koi fish history

koi fish history Black carp, or Magoi, were originally brought into Japan from China when the Chinese invaded Japan around 200 BC.

The Japanese are known for being the first in koi history to breed fish that had naturally occurring mutations, which as a result introduced colour to the species.

Koi are actually a mutated form of carp. Carp developed patches of colors such as white, red, and blue in their natural habitats in the Black

Check out also the origin of Kohaku koi

The word ‘Koi’ comes from Japan, but Koi fish originated from China. The koi word means carp, the exact term is the Cyprinus carpio learn more about koi fish meaning

You probably heard that word: Nishikigoi, this is a more specific term for colorful carp.
Koi has a lot of color varieties and they are related to goldfish. Koi caring and breeding is very simple.

Koi keeping become popular in the 19th century. Farmers working the rice fields noticed that some colored carp, captured them, and raised them. By the 20th century, a number of color patterns had been established.

Niigata Koi were exhibited in an exposition in Tokyo in 1914. After that the hobby of keeping Koi spread worldwide. Koi are now commonly sold in most of the pet stores.

You can differentiate the varieties by color and pattern. Koi pond have many different colors: white, black, red, yellow, blue, and cream. The variations are limitless, breeders determined different categories. The most popular category is Gosanke.

Some example from the koi varietis:

Kohaku: a white-skinned Koi, with a red pattern

kohaku koi fish

Taisho Sanshoku (Sanke): a white-skinned Koi with a red and black pattern

sanke koi fish

Showa Sanshoku (Showa): a black-skinned Koi with a red and white pattern

kindai showa

Bekko: a white, red, or yellow-skinned Koi with a black pattern

bekko koi fish

Ghost koi: “Hybrid” of Ogon and wild carp. Not Nishikigoi.

ghost koi human face

Butterfly koi: Long-finned version of all others. Not Nishikigoi.

butterfly kohaku

Kois live in the wild in every continent except Antarctica. Some places in the world Koi keeping is illegal, and some other places people tried to eradicate them. Koi increase the turbidity of the water and it can cause damage to the environment.

This beautiful fish has place in the world and a lot of people has passion for these ponds.

You can find some additional information on Koi Fish at koi fish picture site.

Click here to get the koi fish guide for the koi fish keeping secrets that you’ll need.

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koi fish history more informations

Where did koi fish originate?
Koi, though, were developed from Amur carp in Japan in the 1820s. Koi are domesticated Amur carp (Cyprinus rubrofuscus) that are selected or culled for color; they are not a different species, but a subspecies, and will revert to the original coloration within a few generations if allowed to breed freely https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koi

Is a koi fish Japanese or Chinese?

There are a number of carp species and subspecies, and many of these can be found in both China and Japan. The nishikigoi carp, which is what most Westerners call ‘koi‘ or ‘koi fish‘, is an ornamental variety of domesticated carp which was first bred in Ojiya, Niigata Prefecture, Japan, in the 1820s

Can you touch koi fish?Koi are truly friendly and will not eat other fish or fight with each other. … Not only are koi friendly to other fish, but they may also come up to the surface to say hello when they see their owner or when it’s time to eat. Some koi even like to be pet and will come to the surface for a little pat on the head.

koi fish history in china

According to Chinese history, Confucius’s son was given a mutated carp by king Shoko of Ro and from then on the fish became the subject of many Chinese artwork. When the Chinese invaded Japan, these carp were breed as a food source due to their resilient nature, this was the beginning of the Japanese Koi fish.

koi fish history China: Birthplace of the Koi Fish. Koi are actually a mutated form of carp. Carp developed patches of colors such as white, red, and blue

Koi fish history has a very long and colorful (literally) history. The vibrant varieties seen in many ponds today have descended from the common solid black carp. Black carp, or Magoi, were originally brought into Japan from China when the Chinese invaded Japan around 200 B

In fact, the word “koi” is of Chinese origin; the Japanese, who started breeding colorful carp in only 1800 or so, call the fish Nishikigoi.

koi fish history In China, the carp, especially the colored ones, were seen as sacred fish. Carp stood for strength, wisdom, perseverance and luck.

Koi History and Genealogy – Part II

by Ray Jordan

In the first part of this series I focused on the almost total globe-wide migration of the

common river carp including it’s eventual arrival in Japan and finally the Niigata area

where koi were created. I also described how the carp are revered as auspicious

animals in many “asian” cultures including Japan. I am enjoying giving presentations on

this subject at different koi events. I have found hundreds of images in old koi books

and magazines that I utilize to help me illustrate my presentations. Unfortunately, I have

been unable to get permission to reprint those images in a publication. I will utilize some

alternative images in these articles and also describe some of the visuals I have found.

