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What does a surgically altered koi look like?

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  • What does a surgically altered koi look like?

    I have read about surgically altered koi (to improve pattern) a number of times on this board.

    Does anyone have any tips for recognizing the signs? Any photos we could study?
  • #2

    Chris watch for the hatchets. LOL anyhow a good surgical altered koi you will have a hard time telling. It cold be as innocent as scraping shimi and extreme to injecting color. So of course are many extremes to it. I think the one we are most familiar with is scraping shimi, removing secondary Hi and clipping fins. I havent gotten a clue where to find pics on this procedure. I have seen it done here and in Japan. I look at it more of a manicure. Hope you find what yorr looking for.

    It's a living creature (chit happens)


    • #3

      Morning Chris, Yes, it is becoming more common and the techniques have gotten very good over the last five years. It may be that the old days of using lemon juice and a knife are behind us and now dremal tools ( tiny power sanding and grinding machines really) along with skill and a surgical blade do a much better job.

      When I judge fish I often see tell tale signs that something was done to a pattern. It is almost exclusive to kohaku and sanke. And it is 90% of the time a change in head pattern to make the fish more interesting or to remove menakuburi ( red all over the face that makes an other wise nice koi look plain and 'fish-like'). Often it is trimmed around the eye to make a circle of red rather than a mass of red. Or a cheek circle is carved out. Or the head pattern itself is make clean and attractive. Often the perfect horse pattern or an S or some other interesting shape is made on the head. And just as often it is a clean up and not a complete ‘redo’ of the head pattern.

      The work is often not permanent and over time, you can see faint and then orange flecks reappear where areas of beni have been scraped away. If you look VERY closely, you will see white scars in these areas. And some patterns are simply not ‘natural’ to the trained eye. If you study your Nichirin magazines photos ( sorry Brain, Koi-Bito hasn’t been around long enough yet for this recommendation. ) you will see that over many years, certain interesting head patterns appear over and over. This is not surprising as genetics carries many repeated combinations over the generations. In fact I can show you an odd natural head pattern that shows up consistently over two decades in Rinko and Nichirin magazine and they are not the same fish! Or even the same breeder! Still, likely the same line. But even on the head of these patterned fish, there is a natural ‘imperfection’ to the edge of the pattern. A natural resolution to the kiwa and the surrounding shiro ground. After all, this is a very thin skin layer but very thick beni saturation. It is hard to hide ‘change’ there yet it is the easiest place to remove the dermis and epidermis without effecting scales, muscle or sashi/kiwa. And nicely, the head pattern is where the human eye tends to rest and draw opinion from as whether a fish is unique or not.

      The other area ( remaining 10%) is the removal of secondary hi on the sides of the fish and the cheeks and gill plate of the fish. Just stray red that distracts from the main pattern and in a close competition will hurt the fish carrying it.



      • #4

        I use a dremel on my juniper's to clean up bonsai to look old.

        I remember my first all japan show and not believing a perfect tancho on a showa. I was shown at that time what to look for (too perfect) yellow stain on the white which formerly held red. I think once you see it you can much easier
        see it again. Tosai are the best to work with. As the koi gets older it gets harder to hide the work.

        A friend of mine walked into a certain "house" on a major breeder accidently taking pictures and discovered such an operation in progress. They were quickly shown the door! (lol)
        Dick Benbow


        • #5

          About ten years ago I read an anecdote about modifying koi patterns. It’s all a bit fuzzy now, but I think the story was that Herbert Axelrod (our favorite tax evader) made, or had someone make, a koi with a perfect heart-shaped hi plate. My recollection is that people were very irate about the concept and wanted the practice banned. Does this ring a bell with anyone?

          -steve hopkins


          • #6

            Believe I saw a photo of that koi in the Koi Encyclopedia....been awhile though. Think that's where it is.


            • #7

              Yes, I remember, I'll see if I can put on finger on the article, I know I have it somewhere but not indexed.

              This was just the beginning of a trend in Japan that ZNA has resisted since the beginning. There was a very famous 'scandal' at one of the ALL JAPAN ZNA shows at that same time. Two soragoi were entered and were expected to win the best kawari awards as they had perfect black lines of what looked like stars or X's running along the lateral lines. Upon closer examination they judges found that they were tattooed on the fish! The fish were disqualified and the owner and dealer were banned. This must have worked because I never heard of a tattooed koi again in a major show!


              • #8

                I remember Jim,
                You posted this pic.

                Some of your students have good memories........
                Attached Files
                South East Koi Club


                • #9

                  You've done it again, Bern. Incredible inventory of photos. BTW, that Soragoi really is too good to be true!


                  • #10

                    excellent Bern! Semper Fi! JR


                    • #11

                      Wow Bern--I think even I might have been suspicious of THAT one!

                      Thanks for the pic!!


                      • #12

                        I think that Soragoi would've been nice WITHOUT the tats.


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