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  • Results 1 to 18 of 18

    Thread: Evaluating and selecting koi

    1. #1
      Marilyn's Avatar
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      Evaluating and selecting koi

      I was asked about what to look for in tosai on another thread. Instead of putting all this on that thread, I though it might be best to do another thread.

      Iím gong to start with some basics. As you journey into the hobby you will have preferences uniquely your own and if you would like to show, the goal then becomes to find what makes a good show koi and meets the preferences you have.

      As I mentioned before, conformation is the singlemost important thing to learn.
      If my situation is any guide, spend as much time looking at koi as possible. Visit dealersí websites. Donít pay any attention to if they are called tategoi or high quality. I could fill an entire forum with examples of koi listed as high quality or tategoi that really donít fall into that category. Thatís why it is up to consumers to familiarize themselves with what to expect in high quality koi.

      Visit the auction sites I am including. If there are videos, watch them. Looking at a picture and evaluating a koi, then watching a video of that koi is a fantastic way to train your eye for better koi. Many times you will like a koi from a pic but the video makes you say no and koi that may look awful in a pic suddenly look incredible.
      These are the big three that do auctions: Momotaro , Dainichi and SFF.

      http://www.momotaro-koi.org/momotaro...on_pk=8&lang=e

      https://koilist.koiwork.com/list.php?AuctionNo=28

      http://sff-koi.com/en/auction_detail/


      A thread of mine that Iím posting from another source shows a koi purchased as tosai through to pics and a video of her as a sansai. She had great conformation (body) but also exceptional skin and Beni. I freely admit that her head shape was not ideal for me but I bought her based on the other characteristics. I wanted to see if the head would bother me as she got larger and frankly, it didnít. She was a level of quality at tosai that was unique in my koi experience and my gut made me see where she would be as she matured.
      Of particular note, look at her skin as tosai and what she looked like as sansai.

      http://pskoi.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=242

      The Koiphen thread, which includes posts from Super Kindai, is an exceptional tutorial. He was and still is a koi judge. It was done when I was brand new to koi. His contributions on to that thread impart a tremendous amount of knowledge and guidance.
      Btw, his screen name, Super Kindai, is interesting. Kindai means new style. Thus, to me, his screen name means super new style which also imparts his vision of koi. He always encouraged others to be forward thinking of koi. His help on the forum and in person greatly influenced my koi education and selections.

      https://www.koiphen.com/forums/showt...-Maruten-showa

      Generally, you have to not only look at a koi from the top but from the side, too. Does the dorsal area have a nice rounded arch? Koi with flatter backs will not hold growth well. Does the tail tube (odome) have some thickness and height (top to bottom). These can be signs of a koi that can grow well and look good when it is larger.

      There are so many factors to consider with koi. Body, skin, Beni (or pattern color), pattern etc. It is daunting but the more koi you look at, the quicker the pieces fall into place. Some of it is instinctual, as well. I can't begin to tell you how many koi I have purchased because I didn't understand them. I knew there was something unique, I most likely could not quantify it, but I knew it was important to see what would happen as the koi matured.
      Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

    2. #2
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      When Russ (PSKoi) is in Japan on a buying trip, I usually have a number of people contact me to see what my preferences are in the different selections. I'm going to post parts of a conversation I had with someone as I think it may further understanding of conformation.

      On to body shapes; there are common things that make a good body but a good koi does not have to have exactly the same ones to be a good koi. There are a number of very good body shapes out there but they aren't exactly the same. The important thing then becomes to find what not to buy.

      I need to point out too, not all varieties have the same good body types though they can overlap.

      When Gosanke were developed (Kohaku, Sanke, Showa), Kohaku were sort of the ideal. "It begins and ends with Kohaku". In the classic Japanese sense, this simple phrase imparts so much.
      You'll see in Kohaku that the good ones have strong bodies. They aren't tanks, there are exceptions, but strong while elegant body line. That is why the Dainichi of a few years back kind of lost favor. They just looked like fat whales. Beautiful skin, beautiful Beni but unsightly and ungainly. There should be a balance and a pleasing aspect while watching them. Bottom line, they took good Kohaku and made the next two which is why, in the ideal, the next two show be different from each other.

      Sanke were made to be more elegant. They tend to not have the super bulky dominant tank builds. They weren't developed to be that. Stepping stones of lovely Beni, dappled with smaller stones of perfectly placed Sumi (Sanke Sumi should/has been the best in Gosanke).
      I've heard from hobbyists in the hobby for over 50 years that the Sanke was made to be more for female aesthetics, meaning, it would be boring to have a pond full of brutes without the eye to have something more feminine and easy on the eyes to appreciate. Almost everything, from the Japanese aesthetic, is about balance. Sanke are elegant and refined.

