A question many people have asked over the years: why are these fish so expensive? There is no real simple answer for this as there are so many aspects to consider. Once you have gone through all of the contributing factors you will better understand why the price of Koi is high and why it’s better to buy the more expensive koi and not from the bargain bin!
Koi fish are bred all over the world some in large mud ponds others in pre-designed concrete ponds. No matter the type of pond what one must consider is the contents. First off the parents or breeding stock in the pond in most cases are high quality koi with monetary values in excess of $100 000!! Now these fish must be fed all year round, and as they are fairly big and get fed only the best quality food it is a very high expense. Then there is the risk that these fish may by some chance catch a disease and die. The loss could very well be the cause of severe financial difficulties for the hatchery.
Any Koi keeper whom has been keeping Koi for a few years and have some adult fish would have experienced a spawning. During a spawning Koi lay thousands upon thousands of eggs, thus asking the question with so many eggs and babies why the high price? This is simple to understand; at the egg stage at least 20% of the eggs will normally either die off from rot or fungus or from not being fertilised. Once the babies are born at least another 20% die off before reaching 1 inch in length. Working on a generous figure of 60% reaching 1 inch in length most farms will start the culling process. Where all the deformed and clearly ‘bad’ fish will be discarded, easily counting for another 25% of the hatchlings. After the initial culling process the fry will continue on a high protein diet for a couple of weeks and on reaching 2 to 3 inches another session of culling will begin where another 15% is either discarded or ends up in the before mentioned bargain bin. The hard working Koi breeder is now left with 20% of the total spawning, that is, if he had a good year!
Once the remaining fish are tallied and sorted into quality classes they will be sold. This may mean a simple delivery if it is local, or a very costly flight if international! Your local Koi dealer will have to collect the fish from the airport, run through customs and get the fish back into his quarantine ponds before the bags run out of oxygen or even worst the water get contaminated by high levels of ammonia. Naturally the dealer now holds the risk of losing some fish, many fish or in worst case scenario all the fish within the first week of arrival!
I hope as the hobbyist you can appreciate the work that is not only put in by the hatchery or by your local Koi dealer just to have these fish available for you to buy, but that you can truly comprehend the cost involved of each stage of the process just to get them to a point where they can be sold! Never mind the risk involved, especially so, for your local dealer who invests large amounts of money by bringing these fish into his store while knowing the risk he takes.
In conclusion, the next time you visit your local dealer and enjoy the privilege of selecting that one fish that you really want from the huge selection he has to offer. Take a step back and think of all the processes that got them there, all the risks that were taken, and perhaps you will better understand the price of Koi.