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The Weird and Wonderful World of Koi Keeping

10th Sep 2021

The weird and wonderful world of koi keepers is quite a fascinating one! Koi obsession knows no bounds with owners sometimes going to court over disputes, going without food to feed their pets and paying prices up to the millions for even a single koi (in Oct 2018 a single koi was sold at a Japanese auction for a price equivalent to £1.4m, making it the most expensive koi ever sold).

Indeed the devotion of some keepers means that they will go to great expense to ensure their finned friend’s comfort. Some will sustain huge heating bills to keep their pond fully heated just to avoid their koi going into a dormant state in winter and languishing inactive at the bottom of the pond. One enamoured keeper even commented, "I would rather wear extra jumpers in the house than see my koi miserable." Others let their own food bill be outstripped, in order to pay for a gourmet koi diet. One owner speaking of a friend said, "They feed them only the best and will pay £60-£70 for a 10-kilo bag of food, which doesn't last long."

Lots of celebrities have also caught the koi bug, with famous faces as diverse as Brian Blessed, Nigel Benn and Adam Ant and even Freddie Mercury all being keen enthusiasts. Kate McGill is an international koi judge who in talking about the appeal of koi says "They are incredibly beautiful. They are referred to as living jewels, and that's what they are. They really, really capture your imagination. They're incredibly friendly, they're not like any other fish. I've even heard they will turn upside down to have their stomachs scratched."

And if you think that’s a little bit out there, other reports include that of someone in the habit of rewarding koi with a baby’s dummy filled with honey that they happily suck on while he tickles them under the chin. Some people are even reported to bring their koi to the surface for a little kiss, and one truly bizarre story from Japan even tells of a koi that comes up to take a drag from a cigarette and then manages to blow some fairly decent smoke rings!