It is well known that Koi fish can be expensive
They have long been considered a luxury and a symbol of prosperity.
The world’s most expensive Koi fish sold for $1.8 million. This female Kohaku, named S Legend, was bred in Japan from a top quality breeding line.
However, buying Koi fish is only the first expense.
You will also have to consider the cost of pond installation, maintenance and equipment, food, and more.
Are you interested to learn how much Koi Fish cost?
Keep reading to learn more about their price and which types of Koi are the most expensive…
Table of Contents
How Much Are Koi Fish?
The average price of a Koi fish is $45 to $75.
However, not every Koi is going to cost the same amount.
Age, size, and color are some of the most important factors that influence the price of this fish.
If you are on a tight budget then buying a juvenile is your best option. These fish are at their lowest price before they reach their full size. Buying a baby Koi fish gives you the rewarding experience of watching your new pet grow too.
You can usually find a juvenile Koi for about $30 to $50, depending on their color and rarity.
Rarer colors like the Asagi or Shiro Utsuri will sell for $70 to $80. Common colors may be even cheaper than $30 at chain retailers, though there is no guarantee that these specimens come from quality breeding lines.
Koi Fish Price List:
|Taisho Sanke||24-36 inches||$50-$300|
|Shiro Utsuri||24-36 inches||$400-$1200|
|Hi Utsuri||24-30 inches||$1000-$3000|
Adult Koi are usually sold for breeding purposes. For this reason, they will be much more expensive than a juvenile. These specimens are usually from quality broodstock and are sold during their fertile years between the ages of 3 and 6.
Just like with a juvenile, the price of an adult Koi depends on their rarity and type. A basic Kohaku or Showa in the prime of their life will cost between $50 and $70.
More sought after varieties can cost well over $100, with the most expensive colors reaching prices in the thousands.
In addition to adult Koi you also have jumbo Koi.
Jumbo Koi fish are 24 to 36 inches long.
So, how much are big Koi fish?
The price of these supersized fish can run between $500 and $1000.
Also, remember that a Jumbo Koi needs more food, and more intensive labor and maintenance to keep it healthy. It will also need a larger pond space.
Why Are They So Expensive?
The Koi fish has always been considered a fish for the wealthy.
They were initially kept in the 1800s by royalty and nobles in Japan and China.
Today you do not need to be high class to keep a Koi pond! However, you do need to be aware of their high price tag and potential 20 year commitment.
There are several reasons why Koi fish are so expensive.
If you go for an exotic variety, such as the Asagi or Butterfly, you should expect to pay a much higher price than you would for a basic Kohaku, Showa, or Hariwake.
Some varieties have a price tag of well over $1000. The price reflects the generations of breeding and selection to produce these desirable colors.
Certain colors and patterns, such as the Tancho, are very rare. When one does show up, it is extremely sought after and thus will be more expensive. Low supply and high demand equals a high price.
In many cases though, the fish itself is among the lowest of your costs.
Because Koi cannot be kept in an indoor aquarium, you will need to build a garden pond. This can cost anywhere from $300 to $5000. A plastic pond is much cheaper than a stone or concrete garden pond, but it is also much less durable. In addition to the pond, you will need to install a mesh or a fence to protect it.
These large fish also need to eat a lot.
Their food bill can cost up to $55 a month.
A Koi pond must be maintained year round and requires a lot of equipment to keep running. A heater, filter, lighting system, aerator, and pond liner can cost up to $500 total.
Landscaping costs, such as weeding and gardening, will tack on another $100 to $1500 to your price tag.
All in all, the Koi is a very expensive fish.
Which Color Is Most Expensive?
The most expensive Koi fish is the red and black Hi Utsuri.
This variety can sell for over $3000 as their color is particularly rare and difficult to breed.
The Tancho comes in at a close second.
This is a type of Kohaku with a large red spot on top of their head, resembling the Japanese flag. They can sell for anywhere from $500 to over $2000.
Platinum, or metallic silver, is more expensive than gold. While a gold Ogon may run between $80 and $400, the average price of a Platinum is between $500 and $1000.
Also, remember that adding a special feature, such as shimmering Ginrin scales or butterfly shaped fins, can add on at least an extra $100 to any color variety.
Factors That Impact the Cost of a Koi Fish
Not every Koi fish is going to cost the same amount.
There are many different factors that influence the cost.
As previously mentioned, the type and color of the Koi will impact the cost.
