How Long Do Koi Fish Live? All About The Koi Carp

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How long do koi fish live

Are you curious to know how long do Koi fish live? Koi carp (Cyprinus carpio) are known to have one of the longest lifespans among vertebrates. The oldest carp died in 1977 and was 226 years old!

In my work teaching people how to care for aquariums, many beginning aquarists ask me why these fish are short-lived. The truth is that most of the time they end up dying prematurely because of improper aquarium conditions. When kept in good environmental conditions these fish are secular.

In this article, I will talk about how long Kois live. I’ll also talk about general care for the species and some tips I’ve learned working on Koi farms.

How Long Does A Koi Live In Captivity

These fish are long-lived animals, some individuals can live more than a century, something spectacular for the species. Koi’s lifespan is typically around 40 years in captivity.

It is not uncommon to see people with Koi fish in the aquarium. These fish grow to very large sizes (they can easily exceed 12 pounds), so they should be kept in ponds.

In addition, they are messy fish, which produce a lot of organic loads, quickly degrading aquarium water. This is the main reason for the premature death of these fish in an aquarium. In large ponds, Koi will live happily and healthily for a long time.

Koi Fish Behavior

They are very peaceful fish and like to live in groups. It is a very docile species that quickly gets used to the people around it, demonstrating some behaviors such as letting itself be petted and even eating straight from the tutor’s hand.

Koi is an active fish, always foraging the substrate looking for some food. They come in a multitude of bright colors and are definitely not shy fish.

Ideal Tank Mates

Despite being friendly, the ideal is that Koi live only among themselves. They are not aggressive fish, but when together with other species some problems can occur.

Because carp have to be kept in outside tanks, the tank mate must withstand cold temperatures.

One of the most popular tankmate species for Koi is the various varieties of Goldfish. Despite this, coexistence is not always peaceful. Strangely enough, I’ve seen Goldfish gouging out carp’s eyes countless times.

It is certainly a strange behavior, but it is well described among the various keepers of these fish.

Goldfish would be the ideal tank mate as they are compatible in size and support the same water characteristics. However, when mixing these species, you must keep an eye out and avoid aggression.

Bottom fish, as long as they are peaceful, can be kept without problems. Avoid Chinese Algae eaters and herbivorous plecos, these fish like to feed on the mucous layer secreted by Koi, causing accidents and injuries.

Small fish are tolerated without problems, but they end up eaten by the Koi. Other species of carp can be kept together with Koi without problems.

Koi are valuable fish, with a lot of symbolism and meaning. Therefore, they are traditionally kept only between them. This is the only way to avoid accidents and make sure the carp are always healthy.


Koi fish are omnivorous and bottom-feeding, eating just about anything in their environment. Both juveniles and adults feed on a variety of animal proteins, benthic organisms, and plant material. Everything is on the menu, small animals like worms, eggs, larvae, smaller fish, crustaceans, algae, plants, slime, and debris.

It is a problematic fish, as it is very resistant and adapts easily to the environment. Because of these factors, Koi are considered invasive animals in much of the world. They cause a lot of damage to native fauna and flora, as they are efficient predators of larvae and eggs of native fish and insects.

On top of that, it still feeds on marginal vegetation and revolves around the entire substrate, increasing the turbidity of the water and decreasing the penetration of light, something important for several microorganisms.

In aquariums and lakes these fish feed on commercial fish food without any problems. They are greedy and are always hungry. There are dozens of types of specialized feed for this species, with all the nutrients these fish need to stay strong and healthy. You can also offer snacks like pieces of vegetables or fruit, they love it.

As for frequency, it is preferable to feed them several times a day, in small amounts. This prevents excess feed from remaining in the water, which quickly degrades the water quality.

It is essential not to overfeed. Carp have a tendency to become obese. When we overfeed our fish, they produce more debris, which quickly pollutes the water.

The amount of food you should feed varies depending on the size of your fish and the weather. When it is hot the animals will eat more, when it is cold they will reduce their food intake. Offer enough to be consumed in 2 minutes.


In its origin in China, about 2000 years ago, common carp, gray-green in color, were bred and selected. These fish were the first to go through the process of artificial selection to improve their ornamental characteristics.

Through these selections and crosses, breeders developed the various patterns and colors of Koi carp we know today.

It is believed that the first specimens obtained by the first breeders exhibited white and red coloration, followed by red, black and white.

It is an oviparous fish. Spawns in roots or between plants in floating or marginal vegetation in shallower locations. The eggs are adhesives, easily adhering to the decoration.

