although most ornamental Koi that you will find in fish stores or being kept in ponds by the average hobbyist are not usually rare, there are certain Koi fish that are rare. These rare Koi fish have certain features that are only achieved by expert Koi fish breeders. These breeders know how to work with Koi genetics and produce variations not commonly seen.

Tancho koi

A Brief History

You can find Koi fish all over the world, with their selective breeding origins being traced back to Niigata, Japan in the 1800s. Koi then became popular in Japan after being gifted to an Emperor at a Tokyo exhibition in 1914. This led to the Koi’s popularity and the development of different variations being produced.

All Koi are descendants of the wild carp, more specifically, the Amur carp (domestic carp variant). These wild-form Koi fish were kept for food in aquaculture before new color mutations were developed. Likely, these ancestral carp were first domesticated in China, around the 4th century.

Before these colored Amur carp developed into Koi, there were Japanese history books that mention colored carp dating back thousands of years. There are also books mentioning colored carp being kept in garden ponds by Emperors.

The Amur carp likely underwent natural color mutations that allowed the once dull-colored carp to develop colors. This led to the selective breeding of these colorful varieties to produce the domesticated Koi fish we commonly see today.

In Mythology

The Koi’s deep history leads us to believe that Koi are indeed popular fish that were prized for thousands of years. Koi fish are still symbolic in certain cultures and have been featured in Chinese mythology for centuries.

koi fish swimming
Image By: Pexels, Pixabay

How Many Koi Fish Varieties Are There?

Since Koi fish selective breeding began in Japan, there have been over 100 different varieties of Koi fish. Each Koi variation is distinguished by its different colors, patterns, scalation, and fin types. The many varieties of Koi fish have increased their popularity amongst different hobbyists and fish keepers.

Why Are Koi Fish So Popular?

Koi fish are usually the first pick when it comes to choosing a fish for freshwater ponds since the Koi are considered hardy and tolerant of different weather conditions. Their size is perfect for large ponds or water gardens, and with a typical adult size of 15 to 36 inches, the Koi is less likely to be targeted by predators.

These hardy and adaptable fish can survive in temperatures as low as 33 degrees Fahrenheit, and as warm as 90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, these temperatures are not very comfortable long term for Koi, making 65 to 78 degrees Celsius the ideal temperature range.

Another determining factor that makes Koi popular for many fish keepers is their many variations. Most Koi are exceptionally colorful, making them stand out in a pond environment Along with their size and color, Koi fish are easy to see in ponds and quite beautiful to watch. Keeping Koi in ponds or water gardens has been popular for centuries.

Koi Fish Pond
Image By: linda chen, Pixabay

Rare Koi Fish Varieties

Several Koi fish varieties are considered rare, such as the:

  • Ki Utsuri
  • Beni kikokuryu
  • Kumonryu
  • Ginrin Matsukawabake
  • Ai Goromo
  • Midorigoi

For a Koi to be considered rare, they would need to have a coloration, patterns, or finnage that you don’t typically see in Koi fish. Rare varieties are going to be more expensive and can be priced as high as $2,000. Most of the rare Koi fish varieties can be found in Japan as the Japanese take pride in producing high-quality Koi fish since their selective breeding of these fish in the 1800s.

Some of the most common Koi varieties include the Asagi, Gosanke, Kohaku, and Tancho Koi fish. Koi can either have a combination of colors, or a single color. Solid-colored Koi fish do exist, and they are known as Ogon Koi, with the cream-colored Ogon being rare. Most Koi fish have a standard single tail that is short, but there are Koi that can have long fins that flow behind them as they swim.

The shorter-tail varieties are more common, with the long-finned butterfly Koi being more valued and less common to find. The average fish store is generally going to sell common varieties whereas breeders who specialize in producing quality lineages of rare varieties are going to sell Koi that are rare.

Although Koi can be found in a range of different colors, some are more common than others. Black, white, and red are very popular colors in Koi fish, and they will typically have a combination of two or more colors in a pattern. Uncommon colors in Koi fish include yellow, gold, and platinum.



Koi fish make good additions to large ponds and water gardens, and they are valued for their appearance and versatility. While the fish itself is not rare for people to own, there are rare varieties of Koi fish that exist. These rare varieties won’t be sold in a typical fish store, and you are more likely to get them from a specialized Koi fish breeder.

If you do plan on getting Koi, you have over 100 different varieties to choose from. The endless colors and patterns that these fish are found in are guaranteed to impress you.

Featured Image Credit: auntmasako, Pixabay

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