22 Types of Koi Fish: The Living Artworks

Koi fish are some of the most beautiful, majestic fish you can keep in your pond (or tank). But not every Koi fish is the same.

Although most of them are similar in nearly every aspect, each one of their varieties has different characteristics:

  • History of their origins
  • Unique Koi fish names
  • Physical appearance – colors and patterns
  • Symbolism
  • Behavior (personalities)

Although the exact number has not yet been confirmed, there are more than 100 different types of Koi fish.

I’ve listed the top 22 most popular types of Koi fish to keep for pets. Let’s dive in!


the Kohaku (koh-HAH-koo) is a timeless classic, claiming the prestigious title of “King of Koi” and one of the oldest established varieties.

This is the most common member of the Gosanke, the “Big Three” Koi varieties revered for their exceptional quality and historical importance.

The vibrant “hi” (red) pattern gracing Kohaku’s pristine white base offers a captivating display of contrast and variation. From the singular red dot of a “Tancho” Koi to the dynamic zig-zags of “Inazuma,” each pattern possesses its unique charm.

The most common pattern, “stepped,” features disconnected red patches resembling stepping stones across the white skin. These formations are classified by number, with “Nidan” (two-stepped) and “Sandan” (three-stepped) emerging as particularly popular variations.

This Koi isn’t just another pretty fish; it’s a legend. It holds the title of “King of Koi,” and it’s one of the oldest varieties – it carries centuries of history and beauty in its scales.

Here’s what makes Kohaku Koi so special:

  • Distinctive colors: The defining feature of Kohaku is its white body (shiroji) adorned with vibrant red markings (hi). The white should be pure and unblemished, like freshly fallen snow, while the red can range from deep crimson to fiery orange.
  • Pattern variations: No two Kohaku are exactly alike! The red markings come in various patterns, each with its own name and aesthetic.

Some popular patterns include:

  • Nidan Kohaku: Two large red patches on each side of the body.
  • Sandan Kohaku: Three large red patches.
  • Yondan Kohaku: Four large red patches.
  • Godan Kohaku: Five large red patches.
  • Tancho Kohaku: A single red marking on the head, resembling the red sun rising over Mount Fuji.
  • Symbolism: In Japanese culture, the Kohaku symbolizes good luck, prosperity, and strength. Their bold colors and contrasting patterns are seen as a representation of balance and harmony.

Owning a Kohaku

Kohaku are relatively hardy fish, suitable for both ponds and large aquariums. They’re among the most expensive Koi fish, especially high-quality specimens with rare patterns and colors.

Pro tip: If you’re considering adding a Kohaku to your pond, provide them with ample space, clean water, and a healthy diet.


The Sanke Koi is closely related to the Kohaku variety, belonging to the Gosanke group. While the Kohaku has a white base color with red markings, the Sanke adds black markings to its color pattern. Through selective breeding, the Sanke Koi has become a highly popular fish in Koi keeping, admired for its beauty and resilience.


The foundation of the Sanke is a flawless, pearlescent white or “shiroji.” Think freshly fallen snow or crisp moonlight reflecting on water. This pure background provides the perfect canvas for its striking markings. 

Like bold brushstrokes, jet-black markings, known as “sumi,” dance across the white body. These markings can vary in size and distribution, but ideally form graceful patterns and avoid covering the head.

The star of the show is the vibrant red, known as “hi.” This red should be a deep, even tone, often described as “Aka Matsuba” or “Beni Hi.” Imagine the glow of burning embers or a ripe pomegranate set against the snowy white.

Ideally, the white, black, and red should be roughly balanced, creating a harmonious and eye-catching contrast. Look for crisp edges between the colors and a clean, unblemished head for the highest quality specimen.


  • Prosperity and Good Fortune: The three colors of the Sanke are deeply symbolic in Japanese culture. White represents purity and good luck, black symbolizes strength and protection, and red signifies passion and prosperity. Owning a Sanke is believed to bring good fortune and abundance to its owner.
  • Balance and Peace: The harmonious distribution of the colors on Sanke’s body reflects balance and inner peace. These Koi are seen as emblems of tranquility and a reminder to find harmony in life.

Owning a Sanke

While Sanke tend to be graceful and serene swimmers, they’re also surprisingly curious. Get ready for them to investigate your pond’s nooks and crannies and even greet you at the edge for a closer look.

Unlike some Koi varieties, Sanke is often quite social. They enjoy swimming alongside their pond mates.

Sanke’s transformations are more subtle compared to most Koi. The white might shimmer with a glow depending on the light, and the red might deepen or lighten with their mood or temperature – It’s like having a living, breathing watercolor painting in your pond.

Showa Koi is the perfect blend of elegant beauty and playful charm.


A Showa Sanshoku, also known as Showa, is a type of koi fish that has three colors and is quite similar to the Sanke variety. The Sanke variety has a white base color with red and black markings, while the Showa variety has a black base color with white and red markings. These markings are so similar that it can be challenging for beginners in koi keeping to distinguish between the two. In this blog, we will discuss methods to differentiate the two varieties.


