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How to Make Koi Change Colors

| Updated September 26, 2017

Koi are recognized by their beautiful colors. These ornamental fish come in a variety of colors, from white to lavender. While koi cannot completely change colors, their colors can fade over time due to genetics and improper care. Properly caring for koi with a well-set-up pond and healthy diet will ensure that their color will flourish and stay vibrant for years.

Steps to Achieve Bright and Vivid Koi

Select koi according to genetics. Many koi lose their color due to poor genes. Koi are at their top coloring around two years of age. As they get older, their coloring will fade if they are not from a good gene pool. High-quality, privately bred koi maintain their color longer than mass-produced koi. High-quality koi cost more, but their coloring will remain vibrant and lush as they age.

Create and maintain a stable environment. Koi ponds must be at least 4 feet deep and 12 feet wide, enabling the koi to maintain a healthy weight and circulation, which are.key to maintaining their colors. The colder the pond, the more vibrant koi colors become. Reds deepen and whites become whiter in cooler water. Koi ponds should be free of film and clear.

Feed koi a diet full of nutrients and color enhancers. Color enhancers such as carotene and spirulina are added to koi food, especially in July and August, the prime growth months. Color changes occur during the growth cycle.

Select pond colors that will enhance the color of your koi. Koi often attempt to blend in with their habitats. If you have a darker habitat, koi will deepen their pigment and their colors will darken. A lighter habitat will cause koi to lighten their pigment and become paler.


  • Maintain the temperature in your koi pond by insulating it with foam during construction instead of the carpet that typically is used.


  • Do not construct a pond by digging a hole in the ground. Koi ponds must be large and filtered for the koi to survive and flourish.