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The Most Important Decision
When Buying Koi Is
Who and Where
They Come From… Period!
Koi Breeding Begins;
Though there is not much known about Koi keeping and breeding in the pre-
There are no official records of the first Koi mutations but it is thought that it was a red carp called "Hookazuki" (Ho-
Around the same time in Niigata, other Koi mutations were developing. It was not long before the all black mutation, now known as the Magoi, was discovered by breeding two strains of wild carp: one brown/black and the other blue/black. Also from this early mutation came the first true blue Koi, the Asagi, meaning "light blue". It wasn't until years later that an Asagi Sanke was crossed with a Doitsu Metallic Koi and the first Shusui, meaning "autumn water", was bred.
A Brief History Of Koi
It may be difficult at first to believe that all Koi breeds can trace their bloodlines to the rather plain, black Common Carp (Cyprinus Carpio), but if you think about all of the dog or cat breeds that have been developed through selective breeding, it's natural that the same has been achieved with fish.
It is believed that the Common Carp was transported from Eurasia to the Far East over 2,000 years ago, then to Japan through either China or Korea, where they were bred as a food source. Since carp are so hardy, they were able to withstand such long traveling periods. There is evidence that the Common Carp finally made it to Japan approximately 1,000 years ago.
The next stage in Koi breeding is known as the third mutation of Nishikigoi. This is the stage where the Bekko varieties were first discovered and bred. This variety consists of the Shiro Bekko, the Aka Bekko, and the Ki Bekko.
It is said that Japanese farmers kept the carp in mud ponds to supplement their daily diet of rice and vegetables. Most likely the carp were kept in reserved mud ponds rather than in the rice paddies, for carp would eat the rice plants making them more of a burden than a blessing. As many a biologist will tell you, when a species is kept and bred utilizing a small gene pool, mutations will occur. In the case of carp, these mutations produced changes in color. The farmers who owned these mutant fish prized them and kept the fish as collector items instead of food for the table. When these irregularities were discovered, farmers began breeding them as a hobby. It is believed that this happened somewhere between 1840 and 1844, many years after carp were brought to the Japanese Islands. And so, the breeding and keeping of Nishikigoi, or Koi, began and now they are enjoyed by hobbyists worldwide.
It was from this handful of Koi breeds that all other Nishikigoi types were bred, with the exception of the Ogon variety (single colored, metallic Koi) which wasn't developed until recently. The last development of this early time was a great breakthrough in Koi breeding and is still revered as one of the most traditional of Koi breeds. A tri-
In the early 1900’s, Koi keeping began to take flight. Koi had become a symbol of luck and prosperity. At this time, most Japanese mansions and upper-
Their large, shiny, uniform scales -
The first successful crosses between the German carp and the Japanese carp were made in 1904. All resulting "scaleless" varieties were to be known as Doitsu Nishikigoi. These modern varieties contributed greatly to the expansion of Nishikigoi throughout the world and finally provided the genetics for the last part of the Koi puzzle -
Meanwhile, after the Taisho Sanke was introduced, the Showa Sanshoku Sanke (later called the Showa) was discovered and with it the came the end of the Taisho era. In 1927 the Showa Sanke made its debut, primarily a black Koi with red and white markings (as opposed to the Sanke which is a predominately white Koi with red and black markings).
In the early 1920’s, a wild carp with golden scales was crossed with a Koi in hopes to produce the greatest amount of golden color possible. By 1946 the first Ogon (golden Koi) was produced. The name "Ogon" initially referred only to the gold form, but today it applies to all single-
All Koi types bred after this time are considered modern breeds that have been developed recently, such as Matsuba Ogon (1960’s), Gin-