The canvas for Showa’s masterpiece is a deep, inky black known as “sumi.” This bold backdrop provides the perfect contrast for its vibrant markings.

Jet-black markings dance across the black base like bold brushstrokes, forming abstract shapes and patterns. The distribution and size of these markings can vary greatly, making each Showa a unique work of art.

Delicate swirls and streaks of pristine white add a touch of purity and contrast to the dark backdrop. The white areas create balance and allow the other colors to shine truly.

The most distinctive marking is the vibrant red “hi.” This red can be deep, adding a splash of passion and energy to the otherwise monochrome look.


  • Strength and Resilience: The black body of the Showa symbolizes strength, determination, and the ability to overcome challenges. Many Koi enthusiasts believe that owning one provides protection and resilience to your life.
  • Balance and Transformation: The harmonious blend of black, white, and red represents balance, adaptability, and the constant change cycle. These Koi remind us to embrace life’s transformations and find beauty in every stage.
  • Good Fortune: In Japanese culture, red signifies good luck and prosperity. Adding a Showa to your pond is believed to bring a touch of fortune and abundance to your life.

Owning a Showa

Watch in awe as their colors shift and evolve with their mood, water temperature, and seasons. The ever-changing appearance of a Showa is a constant source of fascination and surprise.

These hardy Koi are adaptable to various water conditions and generally good disease resisters, making them suitable for Koi enthusiasts of all levels.

Showa tends to be relatively calm and serene swimmers, adding a touch of grace and elegance to your pond. They glide through the water with a quiet dignity, capturing your attention without demanding it.


This Koi comes in a single, vibrant color, adorned with a distinguished net of black “pine needles” across its scales. It’s a captivating Koi variety that comes in three stunning variations: 

  1. Aka Matsuba,
  2. Ki Matsuba,
  3. and Gin Matsuba.


Each variation of this Koi boasts a different base color:

  • Aka Matsuba: A fiery, metallic red that burns like embers.
  • Ki Matsuba: A sunny yellow, like a ray of sunshine captured in scales.
  • Gin Matsuba: A cool, elegant platinum that shimmers like moonlight on water.

All Matsuba have a unique reticulated pattern where each scale has a dark center and a lighter edge, creating a mesmerizing “pine cone” effect. This net-like pattern gives the Matsuba its name, “matsu” meaning pine, and “ba” meaning needle.


  • Strength and Resilience: The pine needle pattern symbolizes strength and resilience, like a tree weathering a storm. Owning a Matsuba should provide good luck and perseverance in overcoming challenges.
  • Harmony and Balance: Combining the solid base color and the intricate pattern represents harmony and balance. Matsuba is symbol of peace and tranquility, bringing a sense of zen to your pond.

Owning a Matsuba

These Koi are living jewels, their colors, and patterns constantly shimmering and shifting in the sunlight. Watching them glide through the water is a mesmerizing experience.

Compared to other Koi varieties, Matsuba is fairly easy to care for. They’re adaptable to different water conditions and generally have strong immunity.

Each Matsuba variation has its own personality. Aka Matsuba tend to be bolder and more active, while Ki Matsuba are known for their playful nature. On the other hand, Gin Matsuba is often the most serene and graceful.


The Asagi Koi, with its elegant blue-gray hue, reticulated scales, and subtle red markings, stands as a cornerstone in the history of ornamental carp. Yet, this renowned variety’s origins lie not in deliberate breeding but in chance mutations deemed “defects” by early Magoi farmers.

For centuries, the Magoi, a black carp native to China, served as a staple food in Japan. Introduced around 200 BC, these hardy fish thrived in rice paddies and ponds, providing sustenance for generations. 

Over time, some Magoi exhibited spontaneous mutations, leading to splashes of color on their scales. A few farmers, captivated by the unique beauty of these “defects,” began to isolate and selectively breed them.

Today, the Asagi is a living testament to the transformative power of human curiosity and appreciation.


The Asagi’s defining feature is its Doitsu (scaleless) body, shimmering in a range of blue-gray hues. Depending on the individual fish’s genetics and environment, this “groundwork” can range from a pale, almost translucent lavender to a deeper, steely slate.

They have a mesmerizing pattern called “goiishi gomon.” Imagine a net of finer lines, lighter than the base color, outlining diamond-shaped scales.

These Koi fish also come with splashes of red called “hi” which add subtle pops of color, typically gracing the belly, fins, and sometimes the cheeks or dorsal fin.


  • Peace: The Asagi’s cool blue tones are often associated with calmness, peace, and tranquility. Imagine gazing into a deep mountain lake on a crisp autumn morning, capturing the essence of the Asagi’s serene beauty.
  • Positive vibes: Their red hi markings, on the other hand, symbolize energy, passion, prosperity, and good luck. These colors embody the perfect balance of yin and yang, making the Asagi a popular choice for those seeking inner harmony and prosperity.

