View Full Version : Selecting an Utsuri...

Jeff R.
03-18-2005, 01:37 PM
What follows was passed out in written form at the Seminar Selecting Young Koi by Nicole Lembke and Debby Hester. The material was written by Dr. Art Lembke and I recieved permission from Nicole Lembke to share this with the Koiphen Board. The caveat was that we must credit Art for his work. That is not a problem because we know who to ask if we have further questions. :yes: Please do not cut and paste this material without first getting permission for Dr. Art Lembke. I hope you enjoy the information as much as I did.

Selecting an Utsuri by Dr. Art Lembke, Maryland AKCA and ZNA Certified Judge & Member of the AKCA Judging Committee

Whether you are looking for a Shiro Utsuri, Hi Utsuri, or Ki Utsuri, you look for the same basic characteristics. Tip: If you plan on showing the fish some day, you should choose a Shiro Utsuri, because they always do better in shows.

It is very important to start by looking for a good head. The head of a Shiro Utsuri should have both colors (black and white). Do not buy a Shiro Utsuri with an all black or an all white head. Look for an interesting
pattern of black on the head with about 50% black and 50% white. Nose sumi is very important on Shiro
Utsuri and it is preferred. A lightening pattern of black down the face, called Hachiware or a black "V"
across the top of the head, called Hitomoji are preferred, but any interesting pattern will do, as long as there is balance and both colors.

A body that is 50% black and 50% white is best, but a higher percentage of white is acceptable. Do not buy an Utsuri that has too much black. All ofthe black should be in large patches and the patches should wrap around to the bottom of the fish. This gives a feeling of strength. Do not buy an Utsuri with a lot of small black spots. Look for good quality white. A white shoulder region, I think, helps show off the color. The hard part in selecting a young Shiro Utsuri, is that much of the black is deep and not [mished and the white may still be grayish. Look for these areas of Shita Sumi, which indicate later black and try to imagine it filled in.

The pectoral fins can be all black at Tosai or have a patch of black at the base. Make sure both pectorals match. Many Utsuri can have one black fin and one white fin. Stay away ftom these. Utsuri can have all black pectorals when I year old, but this should be moving into the center to form Motoguro by age two. Best type Motoguro does not cover the leading ray of the pectoral fin. A little yellow in the head of a Shiro is also possible, but this should turn white by age three. Not too yellow please.

The tail tube, or Ozutsu, should have both black and white. Not just white or not just black. It needs balance.

Make sure the Utsuri has only 2 colors; especially on the Shiro Utsuri, there should be no red spots.

After you find the right head, pattern, and fins, make sure you have a fish with a good broad body and large fins. This helps to assure good growth in the future. Also, check the fish in a tub to be sure there are no defects or signs or disease.

When selecting a Hi Utsuri or Ki Utsuri, the rnles are the same. All the comments about white are the same for the red of a Hi Utsuri or the yellow of a Ki Utsuri. Good quality Hi Utsuri and Ki Utsuri are very hard to find because the Japanese prefer the Shiro Utsuri and more of these are bred in Japan.

03-31-2005, 08:53 PM
Ok, I just saw this thread (sometimes I miss these things...). I have attached a few pics of my shiro named Ollie. The first pic was from a year ago and the second was taken tonight.

Can you tell me what potential- good and bad- Ollie is working with. I realize that she is not finished at just about age 3 she is ~16" (slow grower). She also seems to be making some eggs... ;)

Some questions that I have are:
1. Are the windows of white through the sumi a demerit in a show?
2. Do the rules for sashi and kiwa apply to utsuri the same as kohaku?

Anyone with an opinion ?


03-31-2005, 09:10 PM
After you find the right head, pattern, and fins, make sure you have a fish with a good broad body and large fins. This helps to assure good growth in the future.

One of the biggest problems I have as a newbie is that I tend to look at pattern first cause it's the easiest for me to understand. However, I've always been told that pattern should come last, or at least after conformation and luster.

Is pattern more important on shiro utsuri than other varieties because there are more standards for it or is there something else that I'm missing?


03-31-2005, 09:11 PM
Yes she is a slow grower, but the bone structure looks to me like it will not be a large fish. The Head is getting better and she is growing into the motoguro. Yes windows are a problem in the sumi, but maybe this one is taking its time finishing. the body looks a little out of line on both photos on the right side, but maybe just photos.
Rules are not the same for Sashi and Kiwa as Kohaku till the fish gets older. The Sashi is not a problem but should start going at least back to single scale sashi soon. Sashi needs to be cleaner and the sumi needs to fill in. Right now the sumi looks dull and lacks luster in the second picture. Generaly by now there should be some areas of higher quality sumi to give us a glimpse of what is to come.
So give it one more year and see if she grows some and finishes more. Shows some promise but if I put all the clues together I would like to see a liitle more at this stage.
Picture is blurry and that may be the problem.

03-31-2005, 09:47 PM
What does everyone think about this one? I picked up this tosai in orlando and it is in the 6-6.5" range in the photo and bred by omosako.
Honest opinions please....

03-31-2005, 09:54 PM
Thanks Art.
I got this girl (?) in a bag of six for $100, so I don't have a lot invested in her. In fact after her first year, she was still only ~8" and an ugly grey color all over. I was unsuccessful in catching her when I was getting rid of some of the others, so I decided to keep her. Even now, she has turned out better than I had hoped, so we both have won in the process. I learn more from you and from her everyday. Thanks !!