Koi Fish Farming

Koi is a famous ornamental fish because of its beautiful and varied colors. It is a hardy and well adaptive species of fish, making it suitable for aquaculture. If you are thinking of raising fish commercially, koi is one variety you can choose. For the basics of raising koi, read our guide.

Koi is a domesticated version of the common carp, which is popular as ornamental fish although it is also used as food fish.

The carp in general is one of the most commonly cultured fish in the world. It reproduces through spawning and grows best in the tropics, although it can also adapt to temperate conditions.

In Japan, the common carp is called koi. The koi and carp in general are fish that undergo colour mutation, the most common of which includes blue, red, yellow, black and white. Cross-breeding of koi has resulted to many varieties of the fish such that when you say ‘koi’ you still have to narrow it down to specific categories.

Koi Fish Characteristics

Koi is a freshwater fish (a cold-water one). As a carp, it is an omnivore, feeding on other fish as well as on vegetables. It can live a very long life with stocks aging up to several years. Koi are shy fish and can only be encouraged to come to the water surface by food. They are originally found in Asia and Central Europe, but the fish’s hardy nature and adaptability to various conditions brought it to other countries like the U.S.

Koi Farming Basics

Koi farming, just like any aquaculture venture, needs careful planning. A prospective farmer must determine:

  • Where to supply his produce, what quantity to produce and at what weight and size, how often to harvest, among others. For a koi farmer, this information can be deduced by talking to pet owners and specialty fish dealers. The planning of the frequency of harvest is important as koi stock ages at a wide range. To run a steady production, koi farmers are better off harvesting and spawning at the same time.
  • What specific species to raise out of the many available there are biological requirements? One of the tedious jobs involved in koi farming is the selection of the fry to raise. When koi eggs are hatched, a wide variety of colours and quality are produced. Some of them are defective or of marginal quality. Fry selection is a complicated process that requires experience.
  • Production requirements for raising koi – the type of pond, its size, feed type and volume, equipment (pumps, aerators), water and electricity network, other facilities (like a shed) and labour
  • Capital needs and source of funding
  • Federal, state and local licenses and permits to start an aquaculture in your chosen location

Gaining experience working in an aquaculture enterprise is a great help. Main sources for technical information on koi farming are extension specialists, and research studies.
 

