In 2017, a koi fish was sold for a record 1.8 million dollars. It was a 9-year-old large female Kohaku. It was white with red-orange splotches. An artist even did a painting to immortalize her legendary beauty. That is the most expensive koi fish to date.
Although this prize fish was explicitly bred to compete in the All Japan Koi Show, koi fish costs are substantial compared to other fish. The reason is koi are mainly ornamental pets. Luckily, most koi fish are not usually as expensive as that prize breed. So, exactly how much are Koi fish worth?
A variety of factors determine koi fish prices. Because they are prized for their beauty, koi are more expensive than other fish. Also, unlike the goldfish, koi’s larger size makes them more suitable for a pond than an indoor aquarium.
Buying koi fish can be an expensive undertaking. It is more costly to buy them than any other pet fish. Also, the price of pond construction can be high.
How Much Are Koi Fish?
The price of koi ranges from under 10 dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are many reasons for this. One of them is where or who you buy the fish. Also, different stores sell different varieties and breeds of koi.
A koi fish price chart presented by these stores and suppliers depends on factors like country of origin, breed quality, availability, and demand. The kind of koi sold by most stores are locally bred or imported grade-A types.
Local koi farmers supply locally bred fish to your local pet store. These kinds are usually the cheapest in the market. On the other hand, grade-A fish are imported from Japan and other countries with reputable koi breeders. These kinds of imported koi fish cost more than locally sourced ones.
The cheaper grade-A breeds have regular fins. Unlike the jumbo varieties bred by top-quality farms, these grade-A types rarely exceed 15 inches in length. However, selected individuals can become exceptionally attractive when fully grown.
The most expensive kinds are high-quality koi fish imported from Japan. These high-grade koi are of rare genetic lineage and are bred exclusively by top Japanese breeders.
They tend to be large or jumbo-sized when put up for sale. They have been nurtured at the source facilities for many years. These reasons make purchasing koi fish from these high-end breeders quite expensive.
Some of these high-end breeders raise fish that become contenders in the annual All Japan Koi Show. It’s a prestigious event that showcases Japanese culture and attracts impressive bids for koi fish.
The costliest koi fish are sold online or on live auctions. Bids go into hundreds of thousands of dollars. The varieties that cost that much are rare, relatively large, and only bred in Japan.
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Koi Fish Price List From Stores and Suppliers
Here are some koi fish prices offered by different sellers:
- Petco, the local American pet store, sells grade-A koi fish, which they source from local fish farms in the US. This domestic koi costs from 10 – 17 dollars.
- LiveAquaria import koi from Standard-quality East Asia Farms. The fish are grade-A and 2 – 5 inches long. They sell from 8 to 20 dollars.
- Next Day Koi source their breeds from Israel. The fish are mostly butterfly koi and are large. Therefore, they are more expensive than the grade-A type, selling from 35 to 650 dollars in their shops.
- Kloubec Koi take things up a notch from large and extra large koi fish bred in advanced quarantine facilities in the US. They sell at prices ranging from 350 to 2500 dollars.
- Kodama Koi Farm is a Japan-based koi breeding company that produces koi fish for auctions. They sell large to jumbo-sized grade-AAA koi from their fish farm. Bids for their fish can start as high as 16 thousand dollars.
- Sakai Fish Farm is a Japanese company specializing in raising and auctioning the best koi fish in the world. Their products are large to jumbo-sized grade-AAA koi and grand champion contenders. Bids for their fish can start as high as 200 thousand dollars.
Some Types of Koi Fish and Their Prices
The value of koi fish is derived from their size, colors, and patterns. But the distinct colors and unique patterns are more essential to buyers. Of course, feeding can continually improve the size, especially if the fish is young. But a koi fish’s color and pattern attract a buyer the most.
The colors and patterns on the scales of koi fish determine cost. In the market, there are different types of koi you can buy. Fish with more desirable colors are more expensive.
Let’s preview a few types and their different characteristics:
Ginrin koi, also known as Cyprinus carpio, originated in Germany. They are characterized by their iridescent, sparkling scales, which can have a wide range of patterns and colors. However, it is common to find Ginrin with orange splotches or mostly yellow-gold bodies.