The colors are determined by combinations of pigment cells in the fish’s skin. These cells contain the pigments for red, yellow, black, white, and blue. It takes generations of careful selective breeding for these pigment cells to show in the most desirable combinations. For this reason, certain colors are highly sought after and sell for a high price.
Age is also an important factor.
The most expensive fish are sold during their most fertile years. You will be paying a higher price for a Koi that is between 3 and 6 years old.
After the first decade of their life, their monetary value will decrease. Elderly fish over 12 years old are sold at much lower prices due to their lack of fertility and higher susceptibility to health issues.
Fish that are sold before sexual maturity also tend to be a lower price.
Size is another important factor.
Generally speaking the larger the koi, then the higher the price will be.
Juveniles under 10 inches long can sell for as low as $30.
Large, fertile specimens between 12-24 inches long can sell for $100 or more. Jumbo Koi between 24-36 inches long are among the most expensive, selling for over $200.
You also need to consider the Koi’s lineage.
Those from a strong, healthy line are more likely to be healthy and will cost the most. Koi from low quality breeding lines will be cheaper.
The fish that are displayed at shows and expos descend from show quality lines and are often worth thousands of dollars. Most people cannot afford a fish from one of these show lines, but can obtain a cheaper specimen from a quality broodstock.
Long Term Ownership Costs
When you buy a Koi fish you are making a 20 year commitment.
When figuring out your budget, you will need to consider the annual ownership costs as well as the initial costs of buying the fish.
Yearly costs include pond maintenance, food, equipment, health care, and landscaping.
These fish need an outdoor pond to live in and installing one can cost up to $5000. If you are on a budget then consider a large plastic pond. Plastic ponds range in price from $300 to $600, compared to the $1500 to $5000 price tag of a concrete or stone pond.
In addition to the pond itself, you will need to pay about $700 to $1000 to install a fence. Thankfully, pond installation is usually a one-time deal!
Decorating your pond is easy to do on a budget.
For $200 a year you can pick up some inexpensive Hornwort, Duckweed, Frogbit, and Water Lettuce. If you want to use more exotic plants, your yearly cost can jump to about $2000.
Next, you will need to factor in the yearly cost of equipment and maintenance. This includes the equipment itself and the electricity needed to run it. You can expect your garden pond to cost about $3000 to $4000 a year to maintain. This price is affected by the size of your pond and the efficiency of your equipment.
Depending on your fish’s size and appetite you will need to budget $300-$600 per year for food.
Unlike with a dog or a cat, health care is only necessary when your fish develops a health problem. You do not need to take your fish for yearly checkups at the vet. As they get older they will be more likely to get health problems. You should plan to spend about $100 on medicine a year.
Miscellaneous expenses for your fish include water treatment and testing kits, and enrichment for your fish.
Cost Breakdown Chart
|Expense||Initial Cost||Yearly Cost|
How to Find a Reputable Koi Fish Breeder
There are several ways to find a reputable, ethical breeder.
One of the easiest ways is to find a breeder that is a member of the Associated Koi Clubs of America.
If you can attend an in person show or expo then you will be able to see the breeder’s specimens in person.
When you do find a breeder there are several things to look out for.
Of course, the quality of the specimen is the most important.
Make sure that the breeder’s fish are brightly colored and that their body plans follow the breed standard. They should not be undersized or oversized, and should be free of deformities. There should be no fungal or parasitic infections, rashes, or lesions, and the fish should have a graceful and coordinated swimming gait. They should not be too thick or too thin either.
Unless they are selling juvenile fish for transport, you should be extremely cautious of any breeder that keeps their Koi in a tank rather than a pond.
Their prices are also an indicator of their specimens’ health and quality. If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
A Koi fish is certainly a worthy investment, although it is quite an expensive one!
Keeping this fish requires plenty of careful planning and budgeting, and you must be prepared to make a 20 year commitment!
Fortunately you do not have to break the bank to keep this beautiful fish. There are plenty of affordable options out there for those who are on a tight budget.
Start with a young, small Koi if you want to save money. The price will go up as the fish grows and enters their fertile years.
Take the type of Koi fish into consideration as well.
Some types, such as the Asagi, are better for those with big budgets. Others, like the Kohaku, are perfectly reasonable for keepers on a smaller budget.
We hope that this guide has made it easier for you to figure out a budget for your first Koi fish. How much do you plan to spend on your Koi fish?
Let us know in the comments section below…