Difference Between Koi and Goldfish

When we visit a mall or a restaurant, we notice small attractive fish in aquariums. These fishes in the aquariums grab our attention with their bright body colors.


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The most common color which we find attractive is deep orange. Usually, these colors are present on goldfish. Goldfish is orange and shiny.

Goldfish and Koi fish are similar fishes in terms of appearance. These are used majorly for decorative purposes.

Koi vs Goldfish

The difference between koi and goldfish is the appearance of their body. Koi fish have projection-like sensory organs on the mouth, called barbels.

Barbels are small sensory organs near the mouth, which have taste buds helpful in searching for food in muddy water. Goldfish lack in these barbels.

This makes a big difference between both the fish and makes it easy to distinguish them.

Koi vs Goldfish

Koi fish domestically originated from Japan. Common species of these koi fish are known as carp. Koi fish are the colored and beautifully patterned subspecies of Amur carp.

It’s said that koi fish is originated from the species of Cyprinus Carpio (Carp). Koi fish have barbels, most people recognize koi fish with these barbels.

Goldfish are also originated from East Asia and were developed in China. Similar to koi fish, goldfish are also originated from species of Carp.

Goldfish were created by the selective breed, the Prussian Carp, which is a light olive green-colored eatable fish. Goldfish are more than a thousand years old species.

Then they were developed to different color mutations.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonKoiGoldfish
Originated speciesKoi fish is originated from the species, Cyprinus Carpio.Created by crossbreeding of Prussian Carp.
Typical length and weightKoi fish are 20 to 30 inches long and weigh about 10 to 15 Kgs.Goldfish are 2 to 6 inches long and weigh about 90 to 200 grams.
HabitatHigh maintenance is required for koi fish.Moderate maintenance is enough for Goldfish.
Body StructureElongated body.Could be elongated, round, and even egg-shaped
LifespanKoi fish have a lifespan of around 20 to 35 years.Goldfish have a lifespan of around 10 to 15 years.

What are Koi?

Cyprinus Carpio known as Carp is the species of fish originally found in East Asia, used as food fish. Koi is originated from Japan.

These fish are color variants of Amur Carp, used for decorative purposes over years. “Koi” is a Japanese word.

This fish breeding process was started in the early 19th century. They are known for their bright and attractive colors and pattern styles.

Koi fish usually has an elongated body structure.

Koi fish are intelligent creatures, as they can be trained to recognize their owners. Japanese consider koi fish as the symbols of strength and endurance.

They use koi fish for ornamental purposes in their ponds. We have approximately 20 different koi fish variants. Koi fish can live over 100 years.

The average lifespan of koi fish is around 35 years. The oldest koi fish recorded is around 220 years. They grow about 3 to 4 feet long.

Usually, koi fish are maintained in ponds. As the size of the koi fish ranges from 25 to 30 inches, aquariums can’t facilitate koi fish.

They require well-oxygenated freshwater ponds with low waste. They can even tolerate extreme temperatures.

The moderate conditions for dwelling places of a koi fish are temperature ranges around 60 to 80 Fahrenheit. And pH of the water in the tank should be around 7.0.

What are Goldfish?

Goldfish are created by crossbreeding of selective species of Prussian Carp. Goldfish also belong to the carp family.

Goldfish are said to originate from East Asia, China. Goldfish are small and round ornamental fishes. Goldfish do not have any kind of barbels.

Goldfish are seen in various patterns, scales, and tail forms. Goldfish can be observed in different colors and body structures with selective cross-breeding of fish.

Goldfish are sensitive fish. Most of the goldfish are commercial, used for decorative purposes only. Their cross-breeding is also not easy.

Commercial goldfish are created to live indoors. They are sensitive and require regular attention.

And there are some fishes which can dwell in outdoor ponds also. Goldfish have more hunger.

Always looks for food and consumes more fish food. The typical life span of goldfish is about 10-15 years.

As the size of goldfish is usually around 2 to 5 inches, they are mostly seen in small aquariums in houses and public places.

Goldfish maintenance is not that easy, it’s expensive and includes regular checks. They require a well-maintained tank.

With utmost care and the best diet, goldfish can survive up to 15 years. They should not be stressed. Stress leads to loss of appetite and illness of fish.

Their tank should be well maintained by regular filtration and water changes. Water should be warm and good pH levels are to be maintained.

Main Differences Between Koi and Goldfish

  1. The main difference will always be the origin of the species, koi fish is bred from Cyprinus Carpio(usually referred to as common carp). While Goldfish are created by selective crossbreeding of Prussian Carp.
  2. Both the fish look-alike during their initial days. But as they grow older koi fish have small sensory organ projections on the mouth, barbels but goldfish don’t.
  3. Koi fish and goldfish also differ in the fins structure too. Koi fish have attached dorsal fins. And goldfish have detached dorsal fins.
  4. We have around 200 varieties of goldfish with different fin styles, colours, eyes (bubble eye, scope eye), body structure. While koi fish are long fish and we can’t find many varieties in koi fish comparatively.
  5. Koi fish are massive and larger compared to full-grown goldfish. That’s why koi fish are placed in ponds and big aquariums. Whereas small indoor aquariums are enough for goldfish.
Difference Between Koi and Goldfish


  1. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja509340c
  2. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.2307/1538211
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