Butterfly Koi

The Beautiful Butterfly Koi

The Black and White Butterfly KoiThere are some Koi connoisseurs who would consider talking about butterfly Koi one of the worst faux-pas that a person can make. Butterfly Koi are just something you shouldn’t talk about to them; they are considered the mutts of the fish world. Some Koi fans even consider the butterfly Koi to not be a Koi at all. Then there are others who are more open and consider the butterfly Koi to be one of the most beautiful Koi there are, depending on their size, their pattern, and their finnage.

When looking at the butterfly Koi it’s important to begin at the beginning. Their origins begin back during the 80s when groups of grey and brown common carp that had long fins were discovered in the ditches and canals of Indonesia. A New York company were interested in the Koi and had them sent to the US to be sold. The fish were considered ugly and so failed to sell too well. However there were a curious bunch of enterprising breeders at the Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery. They ordered a dozen of the fish just to understand more about them. They came to understand that the fish were ugly and had long fins. They spent several years breeding these large and long finned fish with their own regular-fin Koi. Over time they came to realise several things.

  1. The genes that cause long fins are dominant meaning it was impossible to breed the gene causing long fins out by breeding the fish back to color
  2. These long-finned Koi were hardy and resistant to disease
  3. It was possible to breed the fish back to color; now many of these colorful breeds of Koi with long fins have all been birthed at the Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery.

A man called Wyatt LeFever was the breeder at Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery responsible for cultivating the long-fin Koi. The name “butterfly Koi” came from Randy; his son. One day Randy was in the hatchery with his father and, after seeing the fish, remarked that they looked like butterflies. Wyatt liked the name and it stuck ever since.

The Relation Between Butterfly Koi Size and Value

As the butterfly Koi grows it becomes even more impressive. This is because their fins will continue to grow until their blood vessels become unable to sustain any more growth. The older a butterfly Koi is the more impressive and long their fins are. When you watch an older butterfly Koi swimming around it’s almost like watching a majestic dragon cut throught he water. The barbels (the whiskers) of the fish can grow long like their fins and form intricate and elaborate designs.

While their body size is a little smaller compared to other Koi, at full length a butterfly Koi can be as long as 40 inches if they are provided with the right environment and food. Butterfly Koi are incredible graceful in the water and can be a real joy to watch as they swim.

A White and Gold Butterfly Koi

What About Their Patterns?

The pattern of a regular Koi can add a lot of value to the fish, so it’s only right to assume that a butterfly Koi with a standard pattern and a lot of bright colors is more valuable. There are also some additions to this though. While butterfly Koi with proper patterns are more valuable than those without, the beautiful fins of a butterfly Koi can increase their value even if they have a poor pattern.

As well as this platinum and yellow colored butterfly fish are considered nothing short of incredible when they are fully grown. If you can grow a platinum or metallic yellow ogon butterfly Koi to their full size they are an impressive and large size. This makes their movement slower, but much beautiful to watch because of how graceful it is. Their fins may be long but the gold or neon-white color really stand out in the water. Watching a fish like that swim is like watching a comet move through the sky. Or water in this case. All we know is that it looks beautiful to see their fins stream behind them like fire.

Noteworthy Butterfly Koi Breeds

When it comes to butterfly Koi adults it doesn’t get much more incredible than the sorogoi. The sorogoi Koi has an overall grey body with a “fukurin” or black fish net pattern. If you were to take this color and apply it to the more impressive fully grown butterfly Koi you would have something that looks like some majestic sea monster gliding in the water. It doesn’t look as attractive at first thanks to the grey colors but you’ll quickly notice the graceful body and the awy the fins move around and you find yourself drawn to how robust and mysterious the grey fish is.

About the only thing better than the sorogoi is the black butterfly; which is just one of the coolest fish in the world. These fish are pretty rare so their effect is made even more special. You can find a black butterfly Koi with scales or without them. The most valuable and rare of thee fish are the doitsu, karasu butterfly. This butterfly fish has a black body, lacks scales, and has long fins. “Karasu” is the Japanese word for “crow”, which may explain the name.

