FAQs About Nishikigoi (Koi Fish)


Search our FAQs below or use the sidebar to navigate through our frequently asked questions about koi appreciation, Japanese culture, and the history of this wonderful hobby. Thanks for your interest and visit us often!

Japanese Koi Culture (6)

There is a big koi club in Japan called the Japan Nishikigoi Association, and the first chairman of the club, Mr. Kimiaki Koshihara, coined the phrase “living jewels.”

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Japanese culture is represented by many symbols. The Nishikigoi is the national fish of Japan, and it is called Kokugyo.

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There are only 200 breeders. 40 years ago, there were almost 6,000 breeders. These remaining 200 breeders survived the tough competition and were able to provide beautiful and unique Koi. These breeders are all excellent and have their own representative varieties.

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Black carp in natural rivers and ponds evolved to white, red and blue carp by chance. The blue lineage carp eventually became the Asagi.

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Yes. In breeding Asagi, koi which had lost all the blue and had red left only on the belly and pectoral fins. By crissing these koi carefully, the Kohaku developed.

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Yes. There are three requirements to be the best breeding site, location, society and people. In terms of location, Niigata is excellent. It has excellent clay and water quality and the natural surroundings are wonderful. It is also home to a research center to study koi disease. There are about 200 breeders in Niigata that support and compete with each other to reed more beautiful nishikigoi.

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Koi Care and Feeding (14)

In order for a koi to grow very large, you need to make sure it is well fed. But even with a good amount of food, the cannot grow if the pond environment is not ideal.

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The most important aspect of a pone is water quality. If the pond is designed to maintain good water, then it is a good pond. When designing a pond, you need to think of the shape of the pond, the depth, filtration etc.

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Koi try to find food even at night. It is okay to feed them up until around 10 o’clock at night.

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A pigment called Carotene makes the Hi look red. Koi do not produce this so they must obtain it from their food. Spirulina is how food manufacturers provide raw carotene, so look for food that contains Spirulina.

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Montmorillonite is a mineral that is beneficial to Koi. Products like “Koi Nendo” contain abundant amounts of the mineral and help improve water quality. Learn more about koi clay, montmorillonite clay, and why it is used to mimic Japanese mud ponds.

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Water that has a variety of minerals in good balance is best for koi. Distilled water (which will not support koi) added to a bit of sea water for its salt and mineral content, is perfect for Koi. In Niigata, pure water comes from from snow, soaks into the ground and collects various minerals. This pure water amended with minerals is what the breeders in Niigata use.

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The sound of water being aerated is very beneficial to koi. Researchers have confirmed that the sound of falling water stimulates a Nishikigoi’s appetite. It is beneficial to have waterfalls in koi ponds.

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There are three conditions where this may happen. If the fish grows fast, if the surroundings suddenly change or when it becomes sick. If you avoid these conditions, the probably losing Toh Hi is very low.

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The shiroji of Shiro Utsuri loses its purity when it is fed color-enhancing food. Kohaku need color enhancing food to thickent their HI. Since the strategies for raising these two varieties for competition are opposite, they should be kept separately.

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If you are intending to show the Koi, it is better to keep Kohaku that requires color enhancing food away from Bekko and Shiro Utsuri to protect the pureness of their Shiroji. In an ordinary pond, you can truly enjoy a gorgeous school of koi when you put all the varieties together.

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Some koi have weaker Asagi blood and stronger Hajiro blood and tend to turn black. If you stop its growth at this time, it will stay black. It is important to keep them growing.

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One of the biggest characteristics of Ogon is that they are not afraid of people. They are very friendly. Adding 2 to 3 Ogon in a pond will make the entire school of koi friendly.

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We do not recommend it. Wild carp are accustomed to protecting themselves from outside enemies. They are very sensitive. Adding this sensitive fish to a school of koi can make the entire school very careful and sensitive to sounds.

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Any Koi that has Hi need color-enhancing food. Learn more about koi food for health and growth.

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Koi Appreciation (41)

Hi means “red”

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To become the grand champion, the koi must be over 40 inches long, have a good quality and its pattern must be excellent.

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This is not something you can easily define, but one thing is balance. Balance is very important. To study this further, we strongly recommend reading Kokugyo I.

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There are three things you should keep in mind when raising Koi. First, choose the breeder (lineage) carefully. Study about Nishikigoi (xKishikigoia) and obtain the skill to find an excellent koi. And finally, learn how to raise koi to become at least 40 inches long.

