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Koi fish are generally considered to be one of the most expensive ornamental pond fish in the world.
However, koi fish prices vary depending on many factors, such as the type of koi, who bred them, their quality, and more.
So, let's learn how much koi fish cost, the factors that control their price, why some fish are more expensive than others and even compare prices from some popular koi fish sellers.
Let's dive right in!
How Much Do Koi Fish Cost?
Generally, pond-quality koi range between $5 to $100 depending on size. And that's the low end of the spectrum. On the high-end are show-quality koi which can cost thousands of dollars per fish!
Did you know...
The most expensive koi fish ever sold was for 1.8 million dollars to a woman from Taiwan named Miss Yingying!
Representing the lower end of the spectrum are koi fish from pet stores and some domestic breeders.
And when I say "lower end of the spectrum", I don't mean there is anything wrong with these types of koi. You can find long-living, beautifully colored koi just about anywhere. But, you won't be paying the premium for superior lineage from best-in-class breeders who are known for breeding award-winning koi.
So, for example, you can expect to pay the following for pond-quality koi from a local pet store:
- Petco: A 3 to 4-inch Grade-A koi will run you roughly $9. And a 3 to 4-inch Grade-A Butterfly koi will cost around $14.
- Petsmart: Koi run between $6 to $16 depending on the size. They sell their koi in small, medium, and large sizes (which is open for interpretation).
With pet store koi, you're limited on the types of koi you can get - usually 1 to 2 types.
Online koi stores will typically offer many different koi varieties sourced from different farms. At these stores, you'll be able to choose from a wider selection of pond fish at a much wider range of prices.
Here are the average price ranges for koi from a few popular online stores:
- Next Day Koi: Offers a large variety of types of koi, with prices ranging from $22 to $660. You can even filter down their list of koi by color, breeder, size, gender, and fin-type (regular or butterfly) to find the best koi for your price range.
- Kloubec Koi Farm: The Kloubec family have been raising koi fish on their 80-acre farm in Eastern Iowa for over 30 years. They offer over a dozen types of high-quality koi ranging from $50 to $2500.
- Kodama Koi Farm: Offers one of the largest selections of high-quality Japanese koi from some of the top breeders in the world. You'll find a wide variety of koi ranging from $200 to $16,000!
As you can see, the cost for a koi fish can vary wildly. But why is that? What are the factors that drive koi prices to such extremes?
What Makes a Koi Expensive?
When it comes to pricing a koi fish, there are a few factors that really influence how expensive the pet fish will be.
Type of Koi
When it comes to koi fish, there are over 100 varieties of officially recognized koi - all with different characteristics and available in different price ranges.
You can also find koi in "regular" or “butterfly” varieties. Butterfly koi were bred with long-finned carp to produce a type of koi fish with long flowing fins. In most cases, butterfly koi will fetch a higher price than a regular koi.
While there is variation in the cost of different types of koi, it’s more about the specific characteristics these fish can have that make them expensive.
Koi with strong, desirable lineage (like dogs) typically have a premium price attached. Oftentimes, the fish of a particular lineage will be selectively bred over decades.
Breeders like to specialize in these lines of fish as they bring in higher profits. And koi owners like them since years and years of selective breeding typically means a more aesthetically pleasing and long-living koi fish.
The size of a koi will have a direct impact on its cost. You could buy a koi fish for $50 when it’s 4″ long then turn around and sell it for $200 when it’s 12″ long.
So, why does size matter? Size is typically equated with age, and the quality of young Koi fish can’t be determined until it reaches adulthood.
As a koi fish matures and grows, it will experience changes in its appearance which can affect cost.
Koi are separated into two categories:
- Pond quality: These are the most common koi and typically what you'll find in most backyard koi ponds. Unless you have an eye for it, you might not even tell much of the difference between a pond-quality and show-quality koi.
- Show quality: These are bred to have very desirable colors, brightness, and markings that allow them to sell at a much higher cost.
The takeaway here - the color, the crispness of its markings, and especially the brightness of the fish have a large impact on their cost.
The price of koi fish can vary depending on where they were bred... and by whom.
Imported koi from Japan will typically cost more than domestic koi for many reasons, including:
- Japan is where koi originated from.
- They have some of the best koi breeders in the world.
- The Japanese have been breeding koi for their distinct colors and patterns since the 1700s.
That doesn't mean you can't find show-quality koi that are bred domestically. It's possible, but you're typically going to pay a premium for a show-quality koi from a well-respected breeder from the country they originated from.
Koi Fish Price Chart
In this koi fish price chart, we compiled the koi fish price ranges from popular online stores.
Tip: Request a koi fish price list when shopping a particular store for koi to get a good idea of the range of prices for the different types of fish they offer.
Where to Buy Koi Fish
The most popular places to buy koi fish are at your local pet store, a local koi breeder, or an online koi store.
While you might be able to find koi for sale for cheap from Craigslist and other classified ads, I'd recommend not going this route unless you personally know the seller or they offer some sort of guarantee.
Where you buy your koi fish from will likely depend on what you plan on doing with the fish, your budget, and your experience level:
- If you're simply a backyard pond hobbyist and want a few fish to brighten up your koi pond (and don't care about type), then buying koi fish at your local pet store might be your best option. While you can certainly get your fish from a breeder or an online koi store, you'll find the cheapest options at your local pet store.
- If you have a little experience with koi fish and are interested in a good appearance, then an online store like NextDayKoi.com will be a great choice. You can get high-quality koi fish at a low to medium range price. You'll also have access to many different types of koi that you won't find at a pet store.
- If you're a koi enthusiast who wants award-winning fish sourced right from the best breeders in the world, then Kodama Koi Farm, an online store that sources their fish from the top breeders, will be an excellent option.