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Thread: Does hi/beni ever get better with koi growth?

  1. #1
    Jumbo Akai-San's Avatar
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    Does hi/beni ever get better with koi growth?

    I have been noticing that from a young age the quality of hi/beni is very important when using ones eye in finding potential tosai or nisai koi. However, I have rarely come across hobbiest who experience improvement in the quality of hi development (unless they spend $15K+). It seems more like caring for, and protecting your koi against losing the existing quality. Are there hobbiest out there that have examples of young tosai with good hi that got even better with growth and time? Are there any bloodlines that require time to allow hi/beni to get better and better?

  2. #2
    Jumbo l113892's Avatar
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    It depends on where the koi is purchased. If the koi is purchased in Japan and recently came out of a mud pond- it is unlikely that the beni would ever improve. However, I have found that the persimmon beni can hold up for many years, even without additional time in the mud.

  3. #3
    Tategoi cppond's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akai-San View Post
    I have been noticing that from a young age the quality of hi/beni is very important when using ones eye in finding potential tosai or nisai koi. However, I have rarely come across hobbiest who experience improvement in the quality of hi development (unless they spend $15K+). It seems more like caring for, and protecting your koi against losing the existing quality. Are there hobbiest out there that have examples of young tosai with good hi that got even better with growth and time? Are there any bloodlines that require time to allow hi/beni to get better and better?
    I realize that you are probably not inquiring about Asagi and Shusui, but I believe that the hi does improve and increase in those types. In fact, sometimes it increase to the detriment of the fish's overall beauty and conformance to type.

    If my recollection is correct, JR has stated that in the best kohakus, the beni starts out as a yellow orange and does improve with age. Indeed, the trick is to get the beni to finish at the same time that the sumi finishes on sanke and showa.

    Hopefully, JR will appear to clarify if I have misunderstood.
    -- Carl --


  4. #4
    Daihonmei
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    The prospects for improvement are not really about the color we see. But rather the genetics that is reflective of a particular phenotype.

    To be specific, when we talk about shades of orange, red/red/, red/orange, yellow/orange etc, we are talking about the mix of Chromatophores ( color cells).

    Chromatophores are color cells found in fish ( and reptiles/ amphibians) that are universial and not much different when koi are very young. But as fish age, the differences in chromatophores becomes increasing different and unique.
    We have xanthophores for the color yellow
    erythrophores for the color red
    leucophores for the color white
    melanophores for the color black
    cyanophores for the color blue
    iridophores for the sheen of the skin and metallic look of some koi

    But we have the blend of these cells as well. the yellow red color is orange and the mix of these different cells gives tones and hues to the color we see on kohaku.
    In addition, the depth we see these cells at within the epidermis, dermis and deep dermis along with the level of coating on top of the scale and under the scale further refine the shade.
    Finally, as koi growth , two things happen;
    1) the number of color cells increases. Some cells of some color types increasing more than others
    2) the fish's skin gets thicker with time so the dimension of cells distribution reflects differently as when the fish was a thin skinned juvenile. This is 'death' for attractiveness if the fish had only one thin one dimensional layer of brightly colored cells as a baby. This as opposed to fish that are genetically programmed to have multi levels that, on the right shiro ground, become three dimension in their effect.

    And something else- many good koi are deficient in melanin in their skin. But with age, certain colors of beni and shiro ground tend to reintroduce some melanin back into the skin. Asagi are know for this- the hypopigmentation for black is only partical and particles of melanin return to the skin with age. This is hormonally driven and partly reactive to environmental conditions as no genes are complelely isolated from environmental conditions. This is why with asgai we look for the a recessive genetic type that lacks melanin in the skin and then we put them in water that does not encourage melanin production as they age.
    JR

  5. #5
    Jumbo 111whalen's Avatar
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    Aki-San,
    I agree with you. I am currently reading Kokugyo by Kodama. In volume 2 he shows many fish, especially Kohakus, that gain red-both area and intensity. Rarely have I had a fish that gained area, therefore improving the fish. If anything, second hi is much more common. Reds in my pond (of all variations from orange to deep red) change with time; some improve and some...
    I wish I had the option of putting fish back into mud to improve the entire fish-from the body to the color. I put clay in the pond weekly to try to add the minerals that a mud pond provides but it still is not the same.
    Good luck with your benis-I'll be interested in who has ways to improve the reds!
    Full Time Koi NUT
    SoCal beats NorCal KOI UNIT
    Mark W
    CKHPA

  6. #6
    Daihonmei
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    The old adage," you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" is as true for beni as it is for purses. No amount of time in a mud pond can change the level of genetic code. But environment can supress the complete expression of good genetics. As well as encourage negative het traits to appear.

