Identifying types of koi is not something that many people can pick up and become an expert at overnight. The reason for this is that are 13 recognized categories of koi.
The Kawarimono category for instance, has 13 different sub-categories. So that gives you indication of the wide variety of coloring and characteristics that these wonderful fish come in and why most folks will take a bit of time to really become familiar with the many varying types of koi.
Having said that it will be to your advantage if you get to know quite a few of the different koi categories and varieties sooner rather than later. As this will really help you decide on your choice of koi, and where best to source them from.
This article is not intended as an in-depth description of all the types of koi and their varieties, but rather a quick overview of the four most popular koi types. You will be given a link at the end where you can get more detailed descriptions and a color chart to view all the koi types.
So here are the four most 4 popular koi categories and their variations :
A white koi with hi (red) patterns. Each pattern has its own name. Kohaku should be bright and even over the body. There should be no hi on the fins or tail.
A white koi that has hi (red) and sumi (black) patterns which are scattered over its body. Taisho Sanke is named after the time period it was first bred, the Taisho period of Japanese history.
Showa or Showa Sanshoku is a black koi with white and red (hi) patterns. The first Showa koi had large amounts of black and red with just a small amount of white. Nowadays the large amounts of white make it hard to distinguish Showa from Sanke. One clue is that a Showa should always have a black marking (manware) on it`s head whereas Sanke never do.
Utsuri translates as ‘reflections’ and the pattern almost looks like a chessboard alternating from side to side. Shiro Utsuri are most common – a black koi with white patterns all over the body and head.