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AKCA - Know your Koi - Outside

AKCA Koi Health Advisor - Anatomy

Koi Tutorial Lecture, by Doug Dahl

What are some of the Japanese names for the koi anatomy parts?
agi [ah' gi]: means chin and side of face including the gill covers.
goke [go' ke]: means fish scale.
hachi [ha'-chee]: means head.
hada [ha' dah]: means skin.
hana [hah-nah]: means nose.
hire [hi' re]: means fin.
kata [kah-tah]: means shoulder - directly behind the head and above the te (pectoral fins).
kuchi [koo-chee]: means lips.
me [ha' dah]: means eye.
men [men]: means face.
odome [oh doe meh]: before the tail fin where color stops and is white. Also known as "tail stop".
te [the]: means hand - or pectoral fins.

Test Your Knowledge of Koi terms!

What is a Tosai [toe-sigh]? It's a one-year-old Koi.
What is a Nisai [nee-sigh]? It's a two-year-old Koi.
What is a Sansai [sahn-sigh]? It's a three-year-old Koi.
What is a Yonsai [yohn-sigh]? It's a four-year-old Koi.
What is a Gosai [go-sigh]? It's a five-year-old Koi.
What is Tategoi [tat' eh goy]? Tategoi is a category given to koi that can improve and become higher quality which correlates directly to cost. As they grow, if deviations become apparent and they lose their status.
What is Taragoi [tah rah goy]? A Taragoi is not necessarily a Tategoi, but a Tategoi is a Taragoi. Taragoi is a category given to koi that can become great IF one or several conditions are met.
What is a Gosanke [go' sahn keh]? Gosanke are three of the first four classifications listed below, i.e., Kohaku, Sanke, and Showa.

Black is sumi and is pronounced [soo - mee].
Bluish Grey - Sky is sora and is [soh - ruh].
Green is midori and is pronounced [mee - dohr - ee].
Indeigo Blue is ai is pronounced [aye].
Red is hi and is pronounced [hee], aka is pronounced [ah - kah] or beni is pronounced [beh - knee]. There can be "hard" or "soft" beni (darkness and vibrance of the red is hard - lighter red to orange is soft)
Yellow is ki and is pronounced [kee].
Silver is Gin [geen]
Gold is Kin [keen]
Scales is Rin [reen]
Ginrin is silver scales [geen' reen]
Kinrin is gold scales [keen' reen]
White is shiro and is pronounced [sheer - oh].

The following text is basically retyped from the AKCA Koi ID poster. Most of the text is copied with some editorial changes made. Authorization to post copied text granted by Doug Dahl, AKCA, January 23, 2008.

Kohaku [coh' ha coo] is a white fish with a red hi or beni [beh - knee]) pattern(s). There are numerous patterns that have descriptive adjectives relating to the number of red areas and if there is zig-zag pattern.
One red spot on the head is a Tancho albeit a "Tancho Kohaku"
Two red spots or areas is Nidan Kohaku.
Three red areas is a Sandan Kohaku.
Four red spots is a Yondan Kohaku.
Five red spots is a Godan Kohaku.
No red on the head is Bozu [bow' - zoo].
kohaku having one large, continuous red pattern is said to have Ipponhi [ee pohn' hee]
A red zig-zag pattern continuous head to tail is a Inazuma [een - a - zoo' - ma] Kohaku and is a form of ipponhi.

Sashi [saa' she] is pronounced [sah-shee] - it is the leading edge of a step that is pinkish color created by white scales overlaping red scales.
Kiwa [key wa'] is pronounced [kee-wah] - describes the sharpness and clarity of a step's sides and trailing edge.
Odome [oh doe' meh] should be shiro in this area before the tail fin called also known as "tail stop"

Sanke [sahn' keh] is a white fish with the red markings like kohaku and has additional black sumi spot or step patterns. These sumi spots could resemble the black pattern on the Shiro Bekko laid over a Kohaku's red and white pattern.

Bekko [beck koh'] is a category of koi that has two colors -- sumi (black spot pattern) and a second color. The base color is the descriptive adjective of the name. They are like a Sanke minus the un-named color is absent, i.e., Shiro Bekko is Sanke minus red and Aka Bekko is Sanke minus white.

Shiro Bekko is a white fish with the black pattern stepping stones.
Aka Bekko is a red fish with the black pattern stepping stones.

