Black Koi – An Overview

Koi come in a variety of stunning colors, one of the most popular of which is the black koi. The Japanese developed and popularized the fish by learning to breed them in a variety of colors and patterns by varying their diet along with other factors. Today, there are so many varieties of koi that even experts cannot agree on the exact number of varieties.

The essential black koi, with its black base coloring, remains a cornerstone of the species that evolved from Chinese carp. Most of the varieties of black koi have other color variations as well. One variety of black koi, called the Karasu, or crow, is entirely black when seen from above, having a black upper body and black fins. Its underbelly, however, is usually white or orange. Another variety of black koi, the Hajiro, has some white markings on its nose and fins. The original all black koi, the Magoi, is actually more carp than koi and is the base species that other black koi are descended from. Although it looks black at first sight, it is actually a dark bronze upon closer examination.

The Kumonryu, or dragon fish, is another popular variety of black koi. The Kumonryu is named for its resemblance to its namesake, the dragon. Black koi, as well as all varieties of koi, can actually change their coloring during the course of their lifetime. They can also become speckled or lose their speckles. Color is affected by diet, temperature and the health of the fish. It can also vary seasonally. A healthy koi kept in constant conditions will vary very little so don’t worry that the koi you select for its beauty will suddenly change to a different coloring.

Koi live in fresh water ponds and eat a wide variety of foods. Their breeding season is dependent on the weather and tends to be in the early summer or late spring. Koi become sexually active once they reach about ten inches (koi grow to about three feet in length). Male koi can sometimes be recognized by the breeding spots that appear on their heads. You can also recognize them because the area around their anus is concave. The male koi likes to take a leading role in the mating season and will chase the female of his choice. After spawning, eggs hatch in under a week, however it is several weeks before they begin to show their colors.

Koi are very social fish and like to swim in small groups rather than large shoals. They can also be very friendly with their human keepers. Many people have noticed that koi have very interesting personalities and are fun to interact with, especially at feeding time. You can train a koi to come and accept food from your hand.

The many different colors and markings on varieties of black koi make a fascinating koi collection. Collectors of koi like to mix up the varieties making it easier to tell the fish apart as well as impart a colorful note to their koi pond.

Jonathon Matthews is a koi expert. For more great information on black koi and building amazing koi ponds, visit

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