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Koi Varieties

Asagi and Shusui

Asagi (ah saw-gee): Light blue or grey fully scaled Koi with dark blue or black vignette (reticulation) of the scales, and orange or red pectorals and red below the lateral line.

Shusui (shoo-sue-ee): The Doitsu (German) version of the Asagi. The red can be higher on the body. Large zipper like scales run along the top of the Koi from head to tail. (Kagamigoi with rows or scales along the dorsal or lateral lines only, or kawagoi that have almost no scales at all) Shusui means "Autumn Water".

 

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10

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Bekko

Bekko

 

Shiro Bekko (Sheer-o beh-ko): White Koi with black spots on the upper half of the body (on the back above the lateral line). The black should preferably not be on the head but definitely not on the nose. It should be from the shoulders back to the tail.

 

Aka Bekko (ah-ka beh-ko): Red Koi with black spots instead of white and black.

 

Ki Bekko (Kee beh-ko): Yellow Koi with black spots instead of white and black.

 

The earliest Bekko appeared in the Taisho era between 1912 and1926. It therefore supports the perception that Bekko is a "by-product" of Sanke spawning where either the white is totally absent (Aka Bekko) or the red is absent (Shiro Bekko). Manny proud Sanke owners have ended up with a Shiro Bekko when the hi disappeared during the development on the young koi. Bekko literally means "tortoiseshell" and are either white (Shiro) red (Aka) or yellow (Ki) Koi with black markings. Ki Bekko is very rare, while the Aka Bekko is popular but few are produced. Shiro Bekko is most frequently seen and the specimens are more refined.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10

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Doitsu

In the early 1900’s a few of these Doitsu (doyt’zoo) carp found their way from Europe to Japan where they were crossed with the normal scaled nishikigoi (wagoi).  These carp either lacked scales, or had enlarged but reduced number of reflective scales distributed either at random or in delineated patterns over the back and flanks.  Once the genes of the doitsu carp has been established in a carp/koi population, it is almost impossible to breed out.

Today there are four main scale patters in koi. The fully scaled (wagoi), the leather koi that have no scales on the body and flanks but only very small scales along the dorsal line, Linear koi with large scales along the dorsal and lateral lines and armoured koi (yoroi) that are partially scaled koi that have scales other than along the lateral and dorsal line in jumbled patterns.  Of the latter three, only leather and linear koi are of importance to hobbyists interested in Doitsu Koi because armoured koi are usually culled and are not considered to be of high enough quality to be worth entering in competitions.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10

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Hikari Utsuri

 

Although Hikari Utsuri may be thought of as black-based metallic Koi, it is more correct to view them as the metallic offspring of an Ogon, crossed with either Utsurimono or Showa. Doitsu and Gin Rin versions of Hikari Utsuri also occur.  Hikari Utsuri is a category that covers Showa or Utsurimono that have been crossbred with Hikarimuji to produce a patterned Koi that has a metallic sheen. Showa become Kin Showa, Shiro Utsuri become Gin Shiro, and Hi Utsuri or Ki Utsuri become Kin Hi or Kin Ki Utsuri. At the present time, there are only three varieties in this category.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10

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Hikarimoyo

 

 

The show class of the Hikarimoyo is almost the same “catch all” class for metallic Koi as Kawarimono is for non-metallic Koi. It is a relatively modern group influenced by the appearance of the Hikarimuji. The basic Ogon have been crossbred with almost every other variety of Koi to produce the wide range of always fascinating and often spectacular metallic Koi in this group. Hikarimoyo may be described as metallic white based Koi. The exception is of course Ki Kokuryu and Kin Ki Kokuryu that are black-based. Hikarimoyo derive from two distinct sources.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10

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Hikarimuji

 

The Japanese word “Hikari” means “shining” and “muji” means “single- coloured” Hikarimuji are single-coloured Koi with an overall dull metallic lustre. The fish most commonly associated with this group are Ogon, but the group also includes metallic Matsuba. To most newcomers to the hobby, this is a little confusing because they see the dark reticulation as a second colour. However, since the colours are merely different shades, with each scale similarly affected, “two-tone” Matsuba are correctly classified with the single coloured Hikarimuji group rather than as a patterned Koi.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10

