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Wallaroo Station Animal Fact Sheet
Cyprinus carpio


Koi are fish and were originally bred from the common grass carp found in Eastern Asia and China. The first description of koi is found in a Chinese text written during the Western Chin dynasty, 265-316 A.D.

The growth rate of the koi depends upon its feeding pattern, which is dependent on the water temperature and water quality, how many fish are stocked within a pond, and the genetics of each breed. Although koi are bottom-feeding fish, they can be trained to eat out of a person's hand.

Koi can reach to lengths over six feet. Since the alternating growth cycles produces rings on the fish's scales much like the growth rings of a tree, a person can determine the age of a koi by counting these rings.

Three-color pigments contained within cells called chromataphores produce the coloration of Koi. These pigments are erythrin (red), melanin (black), and xanthin (yellow). Koi also have irrridocytes, which are like tiny reflective spheres within the skin. Due to the colors and sheen on koi, they are also referred to as "living jewels" or "shimmering flowers."

Early in the 1800's, the Japanese developed the first breed of the koi known as the Kohaku (red and white koi). Today, there are 13 official classifications of Koi based on color, pattern, and/or scale type. The twelve other breeds are based on the color and sheen. A Taisho Sanke, developed during the era of the Emperor Taisho, has a white body with red and black accents. A Showa Sanshoku has a black body with red and white accents. The Utsuri Mono has a black body with white, yellow, or red accents. The Asagi /Shusui are both blue and red. An Asagi has blue scales outlined by white and a red belly while a Shusui has a light blue body and a red belly. A Bekko has a body color of either white, red, or yellow with black spots on the body and no spots on its head. A Goromo is white with the individual scales in red outlined in dark blue. Kawarimono is a "catch all" class for all other koi, which are not metallic. All Hikari have a metallic sheen. A Hikari Muji (or Hikarimono) has one body color of white, yellow, orange, gray, and a metallic sheen. Hikari Moyo Mono are those koi, which are metallic and patterned. Hikari Utsuri includes all other metallic fish. A Gin Rin looks like it has rows of diamonds on its dorsal fin. Finally, a Tancho, named after the national bird of Japan, has a white body with a single red spot on its head.

Habitat: Fresh water ponds, mud ponds, and rice paddies
Diet: Cockles (any of several weedy plants), worms, prawns, and tadpoles, or special domesticated mix
Status: Vulnerable (IUCN)
Approximate Dimensions of Adult: Koi grow from 30 inches to over six feet.
Lifespan: 40 to 60 years
Reproduction & Offspring:  


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