In this portion I will explain what I have learned about the creation and development of

early colored/patterned carp and the events that led up the 1914 Taisho Exhibition in

Tokyo Japan that introduced Japanese colored/patterned carp to the world and caused

them to be declared the national fish of Japan by the soon to be emperor.

In Japan during the late Edo period (1603 – 1868) Magoi

(large black food carp) aquaculture was common. There

have likely always been occasional naturally occurring carp

color mutations that include black, blue, or brown carp with

red bellies. Also colored carp appeared occasionally in

colors including white, yellow/gold, red and even tri-colored

“calico” patterns. Scientific drawings from the mid 1800’s

illustrate the types of naturally occurring colored carp called

“Irogoi” (colored carp) that occurred not just in this

particular area of Japan but in carp populations all over the

world. It is these naturally occurring color morphs of carp

that provide the genetic potential and more importantly the

inspiration for early carp farmers to start developing the

family tree genealogy that has ultimately lead to the

incredibly beautiful koi we enjoy today.

Sadly, there is not very much written history of the specific

genealogy or the names of these early colored carp

breeders. However there is a fairly rich oral history that has

been passed down generation to generation.

Magoi photo provided by

Brady Brandywine

Because of the up to 20 foot depth of winter snow coverage in and

around the Yamakoshi region, villages in that area were completely

cut off from the rest of Japan for about six months of each year.

Winters were so severe that when farmers started raising carp they

learned that to insure survival of brood stock a few parent carp had

to be brought indoors each winter to be sure they would have carp

mature enough to spawn and produce a new crop the following

spring. It seems likely that if you are going to all the trouble to save

a few carp to serve as breeding stock you would likely select some

that were interesting and a little more colorful to care for during

these long hard cold winters. Somewhere around the early 1800’s a

carp farmer selected some of the lighter bluish colored carp with

red bellies called Asagi Magoi (asagi = blue) and cross bred them

together along with red and red and white carp. Eventually a new

type of asagi was created. This new type of asagi was called a taki

(waterfall) asagi. This Taki Asagi had white colored sides

separating it’s blue reticulated back and its red belly. When viewed from the side taki

asagi white pattern looked like a waterfall. The genetics of creating colored skin and

also colored patterns especially white skin and piebald (multicolored) patterns were key

to the development of modern nishikigoi varieties we know today. The taki asagi was a

vital element in the eventual development of a red & white colored/patterned carp. Also

the white skin on the taki asagi is thought to be the origin of the white spreading gene

that is so critical to developing white based patterned koi like Kohaku and Sanke.

Two of the most important (auspicious) colors in Japanese culture are red & white.

These colors when seen together represent happiness. For example the Japanese

Imperial Palace in Kyoto where the emperors private residence was located is a white

building with red accents. Knowing the importance of red and white makes it easy to

understand the desire to develop a colored carp that would be red and white. Eventually

an early bi-colored carp was developed that was red and white. This early colored carp

were called Sarasa which means “bright feelings.” Paintings dated from this same

period show upper class Japanese ladies hand feeding red & white colored carp. These

early colored carp tended to have red heads and/or tails and sometimes a red belly on a

mostly white body. Sarasa were the early predecessors of the much more refined

kohaku that are still the most popular variety of koi today. Kohaku is a white based koi

with red accent marks on its back. It is this dorsal pattern and the white spreading gene

that makes the kohaku more beautiful and refined than the earlier red & white colored


Asagi Magoi

Imperial Palace in Kyoto, Japan which was used

from 794 to 1868.

About this same time a different type of magoi called a Tetsu (iron) Magoi was bred with

a naturally occurring mutation variant red carp called a HiGoi (red carp) and produced a

new type of colored/patterned koi that was called a bekko. (tortoise shell) This new carp

had a yellowish body and grayish colored spots that looked somewhat like the pattern

on a tortoise shell.

In 1889 in Higashiyama village which is the area now called Ojiya a carp farmer named

Kunizo Hiroi (Gosuke Carp farm) bred some red & white sarasa carp that were mostly

white. One had just a few spots of red on it’s gill covers and belly and the other had a

red nose and some red spots down one side. A few of the babies from this spawning

were unique. They were a more refined version of colored/patterned carp mostly white

bodies with red patterns on their backs. These new style red and white carp were called

Kohaku and were the next and perhaps the most important step in the development of

many varieties of koi we have today.

Shortly after the beginning of the twentieth century a European variant of the carp was

imported to Japan. These carp were popular food fish because they were mostly scale

less and easier to prepare to be eaten. These carp were called doitsu-goi by the

Japanese which translates to german carp. Doitsu-goi brought additional genetics that

tended to produce koi with a lateral patterns running down the side of the carp. In 1907

Kichigoro Akiyama bred a doitsu-goi with an asagi sanke and produced a doitsu-goi with

bluish skin on it’s back a red belly and a red pattern running laterally down its sides.