36 Comments

  • d. steveson said on March 22, 2009
    We have a large 1 1/2 acre pond at our house in Oklahoma it is well fed and never runs low even in dry conditions, it has well shaded banks and stays very clean. There are many varieties of fish in the pond and we were thinking of raising Koi. How deep does the pond need to be for winter protection from 10 degree F. temp. and do you just let the Koi run free in the pond or use a large floating basket to keep them in. would like any information you might have on getting started.
  • drew said on November 13, 2009
    Hi ya, in the winter my pond is a good 3 ft that's all you really need and just keep a hole in the ice for gas exchange and let the koi be free in the pond
  • Dana said on April 30, 2010
    Hello everyone, I don't have a koi fish farm, but it seems like a very interesting business adventure. I have a basic and inquisitive question for anyone: how do you make money by farming koi? Are they in demand for restaurants to be eaten, or to be sold in pet shops, or other things I'm not aware of? Seems very interesting to consider in the future to do once my wife and I get a bigger house in a warmer climate.
  • David said on June 11, 2010
    On Question number 1 > Per d.steveson 3-22-09. If he was to let them go free in his pond, how would he catch them if he wanted to sell them?
  • Jacob Bender said on August 10, 2010
    Hey I sell koi and stock koi ponds throughout the USA. If there is anybody who may be interested in wholesale or just has a fish farming question email me at Benderkoifarms@gmail.com. I can help you with most problems.
  • Mike Collins said on January 7, 2011
    Northern Ca. Have interest in koi farming. Have access to previous trout farm facilities, running water, cement ponds, large quonset building. Will koi thrive in running water or does it have to be ponds? water temps, food etc... need all info. thank you for any help or direction that you can supply. Mike Collins
  • Karen said on January 22, 2011
    My brother raises a small amount of koi in Austin Tx just to sell to buy more koi feed. He said one day "you have an acre of land, perfect place to set up a business raising Koi" I laughed at this...Then when I got back home literally signs of koi were everywhere. I would meet people with koi tattoos, books would fall off of shelves in the bookstore on koi. When I said to myself "no way, too expensive" a man sat next to me seconds later wearing a t-shirt with a big koi on it. So I need everyones help is starting my first koi pond....simple one with the right size, filter and design. I think life is telling me to be a koi farmer...kinda nutty right?
  • Geethanand said on February 27, 2011
    Well if your pond is located in a secure area away from ever exploring pedestrians and commuters, an ornamental koi carp farm is ideal. If the pond is too large, you can set up 10mm gauge nylon nets in the size of 10 cubic meters. If your pond lacks natural food matter such as micro crustaceans and insect larvae, you can feed your koi with home made feed such as cereal and groundnut oil cakes and partially cooked vegetable wastes. The more varied the diet, the more they become colorful and healthy. I own a 12 acre farm in india and koi has given me more returns than any other ornamental fish.
  • joy said on September 30, 2011
    Geethanand, do you have a website? It would be interesting to learn more from someone raising koi in India! Like, are there vegetables that are toxic to your koi? Is your market local, or Japan,or the states? Mike, from the pics and info online, I bet it would work! Don't know about the temps tho- (I'm visualizing Klamath) Sounds like a cool idea!
  • Mohammed Gani said on March 7, 2012
    @geethanand Please give me your contact details i want to start koi Carp farm in India
  • Fred Lan said on May 29, 2012
    I am really interested to know & learn more about rearing Koi fish in our place. Can you please send me a more comprehensive info on how to do it (successfully)? Where to buy the necessary things making it done! Thank you, more power! Fred Lan, email: briteblue.heavenstar@yahoo.com. Cebu City, Philippines
  • shiraz yasin said on September 9, 2012
    hi everyone my name is shiraz, i am looking to start a small koi farm. Any tips would be helpful. also any whole sell dealers who can off wear house price for koi please contact me. i am near sf in california. what are the best ways to sell koi ? thanks for everyones time .
  • John Kelly said on September 19, 2012
    @geethanand Please could get in touch with me asap , as i am interested in starting a koi farm, I would appreciate your Knowledge in this field, Thanks very much
  • Courtney nelson said on November 15, 2012
    I live in Bulverde, Texas we have a 50x25ft wide oval shaped andv 3-4ft deep koi fish pond. with lots of baby koi fish of all different colors. I told my sister we should start selling koi fish out of our pond along with other things rocks etc. how should or do I go about this? We have no idea the types of koi we bought from overseas years ago. I do know one type is a butterfly koi but there are So many different types. I am really interested in how to sell these koi. What licenses do I need to obtain..can I sell these fish anywhere? I have the fish I just need the know how! Any advice or information is greatly appreciated! Thanks for your time.
  • Ramesh Kumar said on November 23, 2012
    I am interested to begin a Koi Farm in Tamilnadu-Near Bangalore. I Request Geethanand to Provide his Email id for obtaining information relating to Subject. Regards, Ramesh Kumar, Bangalore.
  • vivek said on December 8, 2012
    Hi i am vivek i am fish farmer in india now i am farming catfish type i like to move to farming koi fish large scale anybody help me to give advice for start koi farm
