Koi and the Japanese Language Owners Speak
Page Summary: Do you speak Japanese? Neither do I. Yet of youre a serious koi keeper you need to learn a bit of the language otherwise you will not know Martha from Arthur. A few examples and more are discussed below: Kohaku, a white fish with a red pattern,Sanke, a white fish that has a red and black pattern, Showa, a black fish that has a red and white pattern. Yamabuki, a yellow Ogon,Purachina, a white and platinum Ogon,Hariwake, a more patterned variety that features orange and yellow on a paler body, andKajaku and Kohaku, which is also platinum in colour. Confused already? read on, its part of the fascination of keeping koi.
What's in the name of a Japanese koi fish
You don't have to speak Japanese to understand the meaning of koi fish names. Although it can be quite challenging to remember their names, and even pronounce them.
Nevertheless, the Japanese language is reasonably logical and the names of their fish describe the patterns and colours of each variety.
Japanese terms used to describe koi
The Japanese have specific words and terms that they use to describe pond fish varieties in general and koi varieties in particular. They also have sets of words that they use to describe specific features. In addition to a kois colour and pattern, they also describe koi fish features that are not desirable.
The most highly esteemed koi fish are the Go Sanke. This variety includes:
- Kohaku, a white fish with a red pattern,
- Sanke, a white fish that has a red and black pattern,
- Showa, a black fish that has a red and white pattern.
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Some of the other varieties, not quite as highly regarded as the Go Sanke, but just as beautiful, include:
- Bekko, which is a coloured koi with black markings,
- Utsuri, a black fish with a single coloured marking,
- Shusui, a blue and orange koi that has large mirror scales over most of its body.
There are also some exceptionally beautiful koi fish that are metallic, literally shining like metal. Some are a single colour fish, while others combine colours. Examples of single-coloured metallic varieties, usually called Ogon, include:
- Yamabuki, a yellow Ogon,
- Purachina, a white and platinum Ogon,
- Hariwake, a more patterned variety that features orange and yellow on a paler body, and
- Kajaku and Kohaku, which is also platinum in colour.
Japanese words for colours
Understanding the words used in Japanese to describe the different colours makes it easier to follow the descriptions of koi fish varieties. The most common colours found are:
- red, which is aka or beni hi,
- orange, which is orengi,
- blue, which is ai,
- black, which is sumi,
- yellow, which is ki,
- gold, which is kin, ,
- metallic or silver, which is gin.
So you will see why Ki Bekko is a yellow fish that has black markings; why Ki Utsuri is a black fish with yellow markings; Hi Utsuir is a black fish with red markings; Hi Showa is a Showa that has a very heavy pattern; and why Kin Showa is a Showa that is metallic.
Japanese words for koi patterns
Specific patterns on koi fish determine their popularity and price. For example, the Tancho Kohaku is particularly sought after. Remember that the Kohaku is a white fish with a red pattern. The word Tancho means that the red on the koi is a spot on the head. So Tancho Kohaku is a koi with a white body and a single red mark on its head. In fact any of the Go Sanke koi that have a red spot on their heads include the prefix "Tancho" in their name.
If the prefix "Maruten" is used, then the fish has red on its body, but some of the red is separated from the rest of the red. This, of course, creates the pattern.
Then there is a pattern called Doitsu, which refers to mirror scales that form along both the dorsal and lateral lines of the fish. Apart from these, the fish has no scales at all. Various koi varieties feature the Doitsu pattern. For example the Doitsu Sanke is a white, red and black Sanke that has the dorsal and lateral mirror fins (on the back and the sides).
Even though the Doitsu koi are included with the rest of Japanese koi, they are in fact a variety that was inter-bred with German Carp. Although German koi are classified the same way as Japanese koi – by colour and pattern – they are generally slimmer than the Japanese koi.
One popular fully scaled variety of koi is the Kinginrin, or Ginrin. These koi have scales that literally sparkle, and include the Ginrin Kohaku, which is a platinum coloured fish with gorgeous shiny scales.
Some other terms used to describe koi features and patterns include:
- kiwa, which describes how well defined the different colours of the fish are,
- shimi, which describes tiny unwanted black spots that spoil other patterns, and
- tategoi, a term that describes young fish that have not yet developed their patterns fully.
As you become more familiar with your koi, you will find that the terminology becomes easier to remember. Certainly don't let these funny words put you off buying koi carp for your garden pond.
Youll be amazed at how simple it can be to breed fish with the help of spawning brushes. Youll need one mature female and at least two males.
Put the brushes one above the other at the edge of the pond. Spawning usually occurs in the early morning after a night of flurried activity and can take several hours. Most of the eggs will stick to the brushes which can then be taken out of the pond and put in filtered water of the same temperature. If the eggs are not separated from the adult fish they may be eaten.