Often associated with wealth and success, the koi fish has surely hooked the interest of a lot of people with its vibrant colors and interesting features. However, how much would it cost to own a koi fish?
With its different varieties and the intricacies of owning this elegant pet, many are still undecided about whether or not to take home a koi. Understandably, raising koi fish is not a walk in the park, indeed.
Do not worry, as this article shall guide you through the end-to-end process of buying koi fish, including its pricing factors, upkeep costs, where to find one, and even money-saving tips for caring for one.
How Much Does a Koi Fish Cost?
The average price range of koi fish is between $10 and $20,000. This wide range is influenced by factors such as type, size, body shape, location, genetic lineage, quality, color, and gender. Some koi breeders put up their high-grade koi for auction, where the bid price can reach as high as $200,000.
Normal-grade koi fish would cost significantly lower than those from champion lineages, costing even less than a hundred dollars. On the other hand, top-grade ones may even reach up to a million dollars.
The koi fish price chart below should give you a better idea of how much a koi fish costs based on its source and type or size:
|Petco||United States||Grade-A domestic||$10 – $17|
|Liveaquaria||East Asian standard koi farm||Assorted grade-A||$8 – $20|
|Next Day Koi||Israel||Large butterfly koi||$30 – $660|
|Kloubec Koi||United States advanced koi farm||Large to extra-large koi with rare color patterns||$100 – $2,500|
|Kodama Koi Farm||Japan||Certified grade-AAA koi, large to jumbo-size||Bids (up to $16,000)|
|Sakai Fish Farm||Japan||Certified grade-AAA koi, large to jumbo-size, contenders for grand champion||Bids (up to $200,000)|
From this information, you can see that local pet store chains usually carry the cheapest options for domestic koi or import-grade A koi with regular fin types.
You would also notice that the most expensive koi fish from highly valued genetic lines, especially those coming from its country of origin, Japan, can fetch a bid price of up to a couple of hundred thousand dollars.
Here is another table showing the usual price ranges of different koi types, along with their average sizes:
|Koi Type||Size||Price Range|
|Kohaku||24 – 36 inches||$30 – $100|
|Showa||15 – 24 inches||$30 – $100|
|Taisho Sanke||24 – 36 inches||$50 – $300|
|Asagi||12 inches and above||$450 – $1,000|
|Ogon||24 – 36 inches||$80 – $400|
|Butterfly||30 – 40 inches||$160 – $350|
|Ginrin||12 – 36 inches||$150 – $400|
|Platinum||24 – 36 inches||$500 – $1,000|
|Shiro Utsuri||24 – 36 inches||$400 – $1,200|
|Hariwake||15 – 24 inches||$50 – $180|
|Shusui||18 inches and above||$80 – $350|
|Tancho||24 – 36 inches||$500 – $2,000|
|Hi Utsuri||24 – 30 inches||$1,000 – $3,000|
This koi fish price list gives you an idea that while there are particular differences in koi fish prices per type, even those of the same species have distinct price ranges as well.
Also, take note that these are just averages. Certain factors like bloodlines and the quality of fish produced can significantly increase the value of what may seem like an average-priced koi fish.
However, as you aim for particular koi fish colors and patterns, this should give you an idea of how much you need to set aside for your new fish.
Meanwhile, check this video of the different koi types so you can associate the pricing on the table with how they look:
Factors Affecting Koi Fish Prices
Understanding the many factors affecting koi fish prices will give you an edge in researching and coming up with the best-valued koi for you.
This know-how should also boost your confidence once you deal with koi breeders.
To help you further with this, here are the factors influencing how much a koi fish costs:
There are more than a hundred officially recognized varieties of koi fish aside from the most famous ones listed in the previous table. Each of these types also has different characteristics that determine its price.
Another distinction in type is the “regular koi” versus the “butterfly koi.” The butterfly koi was bred with a long-finned carp, which produced a variety with beautiful long-flowing fins, which fetches a higher price.
Color and Pattern
Colors and patterns primarily influence the cost of koi fish. Their bodies seem to be orientally and artistically painted, making them even more attractive.
Basically, brightly colored ones usually have higher values. However, it’s not only the colors and variations that make a koi valuable.
The most desirable combinations of colors and patterns are bright red-orange, darkest black, and shining white. Koi fish enthusiasts also show a preference for solid yellow, gray, and white colors.
Nonetheless, as mentioned before, koi are not valued solely for their color and patterns but also for the richness and sharpness of their pigmentation. Deep-colored koi with sharp patterns are considered more valuable.
Further, in Japan, the Tancho Kohaku variant is highly sought after due to its pure white body with a single large bright red spot on its head, making it look like it is bearing its very own Japanese flag.
The increase in demand for these desirable colors encourages breeders to produce more of the koi types having these colors due to their higher price range.