  • Kathy said on February 7, 2013
    I have a large pond on a family farm. Unfortunately, my renters who live at this property have put catfish in the pond. It has brim and bass. How can I start a koi farming business with these fish in the pond? Also, I have a small backyard where I live and I have started with a 40 gallon aquarium. Can I start with the aquariums and then transfer the fish to the pond? Also, I am short on cash. I have been buying koi from Petsmart and Walmart. They are beautiful fish, but not sure about the quality. Any advice would be helpful
  • Mike McGrath said on June 14, 2013
    San Diego California. Considering Koi Farming as a business out of my home. I have a pool approx. 15,000 Gallons 15'x 30'. I have a few questions in regards to this.
    -Is This business good in San Diego area? Are there many such business here In San Diego
    -What is the demand for Koi re sale and wholesale in this area?
    -Does the koi pond/pool give of an odor if properly filtered?
    -If there is an odor what can be done from covering it up to keep it from bothering neighbors?
    -Are most sales to Wholesale business or retail?
    -Concerns for predators such as Possum, Racoons, Red tailed Hawk?
    Thank You, Mike M
  • swapan Barman said on October 24, 2013
    respected sir, i am very interested to koi fish farming, have medium size four pond also, kindly help me , so that i can start the business. thanks & regards, swapan barman 8926282788
  • doris mehra said on July 5, 2014
    i am located near talegaon in maharashtra india and am exploring the possibility of raising koi.......
  • Linda said on August 3, 2014
    I live in Boone, NC, with very cold, long winters, but have a large basement that could easily accommodate what I envision I might need to raise Koi. A shopping list and "how to" information would be most helpful in helping me decide if this is a reasonable venture. Thanks so much!
  • Cheryl said on September 11, 2014
    Hi, I am very interested in raising koi to farm. we don't have a very big yard. If you could give me an idea of what basic needs I would have to have to start a koi business that would be great! Thank you!
  • Hat said on November 16, 2014
    I'm in Indian River county ,Florida and have a 10,000 gallon swimming pool that I would like to raise Koi in. Can they survive 75-80 degree water for half of the year ? Can I use my regular pool filter system without chlorine? I have a waterfall . Any tips or warnings will be Greatly Appreciated. Thanks _HAT_
  • kenneth said on February 11, 2015
    i know how to care koi. i'm still studying but i want to build a koi business. but i don't have a big place.. i have koi 15 inches to 18 inches with nice color patern.. if you want to raise a koi just prepare for any sick of koi's like ammonia, white spot, and any parasites.
  • kenneth said on February 11, 2015
    to Hat. if you want to raise a koi just prepare a medicines for koi and a good koi food.. medicines- rid all or mehtylene blue for white spot any parasites. for food Aqua master growth koi food size Small for 5 to 9 inches and 10 inches up Size Large Aqua master koi food.
  • kenneth said on February 11, 2015
    Prices are set by body shape and skin quality as well as the color and pattern of each fish. If you grow show-quality koi, you’ll be able to sell them for more money than younger or smaller koi.
  • kenneth said on February 11, 2015
    hi guys if you need me i want to apply as a koi keeper in your farm.
  • kenneth said on February 11, 2015
    female breeder must be above 2 years old.. male 8 months above can be a breeder. 1 female breeder need 3 to 4 male. must easy to sell types of koi that buyer wants is Showa, hi showa, utsuri, hi utsuri, asagi, shusui, kohaku 3 to 6 steps color patern, tancho, goshiki,goromo,yamabuki, tanchu sanke..
  • kenneth said on February 11, 2015
    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.
  • Mark said on June 1, 2015
    hi all, I am thinking of doing the same thing if mr bender would e mail me or whoever has the koi for sale I wood like to buy some. I am going to dig a pond real soon
  • Mark said on June 1, 2015
    Hi mark again, if you ya can get in tough with me please e mail me once I leave this page I will not be able to find my way back. Thanks a lot guys
  • Tiffany said on August 16, 2015
    Hello everyone, I am very serious about starting my own Koi fish farm. I would appreciate any and all information to help me get started! Thanks in advance for all help!
  • Dr koi karthi said on August 17, 2015
    Hi dears my name is Karthi dr koi if you need any help friends you can contact me right now I am setup a new farm in srilanka. before I was working a leading koi farm at Singapore pond management , disease control, koi selections and consultant service. Tamilnadu- 91 7094242248, India, Colombo - 94 0776612984, Srilanka
  • shabrez khan said on January 30, 2016
    sir i have a start new koi fish farming please suggest me.
  • Paul Felicilda Jr said on April 12, 2016
    Hello I've been raising koi for about 5 years and 3 successful season of breeding but have not sold them, I don't know what I need to do, I'm sure you need some kind of license or permit to have a farm, Lot of my friends and family have said to me to start a koi farm I just need direction, I live in Hawaii and it's good all year round, Please help me
  • E said on September 13, 2017
    just one simple question. i would just like to have an guestimated cost to really get started? nothing big or fancy because i could expand after that. plus i can build my on filtration system. However i want my stock to be good so i know that wont be cheap.

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