As if regular koi were not already visually striking enough, butterfly koi provide an entirely new level of drama and graceful beauty. These fish are very similar to their koi carp cousins but do have some very drastic differences, including their appearance. Let’s learn a bit about what makes butterfly koi so special.
The Differences Between Koi and Butterfly Koi
At a glance, there are some visual differences that separate butterfly koi from traditional koi carp. Butterfly koi have fins that never stop growing, creating dramatic, long fins that trail behind the fish as it swims. Additionally, they are slightly slimmer and have longer barbels on their face than traditional koi carp.
Aside from these obvious variations, butterfly koi are not actually koi at all. In fact, they are the result of crossing traditional koi carp and their relative long-finned carp, creating an entirely new subspecies. Butterfly koi can also be produced from a traditional koi mating with a butterfly koi, as well, since they are genetically similar and mate in comparable ways.
How to Care for Baby Butterfly Koi
Caring for baby butterfly koi is basically the same process as caring for traditional koi. Butterfly koi care is, as a whole, comparable to traditional koi aside from the fact that butterfly koi are slightly more hardy and can survive better in unstable environments due to their ties to wild long-finned carps.
Koi carp, butterfly or not, will often feed on their own young and the young of others. Due to this, remove the eggs from the pond and place them into a nursery tank as soon as you can. Even better, move the two fish you wish to breed into a separate pond or tank and let the entire process occur in the holding area instead of the actual pond. This makes it easier to monitor and is a simpler process since you can just remove the two adults when the babies are born to prevent koi cannibalism.
Once the eggs have been laid, they will hatch within around four days. This gives you a very small window to prepare so be ready. Take a hands-off approach at first, letting your fry develop before feeding them. They will generally be able to swim and will probably huddle around their airstones when they are ready to eat.
From there, you just increase the size of the food. Start with brine shrimp or mashed hard-boiled egg yolk and work them up to normal baby koi food over the course of a couple of months or so. The key is to take this slowly to prevent digestive issues or other medical problems with your fish.
How long do butterfly koi live?
Like regular koi, butterfly koi can live more than forty years if properly cared for. They are a hardy species and tend to thrive quite well in most basic koi conditions. They do require a large amount of space, like traditional koi, and must be fed regularly since they are ravenous aquatic friends.
There are some common illnesses that plague koi carp in general, including butterfly koi since they are genetically similar to traditional koi in many ways. Bacterial infections like Aeromonas hydrophila, a disorder characterized by lethargy and loss of scales in areas with painful lesions, and Flavobacterium columnare, an infection that causes low oxygen intake, lethargy, and incredibly painful legions all over the body, along with semi-permanent gill damage. To treat bacterial disorders, move your baby butterfly koi to a quarantine tank immediately to prevent spreading and begin treatments with appropriate, vet recommended compounds.
Parasites are also common, especially in outside carp enclosures. Ichthyophthirius multifilis, also known as Ich, is a common disease across all fish species caused by parasitic growth that looks like salt crystals. Fish lice can also cause issues that are similar and parasitic infections, in general, can spread rapidly so quarantine and treatment is needed immediately. There are many other parasites that can impact your fish so be sure to have a good understanding of what is normal and what is concerning to help you figure out what exact parasite is present.
Fish can get viruses, as well. The most common one is actually a form of the herpes virus, called Cyprinid Herpesvirus 1. This virus creates waxy wart-like growths all over the fish’s body and can spread quickly through a population. The treatment is similar to those of parasitic and bacterial issues.
Despite the presence of health concerns within the species, butterfly koi are very hardy and handle treatments well. You should not overly worry about the presence of these disorders. If you keep your pond clean and generally care for your fish well they should be fine aside from a random mishap.
Butterfly Koi Fin Care
Since butterfly koi have long, trailing fins, there are a few extra things you must do to ensure they do not injure themselves. The biggest concern is ensuring their are no sharp edges or movable areas to trap their fins. This is a concern with traditional koi as well but does pose a bigger risk to butterfly koi. Their fins are delicate and can be torn or otherwise injured if they come in contact with hard surfaces.
They to make sure all rocks and other pond adornments are smoothed and not jagged in any way. Also check to make sure the rocks will not fall and trap the koi if bumped, as well. This is vital to their safety and longevity.
Butterfly Koi: A Natural Beauty
Butterfly koi are fantastic pets and create a dynamic, intense appearance when added to any pond. If you are considering these fish, do not fret. They are very similar to regular koi carp aside from a few different facets of their presence and are easy to care for.