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Differring Koi Hi

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  • Differring Koi Hi

    The more magazines, books, videos, pictures I see of Koi, the more interested I get in the different Hi intensities available. Yes, I know that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, but is one more correct or better accepted then the other. I understand that koi Hi develops along with its growth and that could be a factor in selecting prospecting koi, but can Hi quality disappear and suddenly reappear better than ever? Seems highly unlikely to me.

    Of the Japanese bred Koi(at least the ones I've seen) I have noticed the Hi is very red. While most local Koi or US bred or UK bred Koi have more of a orange/red or persimon as they call it.

    What are some of the factors that lead to these Hi conditions. I hear and read many explanations which talk about the "water"(quality), the "seasons"(temperature), the "food", etc. Do japanese breeders use color enhancers to bring out color before they auction off their stocks? I guess to fetch better pricing? Or is the red naturally held with water from Japan. In fact, I have seen the "red" in Japanese koi after about a couple of months, turn to that orange/red the next time I see them.

    I have also read about the color characteristics of bloodlines (at least what is available to read) How strong are these bloodlines in retaining color characteristics? This stuff is very interesting to me. The idea of learning about bloodlines, characteristics, advances in bloodlines, new bloodlines, this is endless...I guess at this point and time, thats where the fun lies for me...

    Relating back to my first hobby(wine) Like a sommolier identifing a wine based on color/smell and taste characteristics. Can some hobbiest/breeders look at a koi, and determine possible bloodline(s), regional area, growing characteristics or what ever?

    Geez, after reading what I just wrote...I guess thats every hobbiest dream goal.....hahaha. Oh well...any insights on this loooooong post......sorry.
  • #2


    Hi Akai-San,

    Here are some photos to confuse you.

    On the left is a Nisai Kohaku born in the US - on the right is the same Kohaku at Sansai. A cross of Tomoin & Sensuke type lineages.

    Best Wishes,


    • #3


      Yagozen type Kohaku tosai born in the US.

      Best Wishes,


      • #4

        lineage characteristics,...

        In this group of tosai kohaku we have Yagozen, Sensuke, Tomoin, & Manzo type lineages represented - all 6 months, all raised in same environment, all US born.

        Summary - hi coloration varies by bloodine type, by environment grown in, by diet, by amount of sunlight.

        Best Wishes,


        • #5

          My take on this is that the brighter vermillion reds are an attraction to early learning koi keepers, but are somewhat considered unrefined?

          I have to say that in my experience, these deep vermillion, English Post Box Red if you like, on young koi, prove time and time again to be unstable.
          A much softer red hue, almost orange, is far more desireable in a young koi, likely more stable and consistent thru' the kois formative years. Just my experience.

          "Gentlemen prefer ponds"


          • #6

            First of all thanks to brady for sharing his time and knowledge. A picture can tell a thousand words. Also andrew's learning curve is good to pay attention to as well!

            In the years I've kept,raised and bred koi I've learned a few things. My biggest joy is to see someone come to a koi dealer with a book or calendar and point to a finished koi and say something to the effect that he would like one just like the one in the picture. He says this as he's looking over the tosai bin!

            Just about every good color variety I know is like the ugly duckling story that turns into the beautiful adult as it matures. If it starts out perfect it has no where else to go but down.

            Japanese breeders are not afraid to use color enhancing additives to their food to adjust the color to more desiable saleable products. The tategoi they are raising on do not receive such food.

            Different bloodlines show different traits. Brady's pictures and identification is a big help. The original sensuke bloodline was identified by the way the color
            cut thru a scale anywhere it felt like. mano-san at Daiinichi was noted for a full scale of color. Breed the two types together and the young would show
            color that filled some scales and ran thru where-ever in others on the same koi.

            My experience has been to look for a tosai with thick beni as if the creator spray painted it with 4-5 coats of paint. The red must be just as thick in the tail stop as in the shoulder area. As the koi ages it goes from Maki (persimmon) orange to orange red and finally to red with still a tinge of orange. It's too bad the english lanquage is not anywhere as distscriptive as japanese which can go into depth as to the correct red for the particular breeder's koi.

            I suggest in your learning curve to look at the most expensive koi that come into your dealers at the various ages. They are expensive for two reasons. Either they have the quality which you can begin to identify or they have a sucker's pattern. The last thing you look for in a quality koi is pattern. one last thing for gosanke. All the colors show their best thru the best white. like an artist's pallet of oils, it's the base color that other colors are added on to that make results you want. All whites are not equal. in finished koi you can find a bright hard white or a bright soft white. Many times you look at a quality tosai and the white looks like 2% milk but you are looking for the opagueness or thickness. This too takes time to develop. remember the breeder is only a portion of the results. He may give 100 % to the effort but if your pond water is 50% your results will fall short of expectation. Even with the best of all worlds the number of world class koi of any variety is limited!

            I would have to say my best understanding was going to japan and seeing the tategoi that were being held to grow on. I would see all the ages and also ask to see the parents.If you never have gone for a visit it will be the best education you can get. If a trip overseas is not possible do not make little of some of the domestic breeders who have studied in japan and have top notch breeders from there. We are sorely fortunate to have several good ones here in the US of A and i know of a few up and comers in Australia and the UK!

            never stop learning!
            Dick Benbow


            • #7

              Thanks Brady for taken so much time to put together those pics. I guess with time, the hobbiest eyes can key-in on characteristics of bloodlines. And watching and comparing how baby koi develop their hi will have to be the only way to really appreciate this awesome hobby.

              Just interesting to note that after many years of koi keeping, the amount of information and learning is totally up to the individual. I hope one of these days (in the future) I'll get a chance to experience Japan. Maybe a job relocation is in order when the kids go away to college. Hahaha...there are always job opportunities in Japan for DOD. Hmmmmm sounds like a plan.


              • #8


                Check out it's Brady's website...Some very good articles on koi development...

                You're invited to our house sometime after Dec. 15 when I'm supposed to take delivery of a Kohaku, 2 Showas and hopefully a Hi Utsuri and Tancho Sanke from him... Then you can compare the colors in the pic to the actual koi...

                Have a good time at the club's Christmas party...

                Aloha! Mike


                • #9

                  Unfortunately I've a hectic schedule today, so I can't study these pics like I want.

                  Brady: THANKS! ... I'll be back to study soon.


                  • #10

                    You need to me closer Mike or beter yet, move ME closer!
                    Semper in excreta, sumus solum profundum variat


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