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Thread: Sumi development vs general hardness - Myth?

  1. #11
    Tosai
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    Quote Originally Posted by HenryC View Post
    For years I have read some state that Sanke and Showa require harder water to develop sumi. My experience has been quite the opposite. I have kept my water on the soft side, using a softener to tune my water to 60ppm GH. This year I took it a little further and dropped it to 40ppm GH mainly to see the effects on skin. Alkanlinity is kept at 100ppm so there are no pH shifts (rock solid at 7.9). Below is a side by side of my SFF Sanke. On the left is her photo in October while still in Japan (nisai 59cm). Just a hint of a few places sumi would emerge. On the right is her photo today (66cm). She arrived in Orlando in late December and after a month in QT, into my pond. So after less than 6 months in my pond her sumi has developed a great deal. All the time in 40ppm GH water. This is not the first time I have seen sumi develop well in soft water. I have raised several Sanke and Showa that have developed lacquer black sumi.

    I am wondering if this is common and the theories of harder water needed for sumi development being more of a myth than fact. Maybe it comes down to the genetics of the Koi. Sanke and Showa that are going to develop high quality sumi are going to do it whether in hard or soft water, while other Koi may need some assistance to bring it out.
    Opinions? Similar or contradictory experiences?
    Hello fellow Koi Kichi. I have just recently joined and this is my first post but I have been reading this fine site for a few years now. This is a thread that is of great interest to me.

    HenryC, You state that you have kept your water on the soft side but obviously that depends on what ones' definition of soft is. With a pH of 7.9 and an Alkalinity of 100ppm, most would hardly consider that soft. A GH dropped to 40-60ppm via a salt based water softener does not soft water make. The single water parameter GH is not what determines its' hardness. With the parameters you stated above, I would be more concerned with the beni on my koi than the sumi.

    Do you have an accurate TDS reading that you can share with us.

    Best Regards,

    Tim Richards

  2. #12
    Jumbo HenryC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Richards View Post
    Hello fellow Koi Kichi. I have just recently joined and this is my first post but I have been reading this fine site for a few years now. This is a thread that is of great interest to me.

    HenryC, You state that you have kept your water on the soft side but obviously that depends on what ones' definition of soft is. With a pH of 7.9 and an Alkalinity of 100ppm, most would hardly consider that soft. A GH dropped to 40-60ppm via a salt based water softener does not soft water make. The single water parameter GH is not what determines its' hardness. With the parameters you stated above, I would be more concerned with the beni on my koi than the sumi.

    Do you have an accurate TDS reading that you can share with us.

    Best Regards,

    Tim Richards
    Yes, the TDS in the pond hovers around 250. I assume a little of that is the low level of salt the water softener adds to the pond. I used to use a large RO unit to lower both the Alkalinity and GH and the TDS was down around 130.

    I questioned the lower GH value as that is what most people spoke of when they discussed sumi development.

  3. #13
    Jumbo HenryC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobF View Post
    Henry, What a beautiful sanke. You set such a high standard, few, very few have the facilities to even ask the question you pose (I wrote this to you as an email, then I decided I had spent so much time writing it I should just post it). As you point out well established facts aren’t often evaluated since everyone knows that such and such has long been known. Rarely will anyone site sources or post links. In terms of pigmentation this is doubly true (for example http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/reprint/207/22/3999 ).
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    Thanks Rob. You have been doing your reading. And I am not about to use the new microscope to view the Sanke's scales. They will be staying right where they are.

  4. #14
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobF View Post
    Henry, What a beautiful sanke. You set such a high standard, few, very few have the facilities to even ask the question you pose (I wrote this to you as an email, then I decided I had spent so much time writing it I should just post it). As you point out well established facts aren’t often evaluated since everyone knows that such and such has long been known. Rarely will anyone site sources or post links. In terms of pigmentation this is doubly true (for example http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/reprint/207/22/3999 ).

    Your question of course regards the prominence of the appearance of black pigmentation as related to water hardness. An apparent increase (or decrease) in the sumi indicates either (or both) more black or less white. Given the way that the sumi appears to come up the second alternative of less white would seem the less likely. However this pigmentation strategy of lessening the intervening color (of an iridophore layer) to reveal more black is not uncommon in other fish (http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/reprint/206/20/3607 ). But in terms of koi, the question, as I understand it is likely: “Does water hardness affect the aggregation of dermal melanophores koi?” There is considerable research regarding melanophores, even fish melanophores (like http://www.uvm.edu/~nkad/PDFs/gelfand.pdf ). The black pigment cells, the melanophores appear and disappear, when the melanin (black) granules spread out from or retreat to the melanosome’s center. This process of disaggregation and aggregation out of and into the melanosome’s many radial arms is driven by chemical agents along an electrical gradient. The more the microtubular arms of the melanosome are filled the more the black shows. So the question becomes “What is it, if anything, about water hardness is it that affects the distribution of melanin in the melanophores of koi?” The closely related, and commonly observed phenomena that water temperature affects the amount of sumi offers some insight into the question under consideration. It can be taken as proof that melanin disaggregation and re-aggregation (in warm water), is indeed affected by more than just genetics.