Showa [show' wah] is a black fish with the red and white markings like kohaku and has additional black (sumi) bands on the body with sumi on its head. These sumi wrapped bands are larger than Sanke and Bekko spots. It could resemble the black pattern of the Shiro Utsuuri laid over a Kohaku's red and white pattern, but with one exception of black on the head.

Utsuri [ooth' sue ree] is a category of koi that has three -- two color combinations and it means reflections in Japanese. Sumi (black) band pattern mirros on both sides along with a second color. The second color is the descriptive adjective of the name. They are like a Showa with black on the head.

Shiro Utsuri is a white fish with the black bands and black on the head.
Hi Utsuri is a red fish with the black bands and black on the head.
Ki Utsuri is a yellow fish with the black bands and black on the head.

Tancho [than' ch-oh] is a category of koi that has one distinguishing mark. That mark is a red spot on the head with no other red on the fish. There are different versions of Tancho.

Tancho Kohaku is a white fish with the red spot on the head.
Tancho Sanke is a white fish with the red spot on the head and black stepping spots like a Sanke.
Black Tancho is a black fish with the red spot on the head.
Tancho Showa like a Showa with only the red spot on the head and black wrapped bands.

Goshiki [go' she key] is a category of koi that has two styles -- Old Style and New Style.

Old Style is a red Kohaku pattern with Asagi net pattern.
New Style is a red Kohaku pattern with light Asagi net pattern.

Koromo [ko' row mow] is a category of koi that has an edging over the Kohaku red pattern. There are three versions of Koromo.

Ai Goromo is a Kohaku with blue edging over red scales.
Sumi Goromo is a Kohaku with black edging over red scales.
Budo Goromo [boo dough' go' row mow] is a Kohaku with blue grape like clusters over red scales.

Asagi [ah' sah gee] is a blue reticulated net pattern fish with an orange underside.
  • Konjo - the scale is dark blue almost black (also referred to as Gunjo)
  • narumi - the scale is aqua marine blue with white edge
  • mizu - the scale is very light blue (this blue is close to the blue we're used to seeing on young shusui) water colored
  • taki - the back is lighter blue closer to mizu with white stripe down lateral line to divide the red belly from the blue back.
  • this white is remeniscent of a waterfall, hence the name.
  • reverse - dark blue scale with black edging. blue is between konjo and narumi.
  • source: Dick Benbow
Shusui [shoe' swee] is a Doitsu Asagi with blue black dorsal scales, orange belly and checks.

Doitsu [doyt' zoo] have either a line of large scales along their dorsal fin and lateral lines, or they have no scales at all and referred to as "leather carp"and are referred to a "mirror carp". Doitsu may be seen on the other classifications.

Doitsu Kujaku must have Kujaku [coo-j ya coo] scales along dorsal fin.
Doitsu Sanke must have doitsu scales along dorsal fin and/or lateral lines or be scaleless.
Doitsu Goshiki is probably new style goshiki with no scales.

The following are definitions related to Doitsugoi (reprinted from Koi USA Magazine, Mar/Apr 2012
  • Aragoi - Jumbled mirrored scales on Doitsugoi.
  • Aragoke - Large armour scales.
  • Doitsugoi - German scaled carp (mirror scaled, leather scaled or combination of both). Scalesless carp introduced to Japan fro Germany as a foodfish. Normally only gaving scales along lateral line and /or on either side of dorsal fin and/or along doral bone. Scales anywhere else considered a defect.
  • Hashigogoi - Scales arranged like ladder on Doitsugoi along lateral lines.
  • Ishigakin-Rin (stone wall scales): Scales other than along lateral line and/or on either side of dorasl fin and/or along dorsal bone and are distracting.
  • Kagami - Mirrored scales of the dorsal and lateral areas of Doitsugoi.
  • Kagamigoi - A doitsue koi with single rows of scales alonge the dorsal and lateral surfaces only.
  • Kawagoi - Leather koi. A doitsue koi with no scales.
  • Kokenami - Scalation.
  • Mudagoke - Wasteful/undesireable scales on Doitsugoi.
  • Segoke - Large scales that appear along dorsal fin on Doitsugoi.
  • Wagoi - A normal scaled koi.
  • Yoroigoi - Armoured koi of doitse bloodline. Random mirrored scales. Not desired.
Hikari [hee' ca ree] Moyo [moy' oh] has metallic scales and multiple colors in the pattern.

Yamato Nishiki is a metalic sanke.
Kujyaku [coo-j ya coo] is metalic white and orange with Matsuba netting.
Hariwake is metallic white with gold, orange or red markings.
Doitsu Hariwake is a doitsu vesion of Harawake with yellow pattern.
Kikusui is doitsu harawake with orange or red pattern.

