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Gold Koi Fish (Yamabuki Ogon Koi): Info, Pics, Origin & Facts

Gregory Iacono

By Gregory Iacono

gold koi fish in the pond

Gold Koi Fish, aka Yamabuki Ogon Koi, are a gorgeous and rare Koi species with, not surprisingly, a golden, metallic color. That color, and their gentle nature, make this lovely fish a favorite around the world. In some countries, the Gold Koi Fish is even considered sacred. Amazingly, this fish can remember its owner, and, in many cases, your Gold Koi will allow you to hand-feed it. If you’re looking for more information on the Gold Koi Fish, read on! Below are all the details, data, and fishy facts about this uniquely beautiful carp!

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Quick Facts About Gold Koi Fish

Species Name: Cyprinus carpio
Family: Cyprinidae
Care Level: Easy
Temperature: 68℉ to 75℉
Temperament: Intelligent, gentle
Color Form: Gold metallic, sometimes silver
Lifespan: 35+ years
Size: Up to 35 pounds and 2 feet in length
Diet: Omnivore, pellets, flakes, fruits, veggies
Minimum Tank Size: 1,000 gallons
Tank Set-Up: Fine gravel, live plants, lots of small rocks
Compatibility: High, non-aggressive toward larger fish

Gold Koi Fish Overview

Although often associated with the country of Japan, the Gold Koi Fish originated in China. No matter their origin, however, these gentle, domesticated carp are incredibly popular worldwide and coveted by aquarium and outdoor pond enthusiasts. Not only are Gold Koi beautiful, with an iridescent golden color, but they also live very long lives, have memories, and can even be trained to do basic tricks and commands!

Gold Koi Fish are a very large domesticated species, often reaching over 30 pounds and 2 feet in length. Because of their large size, you’ll need a large aquarium to keep and raise Gold Koi Fish, at least 1,000 gallons. That’s why many keep their Gold Koi in backyard ponds rather than aquariums.

Although they are edible and were raised for food thousands of years ago, Gold Koi are almost 100% raised as pets today. One reason they’re so beloved is that the fish can remember its owner and will often come when called, even allowing its owner to pet it while it’s fed. Lastly, Gold Koi Fish are a freshwater species, which makes them easier to keep, especially in backyard ponds.

gold koi fish in the pond
Image Credit: Piqsels

How Much Do Gold Koi Fish Cost?

Amazingly, Gold Koi can be purchased for as little as $10 but can also be sold for thousands of dollars. The factors that set one apart include the fish’s shape (torpedo is best), color, and color patterns. Gold Koi are some of the most expensive domesticated fish in the world and can reach upwards of $20,000 for a single fish!

Typical Behavior & Temperament

Gold Koi are incredibly tame and, some would say, affectionate fish. When well cared for and healthy, your typical Gold Koi will gladly approach you to say “hello” and, in many cases, eat its food directly from your hand. Gold Koi Fish get along well with other Gold Koi and other fish species and, for the most part, are non-aggressive.

You should note that a sick Gold Koi might act aggressively and show signs of sluggishness and a lack of coordination.

Appearance & Varieties

There are several varieties of Koi, including the Gold Koi or Ogon, a Japanese word that, not surprisingly, means “gold.” Among Gold Koi, there are no other varieties, however. They are a solid metallic gold or silver color with no patterns. Anything other than a solid gold or silver color makes the fish a different variety.

golden koi in the pond
Image Credit: noypb, Shutterstock

ave divider ahHow to Take Care of Gold Koi Fish

Taking care of Gold Koi isn’t as difficult as you might think but does require an excellent aquarium or pond set-up, daily feedings, and several other considerations. Once everything is in place, barring any unforeseen circumstances, taking care of Gold Koi is relatively straightforward.

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup

Like any other fish species, a Gold Koi’s habitat is extremely important to its health and safety. They need pristine water, a steady temperature, excellent filtration, and plenty of healthy, green plants.

Tank Size

Experts recommend 500 gallons of fresh water for every Gold Koi you wish to keep. That would mean a 1,000-gallon tank is necessary for a pair of Gold Koi. In a backyard pond, you would need the same amount of water, or more, and a depth of 3 to 5 feet (the deeper, the better).

Water Quality & Conditions

Gold Koi have demanding water quality and condition requirements. Exceedingly clean, fresh water is the first, of course. The temperature should be kept at 68℉ to 75℉. The pH level of the water should be pH 6 – 9, and approximately 25% of the water should be removed and refilled every week so that it stays clean enough for your Gold Koi to remain healthy.

a koi pond
Image Credit: Pixabay

Substrate

A perfect substrate for Gold Koi in a tank is sand covered by a layer of small, rounded gravel. On top of that, you’ll add larger pebbles. These are needed as Gold Koi typically scoop their substrate into their mouths to look for food, so anything sharp could potentially injure them.

Plants

Live plants are the best when keeping Gold Koi since they eat plant roots. Water lettuce is a great choice, as are water lilies. Lotus, water poppies, water iris, and fanwort are also good choices, as are American waterweed and water purslane.