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Kohaku consists of two colors, red and white. This white is called Shiroji. In order for the red to appear beautiful, the white must be as pure as possible.

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First, the fish must be healthy. When the fish is sick, its Shiroji can become dull or yellow. Water quality must be good and the Koi must be fed good food.

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Loran is a nickname given to a Grand Champion at the All Japan Nishikigoi Show.

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Fukurin is the way the flesh between the koi scales form a net pattern. When Koi are small, the space between each scale is too narrow to form this pattern. As koi grow, the space between the scales becomes wider and creates the Fukurin.

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15 years ago, the Hi was considered more important, and redder was better. Recently, white has been more valued. Now, red and white are now judged to be of equal importance.

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If its pattern is better than a certain standard, Ginrin is more important. Especially at koi shows, a good pattern with poor Ginrin will not win top prizes.

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Sumi is the term for black in Koi. Sumi quality refers to its content. The highest quality Sumi is the deepest, true black.

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The requirements for Nishikigoi beauty are body conformation, quality and pattern. Body conformation is most important. A beautiful pattern will no be valued if one of the eyes or half of the tail fin is missing. The most important criterial is that koi should have a beautiful body.

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Showa Sanshoku has more Sumi than the Taisho Sanshoku. Showa Sanshoku has sumi on the head and has Motoguro. The Taisho Sanshoku does not have motoguro or sumi on the head.

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When Taisho Sanshoku are born, there is no sumi on the body. As the fish grows, the sumi appears. When Showa Sanshoku are born, the entire body is black. As it grows, the black disappears and the white and red appear.

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The pigment that forms Sumi is Meranin. This pigment is the same in both varieties, so the quality is the same. Because the Sumi appears differently in patches on Showa Sanshoku and spots on Taisho Sanshoku, its quality looks different to our eyes.

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Because the Japanese flag resembles a Tancho Kohaku, they are very popular and highly valued.

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No. At this point, Tancho is no at stabilized variety. To get Tancho Kohaku, we breed many Kohaku and select those that only have pattern on their heads.

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There are three, shiroji, sumi quality and sumi pattern.

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The size and position of sumi, the number of sumi spots and pure shiroji.

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On Asagi, Hi is traditionally found on the belly, cheeks and the pectoral, dorsal and tail fins. Hi on the pectoral and tail fins follows the standard, but it is not an absolute necessity. Even without the Hi on the fins, the beautiful net pattern on its body is enough to appreciate its beauty. We should not be rigid in desiring Hi on the fins.

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Yes, they are very important. It is the standard for every variety. The shape of the fins are also important. The fins should be symmetrical. Large, rounded pectoral fins add to the beauty of every variety.

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From around 4 to 5 years old, or once they have reached the size of about 24 inches.

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The Hi of Shusui does not change like the sumi of Kumonryu. Although the hi will change a bit from the time is was a Tosai, it will become stable when it is more than 2 years old.

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The skin of Shusui is a strong blue when it is young. It gets weaker as it grows. In principle, the thicker the blue, the better. The blue will get weaker as it grows. A mature koi with high quality blue ground is more desirable. While most blue is getting weaker, the Hi is getting stronger.

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Hi on the head is not an absolute requirement, but the koi looks more beautiful with it.

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Scalation on its back is very important because we look at koi from above. Because scalation on the belly is hard to see, it does not really affect its value.

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It depends on it’s lineage? Some bloodlines have Ai when they are Tosai. Others have Ai when they grow 20-24 inches.

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The level of perfection of a variety means the perfection of the characteristics that the variety has. For example, the prime characteristic of Tancho Kohaku is the true round Hi spot on the head. Platinum has to shine strongly in platinum. In Aigoromo, the beautiful appearance of the Hi plates is critical. It is important to study the character of each variety.

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In the Koi world, there is a social status. Gosanke is the word that that expresses this status. Gosanke refers to the three varieties that represent Nishikigoi. They are the Kohaku, Taisho Sanshoku and Showa Sanshoku. These are known as the Big 3 and have the highest status.

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Crossing Kohaku with Asagi created Goshiki. There have been many crossings and improvements, and there are not necessarily five colors right now.

