Keeping koi is like a crap shoot

Definition of crap shoot
– something (such as a business venture) that has an unpredictable outcome

Substitute “raising koi” in lieu of “business venture” and I think the definition fits. Buying koi because you want a show winner is truly a crap shoot. So many things can happen to the koi as it ages. It’s really hard to buy koi and “know” that you have a winner. (Unless you are buying a large, “finished” koi.) Some look good as little tosai, some are ugly ducklings, some have phases of looking not so good and good, some look great all the time – it’s very unpredictable. Knowing the breeder and lineage of a koi can be helpful – shape and skin quality are either there or not. Having a koi dealer who can guide you through a purchase is also very helpful. While everyone wants to buy a winner, some of us buy a particular koi because it’s amusing. Many koi that would not be a show champion are still very pleasing to the eye and look good in a pond. I thought I would share with you some of my purchases and how they are faring in this post.

But, before we get to the individual koi, here’s another two minutes of the collection. (Only crazy people watch videos of koi swimming around aimlessly.)

I’ll start with the ki utsuris. I have two ginrin ki utsuris – one is from GenkiKoi and the other from Koi Acres. The ki utsuri is a nonmetallic black koi with yellow markings. I have read that this type of koi is pretty much the most unrefined of the utsuris and is prone to stray shimis. Another book writes ” Hailing from the earliest days of Nishikigoi, at the beginning of the Meiji era, Ki-Utsuri was known as Kuro-ki Han (black with yellow pattern). The desirable yellow color must be bright, like autumn leaves. Like Hi-utsuri, Ki-utsuri tends to reveal jari-zumi [scattered sumi]. As it is difficult to attain high gloss in both the yellow and sumi as well as sharp kiwi, good specimens of Ki-utsuri are rarely seen.”  It’s more common to see the metallic ki utsuris which are a cross of an ogon with a ki utsuri or a hi utsuri.

my ginrin ki-utsuri is named the Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger was an impulse buy one evening in November 2015. Scrolling through Facebook, I came across a photo posted by Kevin Pham – three ginrin ki utsuris from Otsuka. I picked the fatter, sparkly one and had it held for the winter in San Jose. The Lone Ranger has stayed pretty yellow but does have a lot of stray sumi. In warmer temperatures, the sumi can lighten up to a coppery black color inside the scale. Not really sure if it will turn into the black lacquer look we love.

Two weeks in the winter pool and the Lone Ranger is looking a little lighter. The water in the outdoor ponds is much warmer than the winter pool, so I’m not sure why this koi lightens up indoors.

I bought a second kin ki utsuri as an impulse buy as well. Koi Acres had some cute little tosai and so I bought Genius. Genius has been changing colors a lot these first six months and clearly looks like a cross of an ogon with a hi utsuri. We actually wondered if it was a hi utsuri but if you google kin ki utsuri, you’ll see a lot of photos of this more orangey looking koi.

Genius, kin ki utsuri

I will say the ginrin ki utsuris are a little on the messy side but they look fun in a pond. Both are very good eaters. Genius was my favorite tosai this summer because he figured out how to hang out in the skimmer of the lower pond. Even with a barrier, he learned to turn sideways to swim in the space available. Once he got too fat to swim sideways, he learned to swim up and over the barrier.

Another odd sparkly koi I have is the Takahiro (omosako) special – it’s a kujaku with a different look. Most of the kujakus I have seen have coppery-orange markings. There is a good article written about the Beni Kujaku by Bryan Bateman on a koi society page: http://mpks.org/the-elusive-beni-kujaku/ —- breeders are trying to develop kujakus with consistent red coloration. Saul has some nice red coloration on a background that looks non-metallic. Might be a little difficult to see in the photo but Saul’s dark base looks more like a matte dark gray and makes the shiny beni look even shinier. Saul might not be a winner but once again a pretty and interesting koi to have in the pond.

Saul, Takahiro special

In my opinion, metallic koi should be part of every collection. I have a feeling that shiny, metallic koi might not look as bright in old age but who knows?  I have a flashy little tosai that I won’t see until next April. A cute little ginrin goshiki from Taniguchi. I love the deep red coloring and I’m always attracted to the scattered but defined smaller spots. Hard to say what will happen to the beni as this one grows. Crossing my fingers it won’t disappear…not sure if more might come out as it gets older (probably not). I always love an experiment.

I should probably write about my gin showas in this post but I’ll save them for my post about showas some day. Something to do over Thanksgiving weekend!

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