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Thread: Musings On Mutts and Pretty Pond Fish

  1. #1
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Musings On Mutts and Pretty Pond Fish

    There are always posts on koi boards asking what variety a koi might be. Sometimes these are interesting threads about unique fish. Often the fish is just a mutt and folks try to say so without being unkind. A recent thread on another board was pretty much that sort. However, the fish was not a mutt. It was a Goshiki, albeit a truly old-style one very like the Goshiki pictured in Amano's 1968 'Live Jewels' book (see p.82).... a vaguely Asagi-like fish with splashes of weak Hi.

    That got me thinking about whether koi varieties can become so improved that the original form is no longer acceptably labeled with the varietal name it inspired. From a taxonomic perspective such a thought is nonsense. A taxonomist knows as a certainty that if a variety of a living creature changes, the question becomes whether the change is great enough to justify a new name being given to the new form. But, koi varieties are not of taxonomic significance. Koi varieties are the labels given by breeders and koikeepers to distinguish certain koi for ease of communication, and for a range of other reasons, such as marketing. The fact that varieties do not breed true pretty much eliminates any taxonomic interest in labeling all of the variations, but it creates all the more need for breeders and koikeepers to create labels so they can communicate. If the goal is accurate communication, it makes sense that as the commonly understood idea of what is a Goshiki changes, fish that were Goshiki in the 1960s may no longer be understood as anything more than a mutt in 2011. A half century of improvement has surely changed our concept of Goshiki.

    Of course, Goshiki is not alone. Amano's old book has many examples. The wagoi Kujaku on p. 103 is surely just a pretty pond fish by today's understanding of Kujaku, and I expect a lot of folks would label it a mutt long before grudgingly acknowledging that it could be a poor example of the variety. The Shiro Ogons (Platinums) on p. 109 are far too creamy in color to be considered platinums today. Kohaku is so simple a variety that it is hard to think even an early one would not be recognized as Kohaku, but looking at the famous drawings of the Kohaku taken to the Tokyo Exposition a century ago I wonder. They are still Kohaku to my eye, although such poor examples they would certainly be culled early on by any respectable breeder.

    I am fond of saying that any one can afford Grand Champion level koi, if they look to the level of accomplishment of another era. Indeed, some of those early GCs would not be much above pretty pond fish status today. But, I am thinking the same may not be quite true of varieties. The early examples of some varieties just don't make the grade any more. That is a great achievement by the breeders, and a great benefit to hobbyists. Koi are so much more beautiful now than then.

    I do not mean to upset all who have deep attachment to their mutts and pretty pond fish. My personal favorite koi is a Hariwake that hatched in my lily pond 17 summers ago. She looks a lot like something that would be in Amano's book. A lot of folks would think of her as just a metallic two-colored pond fish. But, she will always be Hariwake to me.
    Last edited by MikeM; 07-31-2011 at 10:07 AM.

  2. #2
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    ...And, thanks, Brian, for fixing my posting problem.

  3. #3
    Administrator Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    ...And, thanks, Brian, for fixing my posting problem.
    Lol...my pleasure.
    Brian Sousa
    Koi-Bito Forum

  4. #4
    Daihonmei dick benbow's Avatar
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    a different "take" on your observation......

    Back prior to koi ,when fishing ruled my world, I started out enjoying the peace and serenity and an occassional fish.
    Then as i became more focused i wanted to catch more and more, then just the trophy sized ones. last year for the first time i never bought a license. Now this year i have and find myself at the beginning of the circle again....just looking to get out, maybe with son and grandson.

    now for Koi, It's that circle thing again......
    just wanted the color, then wanted stuff that looked like what was in the books, then just one show fish, then, everything else had to be competitive. Now I'm back to just enjoying the time with the Koi. If they didn't turn out like I had wanted when they were purchased as tosai....like whinnie the pooh bear would say...."oh,bother" But in truth it is no bother as now they're family.

    We have come a long way from the early days of color variety improvements.
    the fact we can see the difference and understand the progression is what this hobby contributes toward our education. as for mutts, well they need love too. I quess in the big picture of things we're all mutts
    Dick Benbow

  5. #5
    Tosai Edith's Avatar
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    mutts

    Quote Originally Posted by dick benbow View Post
    a different "take" on your observation......

