How Much Does a Koi Fish Cost? (2024 Price Guide)

Koi fish prices and costs

For those captivated by koi, the decision to add them to your aquatic family brings up an important question – how much does it really cost to own a koi fish?

From sourcing and setup to care and maintenance, there are a variety of factors that influence the investment required. This comprehensive price guide will provide you with a deeper understanding of the costs involved at every stage.

We’ll dive into the equipment and recurring costs of properly maintaining your koi in a home pond habitat. You’ll also gain insider tips for keeping expenses low without sacrificing quality care for your koi.

How Much Does a Koi Fish Cost?

Colorful decorative koi fish in a pond

The average price range of koi fish is between $10 and $20,000. This wide range is influenced by factors such as type, size, body shape, location, genetic lineage, quality, color, and gender. Some koi breeders put up their high-grade koi for auction, where the bid price can reach as high as $200,000.

Normal-grade koi fish would cost significantly less than those from champion lineages, costing even less than a hundred dollars. On the other hand, top-grade ones may even reach up to a million dollars.

The koi fish price chart below should give you a better idea of how much a koi fish costs based on its source and type or size:

ShopSourceType/SizePrice Range
PetcoUnited StatesGrade-A domestic$10–$17
LiveaquariaEast Asian standard koi farmAssorted grade-A$8–$20
Next Day KoiIsraelLarge butterfly koi$30 – $660
Kloubec KoiUnited States advanced koi farmLarge to extra-large koi with rare color patterns$100–$2,500
Kodama Koi FarmJapanCertified grade-AAA koi, large to jumbo-sizeBids (up to $16,000)
Sakai Fish FarmJapanCertified grade-AAA koi, large to jumbo-size, contenders for grand championBids (up to $200,000)

From the table above, you can see that local pet store chains usually carry the cheapest options for domestic koi or import-grade A koi with regular fin types.

You would also notice that the most expensive koi fish from highly valued genetic lines, especially those coming from its country of origin, Japan, can fetch a bid price of up to a couple of hundred thousand dollars.

Here is another table showing the usual price ranges of different koi types, along with their average sizes:

Koi TypeSizePrice Range
Kohaku24 – 36 inches$30 – $100
Showa15 – 24 inches$30 – $100
Taisho Sanke24 – 36 inches$50 – $300
Asagi12 inches and above$450 – $1,000
Ogon24 – 36 inches$80 – $400
Butterfly30 – 40 inches$160 – $350
Ginrin12 – 36 inches$150 – $400
Platinum24 – 36 inches$500 – $1,000
Shiro Utsuri24 – 36 inches$400 – $1,200
Hariwake15 – 24 inches$50 – $180
Shusui18 inches and above$80 – $350
Tancho24 – 36 inches$500 – $2,000
Hi Utsuri24 – 30 inches$1,000 – $3,000

This koi fish price list gives you an idea that while there are particular differences in koi fish prices per type, even those of the same species have distinct price ranges as well.

Also, take note that these are just averages. Certain factors like bloodlines and the quality of fish produced can significantly increase the value of what may seem like an average-priced koi fish.

However, as you aim for particular koi fish colors and patterns, this should give you an idea of how much you need to set aside for your new fish.

Why Are Koi Fish So Expensive?

Three expensive koi fish

Compared to other pond fish, top-quality koi fish prices are indeed quite expensive. With koi enthusiasts willing to spend a thousand to even a million dollars for just a single fish, it shows how valuable this pet is.

So the question remains — “Why do koi fish cost so much?” Here are some of the reasons:

  • Koi Fish Quality: Out of millions of eggs hatched by koi throughout their lifetime, most of these hatchlings will have deformities and will be sold at very low prices. Meanwhile, most of those that survive have the highest quality and are really expensive.
  • Breeding Difficulty: Unlike other types of fish, koi require a lot of time, diligence, and money to keep them in top condition and healthy. Koi farmers then need to make up for these expenses through the koi fish cost. This way, they can make a profit from the yearly costs of breeding koi.
  • Transportation: Since many of the koi fish farms are located outside of the United States, shipping an imported koi adds more to its already high cost due to transportation, customs, and license fee costs needed to legally and safely deliver the pet.
  • Rarity: Koi fish is much more difficult to obtain compared to other pond fish, hence pulling up its price. Certain species or colors are even less common, like the Tancho. This creates a huge demand for these rare fishes — and with a smaller supply, expect hefty price tags.

If you are just about to buy koi fish for the very first time, it is suggested that you go for a less expensive koi fish to first familiarize yourself with keeping the pet alive and not waste thousands of dollars on experimenting.

