The beautiful Butterfly Koi Fish gets its name from the decorative finnage that resembles the delicate wings of a butterfly. Being of a hybrid variety, these fish are not considered by many breeders as a true Koi. Butterfly Koi fish have been bred only since the 1980s, along with Dragon carp and Longfin Koi. The earlier varieties of Koi were distinguished by their coloration, pattern, and scalation. However, new variants like the Butterfly Koi have distinct characteristics with unusually long, flowing fins.
The true origin of Butterfly Koi fish is often debated due to its crossbreeding. Some aquarists are of the opinion that they are a cross between ordinary Koi and Asain carp. Today, most breeders strive to create ornamental and colorful Koi, with butterfly Koi being a popular variety. Traditional Koi shows tend to disregard them because of their hybrid origin. Like traditional Koi, butterfly koi come in different patterns and colors, with white, yellow, and orange in combination being most common.
Apart from long, flowing fins, butterfly koi fish have longer barbells and bigger nares as compared to traditional koi. The smaller varieties are kept in aquariums, while the bigger that reach up to 36 inches are bred in ponds. They don’t require much maintenance as long as they are fed properly and kept in a stable environment. Butterfly koi fish have a peaceful temperament and don’t mind the company of humans at any time.
What is distinctive about butterfly koi fish is that their dorsal, pectoral, ventral, and caudal fins are almost featherlike in appearance. The Japanese call them ‘living jewels’ or also as Dragon Koi because of their colorful appearance. They can also easily be interbred with standard koi. Their entry into the US was through breeder Wyatt Lefever who crossed Asian Koi with metallic colored Koi.
Although butterfly koi fish cannot be judged in competitions according to the rules for standard Koi, many breeders still hold butterfly koi competitions. Their fin to body ratio exceeds that of standard koi by over 500%. Therefore, they cannot receive the same points as standard koi in a competition. Moreover, the patterns and color variations are different. The new version of butterfly koi is slender, which is more noticeable when you look down on the fish. The American Koi Club Association has set new standards to judge these fish.
If you wish to breed butterfly koi, make sure you provide them a pond with at least 1,000 gallons of water. Fill the pond up with sturdy plants since they like to nibble at the roots. However, make sure the base of the plant is protected with large stones. Make sure the pH levels of the water are between 6.8 and 7.2. dH levels must be maintained between 2 and 12. Like carp, butterfly koi are sturdy and can live comfortably in temperatures from 33 to 90° Fahrenheit.
As like all other koi, the gentle nature of butterfly koi make them excellent pond fish. They are tolerant and resistant to disease which makes them a popular choice among breeders all over the world. Taking care of butterfly koi fish is a pleasurable experience that can give you priceless hours of enjoyment and fulfillment. The little bit of effort you put into bringing them up will be worth it in the long run.