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Matsuba Koi - The fish with a human face

Updated on April 27, 2012

You may have seen a picture of this fish, or one similar to it, circulating the internet. Believed by some people to have what appears to be a human like face, pictures of this fish can be seen on many websites that show images of strange or creepy animals.

But in reality these fish are pretty normal. Some of them may look a bit strange, like the one pictured with the almost human like face, but Matsuba Koi are not all that different than other types of Koi.

Koi fish are a type of carp. Another type of carp that people may be more familiar with is the goldfish. The colorful Koi found in ponds across the world today originally evolved from the common carp (Cyprinus carpio), a freshwater fish native to Europe and Asia. The word "Koi" is Japanese. Beautifully colored Koi fish are often depicted in Asian art, and Koi fish have become a common subject for Asian inspired tattoos. In Japan, the Koi is thought to represent perseverance in the face of adversity, strength, love, longevity, knowledge, loyalty, and good fortune. The Koi is a strong, active fish that often times is pictured as swimming upstream, against the current, as a way to represent perseverance and strength. In Japanese mythology, Koi that are successful in swimming upstream to their destination are rewarded by being transformed into dragons.

You may notice that the Koi in the picture is called a Matsuba Koi. Koi fish have been bred in captivity for hundreds of years, and many different color patterns have been produced. Although Koi do come in different colors, they are still all the same species. All the different colors of Koi are able to interbreed. They can even breed and produce offspring with other types of carps, such as goldfish! You can take a look at this site to take a look at how Koi are classified. The list on that site, however, is not a complete list. Matsuba Koi are characterized by a shiny body without any spot type markings. The word Matsuba in Japanese means "pine needles". Matsuba Koi have metallic looking scales with a black accenting that can make the body of these Koi look similar to pine cones. The three main colors of Matsuba Koi are red (Aka Matsuba), golden (Kin Matsuba), and white (Gin Matsuba).

Having a strange or human like face is not a specified characteristic of the Matsuba Koi. Not all Matsuba Koi have faces that appear human. For the ones that do, what may appear to be eyes in the front of the face of the fish are actually nostrils. The Koi's eyes are on the side of it's head, not in the front. These fish are not some kind of strange human-fish hybrids or anything like that, they are just regular Koi, although some of them do have markings that make their faces look slightly human like and sometimes a bit creepy.


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