Are Koi Fish Legal in New York?

If you’re a fish enthusiast living in New York, you might be wondering whether it’s legal to own koi fish. Koi fish are a popular species of ornamental carp that are often kept in outdoor ponds for their beauty and calming effect. But before you add these colorful creatures to your backyard, it’s important to understand the laws and regulations surrounding their ownership in New York.

What are Koi Fish

Koi fish are a type of carp that originated in Japan. They are known for their striking colors and patterns, which can vary widely depending on the breed.

Some common colors include red, orange, yellow, blue, and black. Koi fish can grow quite large – up to three feet long – so they require a spacious pond or tank.

Are Koi Fish Legal in New York

Yes, koi fish are legal to own in New York State. However, there are some important regulations that owners must follow to ensure the health and safety of the fish and the environment.

Permit Requirements

In order to keep koi fish legally in New York, owners must obtain a permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The permit application requires detailed information about the location of the pond or tank where the koi will be kept, as well as information about the source of water and any filtration systems used.

Water Quality Standards

To maintain healthy and thriving koi fish, it is essential to maintain high water quality standards. The DEC has established guidelines for acceptable levels of dissolved oxygen, pH balance, ammonia levels, and other factors that can impact water quality. Owners must regularly test their water and make adjustments as needed to ensure that these standards are met.

Invasive Species Concerns

Another reason why permits are required for owning koi fish in New York is to prevent the spread of invasive species. Koi fish are not native to New York, and if they were to escape from a pond or tank, they could potentially cause harm to the local ecosystem. The DEC requires that all koi owners take measures to prevent the escape of their fish, such as using fencing or netting around outdoor ponds.


In summary, koi fish are legal to own in New York as long as owners obtain a permit from the DEC and follow all regulations regarding water quality standards and invasive species prevention. With proper care and attention, these beautiful fish can make a wonderful addition to any backyard pond or indoor aquarium.

Photo of author

Daniel Bennet