    If the skin is not the right genetic skin, and the fish simply does not have the genetic coding or sets of alleles for depth and mix of chromatophores then you will never be able to improve a koi as it passes through it's juvenile stage coloring and into it's fully mature adult coloring.
    It's fun to dream. But it is a sin to waste time as life is short. To remain uneducated in the genetics of your koi is to create false hope and a waste of time. And in the end just learning about what makes for a bad koi. Something can learned even from that experience, no doubt. But learning from good fish is a better spending of valuable time. After all, how will one even know about a silk purse if all they have ever studied is Sow's ears ? JR

  7. #7
    zek
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasPR View Post
    The prospects for improvement are not really about the color we see. But rather the genetics that is reflective of a particular phenotype.

    To be specific, when we talk about shades of orange, red/red/, red/orange, yellow/orange etc, we are talking about the mix of Chromatophores ( color cells).

    Chromatophores are color cells found in fish ( and reptiles/ amphibians) that are universial and not much different when koi are very young. But as fish age, the differences in chromatophores becomes increasing different and unique.
    We have xanthophores for the color yellow
    erythrophores for the color red
    leucophores for the color white
    melanophores for the color black
    cyanophores for the color blue
    iridophores for the sheen of the skin and metallic look of some koi

    But we have the blend of these cells as well. the yellow red color is orange and the mix of these different cells gives tones and hues to the color we see on kohaku.
    In addition, the depth we see these cells at within the epidermis, dermis and deep dermis along with the level of coating on top of the scale and under the scale further refine the shade.
    Finally, as koi growth , two things happen;
    1) the number of color cells increases. Some cells of some color types increasing more than others
    2) the fish's skin gets thicker with time so the dimension of cells distribution reflects differently as when the fish was a thin skinned juvenile. This is 'death' for attractiveness if the fish had only one thin one dimensional layer of brightly colored cells as a baby. This as opposed to fish that are genetically programmed to have multi levels that, on the right shiro ground, become three dimension in their effect.

    And something else- many good koi are deficient in melanin in their skin. But with age, certain colors of beni and shiro ground tend to reintroduce some melanin back into the skin. Asagi are know for this- the hypopigmentation for black is only partical and particles of melanin return to the skin with age. This is hormonally driven and partly reactive to environmental conditions as no genes are complelely isolated from environmental conditions. This is why with asgai we look for the a recessive genetic type that lacks melanin in the skin and then we put them in water that does not encourage melanin production as they age.
    JR

    What are the factors that limit melanin production?

  8. #8
    Daihonmei
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    It is genetically based. The genetic defect that leads to the inability to process the amino acid that makes melanin is one genetic cause and this can be kicked on again with age. The other is an absence ( degree one) or reduced presence ( degree two) of the actual cells that contain melanin ( melanophores).
    Shimmies would be an example of isolated areas of melanin production kicked on by environmental factors for stray genetic codes. Yet the skin itself is low in or reduced in melanin type cells.

  9. #9
    zek
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    Ok, so much like everything else it is a case of genetics and you get what you bought.

    thanks

  10. #10
    Daihonmei
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    to a great degree, yes. You can get the most out of any fish but some fish are pretty much 'what they are' as finished specimens when you buy them.
    So you look for genetic traits in the young unfinished form and then you have a place for expectations to build from.

    A fish that is capable of 'improving' will have a certain look to the skin and color tone in the pattern color. If that is there, you have a fighting chance. Then all you need to do is provide the environment so that it does not get in the way of the fish's programmed genetic potential. JR

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