Ginrin has bright diamond-shaped scales but is distinct from metallic koi. The difference is in the luster the scales give off under sunlight.
Every Ginrin has unique patterns and colors, even though they may sometimes look very similar. They measure from 12 to 36 inches and cost 150 to 400 dollars.
2. Taisho Sanke
This type of koi has a white body with black and red markings. The red markings are more significant than the black. This type of koi was the first tricolor type to be developed.
Also known as the Taisho Sanshoku, the Sanke is part of the Big Three elite group. The Big Three also includes Kohaku and Showa koi. They have the most desirable combinations of patterns and colors of all pond fish and are more expensive than other types. Sanke fingerlings cost 50 to 300 dollars and grow 24 to 36 inches long.
The origin of the Taisho Sanke is unknown, but it was first displayed in 1914 at an exhibition in Tokyo.
Matsuba types have a variety of alternate names depending on the color of the body. However, these living creatures are considered to be of one solid despite the contrast in the scales. Thus, they are grouped under the Hikari Muji class, which refers to koi of solid color and no markings.
However, the dark pinecone pattern of the scales against the color of the body makes Matsuba easy to recognize. Scales create the pinecone pattern with dark centers and bright edges that are the color of the fish’s body. As a result, the body of the Matsuba has a metallic luster under sunlight.
Matsuba’s price ranges from 100 to 200 dollars and sometimes beyond, depending on the size.
4. Platinum Ogon
Platinum Ogon are some of the most expensive koi fish on the market, with price tags ranging from 500 to 1000 dollars depending on the size of the fish. These metallic fish have a solid white body color with no patterns or markings.
Platinum Ogon is not to be confused with the Yamabuki Ogon, which sellers may sometimes present as Platinum. The Yamabuki koi differs from the Platinum Ogon by patches of yellow at the base of their pectoral fins.
The Platinum Ogon is called Purachina Ogon in Japan and can grow about 24 to 36 inches. Sometimes, people purchase Platinum Ogon koi because they can be easily seen in murky pond water.
The Doitsu breed is recognized for its scaleless body. It has a wide range of conspicuous colors, but it has no scales, and this feature is what makes it unique.
The Doitsu breed cost around 500 dollars and was developed about 100 years ago. There have been new iterations as years have gone by because Doitsu can be crossed with other koi varieties to produce fish like a scale Ginrin.
6. Hi Utsuri
Hi Utsuri are black with red coloring, and the Ki variations are black with yellow markings. These markings are also known as secondary colors.
The names of the Utsuri breed vary depending on the secondary color present. They sell at over 1000 dollars.
The Asagi is one of the oldest koi breeds in the world. This type has non-metallic scales laid out in a diamond-like pattern with blue pigmentation. It also has red splotches with the head and fins, a light off-color with a reddish tint.
Standard Asagi are blue and red, but some variations have more red pigmentation and are called Hi Asagi. Other Asagi have lines of white scales with standard blue and red patterns.
Asagi cost 450 to over 1000 dollars and are among the most expensive varieties on the market.
What Makes Koi So Expensive?
Many factors contribute to the costliness of these fish. To understand the value of koi, you need to consider these factors.
Color & Pattern
Centuries of breeding koi have produced fish with unique hues and patterns. Some koi look like an Asian artist painted with their rich pigments and soft brushes.
Specific color combinations are widely sought after, like the mix of neon red-orange, stark black, and a bright white base. In addition, solid hues like metallic yellow, shiny grey, or pure white are also quite coveted.
A single koi costs more if the color combination or pattern is preferred. Generally, koi are separated into two categories by appearance. They are Pond quality and Show quality.
The Pond quality koi fish cost less than the Show quality type. But they may look very similar that you may not know the difference if you’re not an enthusiast. After all, they are freshwater fish that would live in your backyard pond.
The lineage of high-quality koi can be traced back several generations. Selective breeding of koi that become champion fish in international shows is a deliberate process.
For example, Gosanke is the most valued breed, including main varieties like Taisho Sanshoku, Showa Sanshoku, and Kohaku. However, most traditional and advanced Japanese farms only breed koi of a highly valued genetic line.
Koi competitions and auctions observe strict rules when determining the value of a breed. For example, a perfect Sanke koi must have a solid white base with no yellow markings. Conversely, a Kohaku must have red markings that are vibrant and well-defined around the edges.
The most preferred Tancho Kohaku have one round red marking on the head with a reddish-white body, making them resemble the Japanese flag.
The rule is the rarer the features, the more expensive the fish. The less expensive koi fish can be easily acquired from your local pet store but are more difficult to classify under a specific breed. They have mixed parentage and are reared for the backyard pond or fish tank at lower prices.
Body Shape & Fin Type
The shape of the breed can be a controversial factor when determining how much koi fish cost. Japanese traditionalists prefer the regular fin types and consider longer fins as mutations. However, the roster of prestigious farms hardly sports any long-finned carp.
However, in the US, some breeders favor varieties with long-flowing fins, such as the butterfly koi fish. The butterfly variety is so named because its fins look like delicate wings. Those with vivid colors are highly valued in the US but may be ignored by koi purists in Japan.
Some even doubt the legitimacy of the butterfly-finned breeds as actual koi.
Size and Age
The size of koi, which may depend on age, significantly affects the price. For example, the record-making Kohaku that sold for almost 2 million dollars was a giant measuring 39.8 inches.
Unlike pet stores that sell small koi a few months after they hatch, high-end breeders wait a few years to sell their most prized fish.
Large and jumbo varieties can have price tags that exceed the cost of caring for the fish for the first few years. Top breeders raising koi fish wait at least 2 to 4 years or until the fish reach 15 inches in length.
Furthermore, high-quality breeds live up to 50 years with proper care. Thus, a 10-year-old is still very valuable.
Sexually mature females of top quality are generally more expensive than males. This is because they tend to grow larger and have more rounded fins.
Healthy koi fish females are very reproductive and lay millions of viable eggs in their lifetime, producing several thousand yearly. So, breeders are pretty particular in searching for the most healthy and beautiful fish. And that’s why the costliest ever koi was a jumbo-sized Kohaku female.
Why Do Koi Cost More Than Other Pond Fish?
Koi fish prices are substantially higher than other pond fish. The average price of koi is affected by these factors:
Koi Fish Quality
The sheer quality of the breed affects how much koi fish cost. Even though koi lay millions of eggs throughout their lives, most hatchlings will have deformities. These may be sold at lower prices.
Raising happy and robust koi takes time, diligence, and money. Farmers need to make a profit on the investment of resources. So, they sell koi at a higher price than other fish to offset the yearly costs of raising them.
Shipping koi fish to customers around the world is not easy. Koi farmers must pay shipping, customs, and a license fee before the finish can be transported.
Other fish are more accessible to source for your outdoor pond. But koi are not easily gotten and are not cheap to order.
Cost of a Koi Fish Pond
If you want to own koi fish, you must have your own koi pond. However, before you get a koi pond, there are certain things you must know.
First, koi fish grow from 12 to 36 inches or more when mature. Building a koi pond to accommodate that size of koi is not cheap.
Moreso, koi fish live for up to 50 years, so you need to be ready to create an outdoor koi pond that will stand the test of time. You must also factor in pond maintenance and koi care costs.
The primary cost you will incur in having a koi pond is in the construction of it. The dimensions must be correct, as the pond must be large enough to accommodate the fish, effectively filter water, and work without sudden failures.
There are two main ways to get koi ponds installed. The first option is to pay experts to build it. But, of course, that would set you back 5000 dollars for a simple 15′ by 20′ pond for a single fish. Larger, finer structures will cost 30,000 dollars or more to construct. These prices cover the materials and cost of construction.
The cheaper alternative is DIY. If you don’t have the money to pay for the koi pond construction, or if you’re handy, you can build the pond yourself and save money.
The koi fish price chart is way up there, rivaling the market’s most expensive domestic and wild animals. However, factors affecting the cost of koi are trickier to handle than for other fish.
By default, constructing a pond is not a cheap undertaking either. All these factors add up to make the koi fish a real luxury.
Owning these aquatic pets can cost you a pretty penny, but it is all worth it when you see how beautiful they make your yard.