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Thread: Akame: Kigoi or Karashigoi? Does it matter?

  1. #1
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Akame: Kigoi or Karashigoi? Does it matter?

    Each year I like to get a couple of tosai to grow over the summer. This year, there were two really small red-eyed tosai in Bristol Koi's lower-priced tank at the Central Florida Koi & Goldfish Show. I have been wanting to add some yellow to the pond, so I got the little 4-inch fellows. (I dominated the size 1 Mujimono class at the show. They were the only Mujimono that small! LOL ) Since they are Akame (red-eyed), they will be some hue of yellow. They were called Akame Kigoi, which simply means red-eyed yellow koi. Since varieties are based on phenotype, it is an accurate label. In the dealer's tank of mixed varieties, there were some pale yellowish cream colored koi that most folks would label as Karashigoi. I suspect my Akame are undersized siblings simply because there are a lot more Akame Karashigoi being produced in Japan than other Akame Kigoi. Does it matter?

    Yes, it does matter, if your interest is in the ultimate development of the fish. The label 'Akame Kigoi' is applied to any red-eyed yellowish koi no matter the underlying genotype. It is a form of albinism that can appear in any variety. From what I have read and been told, the spontaneous appearance of Akame occurs more in Kawarigoi types, but has appeared in the spawns of many if not all varieties at some point. The underlying genotype may produce a body form like an old-style Showa (front-loaded, big shoulder, thin tail) or like an Asagi or a bloated food carp. You cannot know until it matures. Most Akame seem to stay in the small/medium size range. It is fairly rare to see one over 70cm. All you can really know from the broad label of 'Akame Kigoi' is that the koi will be some hue of yellow, which can range from a light butter yellow to a bolder hue tending toward orange.

    Akame Karashigoi, however, comes out of Karashigoi genetics. The body form of Karashigoi varies. All Karashigoi are not the perfect shape generally seen in Karashigoi photos. However, the chances are much better that the body form will be strong with an even silhouette, not a bulbous carp with a hanging belly. There is also a better chance the koi will grow large... or very large.

    In the case of my tiny tosai, it is hard to imagine they will ever become 90cm behemoths. I suspect they were sold off by the breeder due to their size. There is only so much room to grow Karashi to Nisai, so the runts are not going to make the cut. All the other tosai in the sale tank were more nearly 6-7 inches. My Akame were runts even among those small tosai. My experience with the smallest tosai in a spawn is that they stay smaller than their siblings, often a great deal smaller. But, maybe mine are from a late spawning and thus only smaller now? Could they have the normal growth potential of Karashi? There is no way to know. And, that is the fun of raising up a couple of tosai. Chances are they will stay smaller than I like and be male.... and get re-homed in the Fall. But, in the meantime, I'll enjoy the summer-long lottery betting for a future 90cm true yellow beauty. It's cheaper than buying a lottery ticket each week, and more fun.

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  3. #2
    Sansai
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    Each year I like to get a couple of tosai to grow over the summer. This year, there were two really small red-eyed tosai in Bristol Koi's lower-priced tank at the Central Florida Koi & Goldfish Show. I have been wanting to add some yellow to the pond, so I got the little 4-inch fellows. (I dominated the size 1 Mujimono class at the show. They were the only Mujimono that small! LOL ) Since they are Akame (red-eyed), they will be some hue of yellow. They were called Akame Kigoi, which simply means red-eyed yellow koi. Since varieties are based on phenotype, it is an accurate label. In the dealer's tank of mixed varieties, there were some pale yellowish cream colored koi that most folks would label as Karashigoi. I suspect my Akame are undersized siblings simply because there are a lot more Akame Karashigoi being produced in Japan than other Akame Kigoi. Does it matter?

    Yes, it does matter, if your interest is in the ultimate development of the fish. The label 'Akame Kigoi' is applied to any red-eyed yellowish koi no matter the underlying genotype. It is a form of albinism that can appear in any variety. From what I have read and been told, the spontaneous appearance of Akame occurs more in Kawarigoi types, but has appeared in the spawns of many if not all varieties at some point. The underlying genotype may produce a body form like an old-style Showa (front-loaded, big shoulder, thin tail) or like an Asagi or a bloated food carp. You cannot know until it matures. Most Akame seem to stay in the small/medium size range. It is fairly rare to see one over 70cm. All you can really know from the broad label of 'Akame Kigoi' is that the koi will be some hue of yellow, which can range from a light butter yellow to a bolder hue tending toward orange.

    Akame Karashigoi, however, comes out of Karashigoi genetics. The body form of Karashigoi varies. All Karashigoi are not the perfect shape generally seen in Karashigoi photos. However, the chances are much better that the body form will be strong with an even silhouette, not a bulbous carp with a hanging belly. There is also a better chance the koi will grow large... or very large.

    In the case of my tiny tosai, it is hard to imagine they will ever become 90cm behemoths. I suspect they were sold off by the breeder due to their size. There is only so much room to grow Karashi to Nisai, so the runts are not going to make the cut. All the other tosai in the sale tank were more nearly 6-7 inches. My Akame were runts even among those small tosai. My experience with the smallest tosai in a spawn is that they stay smaller than their siblings, often a great deal smaller. But, maybe mine are from a late spawning and thus only smaller now? Could they have the normal growth potential of Karashi? There is no way to know. And, that is the fun of raising up a couple of tosai. Chances are they will stay smaller than I like and be male.... and get re-homed in the Fall. But, in the meantime, I'll enjoy the summer-long lottery betting for a future 90cm true yellow beauty. It's cheaper than buying a lottery ticket each week, and more fun.

    Karashigoi, are they referred to as red-eyed or albino eyed?

  4. #3
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    I have not heard the Akame Karashigoi referred to as 'albino-eyed', but it is an accurate way of communicating about one. I think of 'red-eyed' and 'albino-eyed' as synonymous.

    However, there is an old thread where JR (Jim Reilly) suggested that it was a non-sequitur to refer to a Karashigoi as being red-eyed or Akame. To him, if it had red eyes, it was inherently a Kigoi:

    "Until the late 1990s it was considered taboo to cross pink eye colored koi ( due to the albino mutation removing sumi) with the black eyed versions of koi. In 1997 Konishi began to reverse engineer akame kigoi ( the very soft yellow version of albino, line bred for that trait) with chagoi. The goal being to blend the color cells to get a deeper darker tone.
    The flaw in this variety being an actual variety is in the fact that if a karashigoi has pink eyes then it is simply a kigoi – meaning all the sumi is gone within the skin and that allows the remaining color to dominate the phenotype. That is the definition of the albino or kigoi. Now the ‘ki’ is no longer yellow but mustard colored. You might say, “ so fine, it is a hybrid of the two”. But the answer would be no. Because albino is double recessive and it is the lack of sumi that defines the dominate skin type. The blend of two color cells to make shades of color is not enough to warrant a variety. If it were then we would name different lines of kohaku differently based on what shade the beni was from purple red to light orange yellow. Nope instead these kigoi should have a descriptive adjective like Akame is used to define that shade. There are red kigoi by the way. They are simply an albino who lacks sumi and that reveals red color cells instead of yellow. Would we call that a higoi? I think not! J
    So perhaps it was a mistake for the early Japanese breeders to refer to albino phase ogon types by their remaining base color rather than their actual identity which is an albino mutation? I think so actually. Because ‘kigoi’ is so much more than a yellow koi. "

    JR was speaking from a perspective of Akame Kigoi being a specific variety as if there was no koi deserving of the label "Kigoi" unless it was Akame. I disagree with that perspective. I have seen yellow koi that did not have red eyes (and were not Karashigoi). They were not as pretty a color, nor as evenly colored as Akame Kigoi. The production of gray/black pigment dulled the impression. However, they were yellow, like the old-style Ki Utsuri have a yellow ground color. And, they were a single color. So, they were Kigoi, called such and sold as such. Today, such koi would likely be labeled Karashigoi simply because it is a popular label in the marketplace and it is what more people are familiar with today... even if the particular fish came out of a spawning of Matsukawabake or some such. 15 years ago Chagoi were the rage. Everybody had to have one. Now, it's Karashigoi folks want. So, the label gets used. The Akame Karashigoi originating in the Konishi breeding program are a specific type of koi coming from a specific genetic pool.

    Although I disagree with the perspective from which JR spoke a decade ago, I think it points out the lack of uniform thinking on the Akame Kigoi/Akame Karashigoi labeling issue. It is a 'koi nerd' topic. Judges don't care. They are all classed as Mujimono. The vast buying public does not care. Either you like the fish enough to buy it or you don't. I see it as a way to get insight on the underlying genetics of a tosai, which can inform the buying decision. But, it does no good when the koi in a dealer's tank are labeled according to what is popular in the marketplace. And, for tosai acquired in a bulk purchase of mixed varieties, nobody knows anything more than what they see in front of them. The dealer does not know. The consumer does not know. You get what it is, whatever that may be. At least with Akame it is safe to assume the fish will not become splotchy with grayish smudges, and will stay some shade of yellow in that wide range of cream to orange.

  5. #4
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Postscript: It has been almost 3 months since the two Akame runts went in my pond. They are no longer runts. I have not netted them to measure, but one that appears it could be female is now equal in length to a tosai Sanke that was about 25cm in March and has grown since. From 4 inches to around 12+ inches in 3 months impresses me. The other appears to be male and is smaller. The former runts are now looking like what I expect full-sized Karashigoi tosai to be. Unfortunately, they are not as yellow as I would like... yellowish, but not intensely. We'll see if the color intensifies any over time.

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