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  • #46

    I would personally pick a koi without a shoulder hump, as in my opinion it is visually unappealing. I would rather have a koi fish with smooth transition from head to body when you look from sideways. Shoulder humps do not only affect the side view though, but also the top view. Look at the picture below, I was told that in order to know whether or not a koi will develop a hump or not is looking at the shape of its head. The koi on top has a shorter head with an acute U shape, which means that there is a visible shoulder hump. The fish below has a longer head and duller U shape, suggesting smoother lines and no shoulder hump. I prefer the latter.
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    • #47

      Does the top one actually have a shorter head in relation to the body length, or does the pronounced hump make it appear short? Given the camera angle, I can't say. The lower one does seem to have a wider head, and a broader body frame in general. I think you would have to see them in person.

      The pronounced hump on the top Karashigoi is a negative. People will differ on how negative. Will it remain so pronounced as the fish grows to full size? I expect it would not in most hobbyists' ponds, but more likely would in the hands of a hobbyist who feeds heavily. ...Despite the hump, true yellow Karashigoi are not common. I expect it would sell for a good price.

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      • #48

        Originally posted by MikeM View Post
        Does the top one actually have a shorter head in relation to the body length, or does the pronounced hump make it appear short? Given the camera angle, I can't say. The lower one does seem to have a wider head, and a broader body frame in general. I think you would have to see them in person.

        The pronounced hump on the top Karashigoi is a negative. People will differ on how negative. Will it remain so pronounced as the fish grows to full size? I expect it would not in most hobbyists' ponds, but more likely would in the hands of a hobbyist who feeds heavily. ...Despite the hump, true yellow Karashigoi are not common. I expect it would sell for a good price.
        I would say the reference of the head length is from the tip of the U shape to the mouth, the more acute the U shape, the shorter the head. Assuming that the distance from the gills to the mouth are similar for koi fish

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        • #49

          Never really understood why the Japanese deliberately want humps on their koi, most koi outside Japan that I see (in social media) have little to no humps, while the Japanese ones all have.

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          • #50

            A "voluptuous" body is desired for show. Think of a nude by Reubens vs a bikini model in SI. Different ideas of beauty in different eyes at different times.

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            • #51

              Hello fellow koi keepers,


              1) We know that breeders maintain certain bloodlines because they appreciate one or more of their specific traits: body shape, color depth and skin quality... It is recognized that bloodlines play an important role in determining subtleties of conformational variations. Moreover, I find interesting the fact that old Japanese breeders are very attached to their traditional bloodline’s body characteristics… I understand it very well; it is a signature, and a legacy … Sometimes, a breeder’s point of view on this subject may differ a bit from a colleague’s one. It implies that each one of us can have a sensibly different opinion…

              2) Example of beautiful diversity: Matsunosuke are very famous for their powerful and distinctive figure, although they lack the more pronounced curves demonstrated by other bloodlines, such as Dainichi. There are also differences to be seen in the shape of the backs; Some bloodlines display a shoulder hump, just behind the head, like Manzo kohaku, whilst others have a much flatter vertical outline, like Matsunosuke.

              3) Of course, breeders can all agree on some basic conformation criterias, and actually the universal key for a good body is global proportion. However, in occident we tend to present rigid appreciation standards like this :

              Head:
              + Long, broad, blunt nosed; Chubby cheeks
              - Short, narrow, pointed (very common in chagoi and showa because of european carp blood).

              Shoulders:
              + Wide, low/medium
              - Narrow, high

              4) Personnaly I prefer strong AND curvy fishes, but I am very open-minded. Nonetheless, I dislike big humps for koi having a step pattern (ex: sanke, kohaku…) because I think it alters a part of their finesse. I also love bulky unicolor koi (ex: Chagoi, Karashigoi…) for the reason it suits well our lovely gluttons lol.


              5) A good body conformation is not only interesting for aesthetic purposes, but also a lot for health. Indeed, you will be partially able to see if a fish is vigorous and well-fed.



              Cordially Alex
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              • #52

                Yes, there is variation and each of us can select what pleases our eye. In various books there are often illustrations of good body form and in discussions people will speak of an ideal body form. In practice, I doubt there is an ideal form. Instead, there is a range of acceptable body forms. It can become a matter of splitting hairs to choose among them when looking at specific koi.

