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How to keep the HI on kohaku and benigoi to go orange/red?

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  • How to keep the HI on kohaku and benigoi to go orange/red?

    What is needed for this to happen?

    -water parameter

    I hate how my kohaku's HI turn orange/red and my benigoi turned to goldfish color after a few months. Here are my water parameters:

    Ph = rock solid 8.3
    ammo, nitrite = 0
    nitrate = 30
    salt = 0.03
    30% total water change per week carried out daily.
    pond not in direct sunlight but right under a white tarp that let sun light pass thru (my algae on the pond's sides are very nice and green)

    Please share your experience.
  • #2

    i think the people are gonna ask you about GH too ...

    something to do with the water softness/hardness.
    my water GH is approx. 120ppm (apparently hard compared to jap mud ponds)
    it also lightens the HI but exteremely good on sumi -> just my theory


    • #3

      Are your koi indoors? That would be the first possibility.
      Secondly, I see your pH is kind of high, what is your water hardness and are you using baking soda to get that high pH?
      what are you feeding the koi? Red color just doesn't happen. The color cells are there but they derive the actual color from diet. If you would like my color feed formula that I make in summer, you are welcome to it-
      make a paste food out of wheatgerm, red bell peppers, vitamin E, spirulina ( can from fish supplier) , paprika, fresh shrimp and izeki paste food. If you use krill as well, some people do, you will find it effects the binding ability of gelatin. so you will have to use the izeki paste food as a binder. IF you leave out the krill you can then put all this material in a food processor and add gelatin and orange juice that has been premixed in another pot. Just poor it in the food processor with the blended materials and blend again. Now pour this out in ice cube trays or a cookie sheet and put in the frig. Let it harden slightly and then score with a knife. use over a three day period and if you like, freeze the third days ration for freshness.


      • #4

        Koiloco: I'm guessing these were new fish. The dramatic change you describe could arise from many factors, but I suspect the fish had been "colored-up" with color enhancers and you are seeing what the natural colors are at this stage of development. Good care may well result in improved color as the fish mature, but perhaps never as intense as what you saw when you bought? ...I'm just guessing, but this is a frequent issue with young fish shipped by the hundreds for special sales events, like at shows or dealer weekend special sale events, etc.


        • #5

          Mike, your exactly right. Once the color food regiment is broken with sales and distribution, the color begins to drift away.

          As JR as indicated, Ph is on the high side which can have it's effect to change the beni.

          Not that most of us would even be able to afford a really top knotch kohaku or sanke, but these are deliberately NOT FED any color food as they grow so that it does not disrupt color development.

          Suggestions would include lower PH to the 7's and out of the 8's and feeding
          a color food. I suggest staying away from spirulina and depending more on

          The last 4 weeks I have been feeding some to my asagi's and the reds have picked up nicely. I'll feed for a coupla weeks more and then rely on getting them outside to improve their overall appearance.
          Dick Benbow


          • #6

            Actually that's old school,Dick. It depends on the time of year the fish is being fed spiro. In high season you can feed any fish, any age color food.
            ten different carotenoids have been isolated from beni. They include :

            B carotene
            B doradexanthin
            B carotenetriol

            These are both directly ingested and in some cases converted from other food groups.
            It is the lutein that should not be over fed. as it stains the skin.

            The old school fear of spiro came from the fact that early development of color cells in very young fish was believed to exhaust the color cells and cause breaking of pattern and loss of hi plate. Don't know if this was genetic issue or something else lacking in teh food formula?

            Here is one of my lower end kohaku that really took to being colored with paste formula I mentioned.
            Attached Files


            • #7

              Dick & JR: Very interesting. I have never seen a science-based explanation of how using color enhancing foods causes a problem in future color development, but the reported experience in Japan going back decades is enough for me to accept it until something truly scientific comes along. I've wondered, however, if the notion arose long ago when the quality of koi overall was less, and what was being seen was not color enhancement with foods causing color cells to be "used up", but weak Hi showing up as it would have done even if no color enhancement had occurred. If so, then I can see the notion becoming part of the folklore and generational teaching although not accurate. BUT, I'll accept the generational learning until something better comes along. ....Color enhancement with hormones is something different, and then I can see impacts on color cells.

              The idea of feeding color enhancing foods during high growth periods (but not during cool periods?) seems an adaptation of the old school views, but that only makes me wonder why it is not harmful during periods of growth, but would be during other times.


              • #8

                Because the dermis is well hydrated, the metabolic rate is humming and the cells multipy faster. There is also the issue of pathways for color conversion. The free form of zeaxanthin is absorbed and then transferred to the layers of cells where it is converted to first, adonixanthin and then astaxanthin ( Hata and Hata 1976). So an active metabolic rate is needed for proper pathway.

                It is also important to note that Spirulina has very high levels of B- Carotene. But additionally, it is high in crytoxanthin and zeaxanthin. Marigold and squash flowers are said to give color benefits but not negatives associated with spirulina. Yet they also contain zeaxanthin?

                The mixture I listed contains a very broad mix of color enhancers. For instance:

                krill is a source of astaxanthin

                Shrimp/ shells ---- astaxanthin

                mackerel ( summer only) astaxanthin

                yellow and red peppers -- Lutein


                paprika --------- B cryptoxanthin

                yeast ( summer only) B carotene

                spirulina --------- B carotene

                B carotene 5,6





                You are correct in your thoughts about old genetics producing tateshita with less color cells to begin with. The 'vision' was that the cells would fill with pigment and exhaust or pop. There were also staining issues of the skin which is the problem I mentioned in the above post. Additionally , it was felt that EXCESS spirulina lead to color development problems.

                I think, IMHO, that good genetics will 'seek' out color ingredients in a well balanced diet. But even before koi show, in late summer, this diet will help in color intensity the same way vitamins are viewed in our own diets- as an insurance policy that all needs are met.


                • #9

                  That's a lot of info , lol!

                  My pond is outdoor with a 15' tall white tarp roof. Sunlight is abundant, though direct sunlight hitting the pond will depend on the time of the day.

                  My Gh is around 60ppm, Kh is 90ppm.

                  I don't use any Baking Soda at all because tap water Ph is already 8.0 and Kh is 120ppm, but Gh is 220ppm.

                  I do have a water softener to soften the water down to my current range of Gh.
                  There's no way I could lower my Ph to 7.5 without hooking my R.O. unit I just bought and mix tap and R.O. water to achieve Ph 7.5.

                  All my kohaku and sanke are either momotaro or koda. I bought them at about 8" or up.

                  Almost forgot, I feed my fish hikari wheat germ during the colder months and hi silk 21, kusuri paste food during the growing month(can't get izeki). Most fish average 4-6 inch growth per year.

                  What is a good color pellet food you would suggest?
                  as you know, we can't get izeki paste food in the States, anymore.

                  If you guys do know a way to lower Ph without using R.O, please show me how but please NO chemical addition like "Ph down stuff" or any form of acid.


                  • #10

                    Well it sounds like you are doing all the right things- any chance of seeing a picture of the gosanke? JR


                    • #11

                      I'll take a picture and post it.

                      In the meantime, I got quite a few people telling me it's definitely the high Ph and hard water.

                      I only recently installed the softener to soften the water, so I can't say whether the softer water has improved the HI or not.

                      That's the reason I just bought an R.O. system to get my Ph down to 7.5.

                      By the time, Ph is 7.5 and Gh is around 40ppm, I really hope to see some improvement.


                      • #12

                        thanks & more questions

                        Very good thread with lots of info! Thanks a lot JR!
                        Any sugestion about how to apply paste food -whithout color enhancers, to feed young fry? Would it be possible and beneficial for the fry?
                        The fry are around 1 inch.
                        Have you got any other references besides that of Hata & Hata (1976)?
                        All the best,
                        Diego Jordano
                        Cordoba, Spain
                        A.E.K. web site
                        pers. web site


                        • #13

                          A paste food would have to be finely ground indeed and more importantly , non polluting. I'm not a koi breeder and have only raise a few spawns in my early years in the hobby. But I have watched the Japanese for many years now and talked to many about technique and tricks of the trade. Like all small fry, prey size is very important . And then protein content. This is why live foods are so valuable to the breeder. No chance of generating green water and then water fleas/daphina? The paste food can be made out of almost anything. I'd recommend a simple protein paste of fish fillet, shrimp and vitamins after a full month on live food. JR


                          • #14

                            [QUOTE=JR]Because the dermis is well hydrated, the metabolic rate is humming and the cells multipy faster. There is also the issue of pathways for color conversion. The free form of zeaxanthin is absorbed and then transferred to the layers of cells where it is converted to first, adonixanthin and then astaxanthin ( Hata and Hata 1976). So an active metabolic rate is needed for proper pathway.

                            JR, Is there a site to read more on this (Hata and Hata) paper.

                            The Hi on you Kohaku certainly look thick and even. Have you experimented on Koi that had poor/thin Hi to see if the Hi thickens over a period and if they retain that thickness.


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