The fish above is worth $1.8 million (more than R25 million). It won grand champion at the All Japan Koi Show in 2017, and is the most expensive Koi fish ever sold.
Koi may just look like an oversized goldfish, but they're not even remotely related. Koi are actually a type of carp, and today they're some of the most expensive pet fish in the world. But why?
Koi were originally raised in Japan in the 1700s when rice farmers first began breeding them for their distinct colours and patterns, similar to how we breed dogs for their specific traits. And just like prized dog breeds, Japanese people take Koi breeding very seriously.
There are regular competitions to name the top Koi. Judges and buyers pay attention to how healthy its skin looks, its size and body shape, and how gracefully the fish moves in the water. But the most important trait of all is the Koi's colouring.
The best Koi have a good balance of colours and patterns according to their variety. For example, there are Koi with light blue spots, ones with large red patches on their backs, or all-metallic gold.
But the most winning fish often just boil down to these three varieties. They're often the most valuable. They dominate the shows, winning nearly every major category each year. And the better-looking the fish, the more a buyer is willing to pay.
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