      Showa were meant to be the beasts, the tanks, the dominant brutes. Strong and imposing with no denying their presence. Sumi that can almost look unplanned, rough. When I got into the hobby, they looked chaotic to me, lol.
      They are the ideal foil to the Sanke. Created for the masculine aesthetic.

      So, now that we've got the history covered, it explains some of my selections. I even commented about my Kindai Showa tendency with Showa and it was because, in my heart, I wanted Sanke and my buddy called me out on it.

      The Japanese aesthetic has shifted a bit over the last decade, they still work on refining and adapting things so the lines get blurred from the origins. There are Sanke with bulky less elegant bodies, Kindai Showa that have elegance etc. as the hobby evolves but I hope that explains some of it. The perfect three step or four step was the most coveted in Kohaku when I joined the hobby. Now, those often are the last to sell because we've evolved to admire some movement and flow in patterns. Who knows where we'll be in another ten years. Koi are constantly evolving as are our aesthetics.

      And what not to buy is pinched, or lumpy body shapes. Remember that with all the koi, regardless of the variety, balance is the key. Longer bodies with a balance from front to back, top to bottom.

      Head shapes, in the purest koi circles don't matter. They look at body and quality. I actually had a koi judge walk me around a large show and point koi that I didn't like the heads on so that I would learn to see the quality and body and stop making assumptions about koi based on head shape.

      Frankly, this is high end appreciation stuff.
      Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

    3. #3
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      Before going on to skin, I'll find more threads for that, I'll leave this for some discussion and questions.
      Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

    4. #4
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      Thanks Marilyn - this should be an interesting thread. Question for you on body shape. Do you have examples of good vs poor body shape on small tosai? I feel like on larger fish I can easily point out which fish has the better body but I find this harder to do on young 5~7" fish. To my untrained eye they kinda look the same to me until they start to put on some size later on.

    5. #5
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      You're very welcome! I absolutely love this hobby and enjoy discussing koi characteristics. I wish I had all of my old pics of my original koi as there were a number of subpar koi for conformation. Skin evaluation came easily to me but it took me a while to grasp conformation.

      Let me look through some of the auctions I linked for examples. I'm not sure they will be in the 5-7" range but the basics remain. It takes time to recognize what to look for on really small koi. The main thing on the smallest koi is balance.
      On the auction sites, all of those koi will likely sell for more than most people spend on koi yet the ones that are exceptional will likely be the ones commanding the highest price. It's not always the case, you never know what auction fever will do to folks.

      It will take some time but I'll be working on it.
      Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

    6. #6
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      Okay, here is a video of a couple of koi I picked up back in 2009. They were small nisai (2yo).

      A video helps because you get a chance to view the koi from beyond just the top of the koi. It's exceptionally helpful when discussing conformation. The light blue bowl is a crime, lol, it totally washed out the Sumi on the Kin Ki Utsuri but it is an example of why we ask for a good blue koi bowl for evaluation.



      You'll see both koi have good frames. There is a nice fluidity to the frames of each. No overt bellies, nice balance front to back and top to bottom.
      The conformations are different and I spent a $200 for each of them.
      What is important to see is that different types often have different expectations in conformation. Gosanke (Kohaku, Sanke and Showa) have the highest expectations for conformation. The most time has been spent developing these koi thus they are more refined. A little leeway is given to other types but the last decade has seen a tremendous advance in conformation improvement in other varieties.

      While the Kin Ki Utsuri has a good body, it is a little short but is still pretty darned good. Nice odome thickness and height. Nothing looks off balance.
      The Sanke, OTOH, is not short but her odome is a little shallower. She was a lovely koi and developed well for me. I moved her on when I noticed she had irregular scales in the Beni on one shoulder. I was very interested in showing so I knew that would knock her chances at a show.
      Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

    7. #7
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      Still working on pics of smaller koi.
      Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

    8. #8
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      This thread may be of value. It has pics when the koi were 4-7", has some videos and shows what they looked like 2/3 of the way through their growing season, 11-13" as I recall.

      https://www.koiphen.com/forums/showt...i-lots-of-them

      The big take away on this is there are a number of good body types, just different. The balance we try and strike as hobbyists is to find the best group of characteristics that appeal to us.
      Last edited by Marilyn; 06-26-2019 at 02:32 PM. Reason: corrected link
      Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

    9. #9
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      One thing I wanted to mention when watching the videos is to observe where the koi bends when it is turning. This is often a clue as to the quality of the conformation. Koi that bend sharply at the back of the dorsal fin can have weaker conformation. In post 6 the video shows more what you hope to see. These are nisai, thus larger, but you get the idea.

      This video shows odome height quite well. There are a couple nisai in there which show what I expected the tosai to mature towards.

