All About Koi Ghost Fish

All About Koi Ghost Fish

If you are first beginning to look into koi fish and the different sub-varieties, you may notice that there are a ton of different types and colors to choose from.

This includes classic color hues like white and red and more specialized fish with full metallic color or other special patterns. 

One of these incredible, metallic fish is the ghost koi.

All About Koi Ghost Fish

Let’s take a look at the history of the koi ghost fish and see what makes them such a wonderful addition to any koi pond!

What is a Koi Ghost Fish?

A highly controversial sub-variety, the ghost koi is not exactly what you imagine when you think of a traditionally raised koi fish.

Koi that are bred and raised following traditional Japanese teachings and standards are carefully selected, with many being culled due to not being the correct desired coloration.

All About Koi Ghost Fish

Additionally, the bloodlines are carefully monitored to ensure the purity of each fish and to breed out any undesirable qualities. In ghost koi, this is simply not a possibility. 

Ghost koi are not a Japanese creation, at all. In fact, they were first bred in Britain accidentally in the 1980s.

All About Koi Ghost Fish

A regular traditional ornamental koi carp bred with a wild mirror carp, creating a gorgeous, metallic fish that had many qualities of the ornamental lineage but varied due to the dark coloration on its back and facial markings.

The breeders were elated at the creation and began breeding more to seek out different color variations. Soon, ghost koi became a staple in many hobbyist ponds due to their unique appearance and appeal. 

All About Koi Ghost Fish

Still, though, these fish are especially controversial. Due to their breeding involving a wild mirror carp, many traditional koi purists do not consider them ornamental koi at all and see no value in them.

This is unfortunate since they are pretty, healthy fish but still, it is not unexpected given the complexities of traditional koi breeding practices and the intensity with which many approach breeding as a whole.

For many traditional breeders, it is both their biggest passion and their livelihood.

All About Koi Ghost Fish

What Makes a Koi a Ghost Koi?

Right not, there are many different types of ghost koi.

Back in the 1980s, ghost koi would have been almost entirely black and would not have been appealing to traditionalist koi farmers, resulting in the majority of ghost koi being outright culled. They simply were not considered what koi priests would consider valuable in any way, resulting in them being discarded instead of kept within the breeding stock. 

All About Koi Ghost Fish

Currently, there are several different types of ghost koi, including scaleless, fully scaled, and leathery options in all of the colors.

You can find traditional black, gold, bronze, white, and more in the coloration, too. The whites are by far the most popular. Also called platinum, these are viewed as the true ghost koi due to their coloration despite the black ones coming first.

Either way, they look absolutely gorgeous swimming through a pond since they literally glitter and glisten, creating a hauntingly beautiful effect. 

Ghost Koi Health

Ghost koi are bred with wild koi, meaning that their genetics are quite sturdy.

Normal ornamental koi are very hardy and disease resistant so when you throw in the extra overall health durability of a wild fish, you are creating an absolute tank of a fish that can face a lot and handle a ton of different water qualities, diseases, parasites, and other issues and come out just fine on the other side.

All About Koi Ghost Fish

This is part of the beauty of breeding koi with any type of wild fish, as it just acts to strengthen their already strong genetics further, creating some seriously tough fish!

Ghost Koi Personality

One of the biggest concerns people have when first looking into ghost koi is their personality.

Since they are from wild-caught fish, it would make sense that maybe they have a bit of an attitude or are not as social and friendly as traditional ornamental koi fish.

All About Koi Ghost Fish

Regardless of these concerns, ghost koi are actually incredibly friendly and adore human interaction, tolerating the same treatment as a traditional ornamental koi! 

Since they glitter and get larger than traditional koi, too, these fish are great for families with children who may want to more easily watch the koi eat and swim, especially since these gentle giants are okay with minor handling.

All About Koi Ghost Fish

Of course, you should always supervise children and koi fish together and avoid handling too much, too often, or in a rough manner, as this could injure the fish or contribute to it becoming stressed which can prove to be fatal and play a role in reducing the immune system functionality of the fish, allowing a higher presence of diseases and illnesses as a whole.


Overall, ghost koi fish are very similar. They can easily be housed together and can eat the same things in the same water parameters.

This means that if you like both ghost koi and regular ornamental koi, you can easily keep both in the same pond without much concern for them one-day needing different things or complex care.

All About Koi Ghost Fish

Ghost koi can even breed with regular koi, creating stunning different colorations with their babies that add an amazing effect to any pond set up. This means you could even end up with tiny, glittering fry if your koi take to each other or you decide to breed them!

Even better, these babies will inherit the immune defense and perhaps even the larger size of the ghost koi lineage, resulting in glittering, healthy giants in your pond within just a few months! 

All About Koi Ghost Fish

Adding Ghost Koi to Your Pond

Regardless of what other koi you have in your pond or plan to purchase, there is nothing prettier than a ghost koi looking spooky and stunning as it swims across the bottom of your pond, reflecting the light in a hauntingly beautiful, spectral way.

You simply cannot go wrong in picking up some of these beautiful, giant fish, especially if you want to add something a little extra special to your overall set up.