Japanese Koi Varieties Guide

Koi, or Nishikigoi (錦鯉), are ornamental varieties of the common carp and have been bred for their beauty and color. Originating from Japan, these fish have captured the hearts of aquarists and pond enthusiasts around the world. Here's a guide to some of the most popular and recognized varieties:

  1. Kohaku (浅黄)
    • Description: Solid white base with patterns of red. It's the most well-known koi variety, and quality depends on the brightness of white and depth of red tones.
    • Significance: Oldest and often considered the standard against which other varieties are judged. 
  2. Taisho Sanke (Sanke)
    • Description: White base overlaid with red and black patterns.
    • Significance: Close to Kohaku in popularity, they add a touch of black to the classic Kohaku pattern.
  3. Showa Sanshoku (Showa)
    • Description: White and red/orange patterns on a black base.
    • Significance: Unique for its black patterns wrapping around the body and on the head, distinguishing it from Sanke.
  4. Tancho
    • Description: Solid white body with a single red dot on the head.
    • Significance: Resembles the Red-Crowned Crane, cherished in Japanese culture.
  5. Shiro Utsuri
    • Description: Black base overlain by areas of white.
    • Significance: Revered for its contrasting black and white patterns.
  6. Kujaku
    • Description: Solid white base with black net pattern and patterns of red, orange, and yellow.
    • Significance: Vibrant, known for its peacock-like appearance.
  7. Asagi
    • Description: Blue net-like pattern on the back, with red or orange on the belly, gills, fins, and body.
    • Significance: One of the oldest koi varieties, known for its calming blue tones.
  8. Goshiki
    • Description: Solid white base with black, blue, red, and black patterns.
    • Significance: Name means "five colors," symbolizing its rich multi-tonal appearance.
  9. Chagoi
    • Description: Solid brown or bronze color with a subtle net pattern.
    • Significance: Particularly docile, often the first to hand feed, setting an example for other koi in the pond.
  10. Bekko
    • Description: White, red, or yellow koi with black markings.
    • Significance: Named after the tortoise shell, it offers a simple but captivating appearance.
  11. Ochiba Shigure (Ochiba)
    • Description: Combines brown/bronze of Chagoi with silver/grey of Soragoi.
    • Significance: Its name means "autumn leaves falling on water," hinting at its beautiful blend of colors.
  12. Platinum Ogon
    • Description: Solid, metallic-white koi.
    • Significance: Celebrated for its pristine and lustrous appearance.
  13. Soragoi
    • Description: Solid grey or silver koi with a subtle net pattern.
    • Significance: Like the Chagoi, known for its docility and ease in hand feeding.
  14. Ginrin
    • Description: Koi with silver or gold sparkling scales.
    • Significance: Recognized for its shimmering, starry-night appearance.
  15. Shusui
    • Description: Scaleless version of Asagi with a row of scales along the dorsal line.
    • Significance: Offers a unique appearance due to its scaleless body.
  16. Hi Utsuri
    • Description: Lacquer-black base with patterns of deep red or orange.
    • Significance: Known for its fiery contrast of colors.
  17. Ki Utsuri
    • Description: Patterns of yellow over a black body.
    • Significance: A rare variety, admired for its sunny appearance over dark contrasts.
  18. Kikusui
    • Description: Scaleless white koi with patterns of orange or yellow.
    • Significance: A vibrant variant of Hariwake.
  19. Beni Kumonryu
    • Description: Kumonryu with the addition of red.
    • Significance: Notable for its pattern-changing nature.
  20. Kumonryu
    • Description: Scaleless koi with grey, white, and black patterns that change throughout life.
    • Significance: Renowned for its unpredictable and ever-changing patterns.
  21. Matsuba
    • Description: Solid metallic colored base with a black net pattern.
    • Significance: Admired for its pine-cone appearance.
  22. Kin Kikokuryu
    • Description: Orange or yellow combined with the black and white patterns of Kikokuryu.
    • Significance: Newest variety in the koi industry as of 2021.