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Conformation and Skin Quality

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  • Conformation and Skin Quality

    It seems that japanese breeders pick tosai based primarily on "body confirmation" and "skin quality". Pattern seems to be largely overlooked, at least in young tosai under 6 months.
    My questions are as follows:
    How to appreciate "confirmation" in practice?
    What is exctly skin quality and why is so important?
    How to appreciate "skin quality" in practice?

    Let's asume you are in front of several siblings -gosanke, from the same spawn. Which points would you check/assess to appreciate both confirmation and skin quality?
    I will appreciate your comments on this subject, which somehow also apply for older Koi.
    Diego Jordano
    Cordoba, Spain
    A.E.K. web site
    pers. web site
  • #2

    The first thing I look for in tosai is body shape. the color variety will help you be aware of what to look for from a negative stand point. Showa often have crooked heads. Ogon often have undersized pecs.
    you want to see atleast 4 1/2 heads in length from the tip of the tail to the end of the nose. many hikari varieties tend to be "football shaped " (american football not soccer).

    I look for koi that appear to look long. They tend to grow bigger. I like to look at the distance from the tip of the nose to the edge of the gill plate. If the distance to the eye and the nose is the same as from the eye to the gill plate
    chances are this will not be a bigger koi. this is often referred to as a long head. You want to see a longer stretch between the eye and the gill plate.
    I also like to see a wide head and widely spaced eyes for the same reason of growth. The shoulder should show some depth from it's top to the belly of the koi. but not so exaggerated as again to look football like.

    I hope this helps a little bit. I remember with clarity my first lessons by kentaro Sakai after work each weekend when he would bowl koi and point things out that i had read about but really couldn't picture. Once he pointed them out in koi side by side, it was easy to see and understand. I'm sorry we're not in a place where I can do that for you!

    In my classes I always like to get several koi out with good skin and several with so-so. Once pointed out you can recognize it. I'm not sure I know how to explain it with dry words ( as opposed to a wet example!)
    Dick Benbow


    • #3

      Great post Dick. I'm going to save this one.

      steve hopkins


      • #4

        Skin quality differences are very difficult to see in a photo but very evident when looking at the koi in a tub a few inches away. The best skin glows almost like it is lit up from within by a soft light. High quality skin looks three dimensional in person. Unmistakable, when you see high quality koi skin you will know it and remember it. Sort of like fine silk and ordinary cotton fabrics. Photo's minimize difference.
        Disclosure:These opinions are based on my experience and conversations with persons I consider accomplished koi keepers and do not reflect the viewpoint of any organization.


        • #5

          Dick pretty much summed it all up....I pretty much look for tosai that have some future potential....
          The world sleeps as the chance to learn something new passes.


          • #6

            Good example Ray, the silk and cotton is very discriptive! (thanks)
            Dick Benbow


            • #7

              Thanks, especially to Dick Benbow, for your replies.
              Now I have a better image of what to look for in Tosais.

              I agree that skin quality can't be apreciate properly in pictures.
              Still I doubt whether it is a "reliable" and constant character or not.
              In my limited experience, some tosai with very nice skin change in
              time to worse, and vice versa. Talking about adult Koi, all you
              know how easy is to ruin a good Koi if kept in unsuitable conditions.
              And, how a relatively short stay in a mud pond can do miracles.
              Therefore, I wonder whether skin quality in Tosai (either good or bad) is a good predictor of future skin quality.

              Talking about conformation, Dick explain several interesting points that can be assessed in Tosai to get and indication of potential. Thanks, Dick.

              Body conformation in adult Koi is however rather elusive concept to be objectively appreciated, I think. Well, most of us would agree identifying examples of bad conformation, for instance pot-belly, lack of lateral simetry, and so on.
              But, in a group of Koi lacking any major conformation deffects, how to decide which one is the best? Right now I still have in front of me the wonderful 2004 calendar of Koi Water Barn featuring champion Koi from Sakai. I know, I must replace it. Well, I can see big differences in body shape among Champions, even between pairs of Champions in the same Koi Show and very similar classes (almost same size). These include differences in body volume, thickness of the ozutsu, size and shape of pectoral fins, shape and proportions of the head, ...
              Furthermore, if you take for example Nichirin no. 409 (37th ZNA AJKS in Kobe) and have a look at, say page 111 for example, you will read comments by different judges appreciating some of the champions, next to the Koi picture. The point is that in this page you will find that comments for Koi no. 4, 5 and 6 (going top to down and left to right) include respectively "wonderful body conformation", "an ideal body conformation", and "the body conformation is wonderful". More or less the same comment for three Koi of roughly the same size (2 are 75 Bu, 1 is 80 Bu) but showing quite different body conformation.

              Diego Jordano
              Cordoba, Spain
              A.E.K. web site
              pers. web site


              • #8

                I think what you need to pick up from their comments is that each one is looking for body confirmation as important. That should tell you something.

                Tosai have to be born with the genetics to grow big. the head, the thickness of the tail tube (relkative to size of koi ) and the backbone outline at the shoulder
                all give you an idea that you have selected well.

                After that it is up to the environment which includes uncrowded stocking conditions, truely big water, current and depth as well as length of pond.

                that's what builds nice bodies. You also have to have good feed, fed often in small amounts and water temp to maintain a metabolism that will encourage growth 76-78 F.lots of oxygen also helps the digestive process especially in the evening.

                the skill of the keeper is in the pond design and feeding the right food for the temp ,making sure you see no floating fish wastes which indicate upset bowels
                and loss of progress in their ability to utilize the feed.

                often times body shape will contribute at least to 60 % of the judging criteria.
                Dick Benbow


                • #9

                  Bringing this to the top for the "would like to learn" thread. Told you I had saved it.



                  • #10

                    indeed a very worthwhile read. thanks especially to Dick, and Diego for bringing it up. More, please!!!


                    • #11

                      Yes, definitely learning from these posts. Thanks for taking the time.


                      • #12


                        does any of you have any pics of tosai jou raised and how they develop?
                        groeten wilco


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