Expensive Koi Fish and Why They are Worth so Much
Of all the animals people would expect to be worth millions of dollars a koi fish rarely makes the list, but in reality koi are among the most expensive - the most expensive koi ever sold was worth 2.2 million dollars in todays money! When we talk about expensive koi fish we aren't talking about the koi you can purchase at your local pet store, but show quality koi. Of the 50,000 koi born each year only the fifty best looking koi will be selected to show, this is due to the high standards show koi are judged by -they have to be perfect. Show koi are judged on their color, size/body shape, and pattern.
The color of a koi fish is probably the most important aspect to anyone who has koi fish, it's what makes them so beautiful after all! However a show koi's color must be more than just pretty it has to be the same shade wherever it shows up, it has to be deep so no white shows through when the fish moves, and it has to span three or more scales or else it is considered a blemish. Koi with these specks of color may lose them as they get older, but they are unlikely to be chosen to become a million dollar fish and are sold to hobbyists who will enjoy the fish's beauty even with a spot that doesn't quite belong.
The most impressive examples of a show quality size koi is Big Girl, the worlds largest koi. She weighs in at a whooping ninety-one pounds and is forty-eight inches long. Big Girl also has the ideal body shape with wide shoulders, large pectoral and tail muscles, and she loves to show herself off swimming perfectly evenly to command as much attention as possible. However this alone does not make her a six figure fish - she has been valued at 40,000 dollars which puts her well out of the average persons price range but doesn't make her one of the super expensive koi fish we hear about after big shows.
In the world of showing koi age is beauty as patterns only seem to get better and more clear with age. A fish younger than fourteen rarely takes any awards even if they have a large and balanced pattern which are two of the major criteria because their patterns are not as crisp as older koi's. This clarity is especially important when patterns are complex, and the judges love complex patterns! So to get that enormous price tag a koi needs to be old.
It's no wonder so few koi fish are chosen to show knowing how perfect they have to be. However that isn't the only way a koi's price can sky rocket, take Hanako, the worlds oldest koi fish, for example. Hanako was not large (only 18 pounds) and was definitely not show quality after living for 226 years though she was likely the most expensive koi alive until she died in 1977. However she was never sold so no one knows what she was really worth.
Are you interested in learning more about the value of koi and how to keep them healthy? Sign up for our Survive & Thrive course, it's full of tips to help you be the best koi parent possible.