The average koi can live for an average of 40 years. However, a healthy koi coming from a highly valued genetic line can live much longer than that, with some reaching 200 years.
Not only are they produced for longevity, but these top-of-the-line koi fish are also consistently mated with champion fish that won in international shows. This further enhances the bloodline of these high-grade koi.
This type of well-researched selective breeding is a product of decades of hard work and patience by reputable koi breeders. Hence, you should expect this high-quality koi fish to come with a hefty price tag.
Body Shape and Fin Type
The preferred body shape and fin type will vary in respect of location. In Japan, the original short and neat fin types are preferred and are valued more since long fins are considered mutations and unpure.
On the other hand, in the United States, butterfly koi, with their long beautiful fins that resemble fragile wings, are more sought after and are priced higher.
As a rule of thumb, the larger the koi, the higher the koi fish cost. Juveniles under ten inches long have lower prices and might even be sold as low as $30.
On the other hand, large-size koi, or those measuring between 12 and 24 inches long, may be priced at $100 and more. Meanwhile, jumbo-sized koi around 24 to 36 inches long can fetch over $200.
Age is a major factor in determining the koi costs since it also dictates the koi’s size and quality.
Obviously, a koi that is 2 to 4 years old would be much longer and larger compared to a juvenile koi that is only a few months old, therefore, fetching a higher price.
Further, the quality of a koi is much more defined as it grows older, which is also a factor in setting its cost.
Like other pets and species, the female koi is also priced higher than its male counterpart.
As robust female koi lay millions of eggs in their entire lifetime, they can successfully produce thousands of healthy koi fish, which is critical to the continuity of their bloodlines.
Further, female fish tend to have larger sizes and rounded fins, adding more to their value.
Pond Quality vs. Show Quality
The quality of koi can be categorized into “pond quality” and “show quality.” Pond quality koi is the common koi with the usual markings and are very easy to find. Hence, expect these types to be more affordable.
On the other hand, show-quality koi are very desirable in a lot of ways. They are usually bred under tight conditions and are the type of koi usually used for shows and competitions, hence their category.
Top-grade Kohaku, Sanke, and Showa are some of the most used types of show-quality koi and can be sold for higher prices.
Domestic or Import
Purchasing koi fish from local sources are generally much cheaper due to the absence of importation or shipping costs.
Not to say that imported koi is always better, but many koi enthusiasts do support importation because of the excitement and the impact it brings. Hence, a lot of them do not mind shelling out more money for foreign koi.
Why Are Koi Fish So Expensive?
Compared to other pond fish, top-quality koi fish prices are indeed quite expensive. With koi enthusiasts willing to spend a thousand to even a million dollars for just a single fish, it shows how valuable this pet is.
So the question remains — “Why do koi fish cost so much?”
Here are some of the reasons to explain the premium price ranges of these beautiful fishes:
- Koi Fish Quality: Out of millions of eggs hatched by koi throughout their lifetime, most of these hatchlings will have deformities and will be sold at very low prices. Meanwhile, most of those that survive have the highest quality and are really expensive.
- Breeding Difficulty: Unlike other types of fish, koi require a lot of time, diligence, and money to keep them in top condition and healthy. Koi farmers then need to make up for these expenses through the koi fish cost. This way, they can make a profit from the yearly costs of breeding koi.
- Transportation: Since many of the koi fish farms are located outside of the United States, shipping an imported koi adds more to its already high cost due to transportation, customs, and license fee costs needed to legally and safely deliver the pet.
- Rarity: Koi fish is much more difficult to obtain compared to other pond fish, hence pulling up its price. Certain species or colors are even less common, like the Tancho. This creates a huge demand for these rare fishes — and with a smaller supply, expect hefty price tags.
If you are just about to buy koi fish for the very first time, it is suggested that you go for a less expensive koi fish to first familiarize yourself with keeping the pet alive and not waste thousands of dollars on experimenting.
Koi Fish Ownership Cost
The expenses of owning a koi fish do not end with the purchase of the koi itself. In fact, this is just the start of the upkeep expenses you need to maintain for your pet’s lifetime.
Additionally, the construction of the koi’s living environment is probably the highest initial cost that needs to be prepared ahead of getting the fish itself.
To help you prepare for all of these, check the table below, which is a breakdown of all the expenses related to owning a koi:
Constructing your very own koi pond requires a lot of planning, both structurally and financially. However, bear in mind that this is a one-time cost.
Once you have laid down the foundation of your backyard pond, the rest of your costs will be relatively lower.
As part of your planning for your outdoor pond, you have to consider how many koi you plan to take care of and how large they are expected to grow.
The general rule is that there should be one square foot of pond surface area per one inch of fish. Another way to measure is to have four fish or less per 1,000 gallons of water.
