Koi are among the longest-living vertebrates, with some living over 200 years. The most popular category of Koi is the Gosanke, which is made up of the Kohaku (Nishikigoi), Taisho Sanshoku, and Showa Sanshoku varieties. Is there anything in nature more diverse or beautiful..?
Carp fish are a large group of fish originally found in Central Europe and Asia. Asian carps were originally domesticated in East Asia, where they were used as food fish. The ability of carp to survive and adapt to many climates and water conditions allowed the domesticated species to be propagated to many new locations including Japan. Natural color mutations of these carp would have occurred across all populations. Carp were first bred for color mutations in China more than a thousand years ago, where selective breeding of the Prussian carp led to the development of the Goldfish.
Carp are known as Koi in Japan. Of the various domesticated carp species, the common carp is one of the more commonly used in Aquaculture. The common carp was grown as a food fish at least as far back as the 5th century in China. Common carp were first bred for color in Japan in the 1820s, initially in the town of Ojiya in the Niigata prefecture on the North Eastern coast of Honshu Island.
By the 20th century, a number of color patterns had been established, most notably the red-and-white Kohaku. The outside world was not aware of the development of color variations in koi until 1914 when the Niigata Koi were exhibited in the annual exposition in Tokyo. At that point, interest in Koi exploded throughout Japan. The hobby of keeping Koi eventually spread worldwide. Koi are now commonly sold in most pet stores, with higher-quality fish available from specialist dealers.
Extensive hybridization between different populations has muddled the historical zoo-geography of the common carp. However, the scientific consensus is that there are at least two subspecies of the common carp, one from Western Eurasia and another from East Asia. One recent study on the mitochondrial DNA of various Common carp indicates that Koi are of the East Asian subspecies. However, another recent study on the mitochondrial DNA of Koi has found that Koi are descended from multiple lineages of common carp from both Western Eurasian and East Asian varieties. “Discovery of an ancient lineage of Cyprinus carpio from Lake Biwa, Central Japan, based on mtDNA sequence data, with reference to possible multiple origins of Koi. This could be the result of Koi being bred from a mix of East Asian and Western Eurasian carp varieties, or Koi being bred exclusively from East Asian varieties and being subsequently hybridized with Western Eurasian varieties. The Butterfly Koi is one known product of such a cross.
The word Koi comes from the Japanese language, simply meaning “carp”. It includes both the dull grey fish and the brightly colored varieties. What is known as Loi in English are referred to more specifically as Nishikigoi in Japan, literally meaning “brocaded carp”. In Japanese, “Koi” is a homophone for another word that means “affection” or “love”; Koi are therefore symbols of love and friendship in Japan. Koi tattoos have also become a popular trend throughout the world.
Koi ~ Love
I have raised Koi for over 40 years and they never cease to amaze me with their different color combinations and personalities. As mentioned above, the word Koi in Japanese translates to Love and that’s exactly what it (they) means to me. Give them and chance and the will “HOOK” you for life.