Tattoos Of Koi Fish

Tattoo of koi fish on shoulder

Some Great Tattoos Of Koi Fish

One of the principal reasons people get tattoos of koi fish are in order for them to symbolize something significant in their lives through art on their bodies.  It is quite literally like wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve or back or wherever it is one happens to have a tattoo placed.  That is why tattoos of koi fish are so popular. It is because these fish are laden with symbolism in the Japanese and Chinese cultures from whence they come.

The meanings associated with koi are generally those of perseverance, aspiration, advancement, non-conformism or downright good luck.  Perhaps this is because there is an ancient Chinese koi myth about these fish being the only one of their kind to swim up the waterfall towards the “Ryumon” or dragon gate at the upper edges of China’s “Huang He” (Yellow River).  It is at the dragon gate that it is said, the carp were transformed into dragons.  From hence also comes the Japanese idiom, “koi-no-taki-nobori” or “carp swimming up the rapids,” which is used to describe success in life perhaps in the same way that we use, “going against the grain.”

Koi Tattoo On ForearmTattoos of koi fish are also taken to mean “love.”  This may be due to an old Japanese chronicle called the “Nihonshoki” which tells of how the Emperor Keiko fell in love with Princess Otohime (meaning Shy and Modest princess) and tried to make her visit him at Kukurinomiya Palace. The Emperor was known for taking pleasure in viewing his koi pond at the palace for this was common practice among the aristocracy of the Heian period (794-1185 BC). To the emperor’s delight, the princess who happened to share his same pastime, could not help but finally pay him a visit.  This paved the way for romance, all thanks to the koi fish.

Another symbolism for tattoos koi fish is that of masculinity, bravery and heroism. In Japan, koi are called “bushyi-go” or “Japanese warrior fish” because of their serene and determined manner of swimming, occasionally even jumping out of water.  It is also said, that much like a samurai, koi fish do not flinch under the knife.

Tattoos of koi fish are often accompanied by backdrops of streams.  To some, a koi fish swimming upstream or in rough water might mean one is struggling with a challenge.  If the fish is swimming downstream it may mean that one has failed that challenge. Oftentimes however, koi representations are those of victory.  Which is why even celebrities such as Cherliize Theron and her mother both sport the same tattoos of koi fish after their successful battle with cancer.  Others like the late Alexander McQueen had a koi tattoo on his chest; popular singer John Mayer also wears one on his right shoulder.

Finally, a depiction of five golden koi may mean increased wealth or good luck, five being considered a lucky number in the East.  This would be reason enough for anyone to have these beautiful carp close by.  By having tattoos of koi fish one can be certain this is always the case.


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Pond Kit

We Love A Good Koi Pond Kit!

Koi Pond At HomeLife can be hectic and when life gets that way people start dreaming of vacations and other escapes. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to get time off from work or have the funds available to take a trip. Thankfully, a good koi pond kit will you don’t have to worry about time off or saving up for a vacation when you have a yard or garden space. You can take advantage of your space by incorporating things that will create a sanctuary or tranquil relaxation space in your yard. One way to accomplish your goal would be to build a Koi pond near a seating area beneath a tree. You can create a spot where you could spend your weekends listening to the soothing sound of water while you relax.

Planning and building a Koi pond isn’t as difficult as you may think. Many retailers today even provide you with a kit that has everything that you need to create a pond already included. Some manufacturers even have kits that include the Koi! Most of the kits available to the general public have been created so that the average Do-It-Yourselfer can handle the installation in a weekend. There are pond kits that contain a preformed pond, like those sold by Beckett, and those are great if you don’t mind sticking to a prearranged design. If, on the other hand, you want to get the creative juices flowing and design your own pond then you’ll want to get a kit that has a PVC liner instead of the preform Pond from companies like Sunterra or Aquascape.

A nice large Koi pond

When you buy a pond kit you’ll get almost everything you need to create your own pond. Complete kits include: pond liner or preformed pond, pumps, skimmers, filters, and all the tubing and connectors you’ll need. Don’t forget to get a kit that includes an aerating with the filter to make your pond more hospitable to Koi. You will have to supply a few things yourself. You’ll need tools for connecting tubing and adjusting the grade of your pond. You’ll also need a shovel unless you’re installing a large size or double pool pond. For larger ponds you may want to rent a small bobcat to help you move the dirt. You might want to dig a trench for the electrical line you’ll need to run your filter. Protecting your electrical line inside PVC piping that is then covered with dirt in the trench you created will ensure that the line won’t be disturbed later. Don’t forget to mark it on the blueprint of your home so you can find it again later.

