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Showa In Warm Climates

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  • Showa In Warm Climates

    In another thread DickB mentioned the challenge in warm climates of keeping the reds of Kohaku strong in warm climates like Taiwan and Thailand. I came across an item in my reading that was new to me and marked it to share. This seems a good time. In the March 1986 issue of Rinko, Akitaka Kawahata shared observations from his visit to the Second ZNA Thai Chapter show in December 1985:

    "It was immediately after the judging that I made a tour of the whole exhibit and found their Showa Sanshoku to be on a remarkably high level. The Showa Sanshoku stood out conspicuously as every size category, that is, from size 1 to size 7 was well finished. It is very rare even for Japanese shows (except national shows) to have such excellent Showa Sanshoku entered.

    I asked a few people about these rich-looking Showa Sanshoku. According to them, the water in Thailand is normally not less than 25C, and pH values are high, the water being strongly basic. One of them went to the length of asking me how to lower the pH value. Such a condition is regarded as being unfit for koikeeping in Japan. They told me that their Kohaku and the like often lost Hi. As far as their Showa Sanshoku were concerned, however, not an ounce of such adversity could be perceived on them. Perhaps Thai water is good for the Sumi of Utsurimono lineage. Taisho Sanshoku, who also have Sumi as one of their colors, but do not belong to Utsurimono, were rather dull at this show. I think that I may conclude that the Thai environment fits Utsurimono. I also found that many of the Showa Sanshoku on exhibit were Hi Showa... while Kindai Showa ... were scarce.

    I figure from this that only those fish who have deeply based, big Hi markings, excepting those with less Hi but of specially high quality, can prosper in the Thai environment. Those that resisted the water that easily takes away Hi and put on good Sumi have won the game. The result is a manifestation of natural selection.

    The fact that Sumi can be brought out well in a warm country puzzles me a little, though. But, in fact, in Isawa, a hot spring resort in Yamanashi, Japan, too, excellent koi are produced."

    Kawahata's observation is contrary to the observation that cooler temperatures bring out Sumi, but consistent with the notion that high alkalinity (often accompanied by high silicon content?) enhances Sumi. Before koikeepers in the subtropics all rush to acquire Showa, recall that he was writing nearly 20 years ago. Over those years there has been much crossing of Kohaku with Showa to get improved Hi, and much crossing with Sanke to get improved Sumi ... but Kawahata found the Kohaku and Sanke of that day insipid compared to the less refined Showa. As Showa has been refined with the genes of Kohaku and Sanke, one might conclude that Kawahata might see something very different today.
  • #2

    Interesting! Generally still true in M'sia.


    • #3

      So Mike, and others. I am a koi keeper in the subtropics who does not rush to do anything. However, this is intriguing and it may be something to pursue it slowly. Does anyone have suggestions about how to source fish of some of these older showa lines from regions south of Japan?

      Many Thanks,
      steve hopkins


      • #4

        Mike, that article is twenty years old. And it was an observation based on a few show fish of the day- utsurimono , shiros and showas are a very different animal than those born in 1982?

        Having been to Taiwan and having seen many hobbyist ponds and dealer/breeder facilities, I can tell you, that the fish grow well but high class fish don't hold quality color very well. The locally produced fish look better than the imports. And most of the imports there when I was going there were from Southern Japan- Hiroshima. The big competitors import ' fresh' fish each year.

        The reference is Isawa is way off as the well water in winter is still cold ( 59F). The koi are brought indoors in Isawa just like in Niigata.

