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Koi

The meaning of «koi»

Koi (鯉, English: /ˈkɔɪ/, Japanese: [koꜜi]) or more specifically jinli or nishikigoi (錦鯉, [ɲiɕi̥kiꜜɡoi], literally "brocaded carp"), are colored varieties of the Amur carp (Cyprinus rubrofuscus) that are kept for decorative purposes in outdoor koi ponds or water gardens.

Koi is an informal group name of the colored variants of C. rubrofuscus. Several varieties are recognized by the Japanese. Koi varieties are distinguished by coloration, patterning, and scalation. Some of the major colors are white, black, red, orange, yellow, blue, and cream. The most popular category of koi is the Gosanke, which is made up of the Kohaku, Taisho Sanshoku, and Showa Sanshoku varieties.

Carp are a large group of fish originally found in Central Europe and Asia. Various carp species were originally domesticated in East Asia, where they were used as food fish. Carp are coldwater fish, and their ability to survive and adapt to many climates and water conditions allowed the domesticated species to be propagated to many new locations, including Japan. Natural color mutations of these carp would have occurred across all populations. Carp were first bred for color mutations in China more than a thousand years ago, where selective breeding of the Prussian carp (Carassius gibelio) led to the development of the goldfish (Carassius auratus).[1]

The Amur carp (Cyprinus rubrofuscus), a member of the cyprinid family species complex native to East Asia, was aquacultured as a food fish at least as long ago as the fifth century BC in China, and Jin Dynasty (fourth century AD) texts mentioned carp with various colors.[2][3] The Amur carp was previously recognized as a subspecies of the common carp (as C. c. haematopterus), but recent authorities treat it as a separate species under the name C. rubrofuscus.[4]

Amur carp were first bred for color in Japan in the 1820s, in the town of Ojiya in the Niigata Prefecture on the northeastern coast of Honshu Island. The outside world was unaware of the development of color variations in Japanese koi until 1914, when the Niigata koi were exhibited at an annual exposition in Tokyo. From that time, interest in koi spread throughout Japan. From this original handful of koi, all other Nishikigoi varieties were bred, with the exception of the Ogon variety (single-colored, metallic koi), which was developed relatively recently.

The hobby of keeping koi eventually spread worldwide. They are sold in many pet aquarium shops, with higher-quality fish available from specialist dealers.[5][6] Collecting koi has become a social hobby. Passionate hobbyists join clubs, share their knowledge and help each other with their koi.[7]

The words "koi" and "nishikigoi" come from the Japanese reading of Classical Chinese words 鯉 (common carp) and 錦鯉 (brocaded carp) respectively. In both languages, the former can refer to many Asian carp species. In Japanese, "koi" is a homophone for another word that means "affection" or "love", so koi are symbols of love and friendship in Japan.

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