Have you ever been wandering through a botanical garden or outdoor recreational space and found yourself stumbling upon a koi pond? If you have, then you're no stranger to the peace and tranquility that these sanctuaries offer, especially when you realize that swimming around is the fish known as none other than koi.
There's something so ethereal and enchanting about a koi garden and while pleasing to the eye, there's plenty more to know about the fish that swim in these waters. For centuries, the koi fish has been symbolic and is now bred for aesthetic value, livening up - literally - the ponds of many people around the world. While it's easy enough to write an entire book about this special fish and its environment, we're fitting only the most impressive of facts about the koi here. From its heritage to the reason it holds such a special place in many people's hearts, here's everything you didn't know about koi ponds and the koi fish.
The Origins Of The Koi Fish
It's a popular belief that the koi fish got its start in Japan and while Japan has adopted the fish and its symbolism, the koi actually came from China. Rather than serving the purpose of aesthetic appeal, the koi fish was actually used as a source of food. Later on, in Japan, the koi fish was bred for ponds and the like during the mid-1800s instead of sustenance, leading to the culture surrounding the koi fish today.
In Japan, the Kohaku is the most popular koi fish and also the most recognizable with its red and white pattern. The scales on this fish are almost pearl-like with bright white and bold red hues that reflect beautifully in direct sunlight. In the U.S., the Kohaku is just as popular but so are the Taisho Sanke and Showa Sanke breeds, both of which are white, red, and black.
Koi Fish Are Far More Intelligent Than Many Give Them Credit For
When it comes to intelligent animals, it's not often thought that a fish could have a level of intelligence that surpasses what one normally thinks of regarding marine life. However, the koi fish is a very smart species and it's been proven that a single fish can even be trained to eat out of one's hand, and, in some cases, they're gentle enough to eat out of another animal's mouth! The koi fish does not have teeth so even if there was any aggression in the species, it wouldn't be able to do much, anyway. With no teeth, the koi fish is an omnivore and eats pond plants that grow naturally or are placed there by the humans who keep them.
Speaking of the diet of a koi fish, when the offspring of the koi fish have hatched, it's not unusual for the adult koi fish to eat their young, called the fry. When koi fish do hatch, it's recommended that they're removed immediately so that this doesn't happen, giving the young fry a chance to survive without seeking shelter from their parents.
Some Koi Fish Are Highly-Sought After
Larger koi fish are show stoppers and if they're raised in ideal conditions - which includes plenty of shade, as the fish is prone to sunburn - they can grow up to three feet in length. These larger fish are usually females as the female koi grow larger than their male counterparts. When koi fish are bred intentionally, it's not uncommon for highly-sought-after fish to go for thousands of dollars and, occasionally, up to $250,000 for a prized fish.
In terms of prized koi fish, one of the most famous was Hanako, a koi fish that was actually born in 1751. This fish lived more than two centuries and was witness to more things in history than any human or many other animals on the face of the earth, and ultimately lived a whopping 226 years. Hanako died in 1977 and his (very) long life is a testament to the endurance and hardiness of the koi fish species. Usually, koi fish will live anywhere from 30 to 40 years if the conditions are right for their growth and survival, and while other animals tend to show their age after some time, the koi fish does not. In order to determine how old a fish is, the scales of the koi fish would need to be examined under a microscope to ultimately determine its exact age. The long life of a koi isn't only literal - in the Japanese culture, these fish are also seen as a sign of perseverance, endurance, and strength.