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Koi Varieties

 All Koi belong to one species, CYPRINUS carpio. There are numerous colour varieties which are the result of cross-breeding (i.e. breeding closely related types together) with the outcome being that of more stable varieties.

 Learning to recognize the different varieties is made simpler when you have an understanding of the various classifications in which they are grouped. Some types are classified under one group, such as the popular KOHAKU, whilst others are a compilation of several types, for example HIKARIMONO (single coloured, metallic koi). Ofcouse, every Koi is unique, although prize-winning Koi are set to certain standards, pattern diversity is acceptable in most varieties.

Below are photographs of these many different variety's along with a brief description.

Kohaku

White Koi with Red, or Hi(pronounced "he") markings. Hi should have good depth and uniform shade as well as defined edges to the pattern. White should have the look of pure snow with no blemishes. The definition between Hi and the White is known as kiwa. The pattern of a Kohaku should have unity and balance of colour. Some pattern types include: Inazuma(lightning strike), Nidan(two Hi markings), Sandan( three Hi markings), and Yondan(four Hi markings).

Taisho Sanke

A three-coloured Koi consisting of Red(Hi), Black(Sumi), and White. Like the the Kohaku the depth and pattern unity and balance of these colours are important. There should be no sumi on the head of a Sanke. Sumi is preferred on the fins, especially the caudal and pectoral fins - this is a good sign that the sumi should remain stable over the body of the koi. Hi patterns may be stepped or run the length of the body.

Showa Sanshoku

Showa have much more sumi in their patterning than Sanke, being predominantly black with red and white markings. The large sumi markings should be the colour of ebony, hi should be blood red, white should be crisp and clean while complimenting the over-all pattern. Showa should have uniform sumi on the base pectoral fins. Varieties of Showa appear in other classifications such as: Koromo, Kawarimono(Kage Showa,Kankoko Showa), Hikari-Utsurimono(Kin Showa), Tancho Showa.

Asagi

Asagi are one of the original types of koi. Their history has been documented over 160years. Although the blue colouration varies in intensity, a lighter blue is preferred. The scalation of the Asagi is very important - the light edges of the scales should be of equal length and cover the whole body from head to tail. The hi on the sides of the body, fins, and head should be strong along with being symmetrical on the sides of the cheeks reaching to the eyes. Hi on Asagi often tends to orange.

Utsurimono

There are 3 varieties of Utsuri; SHIRO(white & black), HI(red & black), and KI(yellow & black). Utsuri sumi should be heavy and a striking contrast to second colour(white/red/yellow) with uniform balance to both colours in order to emphasize the over-all pattern. Utsuri are often confused with BEKKO - the main difference between the two is that Utsuri are black koi with white or red or yellow markings, where as Bekko are white or red or yellow koi with black markings. Another distinction is that Utsuri have sumi markings on their head down to the nose, Bekko do not.

Hikarimono (Ogon)

"Hikari" meaning metallic, "Mono" meaning single colour. Ogon are highly metallic koi, most commonly available and seen are the silver(Platinum Ogon) and yellow(Yamabuki Ogon). Whatever the variety, colouration should be of the same hue from the head to tail and down to the tips of the fins. Large fins are highly desirable on Ogon as they offset the plain body. Varieties of Ogon include: Nexu Ogon, Yamabuki Ogon, Orenji Ogon, Fuji Ogon, and Platinum Ogon. Also included are Gin and Kin Matsuba(metallic counter-parts of Shiro & Ki Matsuba included in the Kawarimono class). Throw backs in the Ogon class are Kin Kabuto and Gin Kabuto - these koi are are not very sought after these days and by some are considered 'rejects'.

Bekko

This variety is non-metallic white, red, or yellow koi that have a distinct set of black markings. Shiro Bekko is a white koi with sumi markings. Aka Bekko is a red koi with sumi markings, often the red looks orange. Ki Bekko are yellow koi with sumi markings, these are a rare find. The pattern on a Bekko should be very simple and elegant, with small sumi markings spread evenly over the body. The head of a Bekko should be free from any sumi markings.

Shusui

This variety is basically a Doitsu Asagi. In 1910 Yoshigoro Akiyama crossed an Asagi with a doitsu mirror carp, Shusui being the end result. Colouration of the Shusui is similar to Asagi. The head is blue-grey with hi on the jaws. The scales along the dorsal and lateral lines are darker blue. The skin on the back of the koi is a pale sky-blue. Parallel lines of Hi should run down the back along the dorsal line from behind the gills to the tail. Hi should spread to the base of the fins, particularly the pectorals. Scales along the dorsal and lateral line(if any) should be in a neat line. The Shusui group consists of Hi Shusui, Hana Shusui, Ki Shusi(rare yellow with greenish dorsal) and Pearl Shusui. Other varieties of Shusui appear in other classifications - Hikarimoyo-mono and Kawarimono.

Koromo

Koi in this class have only been in existence since about 1950. Koromo koi are the result of crossing Kohaku with Naruni Asagi. These koi should have a good kohaku pattern with deep hi(red). White should be as crisp as the colour of fresh snow to to off-set the lace pattern on the hi. The lace pattern is sometimes refer to as "robed", described as the hi pattern which is outlined in a darker colour. These markings vary with the particular variety. Some of the varieties include: Ai-goromo, Sumi-goromo, and Budo-goromo. Also included are Budo Sanke, Koromo Sanke and Koromo Showa.

Goshiki

Goshiki means five colours. These colours are white, red, black, blue, and dark blue. Mixed over the body these colours often give a purplish appearance. Originally crossed between Asgai and Sanke, they are quite popular with hobbyists because of their patterns.

Hikarimoyo-mono

Metallic koi that have more than one colour, but are not of Utsuri lineage, generally fall into this class. Hikarimoyo-mono derivation comes from two sources. One being Platnium Ogon crossed with many other varsities - except Utsuri, resulting in varieties such as Gin Bekko and Kujaku(pictured left). The other group consisting of two colours - platnium, gold or orange - collectively known a Hariwake.. Examples are Orenji Hariwake(pictured right) and Hariwake Matsuba.

Cha-goi

Cha-goi are part of the Kawarimono class. "Cha" means brown, or tea-coloured. Cha-goi are single coloured, nonmetallic koi which is said to be extremely fast growing. Although this variety seems quite plain at first glance, the reticulated scalation is quite attractive. There is also a Gin Rin variety which is appealing to most koi keepers. Cha-goi are one of the most easily tamed of all koi and a pleasure to have in one's pond.

Ochiba-Shigure

Literal translation - "autumn leaves on the water". Grouped in Kawarimono, it is an unusual variety whose pattern and shades of colour vary considerably from one individual to another. The blue-grey koi with brown pattern is quite sought after by many koi enthusiasts.

More will be added in the near future, so please check back. There is also a "Terms & Definitions" data sheet in the works.

Majority of photo's are courtesy of Infiltration with the permission of Peter Waddington.
Other photo's borrowed from various sources.

more to come....

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