Home | About Us | Contact Us


Koi Forum - Koi-Bito Magazine straight from Japan
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 14
Like Tree4Likes

Thread: The Price of Koi

  1. #1
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Orlando, Florida
    Posts
    11,128

    The Price of Koi

    Since I began to get serious about koi, there have been a lot of 'hot topics' of the day that come and go. One constant has been questions about whether the price of a koi is fair. A photo will be posted and the poster will write 'It was bred by so-and-so. The price is $XXX. Is that a good price?' I often say that price is a matter of opinion. A koi is worth a certain amount if the buyer believes it will give them enjoyment worth that amount. Most of the time, however, the person asking the question has no idea at all. They know that they do not know enough to tell whether the price is fair, high, grossly overpriced or a bargain. They know they do not know enough to tell whether the koi will be one they still think is pretty a year later.

    Koi are one of those rare commodities which are purchased most of the time by folks who have little or no knowledge of whether they are paying a fair price. I would guess that 99% of purchasers consider the price being asked as the mark of the quality of the koi being offered. Take a random netting of Kohaku and place them in a dealer's sales tanks priced at $50, $100 and $500. Ask folks to choose the best koi, and they will look only at the $500 ones. It is assumed the dealer marked the prices according to the quality and potential of the fish. This example may be extreme, but every day there is a posting on Facebook by one dealer or another of a 'special' koi from a name breeder. How many people can say that koi is worth $2,000 or $6,000? ...I would suggest that even among most experienced koikeepers, very few know enough about what they are seeing to be able to place a 'fair price' on a koi. They may well see that one is an inexpensive Chagoi, but is it $25, $50, $75 or $185?? Is the nisai Shiro Utsuri fairly priced at $1500? Would it be a bargain with a 30% discount... $1,050?

    When buying a car, people will test drive, compare prices, compare the extras added and decide what fits their needs. Maybe a Lexus is right for them, or maybe a Toyota truck with just the basic equipment. With koi, we really do not know what we are getting. Even the most experienced are imperfect in their predictions of future development. Will the sumi actually become the intense black we think it might? Will it grow as long as we hope it will? The more experience a person has, the more likely their hopes for the future will come true, and therefore the more likely the price paid will be fair for the enjoyment they get from the fish.

    We like to think that market forces will assure that the prices we pay will fall in some reasonable range. But, relying on the market is not a wise thing to do when many market participants are not knowledgeable. And, some are not ethical. Ray Jordan often told a story about his education concerning koi pricing. A dealer told him that a particular koi variety was more expensive because it was produced by a big name breeder known for the variety. Ray later learned that breeder did not breed that variety and never had. All you have to do is look at the pricing of koi on Ebay. A lot of $20 tosai sold in bulk get listed as 'rare' and priced at hundreds of dollars.

    Probably the fairest prices are those paid in Japan by dealers to the breeders. I say that because those transactions involve the most knowledgeable participants overall. To cover expenses and make a living, the dealer will need to mark-up his prices by at least 50% and usually more like 100-300% on individually priced koi, and perhaps 600-800% on bulk tosai. A hundred little tosai sold to a dealer for $700 become $50 each in the sale tank. A big mark-up, but likely producing little profit for the time that must be spent to sell them and the cost of maintaining them. If the dealer sells them for $100 each, he may do pretty good profit-wise, but it still does not amount to a lot after paying the rent and electric bills. But, a customer who learns they paid $100 for a $7 koi is not going to be happy about returning to that dealer.

    The best purchase I ever made was a group of 4 tosai Showa that cost me $40 each. I got them from Mat McCann and had the fun of watching them grow over the summer. They were worth their cost just for that experience. Three were re-homed and one I kept for another year. She is still in my pond. When she was 3 or 4 years old, she won a Best Showa award at CFKS. Her sumi remains intensely black to this day. Her beni is showing its age when viewed up close, but in the pond is bright red. She is still a pretty fish and has given a lot of enjoyment. There have been other koi that cost much more and gave less. I wish I could say I made a brilliant selection when I got that Showa. It was, but it was luck. The other three did not stay a full year.

    So, I say the real value is in the enjoyment received. And, that is a matter of personal opinion. But, knowing which koi will give that enjoyment requires more than knowing what you like.

  2. #2
    Oyagoi HEADACHE6's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    2,112
    I had a Koi Judge call me Saturday Night to "Catch Up", Your post makes me wonder if it was a three way call. lol

  3. #3
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Orlando, Florida
    Posts
    11,128
    Well, Troy, maybe we saw the same dealer's FB posting over the weekend??

