How Long Do Koi Fish Live And Why?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 2nd, 2022

Exact answer: between twenty and thirty years

So, how old are koi fish? These fish may live for anything between 20 and 200 years. The typical life expectancy is between 20 and 50 years. If you want to keep koi fish, you must be completely committed!

school of koi fish

Koi fish are a popular type of fish that is used for both ornamental and recreational purposes. The scientific name for koi is Cyprinus rubrofuscus var. Koi is a popular colored type of Amur carp, and its full name is Nishikigoi, which translates as “brocaded carp” in Japanese.

Traditionally, they were found in Central Europe and Asia.

These are coldwater fish, but they may now be found in practically every corner of the planet because of their adaptation to different environments. Koi fish come in various hues, including red, white, black, blue, orange, and cream.

The average Lifespan of a Koi Fish

Although most carp fish have a lifespan of 6 to 20 years, depending on the species, the Koi carp fish has an average lifespan of 25 to 35 years.

Nonetheless, this average represents both the international variety of Koi fish species and the breeders.

However, if a professional Koi fish breeder takes proper care of the fish and optimizes their habitat, the koi fish can live to be 55 or even 60 years old!

On the other hand, a Koi fish reared outside of Japan will normally survive for 10 to 15 years only in a Koi pond.

Which Koi Fish Species Live the Longest?

The majority of Koi fish species have a rather lengthy lifespan. On the other hand, the Japanese species tend to live the longest, especially if they’re being maintained in captivity by Japanese fish breeders.

The Kohaku, a white koi fish with red spots on its body that may live for more than 50 years, is one of the most popular koi fish.

The Taisho Sanke is another well-known species, having a white base color with red and black spots all over their bodies.

How Long Do Koi Fish Live?

Type of Habitat of KoiLife Expectancy Period
Koi in Natural habitatSixty to Eighty years
Koi with amateur handlerFive to Seven years
Koi with expert handlerTwenty to Thirty years

A koi fish’s lifespan is determined by various factors, including its genetics, the amount of experience of its owner, and the circumstances of its confinement habitat.

Domestic koi fish have an average lifetime of 15 years and are koi variations typically found in western aquariums.

Japanese koi fish, which are cultivated from ancient Japanese gene pools, may live for 40 years on average, with some lasting well into their 60s.

Novice fishkeepers will unwittingly reduce their koi fish’s lifetime to about 3-5 years simply because they lack the expertise necessary to build and preserve an environment that allows a koi fish to live longer.

An expert koi owner can provide optimum conditions for a koi fish to live an average of 25-35 years. In this situation, introducing a koi youngster into your aquarium will almost certainly result in a lifelong companion.

Why do Japanese koi fish have longer lives?

Japanese koi have the “longest documented longevity” of any ornamental carp type.

Hanako, the oldest documented koi specimen, resided in Japan and survived 226.

Hanako, who stood 27 inches tall, died of old age in 1977. Her age was established by the rings on her scales, much like the age of a tree.

Of course, Hanako’s exceptional longevity is not the standard among Japanese koi fish, but they have the longest koi kind lifespans.

So, why do Japanese koi fish outlive other ornamental carp species?

Knowledge of koi-raising in Japanese culture

Western fishkeepers have far less expertise in cultivating traditional Japanese koi types.

Meanwhile, Japanese culture has an advantage in growing koi, with expertise passed down via generations of koi fishkeepers.

For one reason, western koi breeders are obsessed with producing fast-growing koi fish variations, which has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the average lifetime of domestic koi types.

Koi genes from ancient Japan

Because Japanese rice farmers were the initial breeders of current Japanese ornamental carp types, they had the opportunity to hand-pick only the best koi specimens, ensuring that the koi gene pool remained diversified and pristine.

Even when koi fishkeeping became popular in the Western world, the best Japanese Koi never left their motherland.

Japanese Koi hibernate.

The life cycle of a Japanese koi fish is known to include periodic phases of hibernation throughout the severe and cold Japanese winters.

Living in a cooler climate and reducing their metabolism for many months each year is one of the most significant elements influencing the Japanese Koi’s extended lifetime.

Hanako lived to reach her 226th birthday because she was nurtured in a colder climate, hibernating throughout the winters.

Factors Influencing Koi Fish Lifespan

Numerous main aspects might affect the lifespan of your koi fish in either a good or bad way:

  • Nutrition
  • Water Quality
  • Environment
  • Wintering
  • Genetics

While good care is essential for koi fish longevity, genetics also play a role. Excellent genetics are the basis for the good health required to allow them to live a long and prosperous life.

How can I ensure that my koi live a long and healthy life?

Step 1: Ensure proper filtration and water quality.

As we have stated several times, water quality is the most important factor influencing fish health.

Step 2: Refrain from overstocking your pond.

We realize that koi are extremely little when they are young. It’s difficult to imagine the lovely 4-6″ fish turning into a >24″ monster. But they have the potential to grow to that size. It is advised that each koi have 250 gallons of water to call its own, with pregnant females needing 500 gallons.

The majority of koi owners will overestimate their water-to-fish ratio. We know this to be true. If you can create a larger pond, that’s fantastic, but it’s unlikely. And we’re not advocating you kill off a particular percentage of your fish; be conscious that you’re overstocked and will most likely face a filtration or space constraint in the future.

Step 3: Stop purchasing new fish.

New fish are the second leading source of disease in koi ponds, trailing only poor water quality. Most koi owners are not prepared for a thorough quarantine, and the protocols of pet or koi retailers vary greatly.

Most of our koi owners are looking for the “ideal” fish to round out their collection. We highly advise you to avoid the desire. It reduces the amount of time your filtration has to function, the amount of room your fish have, and the possibility of illness entering your pond.

Step 4: Maintain your home with care.

Remember the most common cause of mortality in older fish? Someone forgets to turn off the hose. When I was working at the aquarium, it was assumed that everyone would overflow some system at some time during their employment. Fortunately, mine occurred in our quarantine area, where no one was present, and the floor drains cleaned it up.

I pulled my hair down and wrapped the rubber band around my wrist every time I filled a tank after that. It’s difficult to ignore that reminder when you’re filthy and sweaty and despise things around your wrist.

Choose something that works for you and stick to it, no matter how many times you say to yourself, “Oh, I won’t forget I’m filling the pond.” Set a reminder on your phone, read a book while you look after your filling, or use an irritating cue, like as a tight rubber band around your finger or wrist.

Step 5: Visit your aquatic veterinarian regularly.

Preventative medication is essential for the longevity of any animal, including yourself. Why do you believe your doctor advises annual physical and cancer screenings? Because catching anything early raises the odds of successful therapy. By giving your fish a yearly or biannual exam, your veterinarian can detect and treat health concerns, including cancer, earlier.

Is there a cost? Without a doubt! As with any other aspect of healthcare, you get what you pay for. Your neighbor who attended a weekend koi course and offered to examine your fish for free will never be able to provide you with the results of a trained, experienced aquatic veterinarian. We do exist.

Can they use ultrasound to scan your fish for cancer? We can do it. If you cannot locate someone in your area, your local veterinarian of any specialty will be able to speak with us. We would be delighted to educate any veterinarian on how to see fish.

If you follow these procedures, your koi will be well prepared for a long, healthy, and happy existence!


Koi fish generally live for roughly a half-century. However, when kept with an inept fish handler, they survive for a shorter amount of time. They can, however, survive for two to three decades if kept with expert fish handlers.

When koi fish are left alone in their native habitats, they live the longest. However, this lessens when they are housed alongside fish handlers in artificial habitats.


Editorial Staff

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