The colourful Koi from Japan is basically an ornamental variety of common carp. In Japanese it is called ‘nshikigoi’; literally meaning brocaded carp. Even a single look at this magnificently beautiful fish will justify its name. Koi is beautiful, colourful, adaptable, agile and sensitive to human care. What more can you ask for from a domesticated fish.
If you are planning to add the Koi colours to your pet world, then some handy information about the varieties and basics of this species would not be out of place.
The Koi fish carp is available in many colours. Some common colours are white, black, red, yellow, blue and cream. However, due to constant breeding for colour mutations and efforts of specialist breeders, Koi is now available in almost every colour under the sun. Some specific varieties have also been categorised based on the colour; e.g. Kohaku – red and white combination, Taisho sanke – red and white combo with black marks, Kinginrin – with metallic scales, Ogon – single metallic colour, Hikari moyomono – combo of 2 metallic colours, etc. Some hybrids like the Butterfly Koi and the Ghost Koi have also been developed.
Koi fish carp, has gained popularity not only because it’s beautiful, but also because it’s extremely adaptable and quite hardy. It can survive without being fed for almost a week. Average life expectancy of a Koi is 25 to 30 years. This means unlike other pets, your Koi can be with you for most of your life with proper care and keeping. It can live very well in temperature ranges of 100 to 200 C. You need to ensure that the pond neither freezes completely in winters nor does it get too warm under direct summer sun.
Koi attains sexual maturity at the age of 2. A mature Koi can grow up to 3 feet long and it takes years (as long as ten years) for it to attain its complete length. So for the initial period of a few months or a year, it can also be kept in a fish tank or aquarium. But a pond is an absolute necessity for the growing, increasing Koi, after this initial period. Apart from the difference of colour among various varieties, another difference that prevails is between the two genders. A female Koi is bigger and fatter bodied than the male. This is because she bears eggs. A male has smaller and edged fins, whereas a female’s fins are bigger, rounded and less coloured. Also, a male is more energetic and with ‘attitude’ compared to a female. However, females are quicker in becoming friends and more trusting. They will be the first to attack the food or take it from your hands.
Koi is a very healthy fish with a fairly strong immune system. However, lack of proper care and nutrition or contact with diseased fish can create health problems that can even prove fatal.
Serious fish diseases that can take a toll on your Koi’s health include:
? Koi herpes virus – In case of an outbreak of KHV, there are no specific symptoms that can be evident. It is necessary to go for autopsy for proper diagnosis, if there are sudden deaths.
? Aeromonas bacteria – Proper information regarding the ways to prevent bacterial infections and implementing the same is the key to dealing with this problem.
However, most common reasons for the Koi to go sick are not any major diseases but stress creating conditions like:
?Poor water quality
? Low oxygen level
Proper knowledge regarding the specific requirements of Koi and maintaining the same should help you deal with these problems or rather eradicate them.
So if you love your fish more in the pond than on the platter, don’t coy away from Koi. Some responsible hard work and you shall have beautiful fun!