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Thread: Baby Sumi

  1. #1
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Baby Sumi

    I have been seeing a number of references to 'baby sumi' on the boards lately. There seems to be some confusion over what is meant, perhaps because people use the term in different ways.

    When I refer to 'baby sumi', I mean the temporary sumi that provides camouflage to young koi. This is a passing accumulation of melanin in the superficial layer of skin. It is seen in the Utsurimono, Sanke, Bekko and other varieties that have not had the black pigment bred out of them. It often is not present in new hatchling fry, but appears as the fry begin to look like a fish. It is commonly present in small tosai, and generally has faded away by the end of the second growing season. Baby sumi can be very black to the eye on a small tosai, but often is more a smokey, charcoal gray 'over wash' by the time a tosai has reached the marketable size hobbyists see in a dealer's tank. People get the idea that the sumi is coming up and the fish will get blacker, when in fact the superficial baby sumi is fading and the fish will become lighter. Of course, there can be instances of 'arrested development', with the baby sumi remaining longer than normal to muddy the appearance of the fish. And, there is 'adult sumi' that is undesirably weak and limited to the upper skin layers.

    The sumi we want to focus on is the sumi that will create the black patterning we enjoy in adult koi. That sumi is not limited to the upper skin layer. It goes deep through the skin layers and thickens as the koi matures. Whether it will thicken sufficiently to please the eye is the future we want to be able to predict.

    Since baby sumi and the shadows of future mature sumi can be present at the same time in tosai, it becomes a real test for observation. You may read about sumi 'going down' in young koi and then returning in different places. This is as accurate a description as saying the sun rises and sets, when actually we are observing an effect of the Earth revolving. The temporary camouflage of baby sumi fades away as the young fish grows. The adult sumi consolidates as the fish matures. Two different processes.

    These are generalities. Individual lines will have their own idiosyncracies, and each fish is an individual. The breeder who knows his lines and has observed the development of many hundreds of thousands of his fry, has the experience of observation that no hobbyist will match. But, understanding that what appears on the surface does not necessarily relate to the beauty within, is an important point in understanding the life-long metamorphosis of koi.

    I hope the more experienced among us will add to my thoughts. Whether sumi is coming or going creates so much doubt among those who purchase young fish.

  2. #2
    Tategoi cppond's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    I have been seeing a number of references to 'baby sumi' on the boards lately. There seems to be some confusion over what is meant, perhaps because people use the term in different ways.

    When I refer to 'baby sumi', I mean the temporary sumi that provides camouflage to young koi. This is a passing accumulation of melanin in the superficial layer of skin. It is seen in the Utsurimono, Sanke, Bekko and other varieties that have not had the black pigment bred out of them. It often is not present in new hatchling fry, but appears as the fry begin to look like a fish. It is commonly present in small tosai, and generally has faded away by the end of the second growing season. Baby sumi can be very black to the eye on a small tosai, but often is more a smokey, charcoal gray 'over wash' by the time a tosai has reached the marketable size hobbyists see in a dealer's tank. People get the idea that the sumi is coming up and the fish will get blacker, when in fact the superficial baby sumi is fading and the fish will become lighter. Of course, there can be instances of 'arrested development', with the baby sumi remaining longer than normal to muddy the appearance of the fish. And, there is 'adult sumi' that is undesirably weak and limited to the upper skin layers.

    The sumi we want to focus on is the sumi that will create the black patterning we enjoy in adult koi. That sumi is not limited to the upper skin layer. It goes deep through the skin layers and thickens as the koi matures. Whether it will thicken sufficiently to please the eye is the future we want to be able to predict.

    Since baby sumi and the shadows of future mature sumi can be present at the same time in tosai, it becomes a real test for observation. You may read about sumi 'going down' in young koi and then returning in different places. This is as accurate a description as saying the sun rises and sets, when actually we are observing an effect of the Earth revolving. The temporary camouflage of baby sumi fades away as the young fish grows. The adult sumi consolidates as the fish matures. Two different processes.

    These are generalities. Individual lines will have their own idiosyncracies, and each fish is an individual. The breeder who knows his lines and has observed the development of many hundreds of thousands of his fry, has the experience of observation that no hobbyist will match. But, understanding that what appears on the surface does not necessarily relate to the beauty within, is an important point in understanding the life-long metamorphosis of koi.

    I hope the more experienced among us will add to my thoughts. Whether sumi is coming or going creates so much doubt among those who purchase young fish.

    Excellent, Mike, and very timely. Do you have any photos that demonstrate the difference?

  3. #3
    Oyagoi kntry's Avatar
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    Photos of what baby sumi looks like and that fish as it is in adulthood may help.

