A Japanese fish named Hanako is presumed to be the longest living Koi fish ever registered, having made it to the grand old age of 226 before her demise in 1977.
The scarlet-coloured female was born in 1751 during the Tokugawa era in Japan.
Though the average lifespan of a scarlet koi carp is approximately 40 years, Hanako managed to live well into the 1970s and was aged 226 when she departed.
Her marvellous story was first shared when her last owner Dr Komei Koshihara made a national telecast in 1966 on Nippon Hoso Kyokai radio station.
Koshihara said he was aware of Hanako’s age as he had it confirmed 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 plucked and examined over the course of two months, letting Hiro calculate the rings of growth on her scales to ascertain her age.
In an English transcript from the telecast, as per hanakokoi.com, Koshihara said that Hanako was still in perfect condition and swimming about wonderfully in a quiet valley descending Mt. Ontake in a short distance. She weighed 7.5 kilograms and was 70 centimetres in length.
She and Koshihara were dearest friends. When he called her ‘Hanako! Hanako!’ from the brink of the pond, she used to unhesitatingly come swimming to his feet. If he lightly patted her on the head, she felt extremely delighted. Sometimes he went so far as to take her out of the water and embrace her.
Once a person observing him asked if he was performing a trick with the carp. Although a fish, she felt that she is dearly loved, and it seemed that there was some communication of feeling between them. His greatest pleasure was to go to his native place twice or thrice a month and enjoy the company of ‘Hanako’. Koshihara said he was often asked how he can conclude about the age of the fish, explaining that it required the help of a specialist and a microscope.
We know a tree trunk has its annual rings, similarly, a fish has its annual rings on its scales, and we only need to count them to determine the age of a fish.
Koshihara also revealed where the fish came from. He said that his maternal grandmother was told by her mother-in-law, that when she was married into this family, her mother-in-law told her, that the carp was handed down to them from olden times and she should take good care of it.
When Koshihara was told this story, he became very inquisitive to know how long the carp had existed. he found out Hanako’s age by the before-mentioned method, but you can easily conclude how greatly he was grieved when he was compelled to take a scale off her beautiful body.
He caught her in a net very carefully and repeatedly said, ‘Excuse me!’
He extracted two scales from different parts of her body with the help of a strong tweezer. The scales were tested by Prof. Masayoshi Hiro, D.Sc., Laboratory of Domestic Science, Nagoya Women’s College.
It took two months for him to obtain a satisfactory result. By applying the light microscope, he photographed every part of the scales.