        Here is the pH and saturation level at indoor temperature of 59 F in Hiroshima in winter ponds-
        Attached Files


        • #5

          JR: Your catalog of photos is amazing! ... and that 59F data is very notable. [During a "serious" cold spell my water can get that low! ... for a couple of days, maybe.] I hope nobody is misled by the old observation. I think it may give insight on the very different roots of Showa, but Showa today are not much like those of 20 years ago. Off-hand comments on such matters do not deserve much attention. Since this observation came from a koikeeper with wide exposure in his day, I'll tuck it away as an idea worth having in mind as I look at koi. It does seem to me that around Florida koikeepers have greater success with maintaining Sumi quality than Hi quality. I tend to think that it is the silica sand soils that bring out Sumi despite heat, but no doubt on my own koi the cooler temps of winter coincide with Sumi becoming deeper. I'm not ready to draw definite conclusions, however. So much that is written is based on koikeeping in Japan and cool climates, and so little on warm climates, I think there is a great deal to be learned by warm climate koikeepers.

          Bekko: I'm sure there are old blood Showa still around in Niigata, even with the quakes. But, I'm not so sure you really want them. If you go through old photography of show winners in the period 20-30 years ago, the best Showa are not close to the best to be seen today ... all that Kohaku and Sanke crossing really has improved the variety. I'd say it is very likely that any koikeeper who can afford a pond could easily purchase koi today equal to the best koi of 25 years ago, but might not want to take up space with them.

          Hudi: Please explain your comment. Do you find Showa develop better in Malaysia than Kohaku and Sanke? How about Utsurimono in general? Your experience on this today would be very interesting.


          • #6

            Mike:Average water temp. of an outdoor shaded pond in M'sia is about 29C, Ph 7 to 8,water hardness somewhere between Japan and UK ( on basis of hotel shower experiences -soap lathers and skin feels ! )

            Generally,the shiro utsuri has highest success rate ie they actually improve in overall apperance,with more and better sumi over time,after they are brought in from Japan. In comparison,its much harder trying to maintain hi quality in gosanki; the hi colour and lustre tend to fade somewhat over time and the quality of the shiroshi or whiteness also tend to deterioriate.Keepers who can afford chillers ( bringing water temp down to between 20C-24C ) are able to maintain better quality hi and shiroshi,so I guess temp is a greater contributing factor than ph and water hardness in M'sia. The other significant factor is growth rate; for the good bloodlines,especially those which have been backbreeded with magoi,the growth rate averages about 1cm per week when they are between 25cm to 55cm ! The hotter temp makes them more active,eat more and grow fast! Hence,the hi has a tendency to get lighter unless the percentage of spirulina feed is increased.Once they stop growing,the hi does gradually gets deeper in colour again. In the rapid growth stage,maintaining good shiroshi whilst subject to high temp and spirulina,is a real challenge!
            As for showas, the hi found in the hi-showa (which seem dfferent from the hi in kokaku and sanke ) variety do tend to sustain better;but I don't personally prefer this variant of hi to the hi type of the better known kohaku and sanke bloodlines.Hope the way I describe it makes sense !


            • #7

              Hudi: You have raised a lot of points. No question that much faster growth occurs with long warm growing seasons, and that affects color. It is often mentioned by koikeepers in cooler climates that rapid growth in shorter growing seasons can result in loss of Hi ... although sometimes I think they may just be giving up too soon ... need to wait for the pigment consolidation to catch up with the growth.

              The idea of using chillers has to sound strange to the folks in Britain worrying over virtual year-round heating costs. That's a whole topic for investigation!

              That Shiro Utsuri do well suggests that because they lack Hi, color-enhancing foods (like spirulina) are not used with them. But, I'd expect them to be eating the same foods as others in mixed ponds. So, somehow the shiro of Utsuri is not as affected as the shiro of Kohaku and Sanke? Can you share more on that?

