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Raising the colorful fish called koi is a fast growing and fascinating hobby. Koi are not large goldfish but a breed of carp that the Japanese began selectively breeding for their distinctive colorings and markings about 175 years ago. They usually live outdoors in landscaped ponds that have been constructed to provide adequate oxygen and water filtration. They can also be raised in aquariums with goldfish or other tropical fish as long as the other fish arenít aggressive. Koi can be purchased at specialty pet stores or online from companies that import or breed them. They can easily be transported in plastic bags filled with water that are packed in cardboard boxes.

Consider the following if you would like to raise koi:

  • The price of koi is determined by their color, pattern, size and shape. Owners who plan to show their fish in koi competitions may be interested in pricier types with collectable qualities or pedigrees, but the average pond owner can easily find more affordable varieties. It is best to start with less expensive koi and make sure they survive the winter in your pond before investing in pricier fish.
  • Koi can live in ponds over the winter, surviving under the ice, as long as the water does not freeze solid. They will not eat much if the water is very cold.
  • Koi usually grow to 24 to 36 inches. Factors such as the size of the pond, the amount of aeration, and how they are fed will determine their growth. Small koi can grow to 18 inches in 3 to 4 years. Although koi have been known to live for more than 100 years, they usually last from 25 to 35 years. They are hardier than tropicals or goldfish.

  • Koi are usually fed once or twice a day but can go for up to 10 days with no feeding. Most owners feed them special pellets; they will also eat dried or fresh shrimp, lettuce, or cooked rice or oats.

Do not purchase koi until your pond or aquarium is ready for them.

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