If you happen to visit Japan or Japanese garden, then you should not miss a chance to see the Koi fish. Particularly the Kohaku Koi, the fish that is brilliantly white with attractive red patterns on it which appears as if an artist has carefully painted them. It is the most common variety that one would encounter in any show or among any hobbyists collections.
The expression, “The Koi hobby begins and ends with Kohaku” also indicates the popularity of this variety. Koi, are an ornamental fish that has originated from thr common carp. Kohaku is a Koi fish variety; it is one of the three primary types from which many other variations are derived from. Although no written evidence exists on Koi breeding culture from the ancient times, there is some history that was passed verbally through the families of the breeders that can be referred to.
Koi fish are a result of careful breading between Asian and German carp over centuries; Kohaku Koi are believed to be among the first varieties of carp that has been developed for ornamental purposes. They were created by breeding a red-headed female koi with a male that has patterns resembling cherry-blossoms; this resulted in Gosuke blood-line which is extinct now. All existing Kohaku blood-lines have been derived from Gosuke.
Koi fish are specially bred to produce interesting patterns and colors. They come in a variety of color ranges from pure white, yellow, orange to red, also in blue, green and even in black. Now the colors/color combination availability is almost unlimited. Even among the many varieties, the Kohaku remains the most popular.
The Kohaku Koi comes in a variety of shades of white and red, but the highest quality or grade would have red patterns that match with the color of Japanese flag and the body color should be pure white like snow (Often, color pattern is more orange-ish than red.) The Koi fish should have well defined colors with fine edges that distinguish white and red regions of the body. To be highly graded, there are certain areas of the body which should not have any red spots or patterns, such as fins, around the mouth and lower portions below eyes. Body markings should be pleasant and must have aesthetic pattern. There should be a color break where the tail-fin begins.
What to look for
The female varieties have thicker body and have higher value than male varieties. The body from the top-view should be symmetrical on both sides of the spine. The group of red spots or patterns are called "steps" and the steps on the body are used as one of the primary grading factor. A top quality Koi will have a very smooth flow from head to tail with nice pattern and without any deformations in the body or fins.
The hobby of collecting Koi can be fun and sometimes it can be very expensive as well. Depending on various factors, the price of Kohaku koi varieties can be anywhere in the range of about $50 to as high as $50,000.
It is said that every hobbyist's collection begins and ends the the Kohaku. The red pattern is called Hi. The Hi should be thick with good edges. There are all sorts of different Kohaku patterns. Some are broken up, some are large and sweeping. Look for a pattern that doesn't go down past the eyes and and is well balanced.
There are names for the different patterns: The two step Kohaku pattern is called Nidan. The three step pattern is called Sandan. The four step pattern is called Yondan. The lighting strike pattern is called Inazuma. Most people agree the the best Kohaku have three or four patterns of Hi.
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