Why do people keep Koi Fish?

A showa Koi fish


Anyone who has ever walked into a friend's yard and seen a well stocked Koi pond for the first time is immediately captivated by the beauty, variety and serenity of the Koi fish. After a few minutes of enjoying the Koi, most people wonder aloud or to themselves if they could also keep Koi as pets. Happily, the answer is yes. Koi fish make excellent pets for almost everyone. They are fairly easy to keep and provide a constant display of color.


Koi are an ornamental domesticated type of the common carp. They come in a rainbow of colors and range in size from 3 inches to 3 feet. Even if you don't have to have the space for a large pond to keep the fish as pets, don't count yourself out. Young Koi can be maintained successfully in small ponds or even live indoors in large aquariums. Although, the fish will someday need a new, larger home.


They should not be confused with goldfish, which tend to look similar (goldfish don't have the barbs near the corners of the mouth). Koi fish are a hardy pet. They can tolerate a wide variety of water temperatures, more than most fish. Koi are considered "docile." They do not fight with each other and they do not eat smaller fish. They have a decent immune system and are not as susceptible to the many diseases that easily affect other fish. With proper care, Koi can live for over twenty years. They are not fussy eaters. Since they are omnivorous, Koi will eat a wide variety of foods. From specially prepared Koi food to pieces of bread, frozen peas, lettuce, spinach or even earthworms. Koi love fresh fruit like watermelons or oranges. They will learn to recognize you and rise to the surface to feed. Many Koi can be trained to eat from your hand. Some will even follow you around the pond while begging for food.


Many people find that the creation of an outdoor Koi habitat to be one of the most rewarding aspects of keeping Koi fish as pets. They bring feeling of peace into the lives of their owners. Getting started in the hobby doesn't require a large investment, fish can be purchased for just a few dollars and used filtration equipment can be bought for pennies on the dollar (hobbyists are always upgrading their systems). You can purchase a used aquarium if you want to keep Koi indoors. If being inside cramps your style, a small, preformed pond with a pump and a filter is an inexpensive way to get started outdoors. Money invested in creating an outdoor home for your Koi is generally returned when selling your home.


Building an outdoor Koi pond is a project that everyone in the family can participate in. The pond itself can be either installed by a professional or as a fun DIY project that you install yourself (a good Koi dealer can help you out with the plans, you can even get them for free if you negotiate if you purchase some equipment). Everyone can display their own creativity when adding plants, stones and the landscaping around the pond. The pond becomes a focal point for family and friends when entertaining. For many people, the time spent at the Koi pond enjoying the fish after work is the most peaceful and fulfilling part of the day.


People who keep Koi fish as pets form a unique and friendly group of enthusiasts. You will find Koi clubs or associations almost everywhere in the US. They are great sources of information, supplies and just plain good fellowship for the beginner or experienced Koi owner. Many Koi clubs also hold regular competitions to show your Koi and some members will even trade for unique varieties.


The long lived Koi become more than just an anonymous fish in a tank. Their distinctive markings mean you will quickly recognize each one as a individual with its own unique personality. While perceived as an exotic fish, they are surprisingly easy to care for, hardy and pleasant to own. Keeping Koi fish as pets will reward you with years of pleasure. They have been kept as pets by people all over the world for centuries, for many good reasons.


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