This will also determine how much you need to allocate for your koi pond build. That being said, here is a price chart of the most basic expenses for the construction of a koi pond:
|Koi Pond Construction Services||Cost|
|Permit for digging and grading||$150 – $485 per project|
|Excavation||$60 – $200 per cubic yard|
|Grading and leveling||$40 – $180 per hour|
|Pond liner||$0.30 – $113.50 per square foot|
|Edging||$700 – $1,750 per project|
With these considerations, always ensure that you do your research properly before digging and that all laws, permits, and fees related to the construction are taken care of.
Further, coordinate closely with your contractor to ensure that all considerations are taken into account, including the depth of your pond, the material for your pond liner, and the overall design of your koi pond.
How pricey your koi ponds will be may vary depending on the quality of add-ons that you choose. Many of these are necessary to keep your backyard pond water clean and your pond fish free of hazards.
Here is a list of the required add-ons to your koi pond:
|Koi Pond Add-Ons||Cost|
|Landscaping||$4.50 – $17 per square foot|
|Pond filter||$150 – $1,300 per filter|
|Circulation pump||$50 – $2,000 per pump|
|Pond skimmer||$100 – $700 per skimmer|
|Return jets||$10 – $50 per jet|
|Auto-fill valve||$30 – $100 per valve|
|UV light||$55 – $600 per light|
|Pond heater||$38 – $135 per unit|
Overall, expect to spend around $414 to $4,822 for these pond add-ons. These would ensure the optimal living environment that is critical for the longevity of your expensive and beautiful fish.
Koi pond maintenance should be done on a monthly basis to ensure that the overall pond environment is kept clean, safe, and conducive to healthy fish living.
This is not at all expensive but can be time-consuming. The expenses needed for the maintenance include your cleaning materials, water treatment and testing products, and pond upkeep.
Check this summary of the expenses of maintaining most koi fish ponds:
|Water treatment products||$0 – $25|
|Water testing products||$0 – $15|
|Pond maintenance||$0 – $200|
An algaecide should also be helpful in removing algae that deplete the pond of oxygen, making it more difficult for the koi to breathe. All these can be purchased in large containers and can last a long time.
You only need to allocate around $100 to $200 on a monthly basis for the regular maintenance of your fish pond, and it will not be any different from the expenses on a yearly basis, which is just about $100 to $300.
Koi Food and Treats
Commercial koi food is probably the largest monthly expense that you will need for your koi, and it is not at all expensive, especially if you only have a few koi for pets.
Look at this quick breakdown of monthly and yearly costs for feeding a single koi fish:
|Expense||Monthly Cost||Yearly Cost|
|Koi food||$10 – $60||$60 – $720|
|Fish treats||$5 – $20||$30 – $200|
This expense remains consistent all year round. The only difference is that for spring and fall, choose food that will bulk your koi up and prepare it for winter. Meanwhile, use growth and color-enhancing foods during summer.
Parasite or Infection Medications
It is highly unlikely that you would need to bring your koi to the vet for parasite and infection medication, especially if you are doing a consistent job in the maintenance of your koi pond.
However, should there be an instance when you need over-the-counter medication for your koi, it shouldn’t be that expensive. Expect to be held back anywhere between $0 and $75 for this expense, as needed.
Other Potential Expenses
Like other pets, buying a koi comes with other potential expenses on top of the most basic ones. Though many of these are optional, getting these create the best experience for owning one.
Below are other expenses that may be added to the total cost of how much koi fish cost:
- Land clearing: If you want a cleaner look for your koi fish pond, clearing services may cost you around $120 to $265 per hour to remove your yard of obstacles, like trees, stumps, boulders, and bushes.
- Retaining walls: Accentuating your fish pond by building retaining walls that would also raise its water level will hold you back by about $40 to $345 per linear foot.
- Auto feeder: If you have a busy lifestyle, getting an auto feeder for your koi makes this task hassle-free and would cost around $100 to $125.
- Landscape lighting: This installation will further beautify your koi fish pond, especially at night. Depending on how grand your project is, allocate around $2,100 to $4,900 per project or around $100 to $400 per fixture.
- Waterfall: Adding a waterfall creates a more natural effect. Your koi fish will love to swim in the water currents it creates. This will hold you back by $500 to $2,500.
- Water fountain: A practical use of a water fountain is that it can complete the aeration system of your pond into a larger area. You can get this for around $1,100 to $4,300.
- Pond plants: With prices ranging between $4 and $45, aquatic plants can offer shades in sunny locations and add to the pond’s natural oxygen supply.
Knowing these potential expenses can help you plan ahead and slowly upgrade your koi pond while being able to manage the costs through proper budgeting.
Places to Find Koi Fish for Sale and Adoption
With how much koi fish cost, it is not advisable to take a risk and buy these pets from just anywhere. It is detrimental that you only deal with credible breeders to get your money’s worth.