    Back prior to koi ,when fishing ruled my world, I started out enjoying the peace and serenity and an occassional fish.
    Then as i became more focused i wanted to catch more and more, then just the trophy sized ones. last year for the first time i never bought a license. Now this year i have and find myself at the beginning of the circle again....just looking to get out, maybe with son and grandson.

    now for Koi, It's that circle thing again......
    just wanted the color, then wanted stuff that looked like what was in the books, then just one show fish, then, everything else had to be competitive. Now I'm back to just enjoying the time with the Koi. If they didn't turn out like I had wanted when they were purchased as tosai....like whinnie the pooh bear would say...."oh,bother" But in truth it is no bother as now they're family.

    We have come a long way from the early days of color variety improvements.
    the fact we can see the difference and understand the progression is what this hobby contributes toward our education. as for mutts, well they need love too. I quess in the big picture of things we're all mutts
    I love this post.. I know that all my fish are culls and mutts but they are family. and much beloved pets. I have no intentions of showing any fish { wouldnt know how anyway} My most expensive koi cost $5 two years ago. But to my husband and me they are priceless!

  6. #6
    Tosai
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    Good thread!

  7. #7
    Jumbo DavidSoon's Avatar
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    Went to one of my associate's place last weekend for his house warming . This old associate of mine, took more than 2 years and a few million bucks to reconstruct his big house .
    While tea and snacks were served at the front poach , I looked across his huge living hall and saw his beautiful garden that seems to hold a huge pond , with a couple of bridges running across the pond .
    When most of the guests left for the day , my associate invited me for coffee in his garden , across his living hall .....

    "Do you like fishes , Dave ?? , I have some wonderful collection of fishes which I wanted you to see , and I believe you would be interested to start a new hobby . I spent 15 years in this hobby , and if you like , I can share or probably teach you everything about this wonderful hobby ... Besides work , work and just work , it's good if you can spare some time for yourself and have a healthier lifestyle other than your work "

    I obliged and walked with him to his beautiful garden which took a long time to build and to complete , and it truly complimented his big house . As we walked , he reached out for a small bag of pallets and threw out a few pallets , and in no time , I could see some of his fishes surfacing and coming to him as if they had not been fed for years . They were scrambling all over one another before my associate reached out for a small handful of pallets and spread them all around the fishes .

    " half the amount of fishes here were from my old house while the other half were added few weeks ago when my pond was ready here . Most the the bigger ones are more than a feet and they're worth lots and lots of money . These are KOIS , and they appreciate in value if you know how to keep them right . I have more than a hundred of these KOIS in this 80,000 tonne (20,000 gallon) pond , and if each is worth 10 grands , how much would you think this pond is worth Dave ?? "

    It brought me much joy , to see an old associate talking delightfully about his passion and his KOIS . I spent more than an hour listening to him as he spoke about his journey with his kois . He only hope that one day , he would be regarded as a Koi Master for his passion and time spent on this wonderful hobby .

    I Know it would break his heart if I would to tell him that I know about Kois and water . It would break his heart if I would to tell him that what he had in his ponds , were simply Kois from the petmart and none of them will turn out to be anything close to 10 grands even after another 15 years . It would definitely break his ego . I wouldn't bear to break the old man's heart . Told him I would love to spend more quality time with my kids rather than fishes . Told him I would probably consider taking up this hobby after I retire ...

    " One question Mr Tung , would you ever get to see your fishes besides feeding time ?? "

    " 3 months or more Dave , when the water matured and clear up according to my contractor , and by then ... I will invite you over to my place for coffee ?? ... probably by then , it might interest you to pick up this hobby ?? "

    With this , I bowed and left .

    Koi and pond keeping , can be a stressful hobby , not always a joyous one.
    As innocently as he entered this hobby , I would believe that by allowing this old man to live in his own happy world , would be the best thing any sensible man could do .

    David

  8. #8
    Oyagoi mrbradleybradley's Avatar
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    Mike

    I hear you loud and clear. There is alot said in so few words. Do you mind if I add to the mutt perspective? In a hobby pond a magoi is a mutt, while in a breeder pond, it is a genetic jewel.

