Kohaku Koi Fish

Colors and Patterns Make this Beautiful Koi Variety Unique

Japanese Koi fish are something like living art exhibits. They are beautifully patterned and fun to watch swim around. These guys have been making ponds more fun for centuries, and none have been more prolific in doing so than the Kohaku Koi fish.

Kohaku Koi Fish with Different Colors
Kohaku Koi is a Variety of Ornamental Koi Fish

Kohaku Koi fish are the stereotype for the species as a whole. They’re big, red-and-white patterned, and very pretty. Originally from Japan, they’re now popular all over the world. They can be kept in any sized Koi pond and fed almost anything. Not only that, they can live for extremely long amounts of time!

If after reading this post, you're looking to buy Kohaku koi for your pond, check out our providers directory. There are both online and stores local to your area where you can get one or more kohaku to add to your pond.

Want the details? Here’s what you need to know about Kohaku fish.

How to Identify a Kohaku Koi Fish

Kohaku Koi fish are classic; they’re what people picture first when you say “Koi fish.” They can grow to be around 120 cm (or almost 50 inches!) but usually stay in the 60 cm (24 inches) range because of pond sizing. 

They’ve got ghostly white (or sometimes pinkish) fins at their sides, tail, and back and have significant, distinctive, and slightly weird eyes. Think Jaws, but harmless and googly-eyed.

Oh, and let’s quickly clear up a common misconception - Koi fish aren’t just giant goldfish. For some reason, people think they’re the same species, but although they both come from varieties of carp, they’re distinctly different animals. Sorry, your local fair isn’t handing these guys out in tiny plastic tanks.

Group of Koi with Different Colors
Koi that have a White Base and Red Markings Across their Body is Called Kohaku Koi

Types of Kohaku Koi Fish

The most remarkable thing about Kohaku are their colors and patterns. These guys are large fish and roundish with beautiful red markings(or orange) and white color all over their bodies. There are a few varieties of “Hi” (red) patterns.

  • Straight Hi Kohaku have a large, continuous splotch of red color along the back of the fish. These are the most common variety of Kohaku.
  • Inazuma Hi Kohaku have lightning-shaped or zig-zag red markings along their back.
  • Nidan Hi Kohaku have two large patches of an unconnected red pattern, usually one at the front and one at the tail.
  • Sandan Hi Kohaku have three patches of unconnected red along the fish’s body.
  • As the name implies, Goten Sakura Hi Kohaku have a pattern of red spots that resemble cherry blossoms. These are the rarest variety of Kohaku.

You can also identify a Kohaku Koi fish from its head pattern, which is sometimes done when showing the animals in competitions. They’re often bred specifically for a kind of pattern, making authentic, distinctive Kohaku of any variety well sought after.

Oramge and White Ginrin Koi with few Black Markings
Kohaku Koi with Orange Markings, One Black Koi with Orange Markings, and a Ginrin Koi

Where You Can Find Kohaku Koi Fish

The Kohaku Koi fish is one of the oldest varieties of Koi. They’ve been popular for thousands of years since their domestication from wild populations. Naturally preferring fresh, relatively still water, these beautiful fish are perfect for Koi ponds of almost any description.

As with most other varieties of Koi, breeders first bred the Kohaku Koi fish in Japan. Now, though, you can find these ornamental fish in markets around the world. They’re a common addition to landscape water features in the United States and some places in the United Kingdom.

You can buy a Kohaku Koi fish online, through many direct importers, or sometimes at your local pet store.

Photo of two koi with black markings
Kohaku Koi is one of the "Big Three" Koi Varieties

How to Care for a Kohaku Koi Fish

Caring for a Kohaku Koi fish is relatively easy. They’re omnivorous, meaning they will eat pretty much anything they can find in their garden pond, although a classic favorite is algae. Some professional Kohaku breeders will feed their tanks using a floating pallet of algae the fish can nibble on. There are also specialized pellets that you can buy to feed them.

Kohaku Koi fish will grow to fit in whatever pond you put them in, so make sure you’re ready to care for big fish if you’ve got a bigger feature pond! Unless you’re prepared to have hundreds of tiny Koi floating around every May through June, keep your male and female Kohaku Koi fish in different ponds.

If taken care of properly, a Kohaku Koi fish can live for upwards of 40 years. There have even been reports of them living more than 100 years at a time! Needless to say, these guys will be lovely, low-maintenance friends for many years to come.

A variety of Koi Fish and One is Chagoi Koi
Kohaku Koi with Other Brightly Colored Koi Fishes


Kohaku koi fish are not only easy to care for but their unique colors and patterns will add quite a bit of life and beauty to any koi pond. With proper care, especially with attention to maintaining the correct water temperature in the pond, these carp fish can provide pleasure and entertainment for decades.

Frank Salvatore

In 2015 our family moved into a house south of Denver, Colorado with a  koi pond.  Since that time I've learned to really enjoy the koi fish and the pond. This blog is dedicated to providing helpful hints and information for koi pond hobbyists - as well as those of you who just inherited a koi pond and are thinking NOW WHAT?

About Me

Hey there - I'm Frank Salvatore. In 2015 our family moved into a house south of Denver, Colorado that had a Koi pond. The problem was I knew absolutely NOTHING about koi ponds.

This blog is dedicated to providing helpful hints and information for koi pond hobbyists - as well as those of you who just inherited a koi pond and are thinking NOW WHAT?
Learn More About Me

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