Owning an Asagi

Sharing your pond with an Asagi is like inviting a living embodiment of serenity and balance. 

Asagi Koi are known for their graceful swimming style and calming presence. They’re not the most boisterous fish in the pond, but their gentle elegance adds a touch of zen to any water garden.

Compared to some Koi varieties, Asagi are generally hardy and require less specific water parameters – they’re suitable for experienced and novice pond keepers.

Asagi is one of the oldest Koi breeds, with roots dating back over 160 years. Owning one is like connecting with a living piece of Koi history, adding a touch of timeless elegance to your pond.


The Benigoi Koi, with its unwavering red or orange hue, stands as one of the original Koi varieties and a cornerstone of Koi history. Its name, translating to “red Koi,” captures its essence.

While “hi” is the most common Japanese term for “red” in Koi keeping, Benigoi’s ideal color leans towards a vibrant orange-red, closer to the meaning of “beni,” distinct from the deeper, fiery red.

Benigoi’s lineage traces back to the Magoi, a black wild carp in Japan for centuries. Around the early 19th century, as carp transitioned from food to companions, deliberate breeding practices led to new varieties.

Benigoi remains popular for Koi enthusiasts due to its pure color and historical significance.


The Benigoi’s defining feature is its Doitsu (scaleless) body, ablaze with a rich, intense orange-red color. Ideally, the “beni” (red) should not be a bright tomatoey hue, but rather a deeper, almost embers-like shade that hints at both orange and red.

Unlike many Koi varieties adorned with intricate patterns, the Benigoi keeps it simple. Its solid red color, uninterrupted by markings, allows the fiery hue to take center stage, creating a striking and mesmerizing appearance.

Some Benigoi may have white tips on their fins or tail, adding a touch of contrast and highlighting the fish’s graceful movements. Others might boast a single row of metallic silver scales running down their back, a rare and elegant detail.


Red is a powerful color that’s often associated with passion, energy, vitality, prosperity, and good luck. The Benigoi’s fiery hue embodies these traits perfectly, making it a popular choice for those seeking prosperity, success, and a vibrant life force.

Owning a Benigoi

Owning a Benigoi is like inviting a symbol of good fortune into your pond, a constant reminder to embrace life’s passions and energies.

Benigoi are generally active and playful fish, known for their quick bursts of speed and graceful swimming style. They add a touch of vibrancy and movement to any pond.

Compared to other varieties, Benigoi are generally hardy and adaptable to various water conditions. They’re suitable for both experienced and novice pond keepers.

While generally peaceful, Benigoi’s active nature might not be the best fit for overly timid Koi varieties. Pair them with fish of similar size and temperament to avoid bullying or competition.


The Chagoi Koi, aptly named “brown carp” in Japanese, stands out not for bold colors or patterns but for its imposing size and gentle nature. Often revered as the “gentle giant” of the Koi world, these robust fish possess a unique history.

Unlike most Koi varieties meticulously bred for color and pattern, the Chagoi emerged from a far more practical purpose in the Taisho Era (1912-1926). Koi farmers, seeking to improve their common carp (Magoi) as food, focused on traits of size and temperament.

So, they selectively bred for larger individuals, favoring those exhibiting calmer dispositions. Over generations, this selective breeding provided remarkable results. The Magoi gradually transformed, becoming significantly larger and friendlier. Their coloration also shifted, subtly deviating from the wild type.

These “improved” Magoi, no longer solely considered food, found themselves kept and even sold as pets – this marked the birth of the Chagoi Koi.

While many varieties boast vibrant hues and intricate patterns, Chagoi retain their signature size and temperament.


Another great example of the Doitsu type of Koi, shimmering in a range of warm, earthy hues. Chagoi usually has browns, tans, and olive greens, all with a subtle metallic sheen.

The ideal Chagoi color is a deep, rich copper brown, evoking the warmth of freshly turned earth. Some Chagoi may have slight variations in tone, like lighter patches on the belly or darker markings on the back. These subtle variations add depth and intrigue to the fish’s overall appearance.

Like the Benigoi, the Chagoi keeps its patterns simple. Its solid color, uninterrupted by markings, allows the earthy hues to take center stage, creating a calming and elegant presence in the pond.


In Japanese culture, brown and green are associated with nature, stability, and resilience. The Chagoi’s earthy tones embody these traits perfectly, making it a popular choice for those seeking peace, harmony, and long life. 

Owning a Chagoi

Owning a Chagoi is like inviting a living embodiment of nature into your pond, a constant reminder to slow down, appreciate the simple things and find strength in stability.

Chagoi are known for their laid-back personality and graceful swimming style. They glide effortlessly through the water, exuding an aura of serenity that adds a touch of peace to any pond.

Chagoi have notoriously large appetites and are often the first to come up for food. With a little patience, you can even train them to hand-feed, making them the perfect pond companions for those who enjoy interacting with their fish.