                The May issue of Nichirin has the photos of prize winners at the All Japan Show held last February. For the 9 koi who took the major awards, 6 were bred by Sakai Fish Farm. The GC was a Kohaku with the full body we have come to expect from SFF. The Reserve Champion was a Sanke from SFF. Her body form is something of a blend of the SFF style and Matsunosuke. The decades-long process of improving upon what was Matsunosuke (or, in this instance, perhaps more accurate to say improving SFF's Sanke line? ) has produced a large Sanke (97cm) with bulk, but also a bit elongated, and with improved pigments compared to traditional Matsunosuke. For many, it would be difficult to choose between the two koi. In making a choice, body form would play a role, but I would suggest the degree of clean, sharp finish was far more important. That is, both koi had fully acceptable body conformation, although somewhat different, and competed at the highest level.

                Perhaps someone will come along and post photos (or video) of these special koi.

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                • #53

                  Seems like matsunosuke indeed has a different shape compared to other farms.

                  Interesting information you and mikem have mentioned about the blood lines and their recent history. Beats me on why there has been 0 information when I search the internet about it

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                  • #54

                    Originally posted by Alexandre View Post
                    Hello fellow koi keepers,


                    1) We know that breeders maintain certain bloodlines because they appreciate one or more of their specific traits: body shape, color depth and skin quality... It is recognized that bloodlines play an important role in determining subtleties of conformational variations. Moreover, I find interesting the fact that old Japanese breeders are very attached to their traditional bloodline’s body characteristics… I understand it very well; it is a signature, and a legacy … Sometimes, a breeder’s point of view on this subject may differ a bit from a colleague’s one. It implies that each one of us can have a sensibly different opinion…

                    2) Example of beautiful diversity: Matsunosuke are very famous for their powerful and distinctive figure, although they lack the more pronounced curves demonstrated by other bloodlines, such as Dainichi. There are also differences to be seen in the shape of the backs; Some bloodlines display a shoulder hump, just behind the head, like Manzo kohaku, whilst others have a much flatter vertical outline, like Matsunosuke.

                    3) Of course, breeders can all agree on some basic conformation criterias, and actually the universal key for a good body is global proportion. However, in occident we tend to present rigid appreciation standards like this :

                    Head:
                    + Long, broad, blunt nosed; Chubby cheeks
                    - Short, narrow, pointed (very common in chagoi and showa because of european carp blood).

                    Shoulders:
                    + Wide, low/medium
                    - Narrow, high

                    4) Personnaly I prefer strong AND curvy fishes, but I am very open-minded. Nonetheless, I dislike big humps for koi having a step pattern (ex: gosanke, utsuri…) because I think it alters a part of their finesse. I also love bulky unicolor koi (ex: Chagoi, Karashigoi…) for the reason it suits well our lovely gluttons lol.


                    5) A good body conformation is not only interesting for aesthetic purposes, but also for health. Indeed, you will be partially able to see if a fish is vigorous and well-fed, but that’s another subject.



                    Cordially Alex
                    [ATTACH=CONFIG]41385[/ATTACH]
                    Funny cause most of the Japanese show koi I see possess short heads and high shoulders, which seem like each of the less desirable qualities

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                    • #55

                      Seems like Matsunosuke presents the body form that suits my preference the most. I hope they do not cross breed with the ones with too much bulk

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                      • #56

                        The Matsunosuke Sanke was the 'big hit' of the late 20th century, so those genes were mixed into the breeding programs of most Sanke breeders, mainly to gain greater length. My understanding is that Toshio Sakai (and now his son) maintains separate genetic lines, one of which they consider the 'magoi line'. I doubt one could easily find a Sanke today that was genetically 'true' to the Matsunosuke Sanke of the 1990s, but if it exists, it would likely be at Isawa Nishikigoi Center. Even at INC, the pigments emphasized today are not the same as 20 years ago. What has come to be known as 'pink beni' and 'atarushi sumi' are improved pigments in the Matsunosuke line. As to body form, I can only go by video and photos posted on-line by folks visiting INC. It appears to me that the body form remains much closer to the original than what is seen at other breeders. Nothing is static in koi breeding. 20 years ago in the U.S. folks were still talking about Torazo Sanke, but that line was already relegated to history when all the chatter was occurring. Breeding is driven by customer preferences, and the big dollar customers are motivated by what will win in the show ring. As long as SFF-style 'blimps' take top honors, that is the direction the breeders will go. For a time the dream was a meter long high quality gosanke. That goal was reached (using Matsunosuke genetics), but the pigments left much to be desired. So, now reaching a meter is not the big deal it once was. Reaching 90+cm is 'good enough'. The focus is more on pigment quality and bulk makes the best canvas to display pigment. Until somebody comes along to supplant SFF with something new, if that is conceivable, bulk will continue to be a driver, which means some degree of a hump is going to accompany the rest of the package.

