Koi fish are some of the most interesting fish that everyone’s heard of. While most fish are kept indoors, most koi fish are kept outdoors in elaborate, expensive ponds.
Koi fish ownership is often affiliated with wealth and success, not just because of how beautiful these fish are, but also because of how expensive buying and maintaining koi fish can be!
How much does a koi fish actually cost, though? Are these creatures actually that expensive, or are they an attainable pet for most people?
How Much Does A Koi Fish Cost?
Koi fish typically cost around $20-$50 for a healthy koi measuring around 5″ in length. However, prices can range from $5 to well over $10,000 depending on the type and size of koi fish.
Additionally, koi pond costs can add several thousand dollars to that price.
So, koi fish can be cheap if you’d like a more budget-friendly option, but they can also break the bank if you’re a true enthusiast or a fan of luxury.
Below, we’ll cover the costs of koi fish ownership more in-depth. This includes the purchase price of the koi fish itself, as well as the enclosure and supplies you’ll need to keep them happy and healthy.
Koi Fish Cost Breakdown
|Koi fish||$5 – $10,000+|
|Koi pond||$1000 – $30,000+|
|Pond decorations||$100 – $1,000+|
|Koi fish food||$50 – $150+||$20 – $150+|
|Water maintenance||$25 – $100+||$25 – $100+|
Cost Of The Koi Fish Itself
There is no “one-size-fits-all” price when it comes to koi fish. While there are certainly trends in prices, there are numerous factors that contribute to how much a particular koi fish sells for.
To gain a better understanding of the variance in koi fish prices, simply look at the fish for sale from various reputable vendors. NextDayKoi, for example, has koi fish ranging from $17.50 to $500.
What exactly are the factors that contribute to the cost of a koi fish?
Type Of Koi
There isn’t one single type of koi fish. Instead, there’s over 100 officially recognized varieties, all with different characteristics that influence their cost.
While the individual type of koi does have an impact on cost, it’s more-so the traits that these types can have that makes them expensive.
For example, there may be two koi of a particular type, but if one has better coloration or sizing than the other, it will typically sell for more.
There are also koi called “butterfly koi”, and these are koi that were bred with long-finned carp to produce a fish with flowing fins. The status of these koi is debated, but they typically fetch a higher price than their standard counterpart.
Domestic Or Import
Koi fish are bred throughout the world. Depending on where you live, these fish may bring with them varying costs depending on if they’re bred domestic or foreign.
While imported koi don’t always cost more, they frequently do because of the excitement and foreign aspect to them.
While every-day koi owners don’t care much about this aspect, the genetic lineage of the fish can determine its price.
Koi live, on average, around 40 years. However, they have been known to live over 200 years! It makes sense, then, that you’d want a healthy fish that’s going to survive as long as possible.
Koi that come from a strong, desirable line typically have a premium attached to them. Often times there’s decades upon decades of selective breeding behind particular koi — countless hours of work.
Breeders especially want these fish, because it means better offspring and higher profits.
Koi are actually separated into “qualities”, which are “pond quality” and “show quality”. Pond quality koi are the most common to find, and the large majority of owners barely see a difference between the two.
Show quality koi, though, have very desirable colorations and markings that make them sell for much more money.
Colors and patterns absolutely dominate.
Of all of the types of koi, Kohaku, Sanke, and Showa reign supreme and tend to have the most desirable combinations of color and pattern.
Size, most of the time, directly correlates with cost. A particular koi may cost $100 when it’s 5″ long, but could sell for $300 when it’s 12″.
As the koi matures and grows, it often brings with it slight changes in color and pattern — factors that contribute to cost.
Koi Fish Ownership Costs
If you’re looking to purchase a koi fish, $5 for a standard koi isn’t all of the money that you’ll be spending.
You have to remember that these fish live for decades and can grow to be from 12 to 36 inches long. Housing an old monstrosity like this isn’t cheap!
You need to make sure that you not only have the means to house one or more koi, but also the money.