The Ginga Koi, known as the ‘’Wagoi’’ version of a Kumonryu, is a stunning koi variety. The name Ginga is a nod to the ever-changing black pattern, or sumi, on the koi, just like how the positions of stars in the sky constantly shift depending on the season and time of year.


Its name, Ginga, meaning ‘Milky Way’, perfectly describes its appearance. The patterns and scales of the Ginga koi resemble the beautiful Milky Way and the stars illuminating the night sky.

These fish are like living constellations, their scales shimmering with an inky-black base splashed with swirling clouds of pearly white. It’s no wonder they’re nicknamed “Milky Way Koi”!

The Ginga’s magic comes from a special trick up their fins: hypodermal iridophores. These fancy cells act like tiny mirrors, bouncing light around to create that mesmerizing shimmer.

Depending on how the light hits, your Ginga might flash pure white, disappear into the shadows, or reveal swirling patterns that seem to dance across their body.


In Japan, Koi are symbols of good luck, strength, and overcoming challenges. With its ever-changing patterns, the Ginga adds a layer of yin-yang harmony and the flow of life to that mix – think of it as a constant reminder that beauty can be found in change and darkness.

Owning a Ginga

Ginga Koi will have your neighbors glued to your pond, mesmerized by their otherworldly glow.

The Ginga’s ever-changing dance of light and dark is a constant reminder of balance and the ever-flowing river of life.

They’re happy in most pond sizes and water conditions as long as you keep things clean and spacious. Bonus points for cooler climates, though they like their water on the chilly side.

Pro tip: These Koi aren’t big fans of tropical heat. If your pond is in the sun all day, Ginga might not be the best fit – unless you take extra measures to provide adequate shade for these beauties.


The name Goromo refers to the group of Ai Goromo, Budo Goromo, and Sumi Goromo, which are all essentially Kohaku koi with the addition of reticulation. The differences between these three koi varieties are related to the reticulation pattern and its coloration.

In a reticulation pattern normally, each scale has a slight tint over it in a gradient pattern. This results in the individual scales being emphasized and gives the koi the appearance of a net or a mesh.


Goromo Koi stands out with its unique tri-color scheme:

  • White base: Like a blank canvas, the Goromo’s body shimmers with a pearly white that brilliantly sets off the other colors.
  • Red overlay: Bold splashes of red dance across the white, forming patterns similar to Kohaku Koi’s.
  • Blue edging: The show’s star is the delicate blue net that lines the edges of each red scale. This “goromo,” or robe in Japanese, gives the fish its name and adds a touch of elegance to its appearance.

The blue edging can vary in shade, from a deep indigo to a soft lavender.


  • Prosperity and good luck: The red color is associated with prosperity and good fortune in Japanese culture.
  • Strength and perseverance: Koi in general, symbolize strength and perseverance, overcoming challenges like the rapids they navigate in their natural habitat.
  • Uniqueness and individuality: The unusual “robed” pattern sets the Goromo apart, symbolizing individuality and standing out from the crowd.

Owning a Goromo

As long as you have a well-established pond with good water quality and enough space, Goromo is a pretty easygoing fish. They’re not super picky about water temperature but, like most Koi, prefer cooler temperatures.

Their unique pattern will spark curiosity and make them a favorite topic at backyard gatherings.


Goshiki is a fish that lives up to its name (“five colors” in Japanese) with a unique and captivating look. Goshiki Koi are highly popular because of their distinct colors and captivating patterns.


Their colors include a white base color called “shiro,” a red pattern similar to Kohaku called “hi,” a black pattern known as “sumi” that covers the entire top of the fish, a dark blue reticulation called “Konjo” on the scales of the koi’s top, and a light blue reticulation called “Akebi” on the scales of the body’s side.

This Koi also has bold splashes of red across the white and fishnet, resembling confetti scattered on a tuxedo. These “hi” markings can take various shapes and sizes, adding personality and variety to each Goshiki.


  • Five elements: The five colors (white, black, blue, red, and gray) are sometimes associated with the five elements in Japanese philosophy – earth, water, fire, metal, and wood/plants.
  • Harmony and balance: The balanced interplay of white, black, and red on the Goshiki represents yin-yang harmony and the interconnectedness of different forces.
  • Uniqueness and individuality: Each Goshiki’s pattern is unique, symbolizing individuality and standing out from the crowd.

Owning a Goshiki

If you have a well-established pond with good water quality and enough space, Goshiki are pretty chill fish. The Goshiki’s color and pattern can change slightly as they age, adding to their intrigue and keeping it interesting.


Utsuri koi, meaning “reflected” in Japanese, are a captivating group known for their dramatic black base adorned with vibrant contrasting colors. These fish boast a rich history and hold a special place in the hearts of koi enthusiasts.

There are three best-known variations of this Koi: Ki, Hi, and Shiro Utsuri. Here’s a quick breakdown of their evolutionary journey:

  1. Late 19th Century: The Utsuri story begins around the 1890s with the Ki Utsuri, the first variety to emerge. Breeders crossed a Magoi (black carp) with a Ki Bekko (yellow koi with black markings) to create this striking black and yellow combination.
  1. Early 20th Century: The Hi Utsuri followed shortly after, born from a Ki Utsuri and a Kohaku (white koi with red markings) pairing. This stunning black and red koi quickly gained popularity, surpassing the Gosanke (Koi’s prized trio) for a while.
  1. 1920s: The Shiro Utsuri, featuring a black and white canvas, completed the Utsuri trio. Asagi (grey-blue koi) and Ki Bekko were crossed to bring this elegant koi to life.


Utsuri has quite a simple but distinguished look, making them stand out. All Utsuri share a deep, inky black foundation known as “sumi.” This bold background serves as the canvas for their contrasting colors, as they have a vibrant red hue that streaks and swirls across the black base, creating a dynamic and eye-catching pattern.

Hi Utsuri: The red, like a hot koi-red or a spicy orange-red, takes up large areas, creating a bold contrast that practically screams, “Look at me!”. The black, called sumi, should be like the night sky – deep, inky, and well-defined around the red patches and on the head and fins. Think less messy paint splatter, like crisp lines from a pro artist.

Ki Utsuri: This Utsuri brings a ray of sunshine to the pond with its vibrant yellow patches that range from mellow lemon yellow to rich gold. The sumi still plays its part, outlining the yellow and giving the whole thing a bit of edge. The pattern here is more playful, with irregular yellow patches.

Shiro Utsuri: The white areas tend to be larger and flow across the body like a serene waterfall. The sumi plays its usual role, keeping things edgy with sharp borders and dark accents.


  • Hi Utsuri: Owning a Utsuri is believed to bring vibrancy and a spark of enthusiasm to your life. Utsuri tends to be active and playful, adding a touch of energy and excitement to your pond. They’re often the first to greet you at the edge, eager to show off their fiery colors.
  • Ki Utsuri: Yellow represents wealth, prosperity, and joy in Japanese culture. Owning a Ki Utsuri is believed to bring good fortune and a positive outlook.

Ki Utsuri tends to be larger than average Koi, with a calm and majestic presence. They’re often the anchor fish in a pond, radiating serenity and wisdom.

  • Shiro Utsuri: White represents purity, peace, and good luck in Japanese culture. Owning a Shiro Utsuri is believed to bring tranquility and inner peace.

Owning an Utsuri

These Koi bring a living paradox into your pond: bold, striking, peaceful, and serene. They’re adaptable to various water conditions and relatively easy to care for, making them suitable for Koi enthusiasts of all experiences.


The Kigoi Koi, known as Kawarigoi Koi, is a solid yellow Koi without any metallic sheen. It falls under the category of non-metallic koi that don’t fit into any other classification. Alongside Kigoi, you can also find Benigoi, Chagoi, and Ochiba in this group.

Originally introduced in the late 1920s, the Kigoi Koi variety gained popularity. Breeders achieved this by selectively breeding lighter-colored Benigoi Koi, gradually reducing the red pigment in their skin. As a result, they obtained a vibrant yellow-colored koi, the Kigoi Koi!


Kigoi wears a solid, vibrant yellow that wouldn’t look out of place on a sunflower. This single color, unlike the multi-colored patterns of many Koi, makes them stand out in their own unique way.

Kigoi are non-metallic, meaning their scales lack the shimmer of some other Koi varieties. This gives them a soft, natural glow, like sunshine filtering through leaves. Some Kigoi may have a sprinkling of diamond-like scales called “gin rin,” adding a subtle glimmer to their sunny disposition.


  • Wealth and success: In Japanese culture, yellow is associated with prosperity and good fortune. Having a Kigoi in your pond is like inviting sunshine and luck into your life.
  • Strength and optimism: The cheery yellow hue symbolizes happiness, optimism, and the strength to overcome challenges, reflecting the Koi’s legendary resilience.
  • Individuality: While not the flashiest Koi, Kigoi stands out with its bold, solid color, reminding us that sometimes simplicity is the best statement.

Owning a Kigoi

Kigoi’s vibrant yellow and happy disposition will brighten your day and add a touch of cheer to your water garden. Kigoi doesn’t need any extra glitter or glam to shine. Their simple, single color requires simple living conditions, making them a good choice for busy Koi enthusiasts and beginners!


These Koi are a type renowned for its metallic gleam, dramatic contrast, and ever-evolving patterns. The name “Kikokuryu” itself is a poetic combination of Japanese words. “Kiko” translates to “luminous, radiant,” while “Ryu” means “dragon.” Adding the prefix “Kuro” (black) completes the picture, painting a vivid image of a shimmering dragon adorned with midnight hues.