While a koi may cost lower even from a reputable pet store, also consider the health guarantee and the quality of the bloodline of koi coming from known and established breeders.
Here are some of the most trusted breeders of koi in the United States:
- Kloubec Koi Farm – Being experts in aquaculture, Kloubec Koi Farm has over thirty years of experience in the field. Their 80-acre farm in Eastern Iowa is the largest in the United States. They take pride in producing healthy, well-nourished, and high-quality koi in a wide selection of colors, patterns, and types.
- Blackwater Creek Koi Farms, Inc. – With over three decades of experience in fish production and long-standing relationships with Japanese koi mentors, this breeding farm produces the highest quality of standard fin koi and butterfly koi. They also commit to overnight shipping of their koi directly to the buyer’s doorstep, along with a 72-hour health guarantee.
- Hanover Koi Farms (HKF) – Based in South Central Pennsylvania, Hanover Koi Farms is one of the largest retailers of both standard fin and butterfly koi in the country. Their main production focus is the health of their koi. They are also known for their strict quarantine and treatment protocol, along with their biosecurity measures.
Additionally, joining social media groups dedicated to koi is a good way for you to connect with koi owners, enthusiasts, and breeders. This can give you the network you need to source your koi easily.
However, if you are looking to start small and not spend too much, then adoption would be a more practical option for you to get a koi. Here are some koi rescues for your reference:
- Sterling Animal Shelter, Inc. – Established in May 2019, their facility has an 80 x 50-foot pond that can hold over 65,000 gallons of water. It has multiple hiding areas, different depths, and various water features that their rescued koi enjoy while waiting for adoption season from May to October.
- Majestic Koi Rescue – Located in Southern California, they focus on the rescue and rehoming of surrendered koi fish. Before you can adopt a koi from them, they will require that you have the appropriate facility for proper care of the koi.
- The Puget Sound Koi Club – Based in Washington, this non-profit organization is composed of rescue volunteers and reiterates that all their rescues are free of charge. Upon rescue of a koi, it is taken to its quarantine tank for proper care and nourishment until it is rehomed through an auction or by giving to one of its club members.
Adopting a koi is not just more affordable but is also a noble act as you give an abandoned fish another shot at enjoying life. It is still more practical than buying from pet stores where you are not assured of their source.
Money-Saving Tips for Koi Fish Owners
With the high cost of both the koi and the initial ownership expenses, it is logical to look for ways how to save up on expenses involved in acquiring and maintaining a koi pet set-up.
Some practical tips are listed below to help you cut expenses without sacrificing the quality of life of your koi:
- Start with a young, small koi. Remember that the older and larger a koi is, the higher its price will be. Starting with a juvenile koi also means less maintenance and upkeep cost from your end.
- Inquire about discounts. If you plan to buy a number of koi for your set-up, ask for quantity discounts from your seller. Some breeders might give you higher discounts the more koi you purchase.
- Go for DIY pond kits. The cost and the effort of setting up your koi pond is a humongous task and expense, from the permits to the construction and all the way to the add-ons. DIY kits do not just make things easier and hassle-free, it also saves you a lot of money.
- Do all maintenance tasks yourself. Avoid hiring additional help to clean the pond water or to maintain the surroundings of your pond. This will save you a lot of money and will allow you to closely check the status of your pets as you personally clean their domain.
- Do not overspend on add-ons. Although it is very tempting to beautify your ponds, practice restraint when buying add-ons for it. Sometimes, the simpler the setup, the better. This will allow you to focus more on your koi instead of its surroundings.
Again, once you have set up your pond and have bought your initial set of koi, most of your heavy expenses are done. Just avoid overspending on your pond, and you can save money in the process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Koi Fish Expensive to Buy?
Generally, koi are a more expensive type of fish compared to other aquatic pets. Their average price may even reach up to $20,000.
The hefty cost of koi is highly driven by factors such as quality, breeding difficulty, rarity, and possible importation fees.
What Is the Most Expensive Koi Fish?
The most expensive koi fish is named S Legend, a Kohaku sold for $1.8 million and bred in Japan by Sakai Fish Farm. S Legend is a 9-year-old fish adorned with bright red and orange splotches over its white body.
How Long Do Koi Fish Stay Alive?
In the wild, koi may live anywhere between 15 and 20 years, while they have a longer lifespan of around 25 to 40 years in captivity.
However, the oldest koi recorded to have ever lived was named Koi Hanako and reached up to 226 years old.
Even if the koi has the reputation of being an expensive breed of fish, it truly matches the value given to it by the market.
No matter the price of the koi that captured your attention, this guide should help keep your expenses in check by giving you awareness of everything you need to budget for in being a koi fish parent.
What do you think of koi prices and the expenses involved in owning them? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below!
My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I’ve got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.