White Koi - The Classic Symbol of Elegance by Kate Nakamura

The Classic Icon of Elegance

Nothing epitomizes sublime beauty quite like the White Koi. Valued for its purity in form & color, the Platinum Ogon, as it is more commonly referred to amongst enthusiasts, has turned out to be somewhat of a "standard" for many koi ponds worldwide. This popularity is due partly to the fact that they are able to grow rapidly and are surprisingly easy to see in the murky water of poorly filtered ponds. They stand out beautifully alongside the host of colors of other koi varieties.

Throughout the earliest days of breeding and cross-breeding Koi in Japan, there were generally only one or two colors on hand, so, as Koi breeding gained popularity around the world, the range and diversity of colors and traits increased dramatically. Today there is an ever-increasing assortment of color and pattern combos available, ranging from red, black, white, green, blue and yellow.

To completely appreciate the different varieties of Koi Fish, one needs to develop a comprehension of the various classifications that each group falls into. Each class has standards to ascertain which group they belong to, but generally speaking, each group has a particular level of acceptable diversity.

White koi originally appeared back in 1963, most likely from cross-breeding Kigoi (lemon non-metallic) with the grayish-silver (metallic) Nezu Ogon.

When learning about Koi varieties, it's interesting to note a particular point of differentiation. Each variety usually has a Doitsu (scale-less) version and a Gin Rin (sparkly) scaled version.

Most Platinum Ogon are bred with the Gin Rin scales to make them appear shinier. Gin Rin scales have a pigmented reflective sheen that produces a glimmering effect much like that of cut diamonds. To meet the requirements as a Gin Rin, a Koi must have at least 20 scales which is the acceptable minimum requirement.

Ogon refers to koi of one solid color. Whilst known colors include red, orange, platinum, yellow and cream, the two most popular colors are the Platinum Ogon (white) and the Yamabuki Ogon (yellow). A desirable attribute of the Ogon are sizeable fins because they offset the single color body. The color of any Ogon should be consistent all over the body of the fish.

An additional interesting point is that as the majority of the fish's pigment is on the top section of the fish, the light is able to reflect off their backs, highlighting their bright and beautiful color combinations. For this reason, Koi are generally best seen from above, as in a pond.

Although all koi are classified as Cyprinus carpio, selective breeding and cross-breeding has resulted in many varieties of koi, each based on varying levels of scalation, color, and patterning.

As a preliminary guide for the amateur Koi devotee, it is perhaps useful to provide a few words in the Japanese Koi vocabulary to make the task of understanding Koi Classification a little less overwhelming. An illustration of how this Japanese terminology works is shown in the following example variations:

Aka Bekko - A red Koi with black patches

Shiro Bekko - A white Koi with black patches

Ki Bekko - A yellow (ki) Koi with black patches

Doitsu Bekko - This is a scale less version of the above

Japanese Terminology for Koi Classification:

Ai-Indigo color

Aka red - pertaining only to the base color of the fish

Bekko - Solid base color (aka, ki or shiro) with black markings (sumi)

Beni - dark red color

Budo - Grape color

Cha - Brown color

doitsu German carp - either scale-less referred to as Leather Carp or having a line of large scales along the lateral and dorsal lines referred to as Mirror Carp

gin - silver (white metallic)

ginrin pearl-silver reflective scales

hi red - pertaining only to the colored patches of the fish

hikari - shiny

karasu old variety of black koi - means "Crow" in Japanese - black fins and jet black body - may have markings on belly

ki Yellow - pertaining only to the base color of the fish
kin gold (yellow metallic)

kinrin pearl-gold reflective scales

kuchiben - lipstick

matsuba - pine cone or net pattern effect to scales

midori - green color

mono - type

moyo - type of pattern

muji - one color

nezu - gray color

orenji - orange color

rin - shiny Scale

shiro White - pertaining only to the base color of the fish

sumi black - pertaining only to the colored patches of the fish

tancho - a single strong red spot on the head only

ai - Indigo color

aka red - pertaining only to the base color of the fish

About the Author

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