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                        • #57

                          Originally posted by MikeM View Post
                          The Matsunosuke Sanke was the 'big hit' of the late 20th century, so those genes were mixed into the breeding programs of most Sanke breeders, mainly to gain greater length. My understanding is that Toshio Sakai (and now his son) maintains separate genetic lines, one of which they consider the 'magoi line'. I doubt one could easily find a Sanke today that was genetically 'true' to the Matsunosuke Sanke of the 1990s, but if it exists, it would likely be at Isawa Nishikigoi Center. Even at INC, the pigments emphasized today are not the same as 20 years ago. What has come to be known as 'pink beni' and 'atarushi sumi' are improved pigments in the Matsunosuke line. As to body form, I can only go by video and photos posted on-line by folks visiting INC. It appears to me that the body form remains much closer to the original than what is seen at other breeders. Nothing is static in koi breeding. 20 years ago in the U.S. folks were still talking about Torazo Sanke, but that line was already relegated to history when all the chatter was occurring. Breeding is driven by customer preferences, and the big dollar customers are motivated by what will win in the show ring. As long as SFF-style 'blimps' take top honors, that is the direction the breeders will go. For a time the dream was a meter long high quality gosanke. That goal was reached (using Matsunosuke genetics), but the pigments left much to be desired. So, now reaching a meter is not the big deal it once was. Reaching 90+cm is 'good enough'. The focus is more on pigment quality and bulk makes the best canvas to display pigment. Until somebody comes along to supplant SFF with something new, if that is conceivable, bulk will continue to be a driver, which means some degree of a hump is going to accompany the rest of the package.
                          I'm guessing that the magoi line is the less bulky one, and the ones bred with european carps are bulkier, based on what I know

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                          • #58

                            Hello,



                            1) Matsunosuke’s body and magoi blood

                            In the 70s, nishikigoi were becoming pieces of art. Alas, the intense focus of selective and line breeding (though necessary) were really producing weaker and smaller koi. Nevertheless, breeders were aware of the problem since a long time...

                            Indeed, classic outcrossing was common in the trading and lending of stock between breeding association members and families, but it was not enough… and ‘very out’ outcrossings were tried as well. However a majority of these varied experiments were dead ends.

                            Hopefully, some breeders persisted and proudly stated that nishikigoi should always represent the best of wild carp in vigor, size, health and strength. Eventually, great success happened. For example, under the impulse of SAKAI, the ambitious (now legendary) outcross with the japanese magoi was made. Unknown to most western stories about this outcross, many had already tried using wild carp to deliver vigor and size back into the gene pool of nishikigoi and most gave up as the F1 generation was discouraging with wild carp phenotype. But there the results were... AMAZING ... and it has changed the world of nishikigoi forever.

                            When it comes to body, the Magoi blood contributed to a greater size AND a greater length. Their overall shape is qualified as "cigar-shaped". They are deep-bodied, with a straight/firm outline and tight muscles flanks. There is a raw power emerging from them, and furthermore they swim differently, looking alert. Actually, the global impression is one of strength, not traditional gracefulness (but I LOVE it).

                            Although, I want to remind that certain large koi were developed without re-introduced magoi blood, and new outcrossing schemes are studied nowadays for different varieties...