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In they Kujyaku variety, there is a red bloodline and a Yamabuki bloodline. The redder color is preferred for the red bloodline, but all Kujyaku do not necessarily have to be red. Both bloodlines are judged equally at shows.

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The only difference is whether or not they have scales.

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Basically, they refer to the same thing. We use different terms depending on the varieties. We use net pattern for Asagi and Goshiki. We use Fukurin for Ogon, Kohaku, Taisho Sanshoku and Showa Sanshoku.

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Ogon can grow to that size in 8 years or much sooner. However, if the pond is shallow and small, and if it is not fed enough, it can only grow to fit its environment. Ogon has a gene for large growth, to any Ogon can grow big.

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In every Showa Sanshoku variety, Motoguro is a condition of the beauty. If there is no Motoguro, then both pectoral fins need to be white or need to shine beautifully in platinum.

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Yes, the redder the better.

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Koi can be mature enough to breed in three years. In three years Koi have developed mature beauty. The best timing is when they are three years old.

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Motoguro means the base of the pectoral fins is black. Motoguro occurs in varieties like Showa Sanshoku, Shiro Utsuri, Hajiro and Kumontyu.

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Red on the base of the pectoral fins is called Motoaka. Asagi, Shusui and Aka Hajiro have Motoaka.

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Higoi indicates a simple red koi. Benigoi is a koi whose red is more enhanced.

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Hajiro is a black koi whose only white is the tips of the pectoral fins. A red koi with white on the tip of the fins is called Aka Hajiro.

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General Koi Facts (20)

It depends on how you categorize them, but in general there are more than 120 varieties.

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Yes, it is true. It can be hard for koi to digest food, so it is important to feed them easy-to-digest food.

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Some koi have been found that are 58 inches long.

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The season depends on the location. The temperature of the water triggers the spawn. In hot places like Okinawa, the season begins in March, while in Niigata it is in May and June. In tropical countries, it is possible for the Koi to spawn 2-3 times per year.

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At night when there is no sun-light, Koi stop swimming actively and are quiet at the bottom. They look like they are sleeping.

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Ginrin is the short term for Kin Ginrin. They are shiny scales. Ginrin shines gold on red, and silver on white.

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Yes. Almost all fish have a silver shine. The gene that creates silver scales is strong and any variety can have a beautiful Ginrin variation.

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Tancho Kohaku is produced from regular Kohachu breeding. Tancho Taisho Sanshoku are produced from breeding Taisho Sanshoku.

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Hachiware is a type of pattern that devides the face into half.

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They come from the same parents. Bekko is a koi with Sumi (xsimu) on the shiroji that is bred from Taisho Sanshoku. Sometimes koi with sumi on red skin appears. This is Hi Bekko. Hi Bekko and Bekko are brothers and sisters of Taisho Sanshoku.

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Yes. Like Shiro Bekko, it comes from Taisho Sanshoku breeding.

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Goshiki is bred by crossing Asagi with Kohaku. Aigoromo came from the process of leaving pattern only on the Hi, making the other part white. Simply speaking, Aigoromo has white as its ground and Goshiki has color there, and sometimes Hi as well.

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“Ai” means indigo and “Koromo” means clothes. Therefore, Aigoromo means koi wearing indigo clothes.

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It is Koromo with Sumi instead of Ai. Because Aigoromo comes from Asagi bloodlines, it usually has the Asagi’s scale color on its Hi plate. When Sumi appears instead, it is recognized as Sumigoromo.

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Goshiki literally means five colors in Japanese. When the variety was developed, there were five colors.

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It is true that through generations of careful breeding the black carp has turned into this beautiful fish. No tropical fish has ever been mixed into koi bloodlines.

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Yes, any Ogon except Doitsu Ogon can have Fukurin. Fukurin does not appear until the koi grows at least 24 inches. As it continues to grow, the Fukurin will become thicker and more beautiful.

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It is one of the clues. Breeders can estimate the age simply by looking at the koi. Breeders can tell the age by collecting various information such as body conormation, coloration, head and fins size, scale size, thickness of fukurin, etc.

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Koi can live more than 80 years.

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After spawning, a female eats food very aggressively and gets ready for the next season. Males do not have as big of an appetite as the females. Typically, the female eats more and ends up growing bigger in girth and length.

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Learn About Koi

On this FAQ page, you can learn about Koi appreciation and the Japanese culture associated with this display of living jewels. If you have any other questions please contact us today.

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