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Kawarimono

 

Kawarimono is a catch-all class for all of the other varieties of koi other than the standard twelve classes, or are too different to be recognized as koi of a certain lineage. They are placed in this group because their pattern is quite different compared to the types in that variety. Such examples include the Aka Hajiro of the Kohaku and the Kage Showa of the Showa lineage. Crosses of two varieties include Showa Shusui and Goshiki. Although it may take many years to establish a new variety that breeds true, such a new variety will be classed as Kawarimono until it is recognized and promoted to its own variety. A good example is the fairly recent promotion of the Goshiki into its own class in the United Kingdom. Kawarimono consists mainly of non-metallic koi with the exception of the Kikokuryu. The list is comprehensive and one can write a book on just these varieties, but here are some of the favorites amongst koi keepers. At the end of this article, I have placed a few of the variety names as well as the pronounciation.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10

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Kin Gin Rin

Take any variety of fish and put shiny scales on top and you have Kin Gin Rin. In general terms most people refer to Kin Gin Rin as Gin Rin. To explain more about this sparkle in the scales, we will have to stay with the more descriptive name of Kin Gin Rin. A chemical deposit on each scale creates the sparkling effect. The appearance of this deposit on the scale varies and therefore Kin Gin Rin scales are divided into four distinctive types, some more popular than the other. It should be noted that Kin Gin Rin scales on a fish might consists of more than one type.

Kin Gin Rin is a chemical deposit that creates a sparkle effect on each scale and literally means Gold and Silver scales. We have the two descriptive names because the shiny scales appear as different colours, depending on the background colour. If the background colour is red, the shiny scales are gold and called Kin. If the background colour is white or black, then they appear silver or Gin. There are four types Kin Gin Rin scales.

Pearl Kin Gin Rin has a sparkle deposit in the center of each scale like a pearl. Pearl Kin Gin Rin is very rare, but quite stunning.  Because it is rare, it is very hard to find a good example with a good pattern. 

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10

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Kohaku

Kohaku (oo-hah-ku), translated as “red and white koi” is the most popular variety of koi in Japan and is also appreciated by koi connoisseurs the world over. The scarlet hi markings, setting off flawless white skin can form endless permutations that give every fish a unique character. Kohaku originated out of Asagi Magoi during the early 1800. Kohaku is a deceptively simple variety and has been called “the representative class of koi”. Understanding kohaku will simplify the understanding of other varieties of koi as some descriptions start off with as “a kohaku pattern” and then it continue with a further description.

The Judging standards for kohaku used to be quite inflexible. Traditional stepped patterns evenly placed head markings that did not extend over the eyes or too far down the face was favoured. As with fashion and popularity, this traditional view has evolved into a more flexible approach to the judging standard we experience today.

Appreciation of kohaku, as with all other koi, begins with the figure. A good strong conformation meaning the overall shape and the proportions of the head, body and finnage, provides that incredible impression of power, grace and elegance. The quality and colour of the white skin is particularly important for kohaku. It should be pure white with no yellowing. If the basic skin quality is high, the white skin ill appear soft, clear uniform and luminous. The white will also influence the pectoral fins to appear delicate and almost translucent at the posterior edges. Although fukurin (shiny skin between the scales) was originally associated with the ogon family, it is more and more appreciated by judges.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 September 2015 20:59

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Koromo and Goshiki

 

Various Types of the Koromo which means “robed” or “veiled” in Japanese have been developed by crossbreeding Asagi with other varieties. It is a group of Koi patterned similarly to Kohaku, Sanke and Showa with the additional common feature of a vignette or scale reticulation over the red pattern, or in the case of Goshiki, over red and white or white only. They are most easily distinguished by simply referring to the position of the vignette with reference to the other pattern features. The vignette may be blue or black in colour. You may notice that I have also included a short description of the Goshiki under Kawarimono. The reason is that in different countries Goshiki is judged under different varieties. For purposes of appreciating these beautiful Koromo or Goshiki, the variety under which they are judged, is purely academic. Because of the close relationship between Koromo and Goshiki, it was deemed fit to describe them under one heading.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10

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Sanke

Sanke (sawn-kay), translated as “tri colour”, is a white koi with red (hi) pattern and black (sumi) markings on the upper half of the body.  Black stripes are occasionally seen on the pectoral fins or tail.  There is usually no black on the head.

