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Scalation: Dorsal scales

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  • Scalation: Dorsal scales

    Since reading the Asagi series in Koi-Bito issue 8, i have been a bit fixated on the scales of koi along the dorsal ridge from the back of the head to the dorsal fin. [Yes, I know, I need to get a life.] There is extraordinary variability. For example, compare the central row of scales on the Asagi in photo #8 on page 32 with the central row of the reverse Asagi in photo #6 on page 36. The first has few scales emerging, creating almost an empty space along the dorsal ridge. The latter has full scales along the ridge, but the scales are not perfectly even .. they become a little jumbled compared to the even rows of scales on the rest of the koi's body. Compare these again to the two Asagi on page 26, the 70bu and 75bu Asagi champs at the 2003 Rinyukai All-Japan show. The 75bu winning Asagi has near perfect alignment and very similar sizing of the scales on the dorsal ridge. The 70bu champ begins with an even alignment at the back of the head, but the scales become jumbled near the dorsal fin.

    The dorsal scales on all varieties vary greatly, but it is most noticeable on those varieties whose special qualities center on scalation. The Kujaku on page 13 of issue 8 are great examples. The 80bu has no scales along the dorsal ridge, creating a bright shine on bare metallic skin. The 70bu pictured next to it has partially emerged scales along the ridge, evenly aligned. The baby 25 bu below it has some scales emerging unevenly (at that point in its development); while the 50bu next to it is missing nearly 3 dorsal rows, making a wide reflective area.

    Ooops. Work calls. I'll be back.
  • #2

    For those who do not subscribe to K-B [shame on you!], check the Gin Rin Ochiba on page 93 of Sept/Oct 2004 KoiUSA, the Kujaku on page 95 of July/August 2004 KoiUSA, or the 4 Ochiba Shigure on pages 32-33 of March 2005 Nichirin [English]. And for those who collect old Rinko, compare the jumbo Kawari on page 38 of the Nov. 1993 issue with the cover koi on K-B issue #7 (eerily alike, except the darker tones of the cover koi, and the gaps in the dorsal scales of the jumbo from a dozen years ago).

    There is little rhyme or reason that I can discern between those koi with even lines of scales on the dorsal ridge and those without, except I seem to see an absence of the dorsal row altogether most frequently on Hikari. I think this is a result of selection for high shine favoring those without scales along the dorsal ridge. The "hint of doitsu" gives them more reflective surface.

    The dorsal scalation non-uniformity is most noticeable on metallics, Chagoi/Ochiba/Soragoi, Asagi, Shusui, Aigoromo and other varieties in which scalation is a major attribute. It is not as noticeable in the gosanke and utsuri, but the variation is present. I believe it is the depth of pigment that causes the variation to be less noticeable on gosanke and utsuri. However, among the gosanke there are those individuals with pronounced, raised dorsal ridges. On those individuals it appears to me it is typical that there is no central row of scales. The thick color pleases the eye, so the absent scales do not cause a bad impression. See the Kohaku on page 44 of K-B issue #7 in bottom right of the page. The protuberant dorsal ridge shows well in the photo.

    Examining my own koi, I've found that some have missing or undersized scales along the dorsal ridge, and others do not. Age and size do not seem determinative, although young small fish may be somewhat more likely to have undersized scales along the ridge, I do not have experience to say whether these will catch up in size as the fish matures or remain undersized compared to other body scales.

    Another work interruption. I'll be back.


    • #3

      Gotta finish up this long-winded monologue....

      I have not read any articles about these scalation variations, nor anything in regard to treatment in judging. Since becoming fixated on dorsal scale alignment, I have spoiled my pleasure in looking at several varieties. Yamabuki Ogons remain a favorite, but so many suffer from misalignments; and Kujaku are so prone to problems I have begun to expect to see missing scales, misalignment and undersized scales on all of them at the same time.

      Uneveness or missing scales immediately catch my eye, and I react very negatively. The full impact of even, complete scalation creates an atmosphere of strength about a koi.

      The potential for doitsu traits has a genetic link in these characteristics, I suspect.

      It is a curious malady, these koi. The more I study them, the fewer that I find impressive, and the more addicted to them I become.


      • #4

        I ah think you have some very very disturbing thoughts that you are burying by fixating on scales...lots of koi deaths in your Subconcious? they are just fish. get help.


        • #5

          haha yep the monologue.. im with ya mike, i too have often told myself to pull back on my thinkings all things koi.
          i think ive calmed it down now. its always a comfort to know i wasnt the only one that let myself get infected.


          • #6

            oh and i think you saying that you find certain characteristics running through a doitsu that is comparable to others doitsu but not so close to scaled fish that come from another completey different line.

            you might become unhappy, as compared to someone that goes "oh look a fish!"
            they smile and you might frown. you feel like you know and appreciate but they appreciate more cause they dont know...conundrum.

            id agree, it makes perfect sense but it may even show how slow characteristics can be removed??? from a line and yet while theres still complexity and variation within a line.. you wont find a steady flow of something new you pick for..

            within the offsdpring you will still go back to having fish like its parents and great grandparents and yet fish totally inlike it also. with two heads..

            its not like a dog where they have four pups and they gotta be closer to mum and dad. fish can afford/use more variation as a survival technuqe and we have ourselves looking tooooooooooooooo far.
            its cause of the numbers but they still hold somewhat true within those numbers. like getting a magnifying glass under another..

            funny, i had a plumber guy tell me that there was a two million dollar fish sold and that he would buy and breed a million fish and get a hundred just like it and be super rich.
            it doesnt go that way and it shows us all how far we might have had our beam lifted and how far we might look.
            i read something on the toilet wall the other day. it said strive for excellence and not for perfection. i think this fits in that we may never be happy that we dont have perfection but we would be happy with the excellence over somethign poor.


            • #7

              Great thread Mike. I have also noticed what your talking about and have also have had my interest peeked. maybe that's why I appreciate certain asagi and Shusui patterns.With GR scalation there are certain ones I like and other I don't care for.

              I always figured since I was an art major in school, and wanted to be a teacher of the subject that it had something to do with that gift.

              will be anxious to see what other think
              Dick Benbow


              • #8

                i remember back to a time when i first saw koi on a farm, i had a quick lesson on what was a good scales fish.

                from my own thoughts, if the scales on asagi werent perfect i would sell them and not keep for breeding. many decent asagi let go. in the end the one i did keep may have got sold by someone else. well i never saw it again anyway.

                apart from being a nice blue and red eveness and symetry, thats what i was looking for most in that fish.
                i didnt know the "rules" on the colours stopping and starting.
                that fish had the most amazing glitter going on it was just like a majic shining painting, i remember thinking how could it be real.
                i now wonder how bad the pattern was on that fish but it was the scalation that really shined out loud.


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