Black Beauties

The black butterfly Koi will grow up to become a very large fish. This is because the gene of the black butterfly are less restrained than some brighter colored fish. Their bodies can become a beautiful and glistening jet black if they don’t have any scales. Their fins will continue to grow until you have a broad fish that looks akin to a black dragon thanks to its long, streaming fins.

Think about someone visiting your Koi pond, feeding your fish. All of a sudden they see a black shadow looming from the bottom of the pond. As it gets larger and closer they come to realize that there’s no color to the fish. It feels like it really is a shadow. It pops up out of the water to grab the food and then disappears with a display of its long, dark fins. They ask you what they just saw and you tell them the story of your black fish, and how the Japanese regard the black Koi as being lucky. A fully grown black butterfly Koi will definitely be a memorable fish for any child to come into contact with. It’s the closest you could get to owning a shadow dragon that is sure to delight and amaze anyone who sees it.

A Pretty Butterfly Koi

The Fins!

It’s impossible to discuss butterfly Koi without talking about their fins. The reason that the fins on the butterfly Koi can grow so long is due to a genetic defect. This abberation means that the genes that cause the fins to grow fail to deactivate, causing the fins to continue growing. The fins of a fish are genetically coded to stop growing at a certain point. Thanks to the mutation the genes of a butterfly Koi don’t receive the signal to stop growing. This kind of mutation also shows up occasionally in other fish species. It can be found in Siamese fighting fish, the long fin Oscars, the Simpson’s high fin swordtails, and the long fin black tetra. If this mutation is discovered in a species and identified then it will often be bred into the species to find out if the species becomes worth more commercially as a result.

As is the case with other Koi fish the butterfly Koi’s fins are made from dozens of rays of cartilage. The cartilage will radiate outward to support the fin and they will typically grow straight. They tend to become wavy when they grow past their normal length. If a butterfly Koi manages to retain straight rays even in the lengthy parts of their tail they become much more impressive and valuable.

One problem that arises with raising butterfly Koi is they are typically handled as if they were regular Koi. A butterfly Koi will usually have broken their fins or tail before reaching full maturity. So even though the bends and waves in their fins and tails are partly due to the way they grow, they can also be caused by netting damage when growing up. If an adult butterfly Koi has a split in their tail or fin then it will likely not heal and stay split that way. None of this really matters much to the casual observer, as the impact that it has on the fish remains the same, but it can cause their fin quality to vary. Noticing these variations could cause you to choose a particular fish over another.

So Are They Really Koi?

Make no mistake about it; the butterfly Koi is a real and true Koi. Even though this is the case there is some of the same distaste in Japan as there is in the United States for these long-finned fish. Though to be honest the Japanese tend to regard a new color as an eyesore at first. They will eventually become accustomed to the change and come to love the diversity and differences between Koi types.

The butterfly Koi is no exception to this. There was a time when the only Japanese butterfly Koi breeder was Mr Suda. He has bred some very beautiful fish and can even get them to grow to great sizes. Even so Japanese breeders didn’t want to take part in breeding them.

The fish that Mr Suda bred became popular among United States Koi owners. They became so popular, in fact, that they soon became scarce. It was obvious to Mr Suda that he had made the right decision when he chose to breed them. The other Japanese breeders saw the success Mr Suda had with breeding the butterfly Koi. Eventually they overcame their feelings towards them and began breeding them too. There are now several domestic breeders competing in the market for butterfly Koi. They have gone on to become popular fish and it’s not hard to see why.

Photo Credits:

http://www.koi-pond-guide.com/premium-grade-butterfly-koi-5-6.html

http://www.koi-pond-guide.com/premium-grade-butterfly-koi-4-5.html

http://www.blueridgekoi.com/the-butterfly-koi-story/