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A Look at Koi Patterns



The markings or patterns on a tosai koi's body can make or break its potential as a show winner. I am not a koi judge nor will I pretend to know how to be one, but based on what I read, the presence of undesirable markings in places where they shouldn't be can mean the difference between a koi that goes into a show vat or one that will never leave the confines of a home pond.


True - koi judging should be based on the over-all package of the fish. In fact, experts say that some koi judges are willing to ignore text-book flaws in the patterns of a koi, as long as the over-all koi package is, well, an exquisite work of art.

Then again, judging an artwork is very subjective. A koi that has non-dogmatic patterns can therefore be pleasing to one judge and horrible to another. For newbies in koi showing, therefore, it is probably safer to stick with traditional pattern selection rules until enough koi appraisal skills have been gained.




Figure 1.  Examples of Ohmoyo (left),  Sandan (center),

and Yondan Koi (right)


The most basic rule of all is to have a koi whose body markings are balanced, not only in terms of patterning but also in color. This fundamental rule would be difficult to throw out the window. Judges will probably ignore a misplaced patch or two, but will certainly not give the best-in-show trophy to a kohaku with just a small red marking on the side of its body.
Between two well-balanced koi, the koi with the more complex pattern has the edge, for the simple reason that complexity makes balancing more difficult. Thus, a
sandan (3-step) Kohaku will have an edge over a nidan (2-step) Kohaku, assuming that both exhibit excellent balance. And so will a yondan (4-step) Kohaku have better chances of winning than an equally-balanced but less complex sandan Kohaku.
This is not to say that an
ohmoyo (single-step koi) Kohaku will have no chances of winning the grand prize. If it's the best piece of art in a show vat, then it will. In fact, I've seen an ohmoyo koi win a show trophy in the past.
Speaking of excellent balance and complexity, there's a certain pattern that koi enthusiasts are after. It is called an
inazuma pattern, which is basically a pattern that resembles 'lightning', and is usually sought among Kohaku koi.


Evaluating koi patterns is one of the more enjoyable aspects of purchasing a koi for your pond. There are text-book rules for doing it, and it would be good to try to apply them whenever buying your koi. You must remember though, that these text-book rules are not enough sometimes. Ultimately you'll simply have to pick the koi that you like most.  


Photos' source: www.keirinponds.com




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