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​The World's Oldest Koi Fish Was 226 Years Old

Jess Hardiman

| Last updated 

​The World's Oldest Koi Fish Was 226 Years Old

A Japanese fish called Hanako is believed to be the longest living Koi fish ever recorded, having made it to the grand old age of 226 before her death in 1977.

The scarlet-coloured female was born in 1751 in the middle of the Tokugawa era in Japan.

While the average lifespan of a scarlet koi carp is around 40 years, Hanako managed to live well into the 1970s, and was aged 226 when she died.

Her amazing story was first shared when her last owner Dr Komei Koshihara made a national broadcast in 1966 on Nippon Hoso Kyokai radio station.

Koshihara said he knew Hanako's age because he had it verified by professor Masayoshi Hiro, who worked at the Laboratory of Animal Science of the Nagoya Women's College.

Two of the fish's scales had been extracted and analysed over the course of two months, allowing Hiro to count the rings of growth on her scales to determine her age.

One of Hanako's scales. Credit: Dr Komei Koshihara/JNPA
One of Hanako's scales. Credit: Dr Komei Koshihara/JNPA

In an English transcript from the broadcast, as per hanakokoi.com, Koshihara said: "This 'Hanako' is still in perfect condition and swimming about majestically in a quiet ravine descending Mt. Ontake in a short distance.

"She weighs 7.5 kilograms and is 70 centimeters in length.

"She and I are dearest friends. When I call her saying 'Hanako! Hanako!' from the brink of the pond, she unhesitatingly comes swimming to my feet. If I lightly pat her on the head, she looks quite delighted. Sometimes I go so far as to take her out of the water and embrace her.

"At one time a person watching asked me whether I was performing a trick with the carp. Although a fish, she seems to feel that she is dearly loved, and it appears that there is some communication of feeling between us.

"At present my greatest pleasure is to go to my native place two or three times a month and keep company with 'Hanako'."

Koshihara said he was often asked how he can tell the age of the fish, explaining that it requires 'the aid of a specialist' and a 'microscope'.

"As a tree trunk has its annual rings, so a fish has its annual rings on its scales, and we only have to count them to know the age of a fish," he said.

Hanako in 1971. Credit: Dr Komei Koshihara/JNPA
Hanako in 1971. Credit: Dr Komei Koshihara/JNPA

Koshihara also revealed where the fish came from, continuing: "My grandmother on maternal side [...] is said to have been told by her mother-in-law, 'When I was married into this family, my mother-in-law said to me, "That carp has been handed down to us from olden times; you must take good care of it."'

"When I was told this story, I became very curious to know how long the carp had lived. I found out Hanako's age by the before-mentioned method, but you may easily imagine how greatly I was grieved when I was forced to take a scale off her beautiful body.

"I caught her in a net very cautiously and repeatedly said, 'Excuse me!'

"I took off two scales from different parts of her body by using a strong tweezer. The scales were examined by Prof. Masayoshi Hiro, D.Sc., Laboratory of Domestic Science, Nagoya Women's College.

"It took two months for him to acquire a satisfactory result. By using the light microscope, he photographed every part of the scales."

Featured Image Credit: Dr Komei Koshihara/JNPA

Topics: Fish, News, Animals

Jess Hardiman
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