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The Beauty of Koi

Updated on October 1, 2013

Japanese ornamental carp

Koi is short for Nishigikoi, the Japanese word for "ornamental carp." Koi fish have been cultivated and bred for generations in Japan to produce the brilliant colors and patterns for which they are known. With the growing interest in water gardens in the US, many people are interested in raising and keeping koi. A small backyard pond with just a few fish can be a beautiful and dramatic accent.

This lens will help you learn the basics about koi colors and patterns and offers advice on keeping and caring for these exquisite fish.

Color Variations and Traditional Names - English to Japanese

koi fish, photo by Relache
koi fish, photo by Relache

The variation of Koi can get very complex. Here are some of the basic colors with their Japanese names. Some colors get a different name to indicate when they are body color or the color of markings on the fish. Part of what can make koi an expensive hobby is the acquisition of rare color and patterns.

Black - Karasu (body), Sumi (markings)

Blue - Ai

Brown - Cha

Gold (metallic) - Kin

Green - Midori

Grey - Sora

Orange - Orenji

Red - Aka (body color), Hi (markings)

Silver (metallic) - Gin

White - Shiro

Yellow - Ki

Books For Beginners - getting started with koi

Here are some books that are not only just about koi, but they are good for beginners.

Watch Live Koi

Here are the koi in the indoor pond in the cafe at Swanson's Garden Center in Seattle, WA. I was crouched down right next to their pool, so the view you see here is pretty much eye-to-eye with them.

Lucky Koi Tattoos

Koi and tattoos of koi have traditional connotations of good luck to them. Some of this perception stems from ancient Asian mythology.

It is believed that a carp that can swim upstream and jump the waterfalls will be transformed into a dragon. Unlike Western dragons which are often viewed as snake-like and malevolent, Asian dragons are associated with the elements and are considered good omens and protectors.

Both koi and dragons are often found in Japanese tattooing.

Koi Care

These links have more information about fish care, diseases and issues that arise when keeping Koi.

Koi Art - for the home

Like to collect koi items, or need a good gift for a koi-loving friend? Here are some unique koi items for home decorating.

More Beautiful Koi

More Beautiful Koi
More Beautiful Koi

Koi Komments

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    • Michelllle profile image


      6 years ago

      Such beautiful fish. we love watching them at the Japanese Tea Garden.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Beautiful Koi is not only lovely, she brings luck, prosperity and the abundance to the homes, this is what I heard from asian friends :).

    • AustriaChick profile image


      7 years ago

      Love it! I had Koi for several years, they become like little puppies!

    • Northwestphotos profile image


      8 years ago

      I had no idea there were so many different colors of koi! Nice lens!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Koi are among the most beautiful fish. Thanks for creating this lovely lens.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      fantastic lens! I love koi

    • Cinnamonbite profile image


      8 years ago

      I had koi but the herons ate them before they could turn into dragons.

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 

      9 years ago from Nashville, TN

      I love the info here.


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