    One lesson drummed into me by my seniors in the hobby is to never go to purchase a koi with a fixed idea of what you are going to get. If you tell yourself that your mission is to buy a Showa that day, the chances are high that you will do so, but it will not be the highest quality for the dollars spent. The advice of experience is to keep your mind open so you allow yourself to see that the best koi available within your budget is the Sanke you were not seeking, not the Showa priced the same.

    Contrary to that sage advice, I have been trying not to acquire any more koi that do not fit a specific goal. It's hard to do. Beginning about 4 years ago, I decided to get a Shiro Utsuri. I had one that was very high quality, but had a tumor that ruined her. (She has now passed.) I wanted one as good or better. It seemed most likely that she would have to come from Omosako. The only ones matching what I wanted that were listed on websites were in the UK and priced far above my budget. I let a dealer know my interest, but he did not go to Omosako that year. In the years that followed, he visited at times when the SU's available fell short or were way above the budget. This past winter, he found one that seemed to match up, but the price was about 20% above my budget. I caved on the budget. Was she worth what I paid? Maybe, maybe not. But, after 4 harvest seasons, I was not going to wait another.

    Consistent with the sage advice (or perhaps I am rationalizing my lack of will power??), at the 2014 NKF/Quality Koi harvest there was a nisai Kohaku that came out of the mud that awed me. I had made a promise to myself not to get any Kohaku, since they always seem to get shimmies in my pond. But, to my eye, that Kohaku was the best nisai harvested that day... despite having a too simple 2-step pattern. She was priced the same as all the rest. I would not have been surprised if her price had been double, and was surprised when told her price was indeed the same. So, I got her. She is still in the mud in New Jersey. Maybe I'll bring her home after this season. I think she was a bargain for her potential, but as long as she is in the mud the enjoyment she gives is purely imaginary. If she gets shimmies when I do bring her home, what then?

    Too much rationality about the price of koi ruins the fun.

  4. #4
    Oyagoi HEADACHE6's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    2,112
    I went shopping for some friends during the Chicago Koi Show in June, I asked for a list that had Plan A, Plan B, Etc. For one friend I found what I feel was a great GR Showa for the price, even though it wasn't on her list. I had it in my head that if she didn't like it I'd take it. She Loved It.

    (Use any figure you wish) , I don't spend $1,000 for a Koi that I think is only worth $1,000, I spend $1,000 on a Koi that I think is worth more.


    I enjoy what's going on inside you Head, keep posting.
    Last edited by HEADACHE6; 07-15-2016 at 09:06 AM.
    President : GLK&GS
    Officer : NMZNA
    Certified Judge : AKJA

  5. #5
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Orlando, Florida
    Posts
    11,128
    I came across an item in the January 1897 issue of "The Aquarium" magazine that is amusing and gives perspective on the amazing prices some people pay for a pet fish:

    "One of our customers who was traveling in Europe last summer, brought with him on his return some rare treasures for his aquarium. We supplied the tanks in which they are now kept, and the aquatic plants for these, in which lines, he says, we excel any firm in Europe. The collection he brought along consists of: Climbing Perch (Anubas scandens), Gouramis, a new species of Paradise fish, all native of East India; Siamese Fighting fish, beautiful specimens of Chinese Fringetail Telescope goldfish, several species of Japanese and German goldfish, Brazilian Zebrafish, Mailed and Striped catfishes from South America. As will be noticed, nearly all are exotic fish for which this gentleman expended nearly two thousand dollars."

    The average household income in the U.S. in the 1890s is estimated to have been under $450 annually. In most U.S. cities, a skilled carpenter earned $0.17 - $0.25 per hour. A day's wage for a laborer was a dollar or two. What is rare and costly changes with the times. The human urge to possess that which is rare does not.
    crush240 likes this.

  6. #6
    MCA
    MCA is offline
    Honmei MCA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Atlanta
    Posts
    2,574
    We should all be ever so grateful that wealthy folks are willing and able to spend north of $50,000 for a high end specimen. It is the competition at ZNA All Japan, Shinkokai All Japan, Niigata Nogyosai that drives the refinement of better koi genetics. And eventually those better genetics trickle down to us average koi keepers. We should be grateful there are wealthy koi keepers who willing to fund the further development of nishikigoi.
    ricshaw and coolwon like this.

  7. #7
    Jumbo Akai-San's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Honolulu
    Posts
    700
    The price of koi has always made me wonder, what do folks (with koi ponds) think about when contemplating a purchase of another pond member? Such a vast range of budgets and pocketbooks, how does a keeper decide that I am ready to purchase a $100 fish, while other are trying to decide if they are purchasing a $6000-$10,000 fish. Anyone here go higher than that?? YoooowZaa. More than my cars....LOL.