              The nature of Showa Hi is another whole topic! In fact, there are so many different types of Hi and development characteristics that it becomes very confusing! I think I know what you mean. Today, it is possible to find Showa with just about any sort of Hi that can be found in Kohaku strains. The Hi in older lines of Showa has always seemed different to me ... a soft rosy quality to it, even when very red, rather than orange-based Hi as in most high-grade gosanke today. This is what I'm thinking you are referring to.
              Last edited by MikeM; 11-04-2004, 08:44 PM. Reason: correct typo


              • #8

                Mike, I'm with you! I absolutely take all observations and antecdotal evidence to the old brain's storage cabinet! In fact, and I think you know this, one of my FAVORITE hobbies is to question several breeders on a subject and then spend the rest of the year trying to match the science to their observations- fun stuff!

                In the case of sumi, and the difference between sanke sumi and showa sumi ( less and less every year I think?) is location and formation characteristics. In showa, the sumi is at the base of the dermis and the surface. It is a layer of cells and arranged as a base sheet of color. In sanke, sumi are a series of stars that congragate around fat cells within the dermis. So naturally these things are effected by factors other than genetics. In the case of sanke you must have good clear dermis with fatty globular cells and you have a concentration of black stars ( kinda like the number of pixils in a TV picture or digital print). This is not the same as showa sumi.
                The other factor is water temperature and oxygen levels and of course cool water holds more oxygen saturation potential than warm water. And having seen shiro in tropical conditions and in temperate conditons, I can add some antecdotal information of my own-- Shiro Utsuri never look better and more vivid in color than when they are in color clear water. The shiro ground looks better and the sumi looks thicker. JR


                • #9

                  Goodness. JR has added as many subjects to this thread as Hudi! Everything is interconnected.

                  Going back first to an earlier comment ... that the locally bred koi in Taiwan seem to hold up better, and that imports were heavily from warmer [than Niigata] southern Japan, raises lots of thoughts. I do not believe serious koi breeding began in Taiwan until the 1980s [??Wish I could find a reference to it, but cannot put my hands on it.] So, not much time for developing a truly different genetic pool. ... At most only 3 or 4 generations. That in turn makes me think that there could be a mechanism of adaptation by fry to warmer conditions or a human selection factor by which fry coloring better despite heat are not culled although those same fry would be culled (or many of them, anyway) if they & their siblings had been raised in cooler (or shorter growing season?) conditions. The latter notion would suggest individual variability in adaptation to warmer conditions, even among Niigata-bred lines. To the extent koi bred in southern Japan may do better in subtropical climates, it could be either factor at work. Either way, there might be a benefit to the warm climate koikeeper acquiring koi bred and raised in warmer locales, rather than focusing on Niigata-bred koi. [Treason!] .... it is all too much to contemplate at this point in the day.


                  • #10

                    Dear guys

                    Would like to add another observation to the equation.

                    I am also from M'sia. My pond is 20 ton with a 25 ton filtration system. I change 10% water daily. I am running a total of 360W air pump into various places in the pond/filter and I feed my kois 8-9 times (only spirulina) a day. I have 11 kois now ( 3 of 30cm Momotaro Kohaku, 1 55cm Ogata Shiro, 2 60cm Momotaro Kohaku, 1 68cm Momotaro Kohaku, 1 74cm Sakai Kohaku, 1 75cm Sakai Sanke, 1 75cm Marudo Showa and a 76cm Omosaku Shiro Utsuri.). Incidentally my water parameters are very much the same as is mentioned by hudi except that the water temp is more like 28 degC.

                    My experience is that (?luck, ?koi genetics, ?food, ?water management) I have no problems with hi fading, shiro or sumi development of the various kois that I have. Their shiros are still intact and my utsuris (luckily?) did not develop hi despite the heavy feeding of spirulina. I am not into the science of koi keeping but I would like to think it is koi genetics and water management as at one point or another during my early days of this hobby I did have kois that suffered the same fate as what hudi posted. Any comments?



                    • #11

                      Dr. Tan, welcome to the board!

                      I agree with you that water management and koi raising skills are the most important factors, and genetics being less.

                      It is often said that kois imported into Thailand looked their very best when they got off the plane This is true even for the prize-winners with excellent genetics that were specially imported just for the show.