Koi Pond Cost
The primary cost that you’ll incur is in the koi pond itself. This pond has to be large enough for the koi, filter/plumb water effectively, and keep working without hiccups.
There are two ways that you can go about this, and both ways cost different amounts.
First of all, you can pay to have a koi pond installed. Ponds that are suitable for koi cost anywhere from $5,000 for a basic 15′ x 20′ pond to $30,000+ for a massive, beautiful piece of engineering.
In paying for a pond, you’re not only paying for all of the materials, but you’re also paying for the labor. If you’re not handy, this is the option you should go with. However, there’s much cheaper ways to keep koi.
The alternative is DIY — building a koi pond yourself.
Fortunately, there are many kits available online that let you do this yourself. This particular kit builds a 2,100 gallon, 15′ x 20′ pond for well under $1,000.
Taking the DIY approach does take some technical know-how, but it’s extremely cost-effective and can result in you building your own beautiful koi pond for around $1,000.
Pond Decorations Costs
Without decorations, your koi pond will simply be a hole in the ground. To compliment these beautiful fish, you’ll need to do a bit of landscaping which will cost some money.
The two main decoration items that you’ll need to purchase are stones (to act as a pond border) and plants (to liven up the entire scene).
For rocks, you can either find them for free in nature or around demolition sites, or you can purchase some. Unfortunately, nice rocks always seem to cost a fortune.
You can expect to pay about $150 or more for around 70 linear feet of rocks to line your pond. Prices can vary greately though depending on the type/size of rock that you use.
Plants are optional, but they really make a koi pond feel more lively. Some popular koi pond plants are water hyacinths, water lilies, umbrella plants, horsetails, and fanworts.
If you want to make your pond look very lively and natural, expect to spend around $200 or so on plants.
Koi Fish Consumable Costs
As fish are living creatures, they’re going to need care and upkeep — both things that cost money.
The costs of these consumable items can vary depending on how many koi you have and how big your pond is.
For very small koi ponds, these shouldn’t be large costs.
Koi Food Costs
Koi fish, believe it or not, need to eat in order to survive. So, food will be a recurring cost throughout the life of your koi.
Most owners feed their koi different food depending on the time of year on the stage of life of their fish.
In the spring and fall, it’s best to purchase a food that bulks the koi up and prepares them for the winter — especially if it’s harsh where you live.
During warmer months, growth food or color-enhancement food tends to be the best choice.
It may be expensive to purchase this food initially, but it comes in such large bulk amounts that you won’t need to purchase it very frequently.
A single koi can cost you maybe $50 per year on food, and that cost scales up with each new fish that you add.
Water Maintenance Costs
There are quite a few aspects to maintaining a koi pond and keeping it clean and healthy for all of the koi within it. Fortunately, much of that maintenance is free, only taking up your time.
There are two main products that you’ll need to purchase for your koi pond.
First of all, you’ll need a dechlorinator/conditioner. Pond water evaporates over time, leaving you with higher concentrations of minerals and waste that lower water quality. Because of this, you’ll need to replace a portion of the pond water weekly with clean water.
Tap water has chemicals added to it to make it potable, so adding a dechlorinator to the water will make it safe for your koi to swim in.
As koi ponds are fairly large, you’ll need a healthy amount of this water conditioner, which can cost a decent amount upfront but will last a long time. This API Pond Stress Coat Conditioner is a popular choice.
Algae can also ruin a pond by depriving the koi within it of oxygen, so, an algaecide is an essential addition. API’s Pond Algaefix seems to work the best for this.
Are Koi Fish Cheap To Own?
Koi fish definitely aren’t the cheapest pets to own. While it’s possible to purchase koi fish for as little as $5, housing and feeding these creatures certainly costs a lot more.
Adding these costs up over the 40+ year lifespan of a koi fish, and you’ve got thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of costs.
So, if you’re thinking about purchasing koi fish, think about whether you have the means to house them properly and the money to pay for all of their needs.
There’s a reason that these fish are often affiliated with wealth!