To ensure your pond lasts a long time you’ll need gravel, sand, and ornamental rocks to help hold your liner in place. The sand goes under the liner or preform and then the gravel goes on top at the bottom of your pond to weigh down the preform or liner. Ornamental rocks can be used to hold down the edges of the liner or preform and can also be used to create a waterfall. Many people like to create a waterfall or babbling brook to feed into their ponds and help with filtration and water circulation. Another advantage to including a waterfall is that the sound of running water is soothing and will help aid in the creation of a tranquil space.

An excellent Koi pond setup

If you get one of the pond kits that has been created specifically for Koi then you will be supplied with the additives needed to ensure your pond is safe for your fish. If your kit doesn’t include the additives then you’ll need to treat your pond once the work is done. You will need to let the pond settle for a little while and let the filters run so that you know your equipment is working properly. Before you bring the Koi to their new home test the PH of the water to make sure it is properly balanced to the level that your fish need.

To dress your pond and make it more appealing to you, your visitors, and the Koi consider adding submerged plant life as well as floating water plants like water lilies. The plants will provide additional food as well as shelter. This is especially important if your pond isn’t protected from the sun with shade. Surround your pond with plants you’d expect to find around a water source. These plants will beautify your space and help create the natural sanctuary you wanted.

Installing a pond in your space is easier than you think and has many rewards. With a little hard work you’ll create a space suited to a relaxing weekend. Now that your pond has settled so the Koi can explore their new home and you’ve finished creating a seating area it is time to sit back and enjoy all of your hard work. Take a break from the chaos of your life in your own private backyard retreat.


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Breeding Koi

Top Tips To Breeding Koi

Tips On Breeding KoiAt some stage, if you have a Koi pond you may grow an interest in breeding Koi.  Even if you are familiar with the process for breeding aquarium fish, keep in mind that breeding Koi requires additional considerations due to their size.

The optimum age for breeding Koi is four to six years for the females and four to ten years of age for the males.  Females outside of this age group may produce eggs that have either extremely thin egg walls, hampering survival; or they can produce eggs with walls that are too thick, hampering fertilization by the sperm.

Knowing the optimal age for Koi breeding, you can now proceed to select the Koi that you wish to breed.  The male and female specimen should reunite the physical characteristics that you wish to breed for.  Once the lucky couple has been selected you must segregate each of them from members of the opposite sex for a period of two to four weeks.  During this time period, make sure that each member for the pairing is fed well.  Since Koi feeding is at its most frequent and voluminous during the warmer parts of the year, it is recommend that the selection process start towards the end of spring or beginning of summer.  Use the climate patterns in your geographical area to determine the best time for Koi breeding.

Following the two to four week gender segregation period, the male and female Koi will be ready to be placed in a spawning tank.  A spawning tank is an isolated water container.  Also known as a breeding tank, this must be able to hold a minimum of 1000 gallons of water.

The water in the breeding tank should possess a neutral pH level.  It is best to fill the tank three days prior to adding the Koi that are to be bred.  Make certain to provide this tank with plenty of water aeration.  Leave the pumps running in the breeding tank throughout the three day period prior to adding the fish.

The final step before adding the Koi couple to the breeding tank is placing adequate spawning foliage in the tank.  This can take the form of water hyacinths or willow cuttings.  Spawning nests can also be used.  They are made out of a synthetic material shaped into bristles.  The purpose of this material is to provide a surface for the eggs to adhere to.  If natural nesting material is used, keep vigilant for dragonfly larvae.  They are harmless to adult Koi, but can be deadly to Koi fry.

Now, you are ready to add the male and female Koi to the breeding tank.

Add the female a few hours or a full day prior to the male in order to allow her to acclimate herself with the breeding tank.  Most Koi spawning takes place in the pre-dawn or early morning hours.  If possible, monitor the breeding tank with an inexpensive surveillance camera-to-computer setup.  The spawning process can be somewhat rough, with the male literally bumping and thrashing the female against the sides of the tank.  This is done so that she can release the eggs as he releases his sperm.  Monitor the situation to make certain that the female does not become injured in this process.  If you detect any injury, remove the female immediately and place her in a holding tank by herself.


