It’s not as out of reach as you might think to breed Koi fish for profit, as thousands around the world have done it with great success. Knowing how to do it, though, is another matter altogether; let’s review exactly what you need to do in order to breed Koi fish for profit and turn a very unique source of income into a business and a successful and profitable endeavor.


What’s Your Breeding Stock Like?

First and foremost, it’s critical that you have a good Koi breeding stock to source from and begin breeding on your own, or else your job may be over before it begins. A good stock means working with a good supply of quality fish, and you may need to spend some money to ensure biological and genetic diversity as you get started breeding Koi.  A reasonable amount to spend on parents is around $1000 or more for a quality breeding pair of something like Kohaku.  You’ll want to make sure that they are at least 3 years old as that is when they begin to be sexually mature.  The value of your offspring will be largely dependent on the value of your parents, so choose wisely!


Get Your Breeding Ponds In Order

The next most important aspect of breeding Koi fish is having a high quality space for them to live and grow. Breeding ponds don’t have to be expensive, but you must ensure that they are safe and secure from predators and adequately cared for.  In addition, it’s critical that you use specialized filtration equipment to generate clean water levels that are healthy and sustainable.  Be prepared to spend some up-front capital on setting up your koi systems.  You will need space and resource to handle all the offspring produced.  Plan on devoting at least a couple hours a day to general feeding and maintenance.  You can easily spend several thousand dollars on the initial investment of tanks, filters, medications, food, chemicals, water etc. so keep that in mind as you financially plan for breeding.


Don’t forget proper nutrition!

When you finally spawn your first generation of newly-bred Koi fish, congratulations – now the fun part starts! You must feed them hatched brine shrimp and crushed Koi pellets to ensure that their skin and scales are bright, and that they are healthy and vibrant. Feeding isn’t cheap, but it will help you reach the culling process, which can be one of the most difficult parts of breeding koi.


Culling takes the right mindset

When it comes to culling Koi, you can’t have a queasy stomach about it.  Your koi parents will produce of 500,000 eggs at a time though not all will make it to the juvenile stage you can be certain that you will find yourself overwhelmed with little koi unless you have the space for them!  Koi are the gift that keeps on giving! Certain fish won’t look great and won’t be good to sell to breeders or homeowners and just need to be removed to ensure you maintain the genetic stock. Because of that, it’s important to cull out the ones you need to remove, and do it humanely and quickly.


Selling: The Endgame

For most breeders, selling Koi initially isn’t the easiest thing to do, as it takes time to build up a reputation and prove that you produce quality fish. But rest assured that with hard work and a transparent process that shows buyers what you have been able to accomplish, you can, over time, breed Koi successfully and make it so that they turn a profit with their breeding and more.  So what can you make selling koi?  Some companies produce and sell 20,000 to 30,000 fish a year with prices ranging from $15 to $5000 each -these kinds of companies may do $500,000 a year before expenses.  

In fact, when it comes to value koi can command some seriously large amounts of cash!  One particular Showa specimen went for over $147,000.  Oftentimes highly prized koi act as a status symbol for those wealthy enough to afford them.  Similar to owning a rare historical artifact, these prized competition fish are a source of national pride for wealthy Asians as Asia is where koi breeding first started.  Just as in horse racing, these fish are often bred by world renowned breeders for the explicit purpose of breeding a champion.  However, most fish are pretty reasonable.  For example, if you are reading this from the popular koi breeding location of the Philippines this article on “koi fish for sale” will give you an idea of the going rate.


Probably the four most common varieties that one will see in  a koi competition are Showa, Sanke, Kohaku and Shusui.  For the breeder at home interested in getting into breeding for profit these are 4 good varieties to start with.  

To be sure, if you do it right and have quality fish you can easily get 10X the value out of your investment from  breeding koi.  The other good news besides all the eggs koi constantly produce is that they live a long time.  A life span of 50 years is not unheard of and there are even stories of koi living to well over 200!


When it comes time to sell some or all of your koi the best way to sell them is to make sure you have some good, clear photos of them.  Preferably put the koi in a royal blue container, with no glare, reflection or ripples in the water. Be sure to get the whole fish in the frame from straight above, not an angle shot. You may have to take a dozen or so photos to get one usable image. Then post those photos on whatever site or sites you would like to sell them on.   Be patient, and be ready to invest some money to get started, but it is possible to breed Koi in this manner and make a profit!