Are Koi Goldfish or Carp?

Koi fish are one of the most popular ornamental fish found in ponds and water gardens around the world. These colorful fish are highly sought after for their beauty and grace.

However, there is often confusion surrounding these fish as to whether they are goldfish or carp. In this article, we will explore the differences between koi, goldfish, and carp.

What are Koi Fish

Koi fish, also known as Nishikigoi, are a type of ornamental carp that originated in Japan. These fish were first bred for their color variations in the early 19th century. Today, there are over 100 different varieties of koi that have been selectively bred for their unique color patterns.

Are Koi Fish Carp

Yes, koi fish are a type of carp. They belong to the same family as common carp (Cyprinus carpio). However, unlike common carp which are typically brown or gray in color, koi have been selectively bred for their striking colors and patterns.

What about Goldfish

Goldfish (Carassius auratus) are another popular ornamental fish that are often confused with koi. While goldfish also belong to the carp family, they have been selectively bred for their unique body shapes and fin configurations rather than color variations like koi.

Differences between Koi and Goldfish

The easiest way to distinguish between koi and goldfish is by their physical appearance:

  • Color: Koi come in a wide range of colors including white, black, red, orange, yellow, blue, and green. Goldfish can be orange or gold but also come in other colors like black or white.
  • Size: Koi are generally larger than goldfish, with some growing up to three feet in length. Goldfish are typically smaller, growing up to 12 inches in length.
  • Body Shape: Koi have a streamlined body shape similar to other carp, while goldfish have a more rounded body shape with a prominent belly.


In conclusion, koi fish are a type of ornamental carp that have been selectively bred for their unique color patterns. While they share some similarities with goldfish, they can be easily distinguished by their color, size, and body shape. Whether you prefer koi or goldfish in your pond or water garden, both of these fish species are sure to add beauty and tranquility to any outdoor space.

Photo of author

Emma Gibson