Butterfly koi – koi with long fins or American koi – are NOT, as many people believe, a cross between koi and goldfish.
However, you can read many stories about the origin of this type of koi.
The Americans claim to be the creators of this new variety. Wyatt LeFever from Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery in the state of North Carolina in the US was launched in the early 90s to this adventure.
Nothing but the beginning of his business is already a real adventure – reflecting the typical American pioneer spirit (to read the article, click here).
Always searching for new products, one day LeFever discovered in a pet magazine an advertisement of a company offering koi with long fins. When they arrived, he and his team took a big disappointment: These were no koi. Not at all. They looked like wild carp with grey and brown colors but – yes – with long fins.
Later they found out, that these fish came from a wild carp population that lived in the ditches and canals of Indonesia. Nobody seems to know the origin of these fish, their exact species or how they acquired the long fins and tails.
These fish were not beautiful and not considered commercially important, but the team of Blue Ridge decided to let them reach sexual maturity and put them in a natural pond (mud pond) for 2 years.
After this time they had grown and gained considerable weight. But they were still “ugly”.
Here the idea of crossing them with some beautiful koi had emerged and so the experiment started: 2 female with long fins with 2 male koi variety ogon (=metalic) in a pool of 8,000 square meters surface.
The tension was big. What would happen? Would they be breeding? How would it be ?
Spawning was very rich and the growth very rapid. Bur when they could distinguish juveniles, the disappointment was great: Almost every fish had the same “ugly” color as the wild carp.
At first they thought of emptying the entire pond. However, they decided to let them grow until the end of the season.
And thank goodness they made this decision.
As they got bigger, some very interesting fish began to appear in the mix. A certain percentage of them had long fins, with a luminous metallic glow, which could be described as “pearled”.
When Randy LeFever (now the co-owner and president of Blue Ridge) saw them, he exclaimed: “They remind me of butterflies”. With THIS, a name and a new product was born.
From this moment on, the colors were developed, some crosses were made, it was confirmed that these “hybrid” would not be sterile etc.
During this discovery of butterfly koi, it seamed that in Japan also some breeders started breeding butterfly koi.
Who was the first to develop ???
I dare to launch the theory that maybe the Japanese have launched the experiment before the Americans. But definitely Americans were the first ones in doing advertising and marketing them.
Also, keep in mind that butterfly koi breeding in Japan is still not 100% “good view”.
The AIRINKAI – THE Koi Association which amongst others deals with monitoring and sanctioning koi competitions – does not accept butterfly koi in competitions. Their reasons are:
- Body Shape: The shape of the koi body is one of the most important elements when assessing koi. While a koi should have an oval / round body, butterfly koi have rather a thin body.
- fin-body ratio: the ratio of fins compared to the body is important in competitions but can not be applied in the same way to butterfly koi.
- pattern: butterfly koi are still very young and patterns are not yet as well developed as the “normal” koi who have more years of experience, breeding and improvement.
In many countries, butterfly koi are still excluded from competitions. But in America, the AKCA introduced new criteria, so butterfly koi could also participate in competitions.
That’s probably why, butterfly koi have the nickname “American koi” since these fishes receives the highest appreciation in this country.