This new variety was named Shusui which means autumn water. This new type of koi

was very significant because it would eventually lead to many new and unique varieties.

Some types of koi that are very popular today were first developed as a doitsu-goi and

then bred to a normal scaled koi to produce a new normal scaled variety. Kujaku is an

example of a scaled variety of koi that was first produced as a doitsu-goi.

The years following the end of the Russo-Japan war (1904-1905) saw Japan emerging

as a world power and a new emphasis was being placed on becoming more modern

and industrialized. This movement produced a new class of wealthy merchants in Japan

and increasing interest in colored carp. Annual koi shows/sales began in the Niigata

area during this same period and of course continue to modern times. Colored carp

prices rose so quickly that sales were even banned for a short time in an effort to control

this new craze. There are tales of some pretty wild parties after a successful colored

carp harvest and even a swordfight or two over disputes of ownership. During these

early days carp and colored carp farming were quite different than today. Brood stock

was placed in small ponds but also released into rivers, lakes, and streams to spawn

naturally. Some were grown in enclosed woven bamboo fish pens. Other carp farmers

used open waters and by feeding in a certain area they were able to keep some of their

crop close by and then harvest as needed. Baby carp were harvested in late summer to

early fall by draining ponds or using nets and fish traps in open waters.

In 1914 a major agricultural exhibition was held in Tokyo to present to the world the

wide array of Japanese agricultural products. Because this was during the reign of the

Taisho emperor it was called the Taisho Exhibition. Hikosaburo Hiraswa was the mayor

of Higashiyama Village which was also the location of the most famous Carp farm of

that time Gosuke Carp Farm owned by Kunizo Hiroi who had developed the first

kohaku. Hikosaburo was a colored carp enthusiast and hoped a display of some of their

unique colored carp developed in their area in hopes of opening new markets and


The very best colored carp in the area were collected to be transported to Tokyo for the

month long exhibition. However travel was very difficult in remote areas like Niigata

especially in that early period. Narrow steep mountainous foot paths and a few

improved dirt trails where carts might be used to transport live carp in large wooden

water buckets were difficult to travel. The carp buckets leaked constantly and many

detours to obtain fresh water from streams and other sources of water made the trip out

of the mountains even more laborious. Aeration was accomplished by stirring the water

with sticks and also by pouring the water from one bucket to another. Twenty eight

colored carp mostly kohaku including at least one early version of sanke were

transported for almost a week towards their historic meeting with history in Tokyo.

Of the twenty eight carp that began the trip to Tokyo twenty three survived to be

displayed and earn a silver medal that represented second place for all products

exhibited at the event. Apparently no photo’s exist but some beautiful wood block hand

colored prints were made by Hikosaburo and can be seen reproduced in some early koi

books. Eight of the exhibited colored carp were given as a gift to the crown prince who

was soon to become emperor. Once released into the moat that surrounded the

emperors’ palace it soon became fashionable for the wealthy landowners to purchase

colored carp for their garden ponds. These special ancestors to modern day koi were

the pioneers that captivated visitors to this exhibition and announced to the world that a

new type of fancy colored carp had been created and was available to purchase.

The Taisho exhibition established fancy colored carp as the fish to display in your pond.

It opened a larger area of Japan as a market and encouraged early breeders to

continue to produce more and better colored carp and well as seek to create new and

different varieties.

In the next installment of this series the creation of the original Ki & Hi Utsuri, modern

sanke, and original showa will be discussed. If you have questions about the early

history of koi please feel free to email to me, Ray Jordan at [email protected] and I

will try to discover the answers and include them in future installments.

Carp/Koi History Terms

Carp – Common River Carp (Cyprinus carpio)

Goi – Japanese for Carp

Magoi – Japanese for black carp grown for food

Irogoi – Japanese for colored carp

Sarasa – Japanese for “Bright Feelings” – an early primitive red & white colored carp developed

in the early 1800’s

Kohaku – Japanese for red & white – The most popular and also the most important variety of

koi contributing to the development of many of the varieties of koi found today

Nishikigoi – Japanese for embroidered carp (13 recognized classes and over 100 named varieties)

Koi – Nickname derived from Nishikigoi and most common term used in the Western

hemisphere today (Koi actually translates to human love in Japanese

Author: Giovanni Carlo

I am a koi fish keeper and breeder a husband of beautiful wife Maybel and beautiful daughter May Carl I have been in fish keeping hobby for over 35 years. Like many kids in the 80's We catch fish in the rivers and canals and kept it in the "pasong" local visayan name for pond. or a large mayo bottle since We don't have aquariums yet on that time. decades later their is a small petshop open in my place and that starts me from buying aquarium and fishes that are sold in the pet store decades later start growing goldfish and koi fish until today.

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