Distinguishing between koi varieties can be extremely confusing at first,partly because they are referred to in the West by traditional Japanese
descriptions, even if they have been bred in other countries.
Knowledge of a few basic terms, such as the words to describe the various colors (right) and the main varieties (below), is a useful introduction to the complex world of koi nomenclature.
The illustrations below give examples of the main koi varieties, highlighting their individual characteristics.
The most popular varieties, known collectively as “Go Sanke,” are the Showa, Kohaku, and Sanke.
Varieties prefixed with thet erm “Hikari” are metallic koi, which have an overall reflective luster, while all others are known as nonmetallics.
In addition to the color differences described here, the appearance of a koi is influenced by its pattern of scalation.
“Doitsu” koi, for example, may have large mirror scales on either side of the dorsal fin, but are scaleless elsewhere, while the scale type known as “Kin Gin Rin,” or simply “Gin Rin,” is characterized by the sparkling appearance of the scales.
Japanese descriptions of color are important in koi nomenclature.
Some have multiple names depending on the form in which that color appears.