      Last edited by Marilyn; 06-26-2019 at 02:37 PM.
      Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

    10. #10
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      Training your eye can come from lots of different places and as I've said, videos can be hugely important for assessing koi. A resource on this site is the travelogues that Russ does in Japan. They expose you to loads of different koi, lots of different varieties and koi at all stages of development. This entire page shows a number of very nice koi at nisai.

      For example, this post is when we were discussing Kohaku. We talked about what to expect with each of them. The breeder is Tamaura.

      https://www.koiphen.com/forums/showt...92#post2584892

      A little earlier in the thread we were at Taniguchi. I admit that I've been a fan of Taniguchi koi for quite a while. They have exceptional bodies. Just look at the odome in the this grouping of koi. Note the smallest koi in the bowl. It is of exceptional quality and frame but was a late spawn the previous year.

      https://www.koiphen.com/forums/showt...81#post2584881
      Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

    11. #11
      Spartan is offline Senior Member
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      M, glad to see my other thread got you inspired! One thing that you guys can really help with is knowing what some breeders look for in their specific breeding lines. Keep it coming!

    12. #12
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      Quote Originally Posted by Spartan View Post
      M, glad to see my other thread got you inspired! One thing that you guys can really help with is knowing what some breeders look for in their specific breeding lines. Keep it coming!
      They did and kudos to you for posting those. It's always fun to do challenge evals. When they are close in quality it gets a little dicier with opinions. I want to commend you for having the Showa and the Shiro that you got. I like each of them quite a bit.

      Your question is a little tougher to answer.

      All breeders are looking to breed koi with good frames, skin and pattern. Certain pairings will not produce to the level of the parent stock and then the pairings are changed. Sometimes a koi of exceptional quality just doesn't seem to pass on the genes, similar to exceptional race horses.

      Breeders know what other breeders are doing with their koi. The best breeders know the strengths and weaknesses of their own koi. They know the history, for example those breeding Sensuke line Kohaku, and will have observed the results other breeders are having introducing certain bloodlines to their stock. It is not uncommon to introduce an oyagoi that they hope will introduce traits the breeder feels may enhance their koi.

      What is interesting is that the more you look at koi, you really do get a sense of the breeder or perhaps the line it comes from. Even if you may not know the specific breeder, you may identify the bloodline. The Sensuke line of Kohaku comes to mind. I love that line. Matsue, Takigawa, Murata come to mind for those and each breeder's koi is different but you can still see the Sensuke influence. Another consideration is that it is not only the genetics but the eye of the breeder in selecting the fry. You'll see patterns that are common with some breeders and so forth.

      Omosako Shiro Utsuri are pretty easy to recognize but it may be interesting to know that Omosako introduced Hosokai Shiro Utsuri as an oyagoi. Breeders are constantly looking to enhance, improve or refine with their oyagoi. Some breeders develop exceptional skin, some exceptional Beni, some exceptional Sumi and lots do very good conformation. The trick is to find the combo on a koi that you are considering.

      Russ may be able to impart more knowledge on this. I think what I've shared kind of tapped out my oyagoi knowledge.
      Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

    13. #13
      kevin32 is offline Inactivated
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      Quote Originally Posted by Marilyn View Post
      They did and kudos to you for posting those. It's always fun to do challenge evals. When they are close in quality it gets a little dicier with opinions. I want to commend you for having the Showa and the Shiro that you got. I like each of them quite a bit.

      Your question is a little tougher to answer.

      All breeders are looking to breed koi with good frames, skin and pattern. Certain pairings will not produce to the level of the parent stock and then the pairings are changed. Sometimes a koi of exceptional quality just doesn't seem to pass on the genes, similar to exceptional race horses.

      Breeders know what other breeders are doing with their koi. The best breeders know the strengths and weaknesses of their own koi. They know the history, for example those breeding Sensuke line Kohaku, and will have observed the results other breeders are having introducing certain bloodlines to their stock. It is not uncommon to introduce an oyagoi that they hope will introduce traits the breeder feels may enhance their koi.

      What is interesting is that the more you look at koi, you really do get a sense of the breeder or perhaps the line it comes from. Even if you may not know the specific breeder, you may identify the bloodline. The Sensuke line of Kohaku comes to mind. I love that line. Matsue, Takigawa, Murata come to mind for those and each breeder's koi is different but you can still see the Sensuke influence. Another consideration is that it is not only the genetics but the eye of the breeder in selecting the fry. You'll see patterns that are common with some breeders and so forth.

      Omosako Shiro Utsuri are pretty easy to recognize but it may be interesting to know that Omosako introduced Hosokai Shiro Utsuri as an oyagoi. Breeders are constantly looking to enhance, improve or refine with their oyagoi. Some breeders develop exceptional skin, some exceptