The Best Koi Carp Books 2023 (Essential Reading List)

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The Best Books for Koi Keeping & Pond Hobbyists – Ultimate Reading List 2023

Learning new things is one of the best parts of any hobby, with koi and pond keeping being no exception to this rule. Although the modern internet has a vast amount of reading material, there are still many fantastic tips, advice, and insights locked away in the pages of books which may not have had time to propagate online. As well as this, having some physical reference material at hand is always useful for outdoor hobbies, especially in one where you’re frequently around both water and fish!

Here you’ll find a constantly updated list of the best koi books available, including options for beginners, experts, and books for all the strange niches that fill this wonderful hobby.

1) A-Z Koi Keeping Guides & Encyclopedias

Great for: New pond keepers wanting a comprehensive overview of all aspects of the koi hobby, with informative chapters that touch upon all essential areas. Also useful for fish keeping experts who may want some quick reference material on a wide range of subjects or an updated look into newer koi keeping techniques and research ideas.

Best Complete Koi Guide

Koi: a complete guide to their care and color varietiesKoi: A Complete Guide to Their Care and Color Varieties

Our favorite “all-in-one” koi keeping resource, written by experienced experts and leading academics, including former magazine editors, pond construction consultants, koi breeders and university lecturers. This is one of those books we feel should be on every hobbyist’s shelf, providing fantastic information on a huge range of subjects, with updated ideas and research direct from the field. The publication covers a large amount of areas, including purchasing koi, pond equipment, construction, water quality, and even anatomy. Although written by experts, the information is not overly complex and is presented in a way that both beginners and veterans will appreciate, with very high quality pictures and diagrams.

Unlike other books, this guide is more updated on current topics, so even if you own a few older koi keeping manuals, it may be worth picking up for the new ideas presented. For example, the book contains more updated views on what contributes to the best show koi – a topic which obviously changes as the niche evolves with newer breeding techniques.

Although the information here is perfect for beginners or experts looking for a detailed overview, it’s still an “all-in-one” publication so you can’t expect the same level of detail on each topic in comparison to a dedicated book. The subjects of filtration, water quality, and medicine could be expanded more, but are certainly enough for most pond owners. Overall, a fantastic book which would suit just about any fish keeper wanting some up-to-date reference material or wanting to learn more about the world of koi.

  • Pages: 256
  • Publication: 2015
  • Edition: Paperback
  • Language: English

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Best Beginner Koi Guide

the world of koi mini encyclopediaThe World of Koi Mini Encyclopedia

A much lighter version of the above publication, designed in particular for brand new hobbyists wanting more easy-to-digest information with less complex jargon. This book is small in size, but contains a huge amount of detailed information, from starting your pond design, choosing your fish, and maintaining healthy water conditions. The chapters are accompanied by high quality photographs and diagrams to aid explanation, and the information is presented in a more “straight to the point” fashion so you don’t need to read huge amounts of text to understand multiple subjects.

The book is written by leading minds in the field, including koi magazine editors, Japanese based show-koi experts, and fish health experts. The Mini Encyclopaedia Koi series has very similar chapters as “Koi: A complete Beginners Guide” above, as many subjects have been written by the same authors. The difference is that this book has been reduced in complexity in some chapters to make information easier to learn, and includes more photographs for explanation in place of text. The price is also much cheaper in comparison, so would be a good choice for people who may want to learn more, but may not yet taken have the plunge into the hobby. If price is of no concern or you just want all the information possible, the Koi: A Complete Beginners Guide is a more fleshed out version of this book and what we’d recommend.

Overall, a lighter A-Z koi keeping guide that would be a good choice for novice fish keepers, a gift for pond lovers, or for those who have not yet taken the plunge into the hobby.

  • Pages: 208
  • Publication: 2005
  • Edition: Paperback
  • Language: English

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2) Medical & Health Related Koi Books

Great for: Fish keepers wanting to learn more about the inner-workings of their koi; including subjects of health, anatomy, diseases & medicine. Good reference material to have for any koi keeper in case of possible illness or injury, with high quality diagrams and pictures to aid in explanation.

Best Beginner Health Guide

Manual of Koi Health: How to Create a Healthy Environment for Your Koi how to create a healthy environment for koi

The Manual of Koi Health represents a great entry-level book to the in-depth subject of fish health. anatomy, diseases, and treatment. Written by two leading experts in the koi keeping field, the books tries to break down complex topics into more easily understandable information for the everyday pond owner. The first chapter includes a detailed check-list on keeping your pond and fish in optimal health, which helps reduce the risk of disease and illness occurring. Chapter two includes useful information and guidelines on handling fish and good pond keeping practices, as well as a general overview of fish anatomy. The information in these chapters is very useful, and if you’re a fairly new fish keeper, you’ll likely find plenty of valuable information to further improve your pond keeping routine.

The later chapters, 3 and 4, attempt to cover all the most common diseases and their treatments, as well as describing the safest administration techniques. The  information here has been written in a very accessible way, and even though still scientific, it should be easy to follow for complete beginners not accustomed to the subjects at hand. The pictures in this section are good quality, and we like that each step is outlined with quick step-by-step reference diagrams. However, the information here is more of an overview of disease and treatment, and may not provide the depth that a experienced koi keeper may want. The descriptions in some places, in particular the treatment paths, are not as detailed as some more advanced literature on the subject or some online resources.

Overall, a very well written entry-level book on the carp health and biology, as well as common diseases and treatments. It would make very good reference material for almost all pond owners, particularly suited to beginners of the hobby.

  • Pages: 160
  • Publication: 2011
  • Edition: Paperback
  • Language: English

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Best Advanced Health Guide

book koi health and disease

Koi Health & Disease: Everything You Need To Know

For those who want more in-depth knowledge and scientific explanation on all health, disease, and treatment related topics. Written by experienced veterinarian and fish surgeon, Dr. Erik Johnson, this book attempts to answer a huge range of complex questions in a very conversational manner, making the scientific subjects easier to follow and more enjoyable to read. Unlike other health publications which also contain chapters on pond equipment, feeding, and maintenance, this book assumes you know the basics of fish keeping and gets straight into the details with science, practical knowledge, and real-life examples and situations.

The first few chapters act as a quick introduction to the main aspects of koi keeping, including the science behind water quality and how cycling your pond promotes a healthy ecosystem. Afterwards, the book moves on to cover a vast range of different diseases and illness that may affect your koi, as well as several pages for each type of medicine and appropriate treatment. The diseases are split up into different sections, including topics about toxicity, parasites, bacterial infections, viral infections, and tumours. The same has been done for treatments, with different methods contained within their own chapters, including medicated dips, foods, antibiotics, medicines, and surgery.  The information within these chapters is very well written and fairly easy to follow, although a minor understanding of biology certainly helps in some places. The only thing we would have liked to see is higher quality pictures, as the book contains just black and white imagery which makes it difficult to identify some of the aspects described in the accompanying text.

Overall, one of the best books covering koi health, disease, and treatment, with particular emphasis on the science and biology behind each subject. Although some pictures could use updating, the information contained is still incredibly useful for fast and accurate diagnosis, and would make a good addition to any koi keeper’s collection.

  • Pages: 204
  • Publication: 2014
  • Edition: Paperback
  • Language: English

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3) Koi Breeds, Classification & Genetics Books

Great for: Fish keepers wanting further understanding on specific koi breeds, the world of show koi, or the science behind bloodlines and their genetic evolution. Information from leading breeding experts, including guides on koi patterns, genetics, feeding, and the best showing practices.

Best Show Koi Classification Guide

the best books for koi keeping and pond hobbyistsKoi Appreciation: The First Step

An insightful book written by one of the leading show koi judges and koi speakers in the United Kingdom, with hundreds of high quality photographs of top quality show koi. The first few chapters act as an introduction to the “appreciation” of the animal, with advice on how to identify strong breeding traits and the best fish qualities. The chapters include detailed information and pictures on aspects such as conformation (body shape), quality, color, pattern, and bloodlines (genetics).

Further chapters move onto detailed explanations on all recognized show koi breeds, including information on their origin and what look for when identifying each breeds strengths and weaknesses. It also includes a very helpful glossary of each breeds original Japanese identification terms and the meaning behind each, which helps give insight into how many top breeders categorize pattern and shape.

Although published in 2001, the majority of information is still accurate for the vast amount of breeds and judging practices, so it should still prove a fine resource for the classification of show koi. Some images and small segments could use an update to coincide with more modern practices, but the majority of examples are fine as a reference, even now.

