The Most Important Decision
When Buying Koi Is
Who and Where
They Come From… Period!
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All of the well known Kohaku bloodlines established in the years that followed (Tomoin, Sensuke, Yagozen, Manzo) arose from Gosuke Koi crossbred with other unrelated, yet promising, fish. These bloodlines were named after the breeders who worked diligently to refine their Koi over many generations of careful selection. Today, the Tomoin and Yagozen are the two remaining major Kohaku bloodlines in Japan.
It wasn't until the early 1800s that red and white mutations started occurring within the common carp, which had been kept and bred for food by Japanese rice farmers for centuries. In the Niigata prefecture, the well known heartland of koi, the farmers viewed these mutations as a curiosity and began breeding them together. Early Kohaku characteristics began emerging in some of these offspring -
Then, in 1888, a man named Kunizo Hiroi bred a red-
What to look for in a Kohaku
Kohaku are white Koi with hi markings that should be of an even intensity of color. The color of a Koi can be improved and stabilized over the years by color feeding and constant attention to water quality. The main color should be snow white, with no yellowing and should exhibit a fine luster. The kiwa must be sharp. However, in young, unfinished Kohaku the scales are still kokesuke (semi-
Head hi is essential. On a "classic" Kohaku, this head hi should form a U-
Kohaku can be further described depending on the patterning of their hi. "Stepped" patterns are recognized by consecutive "islands" of hi on the Koi's head and body. A Kohaku brandishing 2 "steps" is called nidan, literally meaning two-
For continuous head-
Body hi need not be symmetrical, or even conventionally balanced, as long as it is pleasing to the eye. But hi confined to one side of the Koi when viewed from above, or making the fish head-
Today's trend is for Kohaku patterns to be imposing, and this should be taken into account when buying young fish. As the skin stretches, areas of hi move apart from one another, so avoid young Koi that appear to be small replicas of finished adults. Conversely, large, apparently dull blocks of hi can "break" later in life to form intriguing patterns. Finished Koi typically show equal depth of color on the head, whilst Tategoi (young Koi) typically have deeper color on the head in comparison of that on the body. Quite often on young Kohaku, the scales on the body will contain a small, inner diamond of darker color that matches the head. With good water quality the hi on the body should darken to match the head color and the color seen on the inner scales. This will continue each year until all the hi on the body is of a uniform color. This is when the Koi would be considered finished.