Nishikigoi, in Japanese means “fish of beautiful colors” and is the word whose abbreviation is koi. This is how this species of fish that amaze and give a lot of life to ponds around the world is perfectly described. Today we want to tell you some facts about its origin, meaning, colors, and more. Do we dive in?

Eastern origin

Although their name is Japanese, they are an ancient species originating in China as there are writings about the breeding of this carp since 500 b.C. It took thousands of years for it to become an important symbol for Japan, as it was around 1920 that these ponds with colorful fish became popular, thanks to the emperor of that time, Hirohito, who received a koi fish as a gift, so he placed it in the pond of the Tokyo Imperial Palace. This is how these beautiful fish soon spread to gardens and parks across the country.

A legend of perseverance

The koi fish is considered a symbol of perseverance, strength, and good luck because due to its legend this meaning has persisted strongly.

It is said that many years ago in China, the Blue River that flowed from the sky and the Gold River that flowed from the earth —also known as the Yellow River—, were separated by the Dragon Portal. It was only in the Golden River that all aquatic species could swim freely, but it was the koi fish that stood out for their bright colors and their willingness to cross the Blue River through the Dragon Portal.

To achieve this, the koi fish knew that they had to swim against the current and climb a very large waterfall, the reward of the gods. The fish that succeeded would get golden wings to fly. After many attempts and several defeated koi, a very small group kept jumping to reach the top, this attracted the attention of some demons and they placed more traps on the way so that they could not achieve it.

After 100 years of perseverance fighting against the water, a single koi managed to reach the top of the waterfall. He was thus recognized by the gods and they turned him into a powerful golden dragon.

Because they were determined to tackle all the obstacles in this traditional legend, koi fish today continues to be a symbol of strength, perseverance, and even good fortune —meaning Velas Resorts has embraced the koi fish ponds on some of their properties, and the prestigious Koi Bar at the Grand Velas.

Koi Fish
Photo via Freepik

Other curiosities about koi

  • They are omnivores, feeding on insects, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and even meat.
  • They can exceed 17 lb in weight and measure almost 3 ft in length.
  • They live for more than 30 years, and some say that some have lived up to 200 years.
  • There are about 30 color combinations.
  • They usually hibernate in winter, when temperatures drop more than 42 °F.
  • The orange koi fish is the most popular, but the black color is the most valued since it is considered a protector of the home against negative energies.
  • In Japan some are dedicated to training koi, they teach them tricks such as eating from your hand or having them come to you with the sound of a bell.
Pond with koi fish in Velas Vallarta.