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If you've ever come across a man-made pond and seen beautiful multicolored fish swimming around then you know what a koi fish is. Koi, meaning carp in Japanese, were specially bred to produce their incredibly ornate and colorful bodies. For the most part, koi are identical to regular carp except for the striking designs covering their body making them the favorite of people all over the world. Many folks travel regularly just to visit koi ponds so they could spend some time with the koi, feed them, and watch them play. Adding to the effect that the rainbow colored koi fish has on the casual observer is the length of the fish as well. Japanese koi fish grow to an average length of 36 inches or about 3 feet. Watching a group of these koi fish swim together can be mesmerizing and many people find themselves wanting to watch the fish for hours as their beauty and grace are incredibly relaxing on the mind.  Koi have been around for hundreds of years and just as regular carp, they can live to have more than two hundred birthdays in the wild; in captivity, they live an average of 34 years. One interesting feature about the koi fish is the ability of some of them to actually change their colors. They do this for a variety of reasons but most of the time their color changes are because of changes in the water temperature or their diet. One species of koi fish well known for this color changing habit is the simple black koi. Sometimes when you're watching a school of koi you may see what appears to be a large shadow swimming underneath, but this is no shadow; it is actually a black koi fish. Black koi fish have no distinguishing differences between their colored brethren and are simply named because they are dark in color. Because of their black color, it is very easy to notice when a black koi changes its color. Depending on the coloring of their undersides, which are sometimes completely white, a black koi can sometimes grow several shades lighter almost appearing to be a completely different fish. Black Koi can establish an almost ominous presence when viewed against the other colorful fish in a koi pond. Their sleek streamlined shape makes these dark koi appear almost as if they are torpedoes shooting through the water. Because most koi ponds have dark linings, black koi almost seem to disappear completely in the shallow depths of the pond. Because of their stark contrast to the other fish, black koi are often nicknamed the shadow of the rainbow. So the next time that you find yourself standing over a man-made pond full of colorful fish, be sure to look a little closer. Underneath the orange, yellow and red fish swimming all around, you may catch a glimpse of something hovering just below; the black koi, the shadow of the rainbow.

Matt Phillips is a koi expert. For more great tips on black koi fish and koi ponds visit

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Black Koi Fish  

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