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I see unique koi online but I can’t find them at the pet shop. Do they only sell certain ones, or do they change when they get bigger? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I see unique koi online but I can’t find them at the pet shop. Do they only sell certain ones, or do they change when they get bigger?

Q: I see unique koi online but I can’t find them at the pet shop. Do they only sell certain ones, or do they change when they get bigger?

Jeri – Hartsville, SC

A:  It’s easy to spend hours online ogling champion koi. The fishes’ near-perfect silhouettes, vivid color palettes and balanced scale patterns – not to mention their healthy size – inspire hobbyists to go on their own quests for the Holy Grail of pond fish. So they search pet store aquariums. They peruse tanks at their local pond supplier. They even eye their friends’ fishes, finding themselves coveting a golden butterfly or a sparkly gin rin kohaku.

Does this sound familiar?

Unfortunately, championship-quality koi are rare, as are some of the hard-to-find varieties. The good news, however, is that all koi are unique, and each variety has its own distinct color combination, scale pattern and physical characteristics. They’re called “living jewels” for a reason!

Read on to learn more about the different koi varieties – and how to find the exceptional ones.

Colorful, Common Koi

Most pet stores and pond supply shops stock the most popular varieties of koi, including these, below.

  • Kohaku: These fish have a solid white body overlaid with large red markings (hi). Top quality Kohaku display a bright, blemish-free white combined with deep, vibrant red patterns that are evenly distributed along the body.
  • Sanke (Taisho Sanke): These koi look similar to Kohaku, but they also have small black markings (sumi) overlaid on its white base. Experts say a high quality Sanke pattern begins with a great Kohaku pattern, to which the black is a welcome complement.
  • Showa (Showa Sanshoku): Commonly known as Showa, these fish have a solid black body that’s topped with red and white (shiroji) markings. Showa can be confused with Sanke; the difference is that in Showa, the black patterns wrap all the way around the body and appear on the fish’s head. The red, white and black should be evenly balanced, with crisp, clean edges between each color.
  • Ogon: Their metallic scales are in one solid color, typically yellow (Yamabuki Ogon) or white (Platinum Ogon). A clean solid-color head and unblemished body are crucial to a high-quality Ogon.

Exceptional Specimens

If you want to add some rarely seen jewels to your pond, check out these varieties below. Though you may find them at your local retailer, you’ll have better luck sourcing them via online vendors and koi auctions.

  • Shusui: Shusui are the scaleless (doitsu) version of Asagi, which are koi that display a blue net-like pattern on the back that’s complemented by red or orange patterns on the body. In Shusui, the blue net pattern is replaced by a single row of scales along the dorsal line at the top of the back.
  • Kumonryu: Another scaleless variety, Kumonryu have patterns of grey or white combined with black. They will completely change their pattern many times throughout their life. They can go anywhere from solid white to solid black, or any conceivable combination in between.
  • Tancho: Tancho is a popular variation of Kohaku, in which the only red pattern appears as a single red dot on the head. The symmetry and placement of the Tancho mark are main factors in determining the quality of any particular koi.

Whether choosing a common or uncommon variety, look for bright colors, crisp edges and interesting patterns. The koi’s color vibrancy and pattern edges will change over time (dramatically, in the case of the Kumonryu!), but its variety will stay the same; a Kohaku, for instance, won’t change into a Showa.

Nutrients in your koi’s food can affect its color display, so be sure to feed them some Growth & Vibrance Fish Food after transitioning them from their wheatgerm-based Spring & Fall Fish Food. It contains spirulina and stabilized vitamin C for show-stopping color.

Pond Talk: What types of koi do you have in your pond? Do you have a showstopper swimming among them?

Promote Growth & Intensify Colors - The Pond Guy® Growth & Vibrance Fish Food

I purchased a bright yellow-colored koi. Several months later, the colors began to fade. Why? I purchased a bright yellow-colored koi. Several months later, the colors began to fade. Why? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I purchased a bright yellow-colored koi. Several months later, the colors began to fade. Why?

I purchased a bright yellow-colored koi. Several months later, the colors began to fade. Why?
Crystal – Menomonee Falls, WI

Think about the things that make you feel healthy and happy. Like good food. Low stress. And enough sunshine every day to keep the blues away. With that simple recipe, you’ve described the perfect balance. And if you don’t stay true to it, everything suffers. Including your complexion. Just ask your koi.

Okay. Asking your koi probably won’t help. But if its color is starting to fade, the odds are good it’s not in peak health. Fortunately, with a few changes to your regular koi-keeping routine, you can restore its vibrant color – and put the spring back in its…um…swim.

One of the first culprits for a fading koi is the lack of consistent sun exposure. So take a look at your water feature. Are there too many water plants? Is the feature in a shady spot? While it’s important to provide protection from predators and constant direct sunlight, your koi needs natural light to thrive. Make sure to clear out excess vegetation – and brighten its day.

Stress can also take a toll on your koi – and its color. Unlike humans, though, koi stress doesn’t come from bill collectors and overzealous bosses. It comes from predators, parasites and poor water quality. In order to give your koi the ability to keep stress at bay, our Pond Logic® Stress Reducer PLUS helps to restore its natural slime coat – while removing chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals ordinarily found in tap water. While Stress Reducer PLUS is great for new ponds, regular treatments will help to keep your koi in peak health.

Food is another critical ingredient to a bright, happy koi’s existence. Koi, like people, can’t thrive on junk food. With a regular diet of PondLogic® Growth & Color Fish Food or PondLogic® Professional Fish Food, your koi will have the nutrients it needs to retain its vibrant colors – and thrive.

Finally, it’s important to consider genetics. Coloration is a fundamentally genetic trait – and over time, dominant and recessive traits can become more or less pronounced. So, while it’s critical to provide the right environment and food for your koi, diminished color may be the result of natural changes. So do what you can – and leave the rest to nature.

Pond Talk: Have any of your koi changes colors?

Pond Logic® Growth and Color Fish Food

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