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Butterfly Koi

By | Last Updated: 28th October 2020

Butterfly koi is a variety of ornamental fish developed during the middle half of the 20th century by Japanese breeders to increase the traditional koi’s hardiness. The other fish involved in the butterfly koi’s creation is the longfin river carp, also responsible for its elongated finnage. Wyatt LeFever, a famous koi breeder’s son, pointed out this species’ closeness to butterflies, also giving them their name. Besides Japan, where the butterfly koi originated, their popularity has also spread to North America, where they are nicknamed American Koi.

Butterfly Koi

Quick Information

Other NamesDragon koi, dragon carp, longfin koi
TypeFreshwater fish
Conservation StatusNot recorded
Behavioral CharacteristicsPeaceful, friendly, adjustable
School Size3 – 4
Physical Traits (What do they look like)Slender body, hardy built, long, flowing finnage (that gets more attractive with the fish’ age), long barbells (forming elaborate designs as they increase in length), and large pompom-like growth around their nostrils
ColorsWhite, orange, cream, yellow, red, black, and blue
Size (How big do they get)Big; 92 – 102 cm (36 – 40 inches)
Lifespan25 – 35 years
Sexual DimorphismPresent; Males are slender, while females appear rounded especially when they carry eggs in their abdomen. The male butterfly kois also have pointed and solid-colored pectoral fins than their female counterparts
Probable DiseasesFin rot, cloudy eye
Approximate Price$ 25 onwards
Butterfly Koi Fish
Dragon Koi Fish

Tank Setup & Care Sheet Details

Care LevelIntermediate
Tank Size30 gallons (113.5 liters) for juveniles; 50 gallons (189.2 liters) for adults (per fish)

Water Parameters

pH Level6.8 – 7
Temperature36-90° F
Hardness9 – 18 dGH
Aquarium Water FlowModerate

Tank Ambience

Substrate TypeFine gravel, rocks, hardy plants
Tank MatesCompatible with: Goldfish, common pleco, tiger barb, golden orfe, and common barbel

Incompatible with: Fin nipping species, particularly those of the tetra family like the emperor tetra,  serpae tetra, and neon tetra
Suitable Position in the TankTop or middle
Baby Butterfly Koi


DietFlakes, pellets, live of frozen foods like daphnia and bloodworms
Frequency2 -3 times a day
Butterfly Koi Size
Longfin Koi

Important Things to Know For Fish Keepers

  • Many owners have expressed concern about their butterfly koi not growing to the size it should. The reason could be a lack of space, stress, or even inappropriate water conditions, which need to be addressed immediately.
  • Butterfly koi tends to jump, so attaching a tight lid to the aquarium is essential. There may be ample reasons behind their jumping from excitement to agony. However, too much of it could result in injury to their fins. So, make sure that their dwelling place is stress-free, for which partial water change is needed on a routine basis.


Q. What are the different types of butterfly koi fish?

The different butterfly koi fish species include asagi, bekko, doitsu, ginrin, karasu, kohaku, platinum ogon, yamabuki ogon, matsuba, showa, sanke, shusui, tancho, and onke.

Q. What is the difference between a standard koi and butterfly koi?

The main difference between the standard koi and butterfly koi are there fins. While the regular koi has moderately sized fins, the butterfly koi has exceptionally long, flowing fins.

Q. Are butterfly koi more expensive?

The butterfly koi are on the expensive side than the standard koi since they are a product of selective breeding and also a little pricey to keep.

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