  8. #8
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Orlando, Florida
    Posts
    11,128
    Everyone has both a true budget limit and a psychological limit. The first koi I purchased were small tosai, maybe 3 or 4 inches, I saw in a shop that mostly carried goldfish. They cost about $5 each, which seemed very pricey given that humongous goldfish in the shop were half that much. But, I just had to have that shiny fish, and a second to keep it company. I did not know it was an Ogon. The shop owner did not know either. We named it 'Silver', which became inappropriate when it turned golden yellow. What a thrill that fish was in the puddle pond I thought was big. The koi that came after were all below $10 until 1992 when I went to an aquarium show. There was a vendor with big koi for sale imported from Japan. They were almost 12 inches!! And, they were the most expensive I had ever seen. Some were priced at $50. There was no way I would spend that much on one fish. High quality Discus did not cost that much. I did purchase a dozen or so Rasbora at about $2 each for an aquarium I had just set up. And, on the way out, I looked in the koi vendor's tank and saw a sparkling orange koi unlike anything I had ever seen... what I learned to be a GinRin Orenji. It was $35 and my will power gave way. She soon became the mother of a Hariwake I still have. That $35 purchase was my psychological barrier. It held until I happened to learn that there was a koi show at a tourist park, Splendid China (which is long gone now). That was the first time I had seen quality Nishikigoi. By that time I had a much larger liner pond, with room for another koi. I splurged, spending $60 on my first Showa. That was the turning point. Thereafter, my will power decreased and the price I was willing to pay climbed. The koi show was the forerunner of CFKS. The vendor of the Showa was Ray Abel. Years later he was talking about how the show had grown and the level of appreciation in the area had grown. He recalled that when he first came as a vendor, he could not sell any quality koi, and hardly covered his travel cost selling a bunch of cheap $60 Showa tosai he had imported in bulk.

    To be rational, you know you are ready to keep more expensive koi when you can keep yours healthy for a full year without experiencing crises or lacking confidence in what you need to do to deal with situations that arise. But, little about koi is rational. So, my suggestion is: Never spend more on a koi than you are willing to lose when it dies for no discernible reason a month later. Folks have different means. What is material cost to one is the cost of a night out to another. You will enjoy your koi more if your expenditure matches what you will spend to have a good time... or a great weekend away. You should never look at your koi and think about some sacrifice made so that one fish could lose its beni in your pond.
    crush240 likes this.

  9. #9
    Jumbo Akai-San's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Honolulu
    Posts
    700
    Valuation of quality or potential koi specimens kind of reminds of buying real estate in Hawaii. Without having prior experience and or historical knowledge of the values you are working with, it is hard to grasp or even gauge the value of something that appears comparable, but really is not. The market is always what the buyer is willing to pay. That in itself is a learning experience.

  10. #10
    Sansai
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    154
    Quote Originally Posted by Akai-San View Post
    The price of koi has always made me wonder, what do folks (with koi ponds) think about when contemplating a purchase of another pond member? Such a vast range of budgets and pocketbooks, how does a keeper decide that I am ready to purchase a $100 fish, while other are trying to decide if they are purchasing a $6000-$10,000 fish. Anyone here go higher than that?? YoooowZaa. More than my cars....LOL.
    Big, big earners

    Come easy, go easy,

    I have seen some ridiculously scary stuff with money and the cost of fish.

    It's a patience problem with the wealthy I think.

    They cannot wait to see their hand selected 5"inch fish grow on.

    Garfield.

    PS Bio degradable money.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Highest Price
    By RobF in forum Main Forum
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 05-30-2009, 11:25 AM
  2. The Price Is Right - Kohaku
    By oldslugger in forum Main Forum
    Replies: 27
    Last Post: 05-04-2009, 08:24 AM
  3. The Price Is Right - Showa
    By oldslugger in forum Main Forum
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: 09-18-2008, 03:26 PM
  4. Matching price with quality.
    By aquitori in forum Main Forum
    Replies: 48
    Last Post: 11-01-2006, 10:40 AM
  5. Koi Price ?!
    By Jason Poon in forum Main Forum
    Replies: 36
    Last Post: 02-01-2006, 03:05 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Articles - Sitemap - FAQs and Rules

KB Footer Graphic
Straight from Japan... For the serious hobbyist!
All content and images copyright of: Koi-bito.com