The term “koi” is derived from a Japanese word “nishikigoi”, which literally means brocaded carp. These include the ornamental varieties of common carp, which are used for decorative purposes in outside water gardens and koi ponds. However, “koi” is more of an English word and includes both brightly colored as well as dull, gray fish varieties. Koi, in Japanese, means love, affection or friendship. Hence, ‘koi’ are used as a symbol of love and good luck.
The exact origins of today’s koi are still unknown, yet there is a common belief that they originated around the areas of Western Asia and Persia. The carp exhibits exceptional capabilities to survive and adapt to a wide range of water conditions and climates. Owing to this reason, the common carp, found its way into Japan and China by means of natural waterways or trade.
Origins of Koi Breeding
It was discovered that the protein content of carp was very high. To that end, the rice farmers situated in the Niigata Prefecture, began with the harvesting of carp, so as to sustain themselves during the long winter months. Around the middle of the 18thcentury, these farmers observed certain kind of mutations (consisting of red and white blotches on the scales) on the carp. Then, these mutated fishes were separated from the ordinary ones, and selectively bred. This was the first instance of koi breeding, and after this it became quite a popular activity. In the 19th century, koi breeders exhibited their prized possessions in Tokyo, where people from all over Japan were present to take a look at these “living jewels”.
Raising Koi gains popularity
Over the years, breeders started coming up with new and different koi varieties. Koi enthusiasts could be found in every corner of the world. Many people went by the Chinese belief that koi brings in ‘ong’ which means, luck. Hence, they would build small koi ponds outside their homes as a part of feng shui, so as to fill their lives with good luck and prosperity. For others, having a koi pond in the backyard was more of a fun and relaxing thing to do. Regardless of the basic purpose, nothing could beat the charm and beauty of having a koi pond on one’s property.
Why Koi are revered
Koi are a highly social and playful variety of fishes. These are ideal for the water garden or a backyard pond as they are playful, hardy, beautiful and love to be hand fed. When you are in the process of choosing a koi to be added to your backyard pond, make sure to pick the variety of fishes which are active and friendly. Avoid fishes that show any signs of injury or are isolated.
The greater amount of time you spend with your koi, the more you will be able to observe their individual personalities and traits. Some koi varieties can have a life span as long as humans. In addition to this, keeping koi in a well maintained environment is also important in order to ensure that your fishes remain healthy, alive and playful.