The Kikokuryu’s lineage is veiled in myth and obscurity. Some trace it back to the late 19th century, possibly emerging from mudpond mutations of Doitsu Hariwake (scalelessKkoi with black and white patches) crossed with other varieties.

Others link its ancestry to the Kumonryu, another scaleless koi with black markings. Regardless of the origin story, the Kikokuryu rose to prominence in the 20th century, captivating Koi enthusiasts with its unique charm.


These koi skip the scales and rock smooth, reflective skin like living chrome. The base color is white, sometimes with a cool blue tint, like moonlight on snow.

The black markings, called sumi, are the stars of the show. They swirl and splatter across the white like ink on parchment, changing as the fish grows. Ideally, these markings are deep black and sharp, like brushstrokes from a master calligrapher.

Some have more black, some more white, some even have splashes of yellow or orange.


  • Transformation and change: The ever-shifting sumi patterns symbolize the constant flow of life and the importance of embracing change.
  • Balance and harmony: The interplay of black and white represents yin-yang harmony, reminding us of the balance in nature and life.
  • Mystery and intrigue: The Kikokuryu’s dark base and ever-changing patterns add an air of mystery and intrigue, making them captivating to watch.

Owning a Kikokuryu

The ever-changing sumi patterns will keep you guessing, offering a daily dose of surprise and wonder as you watch your living constellation evolve.


Kikusui’s ancestry traces back to the late 19th century. Breeders crossed Kohaku (white koi with red markings) with a Doitsu Hariwake (scaleless koi with black and white patches) to create the Ki Utsuri (yellow Utsuri with black markings).

Further refining led to the Doitsu Ki Utsuri, a scaleless version of the Ki Utsuri. Over time, selective breeding for vibrant orange patterns yielded the Kikusui as we know it today.

The name “Kikusui” holds poetic meaning. “Kiku” translates to “chrysanthemum,” a flower known for its radiant yellow petals. “Sui” means “water,” conjuring an image of these koi resembling chrysanthemums blooming amidst a pond.


Unlike most Koi known for bold patterns, Kikusui boasts a pure, metallic white base. This pearlescent backdrop shows their vibrant orange markings like stars against the night sky.

They have vibrant orange, resembling confetti scattered on snow. Similar to ‘’hi’’ ones, these markings can take various shapes and sizes. This adds personality and dynamism to each Kikusui.

Ideally, the orange on a Kikusui stops cleanly at the head, leaving it pristine white. This contrast, known as “menware,” adds another layer of visual interest and elegance.


  • Purity and innocence: The gleaming white base symbolizes purity, innocence, and new beginnings.
  • Strength and perseverance: The vibrant orange markings represent passion, energy, and the strength to overcome challenges, mirroring Koi’s legendary resilience.
  • Balance and harmony: The interplay of white and orange embodies yin-yang harmony, reminding us of the balance in nature and life.

Owning a Kikusui

This is another excellent type of Koi that requires humble living conditions – as long as they have a well-established pond with decent water quality and enough space to swim, Kikusui is a pretty easygoing fish.

The orange markings on Kikusui can change slightly as they age, adding an element of surprise and fascination as your platinum beauties evolve.


The Kujaku Koi, named after the majestic peacock in Japanese, is a relatively young and vibrant koi variety with a fascinating history.

Initially classified as a Hikarimoyo (metallic two-color koi) for competitions, the Kujaku’s unique beauty quickly demanded its own category.

Although considered a “modern” koi, the Kujaku reflects the centuries-old Japanese tradition of selective breeding and artistic refinement. Its existence embodies the dedication of koi breeders to push the boundaries of color, pattern, and overall allure, constantly seeking to capture the essence of beauty in these living works of art.


Kujaku Koi, meaning “peacock” in Japanese, are eye-catching fish known for their vibrant colors and intricate patterns. Imagine a crisp, pearlescent white base (shiroji) that gleams like polished metal under the water’s surface.

They’re adorned with bold splashes of orange or red, resembling flames across the white – these markings, reminiscent of a Kohaku Koi, typically cluster on the fish’s back, sides, and fins.

Adding another layer of visual intrigue is the unique “matsuba” (pinecone) pattern. They have tiny black reticulations, like delicate netting, covering each individual scale – it’s like a mimic of pinecone.


  • Strength and resilience: The net-like pattern symbolizes Koi’s legendary resilience, weathering life’s challenges like a strong, flexible net.
  • Change: The ever-shifting “hi” markings represent the constant flow of life and the importance of embracing change.
  • Beauty and uniqueness: The Kujaku’s unique combination of net, color, and metallic sheen makes them true standouts, symbolizing individual beauty and the value of being different.

Owning a Kujaku

Kujaku are peaceful and hardy fish despite their flashy looks, making them good pond pals. They just need extra care to keep their scaleless skin healthy and avoid scratches, so they’re often a choice among more experienced pond keepers.

If you decide to get them, you should provide as healthy nutrition as possible and high water quality for their habitat.


The Komonryu Koi means “nine crested dragon” in Japanese. the Komonryu’s lineage blends Doitsu Shusui (scaleless blue-grey koi with red highlights) and Matsukawa Bakke (scaleless white koi with black blotches).


This is a scaleless Koi draped in a swirling, ever-changing pattern of snow-white and jet-black. It has inky black markings across the white base. Some Kumonryu have splashes of vibrant red (Beni Kumonryu, for example), adding a fiery touch to their icy look.


  • Majesty: Kumonryu translates to “Nine Crested Dragon,” and these Koi truly embody the mythical beasts. Their ever-changing patterns mirror the dragon’s ability to morph, and their powerful presence adds an air of majesty to any pond.
  • Luck and Adaptability: Owning a Kumonryu is said to bring good fortune and prosperity. Their adaptability and resilience resonate with overcoming challenges and emerging stronger.

Owning a Kumonryu

Kumonryu and Doitsu Koi are making their colors even more vibrant. These Koi are delicate and require pristine water conditions and a stable environment. But the extra care is worth it for the privilege of witnessing their breathtaking transformations.

Lemon Hariwake

The Lemon Hariwake Koi is a stunning fish, prized for its vibrant lemon-yellow markings and gleaming platinum-white base. More than just a beautiful pond dweller, these koi boast a rich history and unique characteristics that make them a captivating addition to any water garden.

The Hariwake variety emerged in the early 20th century. This “Lemon” sub-variety, with its distinctive yellow hue, is a relatively recent development.

“Hariwake” translates to “divided skin” in Japanese, reflecting the koi’s two-toned pattern. “Lemon” simply specifies the color of the secondary markings.


The Lemon Hariwake boasts a dazzling platinum white base with bold streaks of metallic lemon yellow across its body – sometimes forming patches, sometimes swirling like brushstrokes.

These markings can vary in size and distribution, making each Lemon Hariwake a unique masterpiece.

Ideally, the platinum and lemon yellow should be roughly balanced, creating a harmonious, eye-catching contrast.

Pro tip: Look for detailed edges between the colors and a clean, unblemished platinum head for the highest quality specimen.


  • Joy and Optimism: The bright lemon yellow evokes the warmth of sunshine and the optimism of a spring day. Owning a Lemon Hariwake is said to bring joy, prosperity, and a positive outlook.
  • Beauty in Balance: The harmony between the bold yellow and the serene platinum symbolizes balance and inner peace. These Koi are believed to promote tranquility and a sense of well-being in their surroundings.

Owning a Lemon Hariwake

Water temperature, stress, and even mood can sometimes trigger the black markings to shift and morph dramatically. One day, your pond might hold a koi resembling a stormy night, the next, a pristine snowscape.

You can’t predict what pattern will emerge next, adding an element of surprise and intrigue to your daily koi observations.


The Matsukawabake Is a type of Koi fish that’s similar to the Kumonryu, Kikokuryu, and Ginga Koi varieties. These Koi were originally bred to create more variations of the changing black pattern, known as sumi, seen in Kumonryu and Kikokuryu Koi.

These two varieties have gained popularity among Koi keepers worldwide. Also, the Matsukawabake Koi was developed to improve the stability of the sumi pattern, as it tends to be more stable in older Kumonryu koi compared to Kikokuryu Koi.


Matsukawabake Koi fish are characterized by their color-changing patterns, ranging from black to white and anything in between. These fish exhibit a unique ability to transform their appearance, making them captivating additions to ponds. Their distinct markings resemble ink spilled on paper, creating a dynamic and visually appealing display.


  • Tranquility and Renewal: The autumnal hues and leaf-like patterns of the Matsukawabake symbolize tranquility, peace, and the natural renewal cycle. Owning one is believed to bring a sense of calmness and acceptance to your life.
  • Resilience and Change: The Koi’s adaptability to the changing seasons and its beautiful transformation during fall resonate with the concept of resilience and finding beauty in change. Matsukawabake serves as a reminder to embrace the ebb and flow of life.

Owning a Matsukawabake

Unlike static patterns, the Matsukawabake’s colors and markings continuously change throughout its life, influenced by temperature and age.

The black matsuba may fade or intensify, and the red/orange markings might shift or even disappear completely, revealing more of the pristine white base.

Matsukawabake tend to be larger than average Koi, with a calm and majestic presence. 


Born in the mid-1990s from a breeding of Chagoi and Soragoi koi, the Ochiba, meaning “falling leaves” in Japanese, reflects its ancestry in its elegant hues.

The Chagoi’s golden-brown tones and the Soragoi’s silver-blue base created a Koi that embodies the serenity of autumn leaves gently settling on a tranquil pond.


Ochiba koi display a captivating interplay of colors. Their base color ranges from a light blue-gray to soft olive green, providing a canvas for the brown or bronze pattern that dances across their body. This pattern, reminiscent of autumn leaves, can vary in intensity, from delicate washes to bolder splashes, adding depth and dimension to their appearance. Some Ochiba koi boast reticulation, a net-like pattern on their scales, enhancing their visual complexity.


Passion and Energy: The fiery orange-red of the Ochiba evokes passion, energy, and the vibrant spirit of autumn. Owning one is believed to bring enthusiasm and warmth to your life.

Owning an Ochiba

Ochiba are living fireworks, their colors exploding with vibrancy and constantly shifting with their mood and environment. Watching them dart through the water is a mesmerizing experience, like watching a miniaturized autumn bonfire come alive.

Ochiba tends to be active and playful swimmers, adding a touch of energy and excitement to your pond. They’re often the first to greet you at the pond edge, eager to show off their fiery colors.


The Shusui koi, formerly the Doitsu Asagi, gained popularity due to its unique appearance. Its name, ‘autumn water’, is inspired by the red pattern on a blue background resembling fallen red leaves in a river.


These koi have a captivating gray-blue color with a vibrant red pattern on their sides and cheeks. Additionally, they possess large scales only along each side of the dorsal fin, while the rest of their body remains scaleless.

Their blue can range from a pale, almost translucent hue to a deeper, steel grey, depending on the individual fish’s genetics and environment.

Some Shusui may also have a single row of metallic silver scales running down their back, adding a touch of regality and subtle shimmer.


  • Energy and Passion: The orange hi markings symbolize energy and passion.
  • Curiosity: While peaceful, Shusui is quite active. They often exhibit a gentle curiosity, exploring their surroundings and coming closer to the pond edge to investigate.

You might catch them peering at you with their large, intelligent eyes, adding a touch of personality to their serene beauty.

Owning a Shusui

Their color changes are more subtle compared to others, like watercolors blending under the soft caress of light. The blue might deepen or shimmer, and the red might intensify or soften depending on their mood and environment.

While some Koi varieties can be skittish or territorial, Shusui tends to be adaptable. They integrate well with other Koi breeds, adding a calming presence to the pond dynamic. Their peaceful nature makes them suitable for smaller ponds or water gardens where space might be limited.

Shusui can foster a surprising connection with their owners. Their gentle curiosity and calm demeanor encourage interaction, allowing you to build a unique bond with your icy blue companion.


Soragoi are gray-colored koi with a reticulation pattern called ‘’fukurin’’ on their scales. This pattern is similar to Chagoi Koi. Soragoi Koi are closely related to the wild carp, the ancestor of all pet Kois.

Instead of focusing on breeding for colors and patterns, breeders have selectively bred Soragoi Koi for size. As a result, most Soragoi koi have the potential to grow very large and are usually more food-driven compared to other Koi.

This is beneficial as other, smaller fish in the pond tend to follow their lead.


Soragoi Koi fish are recognized for their solid blue or gray bodies, lacking distinct patterns. High-quality Soragoi often displays a soft, silvery sheen. These fish, closely related to wild carp, can grow impressively large.

Note: When acquiring Soragoi, as a potential Koi keeper, you should inspect for any old scars or imperfections in scales.


Inner Peace: They’re seen as peaceful creatures, embodying harmony and balance.

Health and Longevity: In Japanese culture, the gray color of Koi is also linked to good fortune, health, and long lifespan – this makes the Soragoi a popular choice for those seeking prosperity and a long life.

Owning a Soragoi

Soragoi are known for their laid-back personality. They glide gracefully through the water, calm and collected, and make great pond companions to other fish.

They’re also generally hardy fish, tolerating a wide range of water temperatures and conditions, making them suitable for experienced and novice pond keepers.

These Koi fish aren’t shy about appearing in front of their humans, adding a delightful touch to the pond-keeping experience.

Tancho Koi

Tancho koi are a specific type of koi with a distinct pattern of red coloration on their head, resembling a red sun. This pattern is only recognized as a subvariety of the Gosanke koi, which includes Kohaku, Sanke, and Showa koi.

However, the Tancho pattern can also be found in other koi varieties such as Goshiki and Hariwake. To be considered a true Tancho koi, the fish must have only this red pattern on its head, with the rest of its body being pure white.


The Tancho’s defining feature is its Doitsu (scaleless) body, gleaming in a pristine, milky white color. Atop the Tancho’s head sits a single, vibrant red marking called “hi”, shaped like a round disc. It resembles the red crown of the Japanese red-crowned crane, a symbol of longevity and good luck.

Unlike many Koi varieties adorned with intricate patterns, the Tancho keeps it simple. The absence of additional markings on its white body further emphasizes the red crown symbol’s striking contrast and regal elegance.


  • Hope and New Beginnings: The pure white represents purity, innocence, and new beginnings.
  • Good fortune and Vitality: The crimson hi symbolizes vitality, passion, and good fortune. 

Owning a Tancho

Tancho Koi are known for their calm and graceful swimming style, bringing peace of mind to their owners when passing by.