Anyone who has a pond has probably considered adding Koi to it at one time or another. These beautiful fish were selectively bred to be viewed in ponds, and they are the quintessential pond fish. If you’ve taken an interest in adding these eye-catching fish to your pond, then you’ve likely wondered about the cost of purchasing and keeping Koi.
The truth is that the cost of owning Koi varies significantly depending on the area you live in and where you purchase your fish from. Owning Koi doesn’t have to break the bank, but it is an investment of money and time. After the initial investment, you can expect to spend between $10–$390+ per month. Being well prepared for the potential cost of adding Koi to your pond is the first and best step you can take to bring Koi home and give them the best life possible.
Bringing Home a New Koi Fish: One-Time Costs
Initially, you’re spending money on the fish itself. Keep in mind, though, that to bring home a fish, you need a place to put it. Koi get too large for most tanks, so you’ll need a pond, which isn’t a project that happens overnight. Make sure you’re ready for the up-front costs associated with the purchase of the fish and the environmental setup they require.
You may come across free Koi fish in your local forums and marketplaces. This seems to be most common when people are moving and don’t want to or can’t move the fish, or when the fish grow larger than anticipated and they don’t have the space for them anymore. Most free Koi you come across will already be quite large fish unless someone had an accidental spawn and has too many babies.
It’s extremely unlikely you’ll find a rescue or shelter that has Koi fish available. There may be some fish rescues, but they are few and far between. You are more likely to find Koi fish for “adoption” via your local marketplaces.
More often than not, you’re going to be purchasing Koi from a retailer and not directly from a breeder. Koi prices vary widely depending on the retailer and quality of fish you are purchasing. Show quality Koi and Koi with unique markings will cost significantly more than lower quality fish. Purchasing from big box stores will also cost significantly less than purchasing from breeders and small businesses.
Initial Setup and Supplies
It’s difficult to really determine the initial setup costs for Koi fish because it depends on what you already have set up. If you have a pond that already has filtration, then your up-front costs will be next to nothing aside from acquiring the fish and food. The cost of setting up a pond can easily run into the thousands of dollars. Expect to spend over $100 on proper filtration for a small pond.
List of Koi Fish Care Supplies and Costs
|Koi Food||$10 – 60|
|Filter and Pump||$100 – 1000|
|Water Treatment Products||$50 – 150|
|Water Testing Products||$20 – 50|
|Large Tank or Pond||$100 – 2000+|
|Aquatic Plants||$20 – 100|
|Pond Extras||$0 – 500|
How Much Does a Koi Fish Cost Per Month?
$10-$390+ per month
Your monthly expenses for your Koi fish will mainly be associated with food. Koi food can usually be purchased in bulk sizes, so depending on the number of fish you’re feeding, this may save you money. A high-quality bulk Koi food will likely cost around $40-60. You may spend this every month for multiple adult fish. Feeding one or just a few fish will cost you less money. Keep in mind that food is only good for about 6 months after opening.
$0–$75 per month
The best part of owning fish is that they require very few veterinary visits. On a monthly basis, you’re not likely to have any medical expenses. On some occasions, you’ll need to purchase over-the-counter medications to treat parasites or bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. These types of infections can usually be avoided with proper water care. On rare occasions, you may have to take a Koi to a veterinarian that specializes in fish, which will likely cost around $75.
$5–$60 per month
As discussed above, this will be your primary monthly expense. You are not likely to have to purchase food every month unless you are feeding a lot of Koi fish.
Medications and Vet Visits
$0–$75 per month
Over-the-counter medications for fish are usually relatively inexpensive, so if you need to purchase something to treat parasites or another type of illness, you will probably spend $5-20. Vet visits are unlikely to occur at any point in your Koi’s life, but it may happen on rare occasions.
$0–$100+ per month
Every month, you’ll need to perform routine maintenance on your Koi’s pond or large tank environment. This maintenance won’t usually cost you anything every month, but water treatment products, water testing products, and pond upkeep will amount to your regular expenses.
|Water Treatment Products||$0 – 25/month|
|Water Testing Products||$0 – 15/month|
|Pond Maintenance||$0 – 200/month|
$0–$20 per month
Koi are easy to keep entertained, but they do need some enrichment in their environment. There are kits you can purchase to play games and train your fish, and Koi can learn to perform tricks. Their favorite type of enrichment, though, is experimenting with different types of food. This can be Koi, goldfish, and community foods or it can be fruits and veggies, like melon, butternut squash, cucumber, zucchini, and leafy greens. They also appreciate fish treats, like bloodworms and brine shrimp.
Total Monthly Cost of Owning a Koi Fish
$10–$390+ per month
All in all, it doesn’t have to cost a lot every month to own Koi fish. They are relatively low-maintenance fish once they’re settled into an established home. Monthly expenses will vary significantly based on the area you live in, the number of fish you are caring for, and the monthly maintenance requirements of your pond or aquarium.
Additional Costs to Factor In
Thankfully, there aren’t a lot of additional costs associated with keeping Koi. You will need to be prepared to pay someone to keep an eye on your fish whenever you leave town, especially if it’s for more than a few days. You’ll need someone to make sure the fish are appropriately fed, and the water filtration is still functioning properly. If your filter goes out the day after you leave for a two-week trip, then you may come home to a pond of dying fish. It’s a good idea to have someone check in to make sure things are going smoothly.
Most of your other potential additional costs are going to be associated with the upkeep of your pond or aquarium. Ponds can be a pricey investment and do require quite a bit of time to maintain. Aquariums are a significant amount of work as well, so any equipment maintenance you need performed may be a time investment on your part, but also may require a professional to check or repair equipment.
Owning a Koi Fish On a Budget
You can absolutely own a Koi fish on a budget if you are already in the position to keep a fish of that size. Once your fish’s environment is set up and established, then you’ll have minimal costs associated with the care of the fish itself. Pond fish food can be pricey when purchased in bulk, but a bulk size will last a few fish through the entire season at least.
Saving Money on Koi Fish Care
When it comes to finding ways to save money on the care of your Koi fish, the simplest solution is to avoid spending money on unnecessary extras. Food and good water quality are the two main things that Koi need to thrive. You can find ways to make certain things more affordable, like buying water treatments and medications when you see them on sale. Avoid buying unnecessary products and spending excessive amounts that aren’t necessary on your pond or tank maintenance.
Your biggest investment with Koi fish will be the upfront costs associated with purchasing the fish and ensuring you have an appropriate environment set up for them. Once they are settled and established, then the costs drop significantly. You can expect to spend a little bit every month on your Koi to ensure they have a varied, healthy diet and high water quality. Overall, there aren’t significant monthly costs associated with keeping Koi. They are hardy fish that require little on a day-to-day basis. Setting aside a little money every month can help you be prepared if a more expensive problem arises with your Koi or their environment.