With so many different colours and varieties of Koi it tends to become rather confusing for the new hobbyist to understand. Over the past three decades there has been a huge increase in available variations and colours. For the sake of the beginner we are going to have a look at the major colour varieties.
Kohaku – Since the beginning of Koi keeping more than 300 years ago one of the most popular and prized variety’s has been the Kohaku. A Kohaku is a white Koi with large red(hi) patterns on the body. You certainly have seen them online or in books and definitely at your local Koi dealer, but there is a lot more to this beautiful variety. If you are hoping to purchase a Kohaku for your pond, look for a fish with distinct colouration. The red(hi) must be bright red and the edges of the red pattern must not fade to a pinkish or light orange colour. The white must be pure white not a pinkish colour.
Sanke – The Sanke is one of the most beautiful Koi colour varieties. In a nutshell it is very similar to the Kohaku being a white Koi with red(hi) markings, but also has black(sumi) markings above the lateral line. One of the important things to look for when purchasing a Sanke is the black markings, make sure it is pure black markings and not small faded spots. These spots may become much larger and eventually overwhelm the red and white.
Showa – The Showa essentially is a black Koi with red(hi) and white markings. The most important aspect of the Showa Koi colours is that there must be black on the head. Unlike the above mentioned Sanke which will not have black on its head. This is also the easiest way of telling the difference between the two varieties.
Bekko – Although the Bekko is one of the plainer looking fish with only two Koi colours they are remarkably beautiful fish. The Bekko is a white or red(hi) Koi with black(sumi) markings on the body. The Bekko should not have any black(sumi) on its head but always bee pure white or red.
Ogon – One of the most important fish to have in your pond! The Ogon is a single coloured Koi normally white or yellow. Although they come in many varieties of metallic colour, the easiest way is to identify the single colour fish. On close inspection you will often find small markings of red(hi) or black(sumi) coming through. If you do notice this on a fish you intend on buying, rather throw it back and look for another.
Asagi – The Asagi is one of the more special Koi colour varieties, it also boasts as being one of the oldest. With a pure white head the Asagi has beautiful blue coloured scales along the back and above the lateral. Below the lateral it must have red(hi) on white all along the sides. Finding a perfect Asagi is one of the bigger challenges of the Koi keeping hobby, and certainly one of the most rewarding.
Shusui – The Shusui is one of the leather skin varieties or known as doitsu Koi, meaning that it has very few large scales on the body. Most commonly they are found down the spine and along the lateral line. In the case of the Shusui it has a perfect line of large dark blue scales along the spine and sometimes along the lateral lines as well. As in the case of the Asagi it will have a white head with red(hi) marking down the sides of the body.
These are the most common and best known varieties of Koi colour varieties, most importantly each one of them add an additional special feature to your Koi pond. Remember that when you purchase your new fish to inspect their colours as mentioned, make sure markings are clear with definite edges. Most importantly a Koi pond is a special addition to ones home and the fish inside become well loved pets, so choose the Koi colours that are most appealing to you!