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Since the 1950′s, Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery had grown into the nation's leading producer of koi and goldfish. We have since learned that these fish came from a feral population of carp that inhabited the ditches and canals of Indonesia.
While admiring them in a small show pool one day, Randy LeFever (now the co-owner and president of Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery) exclaimed, "They remind me of butterflies". Once grown to sexual maturity, the very best of the first generation hybrids were stocked together in a breeding pond. Sure enough, by the end of the fall, when they had reached 3 to 5 inches in length, some beautiful butterfly koi had begun to appear in the mix.
With further selective breeding, we would go on to produce butterfly koi that, unlike traditional, standard fin koi, are beautiful when viewed from the sides as well as the top. We later learned that a very fine and beautiful strain of long-finned koi had been developed in Japan.
We were able to obtain some of the Japanese long-fin koi and crossbreed them with our butterfly koi. Since our initial crop of butterfly koi was hatched over two decades ago, we have gone on to selectively breed the butterfly fins into nearly every variety of koi. Like any growing business, we were constantly searching for ways to expand our product line.

Seemingly, no one knows the origin of these fish, their exact species, or how they acquired the long fins. A small percentage of them turned into beautiful fish with bright, vibrant color and long, flowing fins. However, we were also worried that these hybrids may be sterile, as is often the case when crossbreeding two species.
The Japanese had used the same Indonesian long-fin carp to develop their long-fin koi or "water dragons", as they are known in Japan. The resulting offspring displayed some beautiful new colors and patterns that had never been seen in koi before.
We now produce some extremely rare and beautiful varieties of butterfly koi, including Showa, Sanke, Kohaku, Utsurimono, Asagi, Shusui and Kumonryu, just to name a few. An opportunity seemed to present itself when we noticed an ad offering long-finned koi for sale.
The dozen fish in the box were not koi at all, but appeared to be wild carp with long, flowing fins and a simple gray or brown color. Some of them had the long fins, coupled with a luminous, metallic glow that could be described as "pearlescent".
Additionally, they are stronger, hardier, and more disease resistant than either common goldfish or standard fin koi, due to their hybrid vigor.

We are extremely proud of our butterfly koi stock and the prominent position that butterfly koi have obtained in the American koi industry.
Just like the initial crossbreeding, all of these offspring were quite ugly, with a dirty brown or gray color that resembled wild carp. Also, the gin rin (sparkling diamond scales) displays more prominently than in standard fin koi.
Amid our disappointment, we discussed culling the entire pond and putting it to better use. Ultimately, we decided to allow the hybrid fish to remain in the pond until the end of the growing season, another fateful decision.
Two female long-finned carp were placed into a two-acre production pond with two of our best Gin Rin Ogon male koi.

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