For breeding in aquariums or lakes, it is necessary to use plants or floating mops for the eggs to adhere. Still, most of the eggs end up sinking to the bottom. A fine mesh net under the bottom will help to collect them.

In the wild, these fish usually perform a considerable migration to reproduce. They breed in calm, mild waters (around 64 F).

Reproduction is seasonal. Occurs from August to February. The amount of eggs produced varies according to the age of the female that spawned them, not infrequently reaching 300,000 eggs.

The spawning season depends directly on the climate and water temperature to begin to occur. In places with warmer climates, they start in August, while in colder regions, usually in late September or even October.

Health And Diseases

Although they are very resistant animals, like all living beings, they can contract diseases and health conditions.

Controlling the quality of the water in our aquariums and lakes can be difficult, but it is a vital part of keeping these animals healthy. Keeping the environment always in pristine condition is the best way to prevent carp diseases.

When sick, these animals can show some physical signs. The main ones are:

  • White or red spots, bruises, or spots;
  • Open gills and labored breathing;
  • “Velvet” or appears white/grey on the body or coming off the body or fins of the fish;
  • Frayed fins;
  • Pale coloring;
  • Whitish tufts;
  • Worms (red or whitish filaments) hanging from the body or anus;
  • Swollen abdomen;
  • Bristly scales;
  • Bulky or cloudy eyes.
  • Other symptoms are behavioral, such as:
  • Apathetic animal;
  • Standing on the surface or at the bottom of the tank;
  • Fish rubbing against the decor;
  • Wheezing;
  • Loss of buoyancy;
  • Erratic swimming.

Different diseases can have common symptoms, so it is important to carefully observe the fish. Only then will we be able to correctly discover the disease that affects them and the effective treatment.

Main Causes Of Carp Diseases

The main cause of the disease will always be the same. Or bad environmental quality. Or infection through non-quarantined animals inserted into the environment.

The different diseases that affect carp can have different origins. There are many causative agents of the disease. It could be a virus, a bacterium, a protozoan, a fungus, or a metazoan.

Prevention for all infectious diseases basically consists of biosafety standards:

  • Quarantine new animals before releasing them into the main tank
  • Maintenance and proper cleaning of the aquarium or pond;
  • Animals of good origin, obtained from reliable sellers;
  • Always keep the tank water in ideal conditions for the fish;
  • Use equipment such as filters and heaters correctly assembled and sized;
  • Offer great quality food in the correct quantity and frequency.

Ways To Increase The Lifespan Of A Koi Fish

The ways to increase the lifespan of Koi are the same rules for keeping them free from disease. Basically, take care of the quality of the tank and the food.

Koi, like other captive fish, live in closed systems. They depend on us, the tutors, to provide everything they need. If we don’t provide the basic necessities for the fish, they will suffer and they won’t be able to live very long.

The most important part is to provide a quality environment.

Because they reach large sizes (up to 4 feet), it is not recommended to keep these fish in aquariums. Indoor aquariums are unlikely to be large enough and large enough to support a group of these animals.

Keeping these fish down to size is unfeasible, as the fish will atrophy and live under stress and suffering. In addition, due to the amount of bioload generated by the fish, the aquarium will need constant water changes and an oversized filtration system.

The best space we can provide these fish is large outdoor ponds above 2500 gallons. These animals come from cold waters and harsh winter places. Because they can enter a hibernation-like state, they can survive freezing during periods of winter.

The Ideal Koi Pond

Ensuring the best living conditions for the species is the only way to be sure that the fish will live for a long time. One of the best ways to do this is to set up a unique tank, with everything the species needs to thrive.

To do this accurately, we need to consider three main points: lake size, filtration system, and water parameters.


Have a lake with a minimum volume of 2500 gallons. The recommendation is to keep 1 carp for every 250 gals.


An essential point is that the filters in the aquarium are like our lungs. These fish produce a lot of organic matter. If a properly dimensioned filtration system is necessary, this is the only way to guarantee water quality.


To ensure the quality of life and health of your carp, you need to maintain the recommended parameters for the species.

We must always carry out tests to check if all parameters are stable and within the ideal.

Among these parameters are:

  • Ammonia and nitrites: Always at 0;
  • Ph: 7 and 7.6;
  • Temperature: 60 to 77 F.

How Long Do Koi Fish Live? Summing Things Up

Koi carps are very strong and durable animals, and can live for many years when well cared for. In irregular environments like cramped aquariums and poor water quality, unfortunately they will not live long.

Always keep your Koi at the highest volume you can afford. Offer a high quality feed and keep the water clean and the tank impeccable. That way your Koi fish will live for many yearsto come!


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