The initial spawning action is usually followed by a subsequent spawn which is done to help release any remaining eggs from the female.  Following the initial spawning both fish may retire to opposite ends of the tank.  Within the hour, they will engage in another session.  Following this second session, or 90 minutes following the initial spawn if a second session does not occur, remove each fish to its own individual holding tank.  Allow them to rest in their individual holding tanks for 24 to 48 hours prior to reintroducing them to the general population.  This allows the female to lose any spawning scent which might drive males in the pond wild. It also allows the male to regenerate the protective layer of oils on his scales which normally gets removed during the thrashing of spawning.

In the interim period, prior to removing each breeding Koi to holding tanks, it is highly probable that they will start eating the eggs.  This is normal and should not concern you.  For the 60 – 90 minutes that they are in company with the eggs they can only eat a small fraction of the 50,000 eggs which are released in an average spawn.  Nonetheless, leaving them with the eggs for longer than that is not recommended.

Breeding Koi

The eggs will be clearly visible and appear greenish in color.  Within three days you will be able to detect which have been fertilized as they will take on a clear appearance.  The unfertilized ones will appear cloudy.  By the fourth or fifth day a moving Koi embryo can be detected within each egg.  By the sixth day the young Koi fry would have hatched.

It will take the Koi fry four months to reach three to four inches in length.  Prior to this time, they must be kept in their own tank.  The breeding tank can be used for this purpose, just make certain that the filtration system does not endanger the young Koi fry.

Feeding Koi fry during their first two weeks of life consists of a diet of brine shrimp, water fleas, Gerber’s egg yolk and powdered Koi food.  By the third week, crushed Koi food can constitute the main portion of their diet.

It is possible that you will have 10,000-20,000 Koi fry from the breeding.  Culling is required to make the group more manageable.  Some breeders automatically cull half of the hatchlings from day one.  Natural selection will diminish the size further.  During the second to fourth week, additional culling is done to eliminate those specimens that do not demonstrate the physical characteristics that you wish to have in your Koi.  These include those with visible physical deformities and those that lack the coloration pattern desired.

Culling can be difficult for many people; however, if you are going to be effective at breeding Koi, it must be done.  If you feel uneasy about the concept, it is probably best not to breed Koi.

You can breed all different Koi Types

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Kohaku Koi

Modern-day Kohaku Koi

Known for their white-bodies and red patterns, have had a long history of cross-breeding that dates back to the the mid-1800′s.  A manual on koi cultivation in the Niigita Prefecture of Japan relates the development of Sarasa (white carp with red markings on its head) by cross-breeding the Magoi (wild black carp) with Higoi (red carp) and Shirigoi (white carp).  Others believe that these red and whites were products of cross-breeding red-headed Narumi Asagis (a breed of blue-netted koi) and Magoi’s.  Whatever the case may be the Sarasa developed into the “Gosuke Sarasa “ in 1889 through the work of a breeder named Kunizou Hiroi also known as Utogi ni Gosuke (Utogi from the farm of Gosuke).  It is from this Gosuke bloodline that all Kohaku Koi have descended since.

Most of the criteria for discerning quality Kohaku Koi comes from the characteristics of its “hi” (red markings). It is important that the “hi” should be uniform in color and have well-defined edges that do not bleed or fade into the white. It is crucial in all koi that the “hi” be well-formed and not contain bits of white within them.  The “hi” should also be artistically distributed and should make-up half to two-thirds of the Kohaku Koi’s color. Although body “hi” need not be symmetrical on a Kohaku, it should nonetheless be balanced, not being either top nor bottom-heavy.

Who Gives A Fish has a great article that goes into further depth about determining the quality of Kohaku Koi.

“Hi” is also exhibited in “steps” or consecutive right-left-right red spots on a fish’s back. The more steps on a Kohaku’s body, the more prized it is.  A two-stepped pattern is called “Nidan,” which is the Japanese word for second.  Similarly, “Sandan,” “Shindan” and “Godan” are the words for “third,” “fourth” and “fifth” and are used to describe Kohaku Koi exhibting three, four and (even better) five-stepped patterns.  Sometimes, these hi markings do not occur as several separate spots but come in an “Ippon-hi” or large continuous red pattern.  Interesting images are formed from these such as those of an “Inazuma” or lightning bolt of red running from head to tail or a “Straight Hi” which describes a continuous stroke that likewise runs lengthwise on the fish’s back.