  4. #4
    Oyagoi Flounder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    It is commonly present in small tosai, and generally has faded away by the end of the second growing season. Baby sumi can be very black to the eye on a small tosai, but often is more a smokey, charcoal gray 'over wash' by the time a tosai has reached the marketable size hobbyists see in a dealer's tank. People get the idea that the sumi is coming up and the fish will get blacker, when in fact the superficial baby sumi is fading and the fish will become lighter.

    Excellent post Mike, here is an utsuri showing the sumi you're describing I got last year as a study fish bred by Brett from Omosako parents. It was at a great price from the 4 for $100 vat although I had to really search through all of them. The sumi is now gone, the shiro has brighten up & new sumi wrapping from the belly are emerging w/ a different pattern.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Baby Sumi-img_1893.jpg  

  5. #5
    Oyagoi mstrseed's Avatar
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    Ryan,

    I do not have pictures of example but the Shiro I bought 4 years back from Brett did the same thing. Sumi on the head and then around the dorsal which wrapped all the way underneath.
    I thought that I was going to have my first really bad Koi, but now look what coming in.....................it was no more than a spot at the SA show......................................lousy picture but you can get the idea.............................................. ...........

    Pattern is not the best but the Shiro and sumi were worth the judges time and it beat out its sister which had better pattern

    Koi Wrangler
    CKHPA

  6. #6
    Oyagoi Sangreaal's Avatar
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    Here's an example of baby sumi in my Ogata ginrin Showa. I purchased it in the spring of '06 from this exact pic at 5" long:



    I was looking for a dark fish, so this one called to me. In the two weeks between when this pic was taken and the next, the baby sumi was no more:



    In a month's time, the sumi began to consolidate a little--motoguro appeared, and the adult sumi (or could it be adolescent?) began to emerge from back to front.


    The sumi is still rising and falling with the seasons, but what is coming back up is continually inkier and blacker than before. No real recent pics (last one was last Fall) except this one from this Spring:


    I am thrilled that the ginrin is overcome by the sumi. The gin has held nicely and gives an elegant glistening in just the right places. Note the Marusome kiwa at the dorsal patch of sumi--just very, very nice.

    A far cry from that baby pic, and I hope this helps show the progression of sumi on an Ogata bred GR Showa.

    Marie
    Marie

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  7. #7
    Daihonmei dick benbow's Avatar
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    One of the most dramatic changes has been in modern day showa. Initially in my classes I would have tosai showa taken out in the sunlight to catch the red at the tailstop under the black. This seeing is believeing method helped students understand what was going on....until more and more kohaku genes were used to strengthen the red and now I'm seeing less and less of the "false" sumi in tosai. Fortunately for Shiro's we don't have to endure the beni concerns But is fun to see what happens in the pecs as well. Good post MIKe!
    Dick Benbow

  8. #8
    Oyagoi koiczar's Avatar
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    If you go to the original thread about the growout contest, search to post #41. This should help give you a "little better" understanding of what MikeM is talking about. Each one of the tosai shown seem to have different developmental stages that they are going through based on how the sumi is changing within their genetics. Then you can apply what you see with a particular fish that "somewhat" matches with what your favorite pics look like. Might help give you a window into the future. Then again, you might have to re-evaluate your faves and make some changes based on what you saw in the progression photos!! Good Luck and happy hunting.

    Mike

  9. #9
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    I cannot find photos of my fish taking one through the whole process. They seem to be filed away where I can't find them. Here is a progression of a single newly hatched fry done by Martin on NI, which I'm borrowing for this. (I hope he does not mind. )
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Baby Sumi-b-back.jpg  

  10. #10
    Jumbo
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    Hi Mike.

    the temporary camouflage of baby sumi would be a wisdom of the nature in order to hide/protect themselves from predators such as birds.
    it is commonly known that an albino akame kigoi, for example, which bred by mutation would not has a chance to survive in wild nature.

    According to the research by the Niigata Prefecture Inland Water Fisheries Experiment Station,
    a changing black color on skin surface is occurred by the activity of the chromatophore (= special cell of melanin) and the activity of the cell is leaded/reflected by a light from eyes, by water temperature, by hormone, etc.

    Sumi looks fad away, when the cell shrink/tighten. Sumi looks up & stable on surface of skin, when the cell spread/diffusion.
    don't know a reason but somehow sumi is unstable at young age, as we know.

    On the other hand, a gene is called "Leucism" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leucism has been working in bloodline of Nishikigoi from an original Asagi-magoi to Asagi then Kohkau, for example.
    Sumi is too tricky to understand very well for me.....

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