Koi Fish Ownership Costs

Man feeding his koi fish

The expenses of owning a koi fish do not end with the purchase of the koi itself. In fact, this is just the start of the upkeep expenses you need to maintain for your pet’s lifetime.

Additionally, the construction of the koi’s living environment is probably the highest initial cost that needs to be prepared ahead of getting the fish itself.

Pond Construction

Constructing your very own koi pond requires a lot of planning, both structurally and financially. However, bear in mind that this is a one-time cost.

Once you have laid down the foundation of your backyard pond, the rest of your costs will be relatively lower.

As part of your planning for your outdoor pond, you have to consider how many koi you plan to take care of and how large they are expected to grow.

The general rule is that there should be one square foot of pond surface area per one inch of fish. Another way to measure is to have four fish or less per 1,000 gallons of water.

This will also determine how much you need to allocate for your koi pond build. That being said, here is a price chart of the most basic expenses for the construction of a koi pond:

Koi Pond Construction ServicesAverage Cost
Permit for digging and grading$150 – $485 per project
Excavation$60 – $200 per cubic yard
Grading and leveling$40 – $180 per hour
Pond liner$0.30 – $113.50 per square foot
Edging$700 – $1,750 per project

With these considerations, always ensure that you do your research properly before digging and that all laws, permits, and fees related to the construction are taken care of.

Further, coordinate closely with your contractor to ensure that all considerations are taken into account, including the depth of your pond, the material for your pond liner, and the overall design of your koi pond.

Pond Add-Ons

How pricey your koi ponds will be may vary depending on the quality of add-ons that you choose. Many of these are necessary to keep your backyard pond water clean and your pond fish free of hazards.

Here is a list of the required add-ons to your koi pond:

Koi Pond Add-OnsAverage Cost
Landscaping$4.50 – $17 per square foot
Pond filter$150 – $1,300 per filter
Circulation pump$50 – $2,000 per pump
Pond skimmer$100 – $700 per skimmer
Return jets$10 – $50 per jet
Auto-fill valve$30 – $100 per valve
UV light$55 – $600 per light
Pond heater$38 – $135 per unit

Overall, expect to spend around $414 to $4,822 for these pond add-ons. These would ensure the optimal living environment that is critical for the longevity of your expensive and beautiful fish.

Pond Maintenance

Koi pond maintenance should be done on a monthly basis to ensure that the overall pond environment is kept clean, safe, and conducive to healthy fish living.

This is not at all expensive but can be time-consuming. The expenses needed for the maintenance include your cleaning materials, water treatment and testing products, and pond upkeep.

Check this summary of the expenses of maintaining most koi fish ponds: 

ExpenseMonthly Cost
Water treatment products$0 – $25
Water testing products$0 – $15
Pond maintenance$0 – $200

Some of these products include a dechlorinator or a conditioner to remove the harmful chemicals from treated tap water and balance it with the right components, making it safe for the koi to swim in.

An algaecide should also be helpful in removing algae that deplete the pond of oxygen, making it more difficult for the koi to breathe. All these can be purchased in large containers and can last a long time.

You only need to allocate around $100 to $200 on a monthly basis for the regular maintenance of your fish pond, and it will not be any different from the expenses on a yearly basis, which is just about $100 to $300.

Koi Food and Treats

Commercial koi food is probably the largest monthly expense that you will need for your koi, and it is not at all expensive, especially if you only have a few koi for pets.

Koi treats are also something that they will appreciate and would usually come in the form of bloodworms or brine shrimp.

Look at this quick breakdown of monthly and yearly costs for feeding a single koi fish:

ExpenseMonthly CostYearly Cost
Koi food$10 – $60$60 – $720
Fish treats$5 – $20$30 – $200

This expense remains consistent all year round. The only difference is that for spring and fall, choose food that will bulk your koi up and prepare it for winter. Meanwhile, use growth and color-enhancing foods during summer.

Parasite or Infection Medications

It is highly unlikely that you would need to bring your koi to the vet for parasite and infection medication, especially if you are doing a consistent job in the maintenance of your koi pond.

However, should there be an instance when you need over-the-counter medication for your koi, it shouldn’t be that expensive. Expect to be held back anywhere between $0 and $75 for this expense, as needed.

Other Potential Expenses

Japanese koi fish swimming in garden pond

Like other pets, buying a koi comes with other potential expenses on top of the most basic ones. Though many of these are optional, getting these creates the best experience for owning one.

