What Do “Good Koi” Look Like?

by Aquatics on November 21, 2011

Do you know what a “Good Koi “looks like? Many times, we get calls at the koi farm asking for some “really good fish.” This is not a straightforward request because what constitutes “good” is very subjective. Koi are similar to humans in which a higher percentage of young ones (babies) are cute whereas as they grow, some get better, some decline in their looks, body shape, finnage etc. Growing koi is a lot like owning a diamond mine. You have to go through a lot of dirt …to get just a few high quality diamonds.


This picture illustrates very well some “high quality diamonds.” These fish are not finished. This means that they have further development needed before they can be sold or displayed as high quality. This pertains to the untrained eye. Because these koi fish are young, we at the farm look for different qualities than the common hobbyist would. This picture is of fish that have been sorted from the fry pond and will be placed in a grow-out pond until they are at least 10 inches. Many of these fish will display their true adult colors and can then be offered for sale as high quality “good koi.”

Our dilemma is this. What look the best young does not necessarily look the best when it is older. If I were to sell these fish as good koi when small, we would get some complaints. Many customers want “good now” fish …. Because they don’t understand the “good later” idea. In Japan, they have a word for good later fish … or fish that have the chance to develop further in the future. They call them “Tategoi.”

The following pictures show what the fish should look like as they get bigger. Do you see the similarities? Do you see how they change?

Koi-1 Koi-3


Just remember that the best fish are the ones you pick. Regardless of what others may say. They are your fish and many unique non-conforming looks are very attractive.

Until next time … enjoy your ponds!

This is a guest post by:
Joe Pawlak
Blackwater Creek Koi Farms Inc.

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