                      Some ponds with chillers manage to maintain quality of the beni and shiroji, but the kois never look as vibrant as when they had just arrived.

                      I have gosanke and shiro utsuri in my pond(whose water temperature dropped down to 28.9C last week due to a cold spell). Sumi look good, very shiny on one matured old-style showa. However, the beni on all my showas, sankes, and kohakus does not look very good. They are thick, but not vibrant. Please note that I do not use color-enhancing feeds, and only use wheatgerm(Hai Feng).

                      I have seen locally bred hi-utsuris that are really eye-catching. The contrast between shiny sumi and bright red hi are something else! These hi-utsuris come from the old genetics and might be more relevant to Mr. Akitaka Kawahata's observations.

                      (Speaking of ZNA, I am trying to jump start ZNA-activities in Thailand by forming a local chapter. I could not find the contact-information on the net, could someone please give me contact-points for this area?)

                      Thai Koi-Keepers' Group


                      • #12

                        Bancherd, dtbh & Hudi: What is the nature of the soils in your areas (from which water is drawn)? Sandy? Limestone and clay? .... I'm wondering if there is high silica content or not.


                        • #13

                          Everyone is dancing around it but not quantifying it so I'll take a stab--

                          The basic 'koi' is a conflicted animal! On one hand it is programmed genetically to grow and mature as fast as it can for individual survival ( predation and body mass to survive environmental change) and as a guarantee that at least that individual will be large enough to breed and insure the survival of the species.

                          On the other hand, that progress is restrained by their natural environmental cycle , which is a seasonal or temperate water model. So the koi has a series of hormones that start up some systems and shut down other systems in a natural rhythm.

                          This simply means that koi/carp, as very adaptable creatures, will maximize their growth potential when conditions are favorable for that move. But this can not remain open ended. This is because of the natural and rhythmic ebb and flow of growth hormones/ anti-growth hormones and sexual hormones. The presence of these hormones will ultimately determine koi longevity and depth of color.

                          As far as adaptability goes- koi are the masters of the fish world. Warm water strains and cold water strains of CARP have been produced. Koi will have a more limited range (99- 104 chromosomes vs 95-97 in typical carp species) but they will GENERATIONALLY adapt. So there is a different conversation about generational adaptation verses our conversation about INDIVIDUALS adapting to environmental change in a wholesale way. The classic example of this adaptive shock, by the way, would be when kohaku loose their beni almost overnight when asked to adjust abruptly. The effect on color cells, luster cells and dermis hydration/ protein storage is just as powerful only it occurs over several seasons ( or lack there of).

                          I would suggest that those in a tropical region find other hobbyists with older fish ( over 8 years of age) to appreciate this assessment. Compare five things with young three year olds just imported from Japan-

                          The bone structure differences

                          The body line

                          The color intensity

                          The white ground ( luster is what makes for bright creamier whites)

                          The overall thickness and uniformity of color in the beni plate.



                          • #14

                            Sorry,Mike. We are lumping all kinds of issues ! i believe you are right;that there are variants that do" better " or are more suited to a particular set of conditions.Problem is,if we are conditioned to perceive a certain colour characteristic/hue/whatever as the ideal ,there is the natural tendency to use that as the benchmark.Hence,even though the hi of the older showa lines do better in warmer waters,I prefer the newer hi type you describe. I guess thats asking too much-like trying to make an Alaskian husky as happy in M'sia,as it would in its natural habitat.Will be great if someone focusses on breeding koi that have identical winning looks as those from koi motherland and which also adapts well to hot climate ! How about giving it a shot?

                            Dbth,it is interesting that you feed only spirulina the whole time which is hardly the routine where the fish came from! You must have hit on the right diet adaptation,congrats ! Would love to see your koi and pond setup one day.Which part of M'sia are you from?


                            • #15

                              Mike:Not quite sure where the tap water originates,but limestone hills in my area.


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