View Full Version : Selecting a Sanke...

Jeff R.
03-18-2005, 02:33 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 a Sanke
The head of the Sanke, is important to look at. The head should have the same characteristics as that of a Kohaku. There must be balanced red on the head. The nose should be white. If there is Kuchibeni (red lips) present, it is OK as long as there is balance. Eyes may be covered with red around the rim, as long as the red is not overpowering. It is best not to have red on both eyes. There should not be any black on the head.
Next, look for an interesting pattern of red all the way down the body. Do not choose a koi with red only on the front half or the back half of the body. Balance of color is important.
If you followed the steps above, you will notice you now have a good kohaku. Now we must add the black. It is best to have the first black patch on the shoulder (not on the head). If there is no black until further back on the fish, the head looks too elongated. The rest of the black further back 0:Q. the body should be in a nice pattern that is balanced side to side, and preferably in the white areas rather than on the red. Some black on the red areas is all right but the more black in the white areas the better. Modem sankes are basically kohakus with a few small black patches in the white field. Red should cover about 50~ 70% of the koi, black about 10%, and the rest should be white.
At an early stage, look for a fish with a lot of interesting red and very little black. Black tends to come out later and if you start with too much black, it may be too powerful later.
The red may be bright red or orange~red because the red will usually improve with age. The white should be snow white or a slightly pinkish
white. Males will tend to have yellower skin. While females will turn whiter after age 2. Black develops later, so pick a koi with only a little black that is balanced now. Pick a Sanke that has fairly organized black rather than small speck like. The black patches should be distinct and cover several scales
each. Pepper like spots can be a sign of poor quality. Black is all guess work on early Sanke, as even the small peppery black can come together as the koi matures. Jinbei and Torazo bloodline Sankes tend to develop more square
shaped black, while other bloodlines tend to be more rounded.
The fins on a sanke should be all white or white with a few black stripes. There should not be any red in the fins, lJl1less very tight to the body. Be careful choosing a young sanke with many black stripes in the pectoral fins. These sometimes develop too much black at a later stage.
Again, as in all koi, look for broad shoulders and large pectoral fins for good growth potential. Thick tail tube is also a good sign. Make sure there are no defects or signs of disease on the fish.

Ray Jordan
03-19-2005, 11:43 AM
OK Let's try this. Using Art's excellent description of what to look for when buying a Sanke select the one from the following set of photo's that you believe has the best change of developing into a top quality Sanke and also the pick one that you think has the worse chance of becoming a top quality Sanke. Most important state why. Hint all these baby sankes are from the same spawning. And yes, I have the follow up photo's at three years old.

03-19-2005, 11:59 AM
A best
I like the look of a patteren that could emerge. The shape is nice. Guess for me it.s the promise of sumi that would make this a nice sanke.

B worst :thinking:
I don't see much sumi coming up or even below the surface to make this koi stand out as a nice sanke? Seems to be all hi right now.

And this is form a real novice... :thinking:

03-19-2005, 12:04 PM
I'll take a stab at picking for future potential. "A" then "B". "C" and "D" are already too "finished". Of course I'm not very good at this so go easy. :)

03-19-2005, 12:42 PM
I agree with jnorth, A then B. My hardwater seems to bring out an abundance of sumai, so I tend to pick tosai with less sumai. However, I am very new at this and my history of picking Koi is extremely suspect.

03-19-2005, 04:09 PM
I like c but you say its to finished?


03-19-2005, 08:48 PM
"Buy the red, bet on the black..." I am going with "C". It has a strong kohaku pattern that will allow for some growing. It has well placed shoulder sumi that helps to break up the large first hi plate. It also fits the percentages from Dr. Lembke's direction. It seems a little unbalanced in the rear, but the three small shoulder sumis combine or just grow, that would balance it's rear.

For worse, I'll go out on a limb and say "A". I imagine this fish to grow into a large white fish with little spots of hi- not a good kohaku pattern so it can never be a good sanke.

Ok Ray, I'm ready to learn !


03-19-2005, 08:51 PM
I aint worried aboout the future I amight not be there. I like d :eek: :eek: :eek:

03-19-2005, 08:51 PM
I like c but you say its to finished?


Well I'm basing it being too finished because the question was which one to get for the future. C has alot of sumi that looks ink black already so it will fade in the future. A and B's sumi is still developing so as the Koi gows larger the sumi will rise to the surface. The idea being that the sumi will finish when the koi is much larger. Mind you this is what I have read and not from years of experience. :)

Ray Jordan
03-19-2005, 10:34 PM
I will post the photo's of these koi at three years of age in the morning. Last chance to make your best and worse selections. Bonus question which are male and which are female.

03-20-2005, 12:30 AM
ac female bd male :confused:

03-20-2005, 12:56 AM
I would pick A,B,C,D :thinking:A&C being female.

03-20-2005, 12:58 AM

Females A,c
Male b,D

B does not have the nice Hi or red that I would desire as a kohaku pattern if there were more hi I would pick it.

03-20-2005, 01:25 AM
A C females

Cowiche Ponder
03-20-2005, 01:40 AM
I like A thought the hi isn't as balanced as c might be, I also think C is too finished at this point as is d. My 2nd pick would be b though I don't like the hi pattern there is promising sumi hiding on the white that could balance it out later. 3rd pick d over c as it's sumi is in smaller patches. c to me looks like a showa that didn't get black menware

a,c female, b,d male

but how much does this person know? sqat lol :yes:

can't wait to see the pics of later

03-20-2005, 01:48 AM
I would chose c, betting it's female. Best kohaku pattern although I prefer the sumi on d. Can't wait to see how they developed.

03-20-2005, 03:26 AM
A is my best, C is my worst. A/B my guess female. C/D my guess male.
males tend to color quicker show sumi sooner. females lag in color development. Body shape, hard to tell on smaller koi.

Ray Jordan
03-20-2005, 09:21 AM
OK, Here are the photo's at three years old compared to their photo's at one year old. Are you still happy with your initial selections for best and worst?

Which one would win a a show based the these photo's at three years old? Do you think A is still a tategoi (will get better) or will never finish? What did you learn from this series of photo's.

03-20-2005, 09:55 AM
The order I select is C,D,A,B
C is best now and has best pattern. Sumi is best placed and proportioned. Only one with good Kata Sumi except A. C is only one I would try if started buying tosai(not). A- may be less distracting later when black fills in,but it lacks Hi balance. D came in second because of Hi but the sumi is too heavy and to loaded to the back. Not good Kata Sumi here. B just does not have a chance on anything.
Best is wait till the 3 year old pictures come out and buy then. Then also would be sure on sex. All had good bodies as tosai so could not pick based on that.

03-20-2005, 09:59 AM
As predicted C was the only one to have a chance. B however improved enough, even with the bare Hi center to make it to second place. D is still finshed but as predicted the black became too powerful. A is now the weakest.
So now C,B,D,A :cool:

Ray Jordan
03-20-2005, 08:48 PM
OK, this is what I have been taught. Remember we cannot judge the skin quality or the depth of color from photo’s. So this is mostly about conformation, pattern, and perceived color when judging from photo’s

Looking at these baby photos I would rank these koi in order A, B, C, D for future potential. C & D are weaker from a conformation perspective(skinny tail joints) already have strongly finished black and red. Additionally D has too much sumi and it is poorly distributed. Koi C has a very nice three step kohaku pattern but sumi is already finished and very heavy on it’s right side and also heavy towards the rear. From the photo’s I would guess C& D are males.

Koi B appears to have too much break between 1st and 2nd steps.

Koi A has fantastic conformation for a baby koi but not so great a hi pattern. Red seems to be fairly consistent in color. Nice nose and tail stop. Sumi placement seems pretty good.

OK now let’s jump ahead two years to the photo’s of these koi at three year olds. If these koi were in a show on the day of the photos I would rank them B, A, D, C.

Koi C is last because of the yellowed and somewhat messy looking face and pattern

Koi B is first because confirmation is good and all three colors are really pretty nice. Pattern is not that great but somehow the sumi camouflages the large mid body break and based on the competition on the day of the photo it manages to finish 1st.

Koi A has incredible conformation. Look at the body shape and tail joint I would say at least a 9 of of 10 for it’s size. This is where the female body starts to dominate. White is fantastic. Sumi and hi remain unfinished. Could it be this koi has grown so much that it’s hi and sumi have not been able to catch up to this point. Only looking at the color depth and dimension very closely in person can you hope to determine if this is still a koi with a future or forever a want to be....

Ray Jordan
03-21-2005, 12:38 PM
No disagreement with my rankings or crystal ball guesses?

03-21-2005, 03:49 PM
Hi everyone,

Sanke should have black on the shoulder. I want to make sure where the shoulder area begin. Is it immediately after the head/around the pectoral fins? I am still a newbie trying to learn. Thanks for your responses.


03-21-2005, 07:59 PM
If the face of C were to "whiten up", how then would it fare against the rest? I haven't had much luck so far with a face that started off-color becoming white later on. Is this something that I should consider; if it isn't white now, don't expect it to be white later ?

Were there any other demerits for koi C ?


Ray Jordan
03-21-2005, 10:09 PM
If the face of C were to "whiten up", how then would it fare against the rest? I haven't had much luck so far with a face that started off-color becoming white later on. Is this something that I should consider; if it isn't white now, don't expect it to be white later ?

Were there any other demerits for koi C ?


Hi Raymond,
Sanke C has a male body shape with a very skinny tail joint. It is rather heavy in Hi and to my eye not all that interesting. But it is the yellow hue to the head that spoils this koi for me. I have seen small female koi with an off colored head whiten up nicely as they age and mature. Small female koi that have been fed color enhancers can have spoiled white ground but can improve if kept away from color enhanced foods and kept is great water quality. Young koi just emerging from a mud pond in the fall can have yellowed white ground that will clean up fairly quickly also.

Be cautious when the rest of the koi's white is much whiter than the head/face. In those koi it seems much less likely that the head/face will clean up.

Baby koi often have a pinky hue under the skin. This is not a concern as you are really viewing the muscle color through very thin translucent baby skin. (OMO)

03-21-2005, 10:57 PM
OK here we go. From body shape and the mid section of koi I would guess Koi A&C are female. The other two male. This would also explain the yellow tint to the head on C. Females tend to maintain the yellower Head longer and clear up as they reach sexual maturity and produce eggs.
C except for yellowing on head has the best finish for today.
A has the best body but the Hi is thin and the black is not finished
D had too much black but for today has the second best finish
B has unbalanced color
So by finish
Jusy my opinion
C is holding color and might be the only bonified potential koi

Ray Jordan
03-22-2005, 10:42 AM
Hi KoiDoc,
Thanks for your input. Help me with Sanke C. I can't seem to get past the yellow face this koi had on the day. Help me with placing it above Sanke B.
Is it the lack of B's kato sumi that moves it below C? Would determining it to be male or female make any difference to you? What else am I missing?

03-22-2005, 11:34 AM
I don't see the overall quality in future for koi C. If koi C was female which I dont think it is a 3 years old for sanke to finish up. Screams male to me from the begining. The yellow in head got worse which is another sign and that photo of C looks to be altered. Hi is up and has no where to go except down.

Koi A is my choice for future Potential and at 3 years old still a baby for Sanke. The hi is in middle of scale which will then thicken up if in the right enviroment. Over all future potential lies in Koi A which proves that its not pattern once again. When selecting Sanke we need to look for over all quality and future potential at a young age. Body frame on koi A is exceptional thick tail joint and will grow to be bigger as well. Head says so in realation to the gill plate.

Koi A for me leave it in mud pond and now you got a quality fish. All others except B do not deserve space in a mud pond...

JMHO By judging through pics. (something that should not be done but we do it anyhow)

03-22-2005, 10:56 PM
Hey Ray,
C has better body than B so one point for C
C has better color and thickness and homogenous, so two for C
C has better balance side to side,front to back and lastlt rule of thirds.Not only look for 50/50 balance but also 33/33/33. Middle of B has little hi. Three points
C has a more powerful Hiban across the shoulders and a better Maki giving it a more powerful appearance. Imposing. B looks weak and thin through middle. 4 pts
Except for the Head I like the skin quality on C better. And it does have Kata Sumi. Don't dismiss it because it has a yellow head. Almost looks like Spirolina excess. You did not dismiss B for having no Kata Sumi or middle Hi. Have to look at all the fish. Be careful as you break the fish down into too many elements. You can miss the whole.
As far as future A could turn out well with time although balane can't change. As B gets older the bare center will be even more pronounced. As D gets older too much black. And as C gets older maybe color down. But C is the only one that at least now has show criteria. I did not say I would buy it, but only choice if forced.
It is a great myth that tategoi always have to be less colored when young. There are Tategoi that start out with high finish. It is not always true that males only color up early. Females can color up to at an early age. Want to keep both from coloring early, keep the sexes seperate.Don't sex a fish by early color. Can use it to guess if you must.Want to color both male and female up early for selling, keep them crowded and feed color food. When you stop them from growing they color. Keep less crowded and away from wanting sex and they color up slow.
Best long term fish are ones seperated out early for grow out for more money by breeders. As early as they can they divide out sexes for maximum growth and with max growth slows color formation. Once start to color the gowth slows down.
Koi do three things but not always best at the same time. They grow. They color. They breed. When they start to breed they color. If you can stop breed and thus color, you can put all their energy into growth.
So if you are looking for Jumbos and GC's you buy lesser color females that have been maxed out for growth. Three year old should be at least 20 inches. Never smaller.Then max out growth for at least two more years. Leave with breeder or if you want to try yourself put in female only pond with at least 1000 gals. per fish. Feed no color food and then at 5 years old when it starts to slow down, start the finish process.
Obviuosly we are talking about maximum size and potential. Not everyone wants to or has to want big fish.
Is this what they mean by informative posts.

Ray Jordan
03-23-2005, 10:46 AM
Hi Art,
It is still difficult for me to seperate "Judging" for today and "Selecting" koi for their potential. I am working hard to get better at both but, I am drawn to koi with brillant white and turned off by poor white. I know that white skin is just one element but it is an important element and the backdrop for everything else.