Below are other expenses that may be added to the total cost of how much koi fish cost:

  • Land clearing: If you want a cleaner look for your koi fish pond, clearing services may cost you around $120 to $265 per hour to remove your yard of obstacles, like trees, stumps, boulders, and bushes.
  • Retaining walls: Accentuating your fish pond by building retaining walls that would also raise its water level will hold you back by about $40 to $345 per linear foot.
  • Auto feeder: If you have a busy lifestyle, getting an auto feeder for your koi makes this task hassle-free and would cost around $100 to $125.
  • Landscape lighting: This installation will further beautify your koi fish pond, especially at night. Depending on how grand your project is, allocate around $2,100 to $4,900 per project or around $100 to $400 per fixture.
  • Waterfall: Adding a waterfall creates a more natural effect. Your koi fish will love to swim in the water currents it creates. This will hold you back by $500 to $2,500.
  • Water fountain: A practical use of a water fountain is that it can complete the aeration system of your pond into a larger area. You can get this for around $1,100 to $4,300.
  • Pond plants: With prices ranging between $4 and $45, aquatic plants can offer shades in sunny locations and add to the pond’s natural oxygen supply.

Knowing these potential expenses can help you plan ahead and slowly upgrade your koi pond while being able to manage the costs through proper budgeting.

Places to Find Koi Fish for Sale and Adoption

Koi fish with beautiful colors and patterns

With how much koi fish cost, it is not advisable to take a risk and buy these pets from just anywhere. It is crucial that you only deal with credible breeders to get your money’s worth.

Here are some of the most trusted breeders of koi in the United States:

  • Kloubec Koi Farm – Being experts in aquaculture, Kloubec Koi Farm has over thirty years of experience in the field. Their 80-acre farm in Eastern Iowa is the largest in the United States. They take pride in producing healthy, well-nourished, and high-quality koi in a wide selection of colors, patterns, and types.
  • Blackwater Creek Koi Farms, Inc. – With over three decades of experience in fish production and long-standing relationships with Japanese koi mentors, this breeding farm produces the highest quality of standard fin koi and butterfly koi. They also commit to overnight shipping of their koi directly to the buyer’s doorstep, along with a 72-hour health guarantee.
  • Hanover Koi Farms (HKF) – Based in South Central Pennsylvania, Hanover Koi Farms is one of the largest retailers of both standard fin and butterfly koi in the country. Their main production focus is the health of their koi. They are also known for their strict quarantine and treatment protocol, along with their biosecurity measures.

However, if you are looking to start small and not spend too much, then adoption would be a more practical option for you to get a koi. Here are some koi rescues for your reference:

  • Sterling Animal Shelter, Inc. – Established in May 2019, their facility has an 80 x 50-foot pond that can hold over 65,000 gallons of water. It has multiple hiding areas, different depths, and various water features that their rescued koi enjoy while waiting for adoption season from May to October.
  • Majestic Koi Rescue – Located in Southern California, they focus on the rescue and rehoming of surrendered koi fish. Before you can adopt a koi from them, they will require that you have the appropriate facility for proper care of the koi.
  • The Puget Sound Koi Club – Based in Washington, this non-profit organization is composed of rescue volunteers and reiterates that all their rescues are free of charge. Upon rescue of a koi, it is taken to its quarantine tank for proper care and nourishment until it is rehomed through an auction or by giving to one of its club members.

Adopting a koi is not just more affordable but is also a noble act as you give an abandoned fish another shot at enjoying life. It is still more practical than buying from pet stores where you are not assured of their source.

Frequently Asked Questions

Feeding a group of koi fish in pond

Are Koi Fish Expensive to Buy?

Generally, koi are a more expensive type of fish compared to other aquatic pets. Their average price may even reach up to $20,000.

The hefty cost of koi is highly driven by factors such as quality, breeding difficulty, rarity, and possible importation fees.

What Is the Most Expensive Koi Fish?

The most expensive koi fish is named S Legend, a Kohaku sold for $1.8 million and bred in Japan by Sakai Fish Farm. S Legend is a 9-year-old fish adorned with bright red and orange splotches over its white body.

How Long Do Koi Fish Stay Alive?

In the wild, koi may live anywhere between 15 and 20 years, while they have a longer lifespan of around 25 to 40 years in captivity.

However, the oldest koi recorded to have ever lived was named Koi Hanako and reached up to 226 years old.

Final Thoughts

Even if the koi has the reputation of being an expensive breed of fish, it truly matches the value given to it by the market.

No matter the price of the koi that captured your attention, this guide should help keep your expenses in check by giving you awareness of everything you need to budget for in being a koi fish parent.

What do you think of koi prices and the expenses involved in owning them? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below!

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