Lighting

A Gold Koi pond should be in indirect sunshine for most of the day. The reason may surprise you; they can get sunburned. An aquarium for Gold Koi should use LED or fluorescent lights, although others are suitable. Gold Koi require up to 12 hours of light per day but also need darkness to stay healthy, sleep, and renew their bodies.

Filtration

The best filtration system for a Gold Koi tank or pond will filter the same amount of water per hour. For example, if you have a 1,000-gallon aquarium, your filter system should have 1,000 gallons per hour (GPH) of filtration power. A 3,000-gallon pond would thus need a filer that can handle 3,000 GPH. A non-pressurized filter is best, and one that uses a pre-filter and main-filter setup is also a good choice.

koi fish pond
Image Credit: ANI ROFIQAH, Shutterstock

ave divider ahAre Gold Koi Fish Good Tank Mates?

Gold Koi are typically non-aggressive fish but are omnivorous, so they will often eat smaller fish if given the opportunity. However, they make great tank mates for several fish species, including the common Goldfish, Comets, Golden Orfe, And Shubunkins.

You should note that experts recommend quarantining Gold Koi before introducing them into your tank or pond. Once the quarantine period, typically 14 days, is over, Gold Koi can be introduced the same way you add any other fish species. That includes:

  • Filling and oxygenating a poly bag with quarantine tank water
  • Setting the poly bag in their new tank or pond for 20 minutes
  • Opening the bag and letting your Gold Koi swim into their new home

What to Feed Your Gold Koi Fish

Surprisingly, you can feed Gold Koi many of the same foods you eat, except for anything that contains carbohydrates (bread, crackers, etc.). So, for example, fruits and vegetables cut into bite-size pieces are perfect for your Gold Koi. As omnivores, Gold Koi eat various foods, including algae, larvae, seeds, insects, and crustaceans like crabs and crawfish.

Most Gold Koi owners feed their pets a combination of human food and store-bought food, although experts stress that store-bought food is best. That’s because the latter usually contains all the elements your Gold Koi need to stay healthy, including protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Flakes and pellets are best. Below is a list of the human food you can give your Gold Koi as a snack.

  • Belgian endives
  • Cauliflower
  • Cooked pasta and rice
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Melon
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
koi fish
Image Credit: Pasko Maksim, Shutterstock

Keeping Your Gold Koi Fish Healthy

Keeping a Gold Koi healthy and happy isn’t nearly as stressful and time-consuming as other fish. That’s because they are large fish that, thankfully, suffer from very few genetic issues. That said, the water in your Gold Koi tank or pond must be immaculate. The reason is that, unlike many fish species, Gold Koi do not tolerate dirty, unfiltered water.

Most of the problems aquarists have keeping Gold Koi are water-related, and they do their best to keep their tank or pond’s water in pristine condition. That includes testing the water regularly and, if present, removing the following toxins:

  • Chlorine
  • Chloramine
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Lead
  • Zinc

You should also note that crystal clear water isn’t necessary for healthy Gold Koi and that a clear tank doesn’t mean the water is beneficial for your pets. Indeed, Gold Koi Fish will do well in a tank full of clean water and healthy green algae.

gold koi swimming in the pond
Image Credit: Piqsels

Breeding

Breeding Gold Koi is a tedious and time-consuming process that, if we’re being honest, is best left to breeding professionals.

There are a few factors that you need to keep in mind if you choose to breed Gold Koi yourself:
  • They should be at least 3 years of age
  • You should choose the Gold Koi with the features you wish to reproduce
  • Late summer is the best time of year to breed Gold Koi
  • Feed your Gold Koi more when you’re breeding them, and increase the amount of protein
  • Use a fry mat to give your Gold Koi female a place to lay her eggs
  • Purchase a 2nd tank for the Gold Koi parents
  • When you see a layer of what looks like scum on your pond or tank, it’s Gold Koi eggs!
  • Remove the parents and place them in your 2nd tank. If you don’t, they will eat their babies.
  • When 10 days old, crush up the Gold Koi pellets and feed them to your babies.
  • Once the baby Gold Koi are about 3 inches long, the parents can be put back in the tank or pond with them.

Are Gold Koi Fish Suitable For Your Aquarium?

Gold Koi Fish are an excellent fit for aquariums with the caveat that the tank must be huge. Remember, for every Gold Koi, you need at least 500 gallons of clean, pristine water. As long as they have plenty of room to move around and their water is kept clean, raising and keeping Gold Koi in an aquarium is no problem.

One thing to remember is that Gold Koi can live to be 50 years old and some individuals even longer. For that reason, it’s essential that you’re ready for a long-term commitment to these beautiful, gentle, and intelligent fish.

gold koi in aquarium
Image Credit: Huy Thoai, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

As part of the carp family, the Gold Koi Fish is a fantastic species with traits similar to pets like dogs, cats, pigs, and rats. They are trainable, gentle, come when called, and many like to be petted. Gold Koi fish are also immense, at least for aquarium and pond fish, and can grow to 2 feet long and weigh 35 pounds.

The fact that they can live to be 50 years old is also unique and means you’ll have your Gold Koi, barring any unforeseen tragedy, for a very long time. Very few species are as attractive and affectionate as the Gold Koi, and they make lovely family pets.


Featured Image Credit: noypb, Shutterstock

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