What is a Koi ? by CCRES

What is a Koi ? by CCRES

Koi or nishikigoi , literally carp, are ornamental domesticated varieties of the common carp that are commonly kept for ornamental reasons in outdoor ponds and water gardens. They are sometimes also referred to as Japanese carp.

They were developed from ordinary carp in Japan during the 1820s, and are still extremely popular there as they are a representation of love and friendship. Many diverse colors and color patterns and have since been introduced; common colors include black, white, red, yellow, blue, and cream. The foremost popular category of koi is the Gosanke, which is composed of the Kohaku, Taisho Sanshoku, and Showa Sanshoku varieties.

Koi Origins

A carp is a group of fish formerly found in Asia and Central Europe. Different carp species were domesticated in East Asia, where they were used as food. The capacity of carp to endure and settle in to many climates and water conditions permitted the domesticated species to be spread to many new places including Japan. Natural color changes of these carp would have taken place across all populations. Carp were first bred for color changes in China more than a thousand years ago, where careful reproduction of the Prussian carp led to the goldfish.

Today carp are known as koi in Japan. Of the different domesticated carp types, the common carp is one of the more frequently used in aquaculture. It is thought that common carp were first brought into Japan via China 400 to 600 years ago. The carp were first raised for color in Japan in the 1820s, in the town of Ojiya in the Niigata region on the north eastern coast of Honshu island. In the 20th century, color patterns had been begun, particularly the red-and-white Kohaku. Beyond Japan the world was not knowledgeable of the progress of color variations in this fish until 1914, when the Niigata koi were revealed in the annual exposition in Tokyo, Japan. The notice in koi then grew throughout Japan. The hobby of keeping koi ultimately expanded worldwide. They are now sold in most pet stores, higher-quality specimens accessible from expert dealers.

Koi Varieties

The variations are unlimited; hence, breeders have identified and named a few specific categories. The most well-liked category is Gosanke, which consisit of the Kohaku, Taisho Sanshoku, and Showa Sanshoku assortments.

The main varieties include:

kohaku koi
Taisho Sanshoku koi
showa koi
Kohaku – white-skinned, having large red marks on the top. The name means “red and white;” The kohaku was the first patterned variety to be established in Japan in the 19th century.
Taisho Sanshoku or Taisho Sanke, is comparable to the Kohaku, where they differ, this fish has small black markings called sumi. This selection was first revealed in 1914 by Gonzo Hiroi, breeder, during the reign of Emperor Taisho. In the United States it is abbreviated to just “Sanke”.
Showa Sanshoku or Showa Sanke, black with red and white markings. The first Showa Sanke was revealed in 1927, during the reign of Emperor Showa. In the United States the name is abbreviated to just Showa. The extent of shiroji on Showa Sanke has improved, to the point where it can be difficult to tell it apart from Taisho Sanke.
tancho koi
Asagi koi
Utsuri koi
Tancho – with a solitary red patch on top of its head. May be a Tancho Showa, Tancho Sanke, or even Tancho Goshiki. Named after the Japanese crane which also bares a red spot on its head.
Asagi – light blue above and red below. The name means “light blue” in Japanese.
Utsurimono – black with a white, red, or yellow markings. Renamed Ki Utsuri by Elizaburo Hoshino, a 20th century breeder. Red and white versions are called Hi Utsuri and Shiro Utsuri. The utsuri means to print.
Bekko koi
Goshiki koi
Shusui koi
Bekko White, red, or yellow, skinned with small black markings sumi. The name means “tortoise shell,”. The white red and yellow varieties are called Shiro Bekko, Aka Bekko and Ki Bekko respectively. Sometimes confused with the Utsuri.
Goshiki Black with red, white, brown, and blue accents.
Shusui Created in 1910 by Yoshigoro Akiyama, crossed a Japanese Asagi with a German mirror carp. The name means “Autumn jade” in Japanese. The fish has no scales, excluding a single line of large mirror scales dorsally, going from head to tail.
Kinginrin koi
Kawarimono koi
Ogon koi
Kinginrin Translates as “gold and silver scales.” A metallic scaled fish. Often abbreviated to Ginrin.
Kawarimono A competition category (you cannot purchase a “kawarigoi” from a pet shop). This is a “catch-all” term that cannot be placed into one of the other categories. Also known as kawarigoi
Ogon Most commonly seen colors are gold, platinum, and orange. Cream specimens exist but are very rare. A one color, but with metallic scales or hikarimono. Japanese name means “Gold.” Variety was created by Sawata Aoki in 1946 from wild carp he caught in 1921.
Kumonryu koi
Doitsu-goi koi
Ochiba koi
Kumonryu – changes color with the seasons. Kumonryu is black with curling white markings. The patterns are thought to be suggestive of Japanese ink paintings of dragons.
Doitsu-goi German mirror carp with a single line of large mirror-like scales along the top.
Ochiba Japanese name means “fallen leaves.” It is light blue with yellow patches, reminiscent of autumn leaves on water.
Koromo koi
Hikari moyomono koi
Butterfly koi
Koromo – patches of blue or black edged scales. This fish first arose in the 1950s as a cross between a Kohaku and Asagi.
Hikari-moyomono – with colored markings over a metallic base, or in two metallic colors.
Butterfly – Not considered Nishikigoi. It has long fins, a version of all others. It was bred in the United States and introduced back into Japan.
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