What’s the Difference Between Koi and Goldfish?



So, what is the difference between Koi and goldfish?

Koi and goldfish are very similar looking fish, especially when they are about the same size. It is no wonder that some people mistake them.

They are even related – both of these types of fish are descended from carp.

However, koi are a much more recent development, descended from the common carp in Japan.

They were first bred for their beautiful colors around the 1820s, and have been popular ever since.

Goldfish, on the other hand, have been around for much longer.

Domesticated carp were raised in China for thousands of years for food.

These were the Prussian carp, rather than the common carp, which koi are descended from.

Colors like red, orange and yellow were noted as early as the Jin dynasty – around the time of the Roman Empire.

Later, it became popular to raise carp in ornamental ponds, and many of these carp showed gold coloration.

They were prized as ornamental fish, and were displayed in small bowls on special occasions.

Now, goldfish are available in all kinds of colors and shapes, and are actually considered a separate species from their ancestors.

These fish can no longer successfully interbreed.

Koi, by comparison, are still capable of breeding with their parent species, and will return to the wild coloration within a few generations.

They are merely a special series of color variations on this type of fish.

Most goldfish can not be kept outdoors anymore, and must live in indoor aquariums.

Some special varieties, including the shubunkin, are capable of living outside.

Koi are capable of living outdoors in appropriate environments, and are still kept in ornamental pools.

They are also larger than goldfish, though their smaller cousins get bigger than most people know.

If you have only ever seen goldfish two to six inches long, you may be surprised to learn that they can live up to twenty years and get up to eighteen inches long.

Koi can be up to three feet long and usually live for twenty-five to thirty-five years.

Specimens up to six feet long and two hundred years old have been claimed.

Goldfish come in a wider range of variation than koi, with more types of tail and fin shapes and different body shapes.

Koi are almost all the same shape, but have a wide variety of colors and patterns, with obvious barbels on their lips.

Young koi and young goldfish of certain types can be hard to tell apart, and some kinds of goldfish can even interbreed with koi, but the result is sterile.

Both koi fish and goldfish are fun to keep and have their own special characteristics and personalities.

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