Overall, a very colorful and inspirational book with very high quality photographs and plenty of information for any pond owner interested in the showing aspects of koi keeping.

  • Pages: 126
  • Publication: 2001
  • Edition: Hardcover
  • Language: English

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Best Guide into Koi Genetics

research study on the evolution of koi and carpStudy: Inheritance of Colors and Evolution of Koi and Carp

Although not technically a book, but rather more of a research study, the Inheritance of Colors and Evolution of Koi is a complex and highly interesting look into the history of carp domestication and the evolution of ornamental koi. The book goes into scientific detail about the genetic structure of various wild carp populations, and the rules of inheritance which govern all the fantastic colors and patterns in the modern fish. Through a mix of both classical and molecular research methods, the author is able to give us a deeper insight into the science behind all the different variations of carp, and how genetics play such an important part in their history.

The content here is certainly not for everyone and we would only recommend it for experienced breeders, show koi owners, or those with a strong interest in science or biology. This is not a basic koi classification book, but a deeper look into what actually creates all the traits that have made koi one of the most popular fish in the hobby; carried out through various research methods and study. The book includes diagrams, photographs, and lots of accompanying text to help the reader digest the content, but it can still be difficult to follow in places unless you are determined or already acquainted with the material on a basic level.

Highly recommended for serious koi keepers, koi breeders, or those who regularly show koi and want a scientific analysis of how their prized fish came to be.

  • Pages: 108
  • Publication: 2009
  • Edition: Paperback
  • Language: English

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4) Pond Construction & Design Books

Great for: Those at the very start of designing a fish pond, with detailed pictures, diagrams, and step-by-step information on pond layout and construction. These books provide a good foundation for a variety of ponds, and also give insight into specialist water gardens with more complicated structures.

Best Pond Construction Guide

guide to garden ponds, fountains, and waterfallsGarden Ponds, Fountains & Waterfalls for Your Home

Our favorite guides to pond design and construction, with some great chapters on decorating, water features, and the best planting practices. One of the issues with books when it comes to designing water gardens is that they either include too little information, or not enough real life examples in pictures which make following difficult. There are a huge range of areas to cover when designing a pond, and the topic is not just limited to excavating the hole and adding water. Luckily, this book does a fantastic job of covering every step of pond design, from the inspiration stages, to the construction, to the planting, and even the decoration – all accompanied by high quality photographs and diagrams.

The first two chapters place emphasis on your inspiration for the design, and the considerations you should take into account before beginning construction. Chapter 3 provides guidance on successfully planning out your pond edging, and includes tips on constructing a good site plan for the overall foundation. Later chapters, 4 through to 7, provide a step-by-step guide on all important aspects of physical construction, including installing your pond liner, edging the sides, creating an underliner, moving water, and configuring the necessary plumbing framework. The information here is accompanied by useful pictures, and should provide a very good overview of the installation process.

The last chapters of the book touch upon planting, the ecosystem, and the general maintenance of the pond once established. Although not as fully fleshed out as dedicated books on the topic, these chapters provide a decent insight into each subject, with the planting section being particularly useful.

A highly recommended read for those newly interested in the hobby and require a guide on all aspects of pond design, from the initial planning stages to the end result.

  • Pages: 256
  • Publication: 2011
  • Edition: Paperback
  • Language: English

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8 thoughts on “The Best Koi Carp Books 2023 (Essential Reading List)”

  1. You’ve missed Koi Kichi by Peter Waddington — by far the best guide for Koi. It was our bible back in the 90s and while filter tech has advanced, the underlying principles have not.

  2. I would also add Nicholas St-Erne DVM and his book Advanced Koi Care to your list as a complete medical book for koi.

    • Hi Susan,

      Thanks so much for the suggestions! Both of those books seem like great choices indeed, so I’ll be sure to check into them in future.

  3. I own approximately 111 books on fish health an disease issues treatments etc.
    I also own possibly the largest collection of koi related issues in private hands these have been collected over 34 years of keeping these wonderful fish you are more than welcome to contact me Re titles ISBN numbers and authors names

    • Hi Dave,

      That sounds like an amazing collection indeed! I’ve been collecting very casually for around 10 years and don’t even have a fracture of that. If you have time, could you recommend some unusual or lesser-known books which you consider essential reads for anyone interested in the hobby?


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