Gin Rin as seen on:

Kin Rin Kohaku or Gin Rin Kohaku koi with glittering scales (Kin is gold and Gin is silver).
Showa -- Kin Gin Rin Showa.
Tancho Gin Rin Tancho.
Goshiki Gin Rin Goshiki.
Platinum Ogon Gin Rin Platinum Ogon.

There is a Gin Rin that looks like cracked glass running laterally.
There are some koi with skin around the scales that give them the appearance as glass. Some breeders may represent that as gin rin Fukurin has two types. This name was taken from the term Fuku, meaning to 'cover 'or 'wrap'.

Hikari [hee' ca ree] Utsuri

Gin Shiro Utsuri metallic silver Utsuri.
Kin Hi Utsuri metallic red Utsuri.
Kin Ki Utsuri metallic yellow Utsuri.
Kin Showa metallic Showa.

Hikari Muji [hee' ca ree moo' jee] (one color)

Platinum Ogon metallic solid white.
Yamabuki Ogon [yah' ma boo key oh' gone] metallic solid yellow.
Kin Matsuba black pine cone edging on scales.

Kawarigoi (nine other below)

Kumonryu [ku mohn' drue] Doitsu black with white markings, "Dragon Fish".
Beni Kumonryu Kumonryu with red markings.
Kikokuryu [key coh coo' drue] metallic Kumonryu.
Kin [keen] Kikokuryu [key coh coo' drue] metallic Kumonryu with red or gold.
Haijiro black with white on dorsal, pectoral and tail fins.
Chagoi [cha' goy] brown, tea, or green non-metallic koi.
Benigoi red non-metallic koi.
Karasu [kah' rah sue] solid black often called a "Crow".
Ochibashigure [oh' chee bah she goo reh'] brown markings on grey backgound.

Kego [keh' goy]: Fry. Koi babies (fry) that have just been born. At first, they are so thin they are nearly invisible, and they do not look like Koi. Depending on body color, they are called:
Akako [ah' ka koh] (red fry),
Kuroko [coo row' koh] (black fry) - Only Kuroko will be selected in culling Kumonryu and Utsurimono like Showa. , or
Shiroko [she' row koh] (white fry).

Kuchibeni [coo' chee ben ee] Hi on the mouth and is called lipstick.
Kuchi Zumi [coo' chee zoo mi] Sumi on the mouth like kuchibeni.

Dr Johnson's Koi Begginer videos These address some questions from beginning koi keepers.

There is the Kodama Koi Academy for additional Koi Knowledge:
The program is open to professional dealers and koi hobbyists. The program costs $200 for professionals and hobbyists, $140 for koi club members and $100 each for koi club member couple. For more information, contact Taro Kodama at 808-623-2997, or e-mail:

You can clink on "International Nishikigoi Promotion Center"
links within this window pane.
This dictionary has Koi related Japanese terms, pronunciations, and definitions.

You can clink on Koi and Water Garden Society of Central New York's
links within this window pane.

Bob Brudd's article on Koi Language linked with his permission at Midwest Pond and Koi Society web site You can clink on Midwest Pond and Koi Society Bob Brudd's article links, Kohaku, Sanke, & Showa, on the left of the window pane.

Ray Jordan's article on Koi Pattern Development linked with his permission at Midwest Pond and Koi Society web site Ray Jordan has additional links at the bottom of the page. Use the scroll bar on the pane below. You can clink on Midwest Pond and Koi Society's links within this window pane.

Joel Burkard, President of Pan Intercorp, has granted Valley of the Sun Koi Club permission to link to his website. For those who are not familiar with Joel, he lived in Japan for twenty years and speaks fluent Japanese. He makes trips to Japan and purchases koi for sale in the US. He is a prolific writer about koi. His web site has a reference encylopedia that not only describes the various classifications but supplies Japanese pronunciations and numerous articles. Any highlighted Japanese word or descriptive phrase in the reference will (depending on you computer settings) either play the sound or allow you to save the .wav file to your computer for later play. Please keep in mind this is comercial concern and everything on his site is copywritten and not for sale elsewhere without Joel's written permission. The Reference Encyclopedia is linked with his permission. His fingerlings can be found at the Hiroshima Collection along with other retail collections.



Here is a cool diversion for your enjoyment.
The fish will follow your mouse around the screen,
and when you click on the screen, food will drop.



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