The Japanese Kohaku Koi

“Hi” on the head is an essential element for all Kohaku.  While the most valued of Kohaku koi’s should not have any red on their fins, below the eyes or in and around the mouth, Kuchibeni (red around the mouth like lipstick) or Menkaburi (red hood covering all of eyes and mouth) markings are still considered acceptable. Kutsubera (U-shaped just above the eyes) markings are considered exceptional. Other hi patterns also include the Maruten (red blotch on top of head) and the Tancho.  This latter pattern occurs when there is a single red blotch on the center of a Kohaku’s white head.  The rounder the mark the better, as it would look more like sun on the Japanese flag! These Tancho koi are technically judged in a separate class.

Keep in mind that “hi” must wrap around the fish’s body, preferably around the lateral lines  from gills to tail.  The “odome” (tail stop) which is a white barrier between hi on the tail and the “hi” on the main body of the Kohaku is a marker for balance with the fish’s white nose.

Ideally, the Kohaku’s white color should be as pristine as snow and not yellowing in any way so that it contrasts strikingly against the deep red markings of “hi.”

There are many more complexities in judging quality Kohaku koi and even more details in caring for tategoi  (young koi) in order to breed prize-winners.  This is perhaps attributed to the fact that Kohakus are the most popular koi varieties to-date.  As such, they are not only standard-bearers of the colors of the Japanese flag but of the beauty of Japanese culture itself.

The Kohaku Koi

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How To Care For Koi Fish

Care For Koi, And They’ll Live Long!

Care for Koi babyAs any serious Koi keeper knows, care for Koi is not as simple as purchasing goldfish from a pet store and dumping them in a fish tank.

First of all, that fish tank should be a pond with enough room for Koi to grow in.  The minimum recommended stocking rate for any Koi pond is one Koi per 250 gallons of water.  However, for those who wish to care for Koi, particularly to ensure their proper body formation and maximum size potential, twice the amount of water per Koi is recommended.

As mentioned in a previous article, it is better to care for more Koi than less as the fish are “happier” in a populous environment.  This of course, would require increasing your pond volume.

Depending on where in the world one resides, it is good to keep in mind that Koi construction should keep out predators such as birds and mammals.  Shaded trees are thus a good idea to block the view of aerial predators.  To keep water clean of leaves and debris, stringing nets or wires above the surface is also important. This is because care for Koi begins with care for its pond water.

Koi can thrive in water temperatures of 15-25 degrees C (59-77 degrees F).  The optimal temperatures however are at 23-30 degrees C (73.4-86 degrees F).


Pond water should be cycled once an hour for filtration.  It should maintain a pH level of 6.5-9 and measured to keep a 5% salinity at all times.  It should be free of waste material and be non-chlorinated.  Keeping low ammonia levels (due to fish waste) is also necessary for to care for Koi.  An ammonia measurement of one part per million is considered harmful for the fish.

One of many environmental problems which arise in the care for Koi is that of green water caused by algal blooms.  The nitrogen wastes and other chemicals in the pond nourish the growth of algae and cause the pond to darken or become green.  This is not only toxic for the fish but for humans as well.  Hence it is best to regularly test the water for chemicals and install proper mechanical and biological filtration and pump systems.

Care for Koi also includes a healthy Koi diet.  Koi have evolved to be omnivorous fish with a high tendency towards the consumption of benthic organisms, such as water insects, worms, larvae and even Molluscs.  Koi are also stimulated by the variety of eating fruit, shrimp or fish every so often.


Keeping this in mind, however, there are commercial Koi foods that come in pellets or rods for Koi to chew that make guesswork easy.  Koi are known to eat more than necessary for their proper growth so feeding must be controlled.  More food also means, more waste in the water. It is better to feed the Koi in short spurts several times a day than to give them one large feeding.  For aesthetic purposes and in order to give Koi a physical check-up, it would be good to choose food that floats.  When the fish come up to feed at the surface it is much easier to check them then for parasites and ulcers.

In countries where the weather above water drops below 10 degrees C (50 degrees F), it is advisable to slow down the feeding and eliminate protein from their diets.  This is because their bodies cannot process food as much or as fast as in the warmth.

Care for Koi may initially seem a complicated task for first-time Koi owners.  However, its rewards are found in nurturing the healthiest and happiest of these beautiful ornamental fish!

View Koi Types

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