    So how could water hardness get to the melanosomes and influence the pigment aggregation state? Two possible routes would seem obvious: 1. From the outside in and 2. From the inside out. In the first case, outside in, says that the hardness kind of soaks in, like the way that temperature takes time to affect sumi. The purposes of melanin are many and mysterious, but protection from various environmental hazards is certainly one of them. In “Cellular responses of the skin of carp (Cyprinus carpio) exposed to acidified waterhttp://www.springerlink.com/content/v05263pg214763j6/ the migration of melanin into the epidermis is demonstrated to be caused by acidified water. But this is a protective response, into surface skin layers, a disease process that passes, and would be more related to the question of shimi. The issue here is sumi that is preferred. Is it the case that an increase in sumi is a response to harsher harder water conditions? If so would there be an upper limit? Is the affect linear? Can it be demonstrated experimentally? In vitro demonstration of melanin aggregation and disaggregation as a result of direct exposure to many chemicals actually is well established. Scales taken from the same individual and exposed to different levels of water hardness and examined under a light microscope might prove instructive in this instance. Time to get out that new microscope!

    And in the second case if it an inside out thing then somehow the water hardness would seem to be playing into Tyrosinase (the rate-limiting enzyme for melanin synthesis). If that is the case then supplements would seem a viable alternative (melanin enhancing foods just think of the market). From what I read if this is the case then you probably should share your morning coffee with your sanke (or pour it in the pond in the first case)!
    Neat links, Rob. The Japanese Inland Fisheries Research group studied sumi development in koi during the '70s and early '80s. There are articles in old Rinko magazines from the early '80s (when Rinko was the ZNA membership mag) summarizing some of the conclusions. One finding was that silicon impeded the dispersion of melanin from the melanophores. Higher silica content typically coincides with harder water. This finding seemed to match experience in having certain ponds with sandy soils better for Showa development.

    In theory, the most intense sumi could arise from there being melanophores that are genetically constructed to be highly retentive of pigment; or, there being more melanophores in more skin layers; or, larger melanophores... etc., etc., ...or, some of all of these. If the structure of melanophores has been genetically selected in the breeding process, then the hardness of the water would be less relevant to sumi development now than in past decades. So, what could be true as to the sumi we consider lower grade, may not be true (or as important) for the higher grade sumi produced by the leading breeders.

  5. #15
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    Right on , Henry. Sumi is a word to black. But the color cells that make up 'black' can be in epidermis, dermis or deep dermis. They can also be small in size or large and layered or just gathered around fatty cells within the upper dermis.
    The lower grade koi typically has a narrow dermis band and collagen fibers that are random and sturdy in one layer.
    The higher grade koi has a deep bellowy dermis space that accommodates large amounts of color cells. And the collagen fibers are mutations in that they reflex and absorb light due to their translucent nature and they way they are organized in more uniform patterns.

    Koi skin will 'react' to it's environment as a third element in it's development. - JR

  6. #16
    Jumbo RobF's Avatar
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    HC, No I wouldn’t recommend pulling any scales from the girl in the picture! But I have half a dozen black and white offspring from this spring’s spawn of Old Blue’s daughter.
    Mike, I appreciate you citing your source, I would really like to look at those old Rinko articles. Do you still have access to the archive? Even though melanin and melanophores have long been studied they remain a subject of considerable interest. Carp and koi genetics are vast unknowns, but melanin (and all) http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-2148-7-74.pdf is still a source insight (the detail on this one will wear you out, but the overview is enlightening).

  7. #17
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    Although the biological facts are obviously accurate in that paper, the details apply to wild or normal genetics and have little to do with nishikigoi mutation genetics. So right subject matter but wrong context. JR

  8. #18
    Honmei KoiCop's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting that link, Rob -- an interesting read (from what I could understand of it).

    The opening statement (below) contained a fact I never knew; one which sheds light on the variety of pigment cell types in the primordial genetic soup of common carp which the rice farmers of Niigata were able to exploit.

    Coloration and color patterning belong to the most diverse phenotypic traits in animals. Particularly, teleost fishes possess more pigment cell types than any other group ofvertebrates.


  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasPR View Post
    Although the biological facts are obviously accurate in that paper, the details apply to wild or normal genetics and have little to do with nishikigoi mutation genetics. So right subject matter but wrong context. JR
    That is poor logic and incorrect sir.

    Regards

    Tim Richards

  10. #20
    Jumbo HenryC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Richards View Post
    That is poor logic and incorrect sir.

    Regards

    Tim Richards
    Hey Don, that pretty much confirms it.

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