Nishikigoi (Koi) Introduction & Koi Varieties
Glossary of Koi Words & Pronunciation Guide
It is recognized around the world that the highest quality Nishikigoi come from the finest breeders in the world – and the finest breeders in the world are found in Niigata Japan. Russell Watergardens & Koi, in partnership with the Kodama Koi Farm bring you the finest Nishikigoi (Koi) from the finest breeders in Niigata Japan.
Nishikigoi (Koi) are considered by many to be the ultimate pet and family member.
Russell Watergardens & Koi, together with the Kodama Koi Farm have strict KHV testing, quarantining, isolation, and tracking programs to ensure every Koi you adopt from our stores is healthy, happy, and KHV free.
There are several basic lineages of Nishikigoi (Koi) that are accepted throughout the world. The categories are based upon the Koi’s markings, color and/or scale type. Within each category there are number of subcategories which relate to the way in which colors, scales, or combinations of these are formed in the individual Koi. With so many koi being bred today, quite often a totally unique combination is found, which usually contain features of two or more categories. Therefore, as these Koi can not be placed into one of the acknowledged lineages. As they have become popular, we may find that is time progresses, some of these unique Koi will eventually become consistent enough for their features to form a new category. To help you recognize the differences in your Koi, we have listed the basic categories here.
White bodied Koi with red (hi, pronounced ‘he’ ).
It has been said that Koi keeping begins and ends with the Kohaku. It is the first Koi in the “Big 3” classification known as “Gosanke” – which includes Kohaku, Taisho Sanshoku and Showa Sanshoku.
Taisho Sanshoku (Sanke)
A 3-colored koi – white, with red and black markings. The black (Sumi) is relatively spotted over a Kohaku pattern.
Because the variety was created in the era of Taisho in Japan, it is called “Taisho Sanshoku.” Also known as “Taisho Sanke” or “Sanke” for short.
It is the second Koi in the “Big 3” classification known as “Gosanke” – which includes Kohaku, Taisho Sanshoku and Showa Sanshoku.
A 3-colored koi. Black with white and red markings.
Showa Sanshoku are Koi with calligraphic black (Sumi) pattern over a Kohaku pattern. It is called Showa because the variety was created in the era of Showa in Japan. Also known as “Showa Sanshoku” or “Showa” for short.
It is the third Koi in the “Big 3” classification known as “Gosanke” – which includes Kohaku, Taisho Sanshoku and Showa Sanshoku.
One of the original types of koi. Blue-gray diamond scale patterned koi with red along the sides and belly and in the fins.
The entire body is indigo or blue. Each scale consists of the netting pattern. It is the origin of Nishikigoi.
Shusui are doitsu koi that have. Light blue bodies with darker blue scales along the doral and lateral lines with red patches on their sides.
Shusui is the Doitsu (scaleless) version of Asagi.
Goshiki means “5 colors”. The original Goshiki was developed with colors of Taisho Sanke (red, white, black) and Asagi (navy and blue). Today, the name “Goshiki” refers to any Koi with a gray Asagi-like net scale pattern overlaid with a Kohaku-like pattern. And “Goshiki Sanke” refers to Koi that has black markings of Sanke in addition to Goshiki. Goshiki have Asagi-like black scale reticulation in just the white, or both the white and red patches. Goshiki is identified by Hi (red) patterns on an Asagi background.
Koromo literally means ‘robed’. This describes the Hi (red) pattern, outlined in a darker color, which varies with the variety. Also known as Goromo. Similar to Goshiki with roots to Asagi, Kohakus, and Sankes. Unlike the Goshiki, a Koromo only has Asagi-like black scale reticulation in the Hi (red) patches – none in the white. Koromo is identified by indigo netting pattern on the Hi (red) plates of Kohaku.
Also known as Hikari-Muji Mono, or Ogon for short – is a group of single colored metallic koi.
Hikari Muji indicates varieties that have a solid metallic color such as Ogon or Platinum.
Metallic koi that have more than one color but aren’t Showa or Utsuri.
Hikarimoyo indicates varieties that have patterns except for Sumi (black) of Utsuri mono on a metallic background such as: Hariwake – Gold pattern on platinum background. Kikusui, which is a Doitsu Hariwake that has stronger red. Yamato Nishiki is a metallic Taisho Sanshoku. Heisei Nishiki are Doitsu metallic Taisho Sanshoku. Kujyaku is a metallic Goshiki.
Kawarimono are all non-metallic Koi that do not fall into the other groups.
Koi that do not belong to any of the established varieties are categorized as “Kawari mono” at Koi shows. Some examples are Chagoi (Brown or green brown Koi), Ochiba shigure (Koi has brown and gray pattern), Kumonryu, Beni Kumonryu etc.
Black koi with one other color in patches – white, red, or yellow. Also known as Utsurimono.
Utsurimono indicates varieties with calligraphic Sumi (black) pattern over a solid color background such as Shiro Utsuri (white), Hi Utsuri (red), and Ki Utsuri (yellow).
Named after the national bird of Japan, the Tancho Crane, which has a red spot on the head. There are many types of Tancho including; Tancho Kohaku, Tancho Sanke and Tancho Show, and others.
Tanchos are identified by a single round Hi (red) spot on the head. Depending on the pattern of the other colors on the body, they are categorized as Tancho Kohaku, Doitsu Tancho Kohaku, Tancho Showa, Tancho Goshiki etc.
Koi that have no scales on the body except one row down the spine, and one row on each side of the body are called Doitsu. There are many varieties of Koi that have Doitsu versions. Doitsu originated as scaleless food carp in Germany that where cross bred with many Japanese Koi.
Indicates that Koi varieties that have reflective diamonds scales on the entire bodies
are Koi, or any variety, that have extra long fins. They are especially beautiful at night when swimming in a pond with underwater lights. Their large fins reflect light and give them the appearance of “angles” in the water.
Nishikigoi Bring “Peace” to Your Home.
Words from Mr. Kodama:
“Nishikigoi treasure conformity with their owners and amongst themselves and is known as a symbol of “peace.” When you approach a pond full of Nishikigoi, they gather around you to eat out of your hand; they are very friendly and soothe the owners’ hearts. Nishikigoi are very gentle and do not attack other Koi, a trait unusual to fish that school up. They have a natural instinct of coexisting with others. The attraction of Nishikigoi is not only the beauty but also the peace they bring to your home, so let a Nishikigoi into your life!”
“The appeal of a Nishikigoi is in the grace that comes from the large body. No other word than “swimming jewel” can describe a large beautifully colored Nishikigoi swimming elegantly. The Nishikigoi herding together one moment and pulling away from each other the next is a breathtaking scenery; a scenery that depicts the colorful and graceful beauty. No other aquarium fish in the world offers you such enjoyment.”
Come to Russell Watergardens & Koi Flagship Store in Redmond, WA to see first hand, exactly what Mr. Kodama is talking about. Once you see our beautifully landscaped ponds filled with lovable Nishikigoi, you’ll know what “peace” really means. Hand feed the Nishikigoi yourself, or watch as they actually take food right out of the lips of Mr. Russell himself! (Once you’ve been kissed on the lips by a Nishikigoi, you’re life will never be the same again!)