Sanke as it is commonly named, is actually Taisho Sanke.  This prefix represents the Taisho era (1912 – 1926) when these “mutations” were first identified.  It is said that the first Sanke appeared in Kohaku spawnings when black markings appeared on some offspring and were refined to the Sanke we know today.  The body sumi appear as either tsubo sumi (black on white skin) or kasane sumi (black on hi markings). The tsubo sumi is much appreciated.

Appreciation of Sanke started with the basic description of an excellent Kohaku as described in the article on Kohaku. The generic requirement of all variations of Koi also apply to Sanke namely, good body conformation, high skin quality and good deportment.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10

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Showa

Showa (sho-wah)
Black, red and white Koi.  The black (sumi) appears like bands around the body.  The sumi is often seen at the base of the pectoral fins (motoguru) and on the head.  Ideally, all three colours should appear on the head. Showa as it is commonly named, is actually Showa Sansuku.  The first Showa was produced through crossbreeding Ki Utsuri with Kohaku.  These Showa had fairly pale hi and the characteristic nabe sumi (greyish) inherited from the Tetsu (iron) Magoi.  As with other varieties the rich, dense black sumi from the Asagi Magoi was introduced later.  Showa were originally described as black koi with red and white patterns.  The Showa, Sanke and Kohaku are the so-called “big three” show varieties of koi.



Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10

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Tancho

The Tancho crane is a spectacular white waterfowl with a blood red crest and also the national bird of Japan.  Legend has it that these birds live for a thousand years and brings good fortune and longlivety.  Given the tendency of hi (red) markings to diminish or disappear, the koi keeper surely needs a bit of good fortune to raise the young Tancho to become a mature “finished” koi.  When selecting a young Tancho, it is therefore important to look for a koi with strong hi (red).

The name Tancho was originally given to a Kohaku that was completely white with the exception of a round red crest on the centre of the head.  Tancho generally consists of the big three varieties, namely Tancho Kohaku, Tancho Sanke and Tancho Showa with the single red head marking common to each.  It is important to note that Tancho appear by chance and cannot be planned into a breeding programme.  There is as much chance of breeding a Tancho when breeding two Kohaku as there is by breeding two Tancho Kohaku.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10

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Utsurimono

Shiro Utsuri (she-ro oot-sir-ee): Black and white Koi. Black appears as bands around the body. Black on some portion of the head and motoguro on the pectoral fins is desirable.

Hi Utsuri (he-oot-sir-ee): Red and black Koi.

Ki Utsuri (key-oot-sir-ee): Yellow and black Koi.

The 4th of the main varieties of Nishikigoi, the Utsurimono, is basically a two coloured Koi the base colour of which is black, the second colour being either white - Shiro Utsuri; red - Hi Utsuri; or yellow - Ki Utsuri. The Ki Utsuri is in fact amongst the earliest of any known nishikigoi. It has been described in the Meiji era. Originally called “Kuru Ki Han” meaning black and yellow markings, it was stabilised in 1920 from the Tetsu Magoi line. It is a great pity that they are now uncommon and rarely seen, although renewed effort from some breeders in Japan may see the quantity and quality of this variety improve. The Shiro Utsuri was first stabilised in 1925 to become the most popular Utsuri of the three varieties, because huge effort has been put into the improvement of Shiro Utsuri for some time. The Shiro Utsuri is therefore more refined and more elegant. The word “Utsuri” means change or reflections and some people say it indicates the tendency for the sumi to change radically during development. This theory is well illustrated in the photos below. The other interpretation is that it means that the sumi markings are mirrored by white, red or yellow markings, depending on the variety. Utsurimono originally demonstrated far more black skin than white red or yellow. The finnage was also predominantly dark. This still prevail in the Hi Utsuri and Ki Utsuri that tends to have heavily striped pectoral fins in stead of the neat motoguro of the Shiro Utsuri. The early Utsurimono had the greyish Nabe sumi, inherited from the Tetsu Magoi.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10

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