Japanese Koi fish, the domesticated descendants of ordinary carp, have a rich history that dates back to their origins in the freshwater bodies of Eastern Asia.
These remarkable creatures have captured the hearts of enthusiasts worldwide due to their captivating patterns and vibrant colours, which have been meticulously developed through generations of selective breeding.
The Fascinating History of Japanese Koi Fish
With over 100 distinct varieties of Koi, each distinguished by its unique colouration, patterns, and scale types, these fish have been categorized into 13 classifications for easy identification.
Kohaku, the most common variety, boasts a white body adorned with patches of vibrant red markings.
Sanke Koi features white bodies with red patches overlaid with striking black patterns. These Koi were first displayed in 1914 during the Taisho era in Japan.
Showa Koi are known for their black bodies adorned with red and white markings. Though distinguishing between Showa and Sanke can be challenging, Showa Koi always display black colouration below the lateral line and on their heads.
Utsuri Koi, a shortened term for “Utsurimono” meaning reflections, are characterized by their black bodies with one of three colour patches: red, white, or yellow.
Bekko Koi exhibit a black patch on a coloured base, making them sometimes mistaken for Utsuri Koi. To differentiate, check for black markings on the head. Bekko Koi come in three types: white-bodied, red-bodied, and yellow-bodied.
6. Asagi and Shusui:
Asagi Koi sport a blue-grey net pattern on their bodies, with dark blue edges on their scales and red markings below the lateral lines. Shusui, meaning “autumn green,” is a scale-less variation of Asagi, created by selective breeding.
7. Koromo and Goshiki:
Koromo Koi are white-bodied with distinctive red patches, developed through selective breeding from Kohaku and Asagi. There are three Koromo types: Aigoromo, Sumigoromo, and Budogoromo. Goshiki Koi inherited red, black, and white colours from Asagi and Sanke, resulting in a two-tone Asagi superimposition.
Kawarimono, or Kawarigoi, encompass non-metallic Koi varieties that don’t fit into other categories. The list of Kawarimono varieties continues to grow, with recognized types like Hajiro, Shiroji, Hageshiro, and Kumonryu.
Hikarimuji Koi are single-coloured with a glossy shine on their skin. Varieties include Orenji Ogon, Aka Matsuba, Yamabuki Ogon, Kin Matsuba, and Gin Matsuba.
Hikarimoyo Koi, similar to Hikarimuji, feature distinct patterns with two or more colours. The metallic versions of Showa and Utsuri fall into the Hikari Utsuri category. Prominent Hikarimoyo varieties include Yamatonishiki, Hariwake, Sakura Ogon, and Kujaku.
11. Hikari Utsuri:
Hikari Utsuri includes the metallic versions of Showa and Utsuri, featuring gold, silver, and black-bodied variants.
Kinginrin Koi, meaning “gold and silver scales,” exhibits scales with a distinct sparkling effect. Kinrin Koi have gold sparkles on their scales, while Ginrin Koi sport silver sparkles. Kinginrin Koi display both gold and silver sparkles.
Named after Japan’s national bird, the Tancho Crane, these Koi feature a red spot on their heads reminiscent of the Japanese flag. Tancho Koi are popular worldwide and always in high demand. This unique feature occurs by chance, as it is not a breedable trait.
In addition to these classifications, there are also Doitsu Koi, which result from crossbreeding mirror carp and Nishikigoi. Doitsu Koi can have scales or be scaleless but are not typically recognized as a separate classification.
Lastly, there are non-Nishikigoi variants such as Ghost Koi and Butterfly Koi, which were developed in the 20th century but are not officially classified as Nishikigoi. These Koi are favoured by beginner-level enthusiasts for their unique characteristics.
For assistance in building your Koi pond and acquiring high-quality Koi breeds, please feel free to contact us.