What Makes Koi Valuable?

Koi, the beautiful ornamental fish known for its vibrant colors and graceful movements, has gained immense popularity among fish enthusiasts and collectors worldwide. From their stunning patterns to their unique personalities, there are several factors that contribute to the value of these magnificent creatures.

Koi Varieties

One of the main reasons why Koi are highly valued is due to the wide variety of colors and patterns they exhibit. These variations are classified into different categories known as “varieties.” Some of the most popular varieties include:

  • Kohaku: Characterized by their white bodies with red markings, Kohaku is one of the oldest and most traditional varieties.
  • Showa: Showa Koi feature a black base color with bold red and white markings. The intricate patterns on Showa Koi make them highly sought after.
  • Sanke: Sanke Koi have a white base color with red and black markings.The balance between these three colors determines the quality and value of a Sanke Koi.
  • Goshiki: Goshiki literally means “five colors” in Japanese. These Koi showcase a combination of white, red, black, blue, and grayish scales.


The pattern on a Koi’s body plays a significant role in determining its value. A well-defined pattern with crisp edges and clear separation between colors is highly desirable. Patterns such as Maruten (a single round mark on the head) or Tancho (a single red dot on the head) are considered rare and add to the uniqueness and value of a Koi.

Size and Age

Another factor that affects the value of Koi is their size and age. Larger Koi are often more valuable, as they require more time and resources to grow. Additionally, older Koi tend to have more developed patterns and colors, making them highly sought after by collectors.

Body Conformation

The overall body shape and conformation of a Koi also contribute to its value. A well-proportioned body with a straight back, balanced fins, and a graceful swimming style is considered ideal. Any deformities or irregularities can decrease the value of a Koi significantly.

Breeder’s Reputation

The reputation of the breeder also plays a crucial role in determining the value of Koi. Breeders who have established themselves as experts in producing high-quality Koi with exceptional patterns and colors often command higher prices for their fish.


The value of Koi is determined by various factors such as their variety, patterning, size and age, body conformation, and the reputation of the breeder. The combination of these elements creates unique and valuable specimens that are highly sought after by collectors around the world.

Photo of author

Lindsay Collins