Gold Koi Fish: Facts, Origin & History (With Pictures)

When it comes to pond fish, koi are second to none. They are loved for their beauty, grace, and size. Due to their popularity, koi have been selectively bred into dozens of varieties, all with their own unique characteristics. One koi variety that many people have never heard of is the gold koi fish, also known as the Yamabuki Ogon or just as Ogon. Keep reading as we teach you everything there is to know about this specific fish.


The Earliest Records of Gold Koi Fish in History

The Yamabuki Ogon koi was developed in 1947 by a koi breeder by the name of Sawata Aoki. Sawata developed this fish after seeing a beautiful shimmer on a black carp that was caught by some children in a brook sometime between 1912 and 1926. He set out to create a fish that shimmered all over, stating that he wanted to create a koi where its entire body shines like gold. From this vision, the Yamabuki Ogon was born.

The Yamabuki Ogon is a solid color koi featuring metallic gold scales. The gold color can vary in shade, coming in shades between a deep gold and a light, silvery gold, with many sporting a lemon yellow. Some Yamabuki Ogon may have exceptionally glittery scales, and these fish are known as Ginrin Yamabuki.

Yamabuki Ogon golden koi
Image Credit: stux, Pixabay

How Gold Koi Fish Gained Popularity

Koi have been around for a long time, with modern koi fish originating in Japan at the beginning of the 1800s. Prior to that, the Chinese were breeding carp, the cousin of the koi, as early as the 4th century.

The Gold koi fish is relatively popular among enthusiasts, but it can be somewhat difficult to acquire. There are only a handful of koi varieties that are available at most pet stores and aquatic shops, and specialty koi, like the Yamabuki Ogon, are often only available through specialty retailers and breeders.

These fish can be quite expensive and difficult to acquire, but they are popular with koi enthusiasts. There is a belief that yellow koi are needed to balance out the darker colors within a pond, making the Yamabuki Ogon a top choice to bring shimmers of gold and yellow into ponds. In fact, many koi enthusiasts consider the Yamabuki Ogon a necessity to help balance the colors and bring brightness to their pond.

Formal Recognition of Gold Koi Fish

The Yamabuki Ogon is an accepted koi fish variety within koi clubs. Among the koi varieties, it belongs to the Hikari Muji group. All Ogon koi are solid in color and have a metallic finish to their scales. They should be free of blemishes or secondary colors to meet the standard of the Ogon. All parts of the body should be free of markings, including the face and fins.

Gold koi are considered to be one of the most social koi varieties, often eating directly from people’s hands. They are active, exuberant fish that love to eat and seem curious about interacting with the world around them.

Yamabuki Ogon golden koi fish
Image Credit: Michelle Carrie, Pexels

Top 3 Unique Facts About Gold Koi Fish

  1. The Yamabuki Ogon belongs to the Hikari Muji group within koi judging. This group of fish contains solid-colored koi fish that are devoid of all markings and have shiny, metallic scales.
  2. As time has gone on, more koi breeders wanted to mimic the metallic appearance of the Yamabuki Ogon. As they began breeding koi with shimmery scales, they eventually created the silver Platinum Ogon, coral Kohaku, a color and pattern combination known as Yamato Nishiki in the Aya Nishiki koi, orange Orenji Ogon, and white Purachina.
  3. Gold koi are quite pricey, especially for high-quality fish. Even for low-quality Yamabuki Ogon, you can expect to spend around $100. For high-quality and show-quality Yamabuki Ogon koi, you may spend upwards of $500 per fish. Some specialty Yamabuki Ogon color shades even sell for $1,800 or more.
Yamabuki Ogon golden koi fish
Image Credit: Lucrezia Carnelos, Unsplash

Do Gold Koi Fish Make Good Pets?

Koi typically make great pets, but they do best in ponds. They can get quite large, exceeding 1–2 feet in length in adulthood. The gold koi is no exception, so it’s important to be prepared with an appropriate environment. Koi can be kept in aquariums, but they must be large and with excellent filtration.

Koi are hardy fish that can live long lives, so bringing home a Yamabuki Ogon is a long-term commitment. It’s not just a commitment of time, but also a commitment to providing a high-quality koi diet and excellent water quality to support a long, healthy life. Because of their social nature, the Yamabuki Ogon is a great pick for anyone hoping for a fish that will eat from their hands.



The Yamabuki Ogon, or gold koi, is a social fish that has metallic scales. These scales are yellow or gold, but they must be devoid of all markings and secondary colors to meet the standard of the variety. These fish can be quite costly, especially for high-quality specimens. They do get large and live long lives, and many koi enthusiasts consider the Yamabuki Ogon to be the perfect addition to any pond to bring brightness and life to the water.

Featured Image Credit: Christian Musat, Shutterstock

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