                            2) Inbreeding and health problems, why pay attention to body

                            Actually, a 2000 study seems to highlight that consanguinity and related issues still occur in nishikigoi stocks of the Yamakoshi village.
                            Complete study: https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article...1/48_1_25/_pdf
                            Extract of introduction: ‘’The high mortality of nishikigoi at the larval stage, which might be due to low disease resistance, has been reported in the nishikigoi farms of the Yamakoshi village, the place that is believed to be the birthplace of nishikigoi. Moreover, abnormalities, sudden death in winter, increased sensitivity to disease compared with common carp, a low level of gonad development in full-sib mating progenies, and a reduction of the growth rate in the fourth generation of pure lines have been observed in nishikigoi that might be caused by inbreeding depression.’’

                            In the past, when I was a beginner, I used to keep nishikigoi and european wild carps together (and breed them separately) … I made the same comparative observations as this report…

                            Some specialists also think that the lack of natural selection/culling insufficiency and minimal exposure to certain harsh environmental conditions could play a role in parallel… but to make things simple, in the eyes of Mother Nature, our beloved nishikigoi is a weakening of her creation.

                            All of that to say, sometimes we miss the most important when it comes to the appreciation of body/bloodlines :
                            -A koi must have good global proportions and a good size for its age
                            - It must not have any deformities, missing fins, crooked body, etc.
                            -It must have a great condition, with no signs of ulcers, open skin, smashed mouths, disease, or infections anywhere in the body.
                            Actually knowing the problems of koi, you have to search carefully for a specimen with the signs proving that his organism works perfectly, in order to make a safe investment. Moreover, the best nishikigoi in terms of color/pattern are often our weakest koi… Anyway, it's a fact that finding big and resistant koi is relatively easier in koi with fewer "elements" of color and pattern like a chagoi vs the much more refined gosanke which require many additional elements like colors and patterns.

                            Nonetheless, representatives refuse to recognize the troubles for political/commercial reasons. Some want to make believe that nishikigoi are as tough as wild carps, which should not be expected (maybe except for the chagoi type). That’s one of the reasons why I moved away from my country’s koi community. I remember that I was talking to a fellow koi keeper who encountered far more problems with japanese nishikigoi than with ghost koi (hybrids benefiting from heterosis) and wild carps (selected by mother nature) … Even if he didn’t have a proper filtration (I told him how to upgrade it), he wanted an explanation on why true nishikigoi require biologically better care to survive (in comparison to his previous fishes, fairly more resistant)… When I began to do so , officials took against me and others… They used intimidation and their strong position to silence us... It seemed like I had touched a sensitive point…a taboo subject (but it was not the first time). Eventually, I had to abandon my explanation but people need to be aware of that stuff… At koi bito, I know I can talk freely. Honestly guys, I am proud to be able discussing/learning with cultivated and open-minded persons coming from all around the world since many years.

                            Cordially, Alex

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                            • #59

                              We are straying rather far from the topic of this thread, but it does all relate to genetics. Nishikigoi are highly in-bred and like all in-bred animals they are weaker. I do not know why anyone would argue otherwise. The process of natural selection weeds out those offspring unable to thrive in the prevailing environmental conditions. Artificial selection weeds out those not marketable for their beauty to the human eye. Along the way genes are lost.... undesirable ones that detract from beauty and desirable ones not needed to thrive in the artificial environment in which they are raised. The reduced gene pool means that Nishikigoi, if left to their own devices, will not revert to wild carp. They no longer have the genetic capacity. They may become wild and over numerous generations of genetic mutation develop a broader set of genes suited to the environment in which they live, but cannot be the same as their wild ancestors... even if camouflage coloring gives them an outwardly similar appearance. This is basic to all domesticated creatures... and also plants.

                              It has been observed that very large koi, ones of the size to compete at the highest levels in shows, overall have shorter life spans. Not many live to be 20 or 30 years old. GCs at age 7 are often dead before they are 12. Some believe this is due to being fattened year-round and not going through long periods of starvation. Some believe the size in itself strains the fishes' systems. However, I understand that bulky food carp kept at aquaria often live longer lives and there are wild carp which gain lengths koi do not often reach. We select for beauty and our enjoyment, not for long lives. A couple of years ago I re-homed the majority of my koi. My pond had become an old-age home for declining dowagers who had lost their beauty long before. It was more enjoyable to re-populate with young koi. In a way, those old dowagers lived too long. It may seem a cruel thing to say, but a koi that outlives its beauty lives too long. (Of course, I still have my very aged Hariwake with her bent body. The emotional attachment gives enjoyment even if her lack of beauty does not.)

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