A man was going about his ritual of feeding the fish in a hotel pond. But when he stepped into the water to give a school of Japanese koi a meal, it was anything but ordinary. In fact, what happened next was utterly mesmerizing.
The Hilton Colombo is a five-star hotel in Sri Lanka. The property has been named the leading hotel in the country and offers plenty of luxury facilities. One of the most beautiful parts of the Hilton Colombo is probably its lotus pond.
It was here that the keeper of the koi was captured on camera during his feeding routine. He had stepped into the pond to give the fish something to eat. And the scene was a stunning sight to behold.
Koi have been around since the 1820s and originated in Japan on Honshu Island, in the Niigata Prefecture town of Ojiya. Koi is the Japanese word for carp, which the fish are derived from. They were naturally brown, but the Japanese bred colorful mutations to create the decorative fish we know today.
However, it was the Chinese who were the first ones to discover the benefits of keeping carp in the fields, where they farmed rice in the 17th century. The traditional practice of having fish in rice paddies allows for the same level of crop growth with far less use of fertilizers and insecticides. This successful method was then adopted by the Japanese.
The fish have been prevalent in Japan ever since, but they have also become a hit around the world as pets. During the 20th century, koi came over to North America and Europe, and they are now widespread across the globe. They can cost anything from $10 for a young koi fish to $20,000 for the rarest breeds.
Koi can get as large as 35 pounds and 2 or 3 feet in length. If they are sufficiently well looked after, their lifespan is between 50 and 70 years. There are records of koi fish that have even lived to be more than 200 years old.
This unique breed of fish needs to be kept in superior water in order for them to remain in good physical shape. They should be in ponds that contain a minimum of 1,000 gallons of water, and that are preserved by high-end filters. Koi will eat a wide variety of snacks but can be served specially-bought food.
They will also happily consume algae or plants that can be found in the pond, as well as insects. In addition, koi will eat food that humans enjoy. Some of their favorite snacks apparently include lettuce, watermelon, rice and cereal.
The memory of a koi is believed to last for just three minutes, but they are certainly able to remember the person that feeds them for longer than that. And it seems that’s exactly what has happened with the fish at the Hilton Colombo.
The feeder was videotaped during his time with the koi. He strutted around in the lotus pond with their food in his hands. And people were captivated by the way the fish collectively responded to him.
When the man walked through the water, the school of fish followed him. They were in perfect formation as they lined up behind their keeper. And the result created what looked like a beautiful pattern in the water.
The man calmly waded across the pond as the fish patiently swam close to him. Later, he stopped and sprinkled some food into the water. It was only then that the koi left his side and went to tuck into their meal.
The serene moment was posted online in October 2017 and has since been viewed thousands of times across different outlets. Many people commented on what a wonderful video it was. “This is the most peaceful thing I’ve seen online in a year,” one Imgur user wrote.
Some shared their love of the breed in general and in particular the fact that they act similarly to dogs. “Koi are like the puppies of the water,” a Reddit commenter said, while another Imgur user called them “soggy dogs.” And others declared that they would like the job of being responsible for the koi.
Koi are known for being a gentle and friendly species who have no issues with other fish. They can also be extremely approachable to humans. Some will even stick their heads out of the water to allow people to pet them.
A guest at the hotel a couple of months later also snapped a photograph of the koi interacting with their feeder in the same way. “The Pied Piper of Colombo? Where he goes, the fish follow…” Apurv Nagpal shared on Instagram. It seems the magical moment between the man and the fish is actually a regular occurrence.
Despite their worldwide popularity, koi continue to be largely associated with Japan. In the country, they are an emblem of good luck as well as strength and persistence, because they swim upstream. The fish also symbolize the determination to triumph over difficulties.
Koi can come in many different colors with varied meanings behind them. Red is said to represent energy, while blue is regarded as a symbol of masculine strength, and black is seen as an embodiment of love. But some of the most treasured koi of all are those that are white with a red spot, much like the Japanese flag.
Tattoos of the fish are also prominent in Japanese culture, where body art carries high significance. This originates from the legend that if a carp can climb the falls of China’s Yellow River it will be turned into a dragon. Koi represent the ability to become successful against all odds. And along with their playful personalities and special relationships with their feeders, it’s not hard to see why they have become one of the most beloved breeds of fish around.