  9. #9
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dick benbow View Post

    We have come a long way from the early days of color variety improvements.
    The fact we can see the difference and understand the progression is what this hobby contributes toward our education. as for mutts, well they need love too. I quess in the big picture of things we're all mutts
    One of the almost magical aspects of koikeeping is how the eye becomes trained to appreciate the finer qualities of the very best koi, and at the same moment is awed by the magnificence of a well-grown koi of little refinement. A huge Chagoi impresses despite the coarseness. The cutting-edge Kohaku is like looking at fine art. Koikeepers so often have both, like displaying a piece of pre-Columbian pottery next to fine Italian glass. Most mutts will never grow to the proportions that amaze, but a goodly number could if pampered like a costly koi. Of course, it's only natural that a person investing the time and resources to maximize a few fish would rather make the investment in high-end koi than cheap ones. But, even those special beauties fade with time and they capture a place in the heart along the way.

    I can't help wondering what the next half-century holds. The improvements in Goshiki and Shiro Utsuri tell us that any variety has the potential to be transformed. (As some know, I am particularly interested in the notion of a new class of gray-ground koi being possible.) It is difficult to believe that the rate of improvement in the gosanke can continue at the pace of the past 50 years. I would expect smaller, incremental improvements. But, perhaps there are genetic surprises waiting to be exposed. It only takes one recessive gene being freed for whole new levels to become possible. Just as it seems rather silly to think that today's All-Japan GCs may be considered 'ordinary', I'm sure the hobbyists of the 1960s thought the GCs of the day were the ultimate accomplishment.

    In pet shops all over there are those Halloween-orange speckled koi that surely amazed people when they first emerged from some rice paddy. They must have been very special to eyes adjusted to seeing ordinary magoi. Whether labeled as Aka Bekko or Sanke, they were cutting edge on the day. Now, they are just mutts. I certainly don't care to have one, but if somebody does, I can almost understand.

  10. #10
    Tosai
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidSoon View Post
    Went to one of my associate's place last weekend for his house warming . This old associate of mine, took more than 2 years and a few million bucks to reconstruct his big house .
    While tea and snacks were served at the front poach , I looked across his huge living hall and saw his beautiful garden that seems to hold a huge pond , with a couple of bridges running across the pond .
    When most of the guests left for the day , my associate invited me for coffee in his garden , across his living hall .....

    "Do you like fishes , Dave ?? , I have some wonderful collection of fishes which I wanted you to see , and I believe you would be interested to start a new hobby . I spent 15 years in this hobby , and if you like , I can share or probably teach you everything about this wonderful hobby ... Besides work , work and just work , it's good if you can spare some time for yourself and have a healthier lifestyle other than your work "

    I obliged and walked with him to his beautiful garden which took a long time to build and to complete , and it truly complimented his big house . As we walked , he reached out for a small bag of pallets and threw out a few pallets , and in no time , I could see some of his fishes surfacing and coming to him as if they had not been fed for years . They were scrambling all over one another before my associate reached out for a small handful of pallets and spread them all around the fishes .

    " half the amount of fishes here were from my old house while the other half were added few weeks ago when my pond was ready here . Most the the bigger ones are more than a feet and they're worth lots and lots of money . These are KOIS , and they appreciate in value if you know how to keep them right . I have more than a hundred of these KOIS in this 80,000 tonne (20,000 gallon) pond , and if each is worth 10 grands , how much would you think this pond is worth Dave ?? "

    It brought me much joy , to see an old associate talking delightfully about his passion and his KOIS . I spent more than an hour listening to him as he spoke about his journey with his kois . He only hope that one day , he would be regarded as a Koi Master for his passion and time spent on this wonderful hobby .

    I Know it would break his heart if I would to tell him that I know about Kois and water . It would break his heart if I would to tell him that what he had in his ponds , were simply Kois from the petmart and none of them will turn out to be anything close to 10 grands even after another 15 years . It would definitely break his ego . I wouldn't bear to break the old man's heart . Told him I would love to spend more quality time with my kids rather than fishes . Told him I would probably consider taking up this hobby after I retire ...

    " One question Mr Tung , would you ever get to see your fishes besides feeding time ?? "

    " 3 months or more Dave , when the water matured and clear up according to my contractor , and by then ... I will invite you over to my place for coffee ?? ... probably by then , it might interest you to pick up this hobby ?? "

    With this , I bowed and left .

    Koi and pond keeping , can be a stressful hobby , not always a joyous one.
    As innocently as he entered this hobby , I would believe that by allowing this old man to live in his own happy world , would be the best thing any sensible man could do .

    David
    David, I really enjoyed this story! I like the way you handled it.

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