top of page


Cyprinus Rubrofucus

Koi Painting


Nishikigoi, or more commonly known as Koi, originated from the rather ordinary black common carp (Cyprinus carpio) found in waters throughout Europe. Common carp were transported from Eurasia to the far east more than 2,000 years ago and to Japan via China and Korea, where they were bred as a source of food. Carp are a very hardy breed of fish and can withstand the trauma of transportation by land and sea to far-off lands. There is evidence that the common carp made it to Japan about 1,000 years ago.

Inception of the Hobby

Japanese farmers kept carp in mud ponds to supplement their daily diet of rice and vegetables. Once any species is kept in a restricted breeding ground, sooner or later it will produce a mutation. In the case of carp, over hundreds of years these mutations caused external differences, including a pronounced color change. The mutant fish were prized by the farmers and kept out of interest, instead of becoming
food for the table. When these fine color irregularities were found, the farmers began producing "colored carp" as a hobby. This is reported to have occurred between 1840 and 1844. Although Koi are now bred
throughout the world, only Koi born and bred in Japan are considered true Nishikigoi.

Koi Pond
Koi in a pond

Life Cycle

The breeding season for Koi usually takes place in the spring, around May or June. Females reproduce for the first time when they are between 4 and 6 years old, males when they are between 3 and 5 years old. Once they reach sexual maturity, they will breed every year. Their sticky eggs will attach to aquatic plants or any object submerged in the water. The young hatch as larvae and stay in warm, shallow flooded areas until they are large enough to brave more open waterways. Koi eggs take 3-4 days to hatch In water temperatures around 20 C. When they hatch, the juveniles are about 7 mm long and will feed from their yolk sac for a few days until they are more developed and can eat food found in the water. Koi have an average lifespan of 40 years.

The Dragon Koi

Legend says that long ago, there was an abundance of golden Koi fish in the Yellow River in China. They made their way upstream, going against the current, building strength as they went. Halfway upstream, they came to a large waterfall, an impossible height that was too high to traverse. This waterfall is known as the “Dragon’s Gate” in Hunan province. Accepting defeat, most of the Koi turned back, going with the current to safer ground. However, some Koi stayed and attempted to jump and swim up the waterfall. The spirits of the river watched the Koi try and fail over and over again, much to their amusement. For one hundred years, the small group of Koi continued to try and swim up the waterfall to no avail. Finally, one Koi tried a different strategy and somehow, it reached the top of the waterfall and continued to swim upstream. The spirits transformed the Koi into a golden dragon as a reward for its
achievement and perseverance. In Chinese culture, a golden dragon is the ultimate symbol of power and strength.

Golden Koi Fish in the Yellow River Painting
Dragon Painting

Fun Facts

● The oldest living Koi on record was nearly 230 years old!
● The most expensive Koi to be sold was for $1.9 million!
● A large mature female can produce up to 400,000 eggs!
● Koi can grow up to three feet in length, and reach their full adult size at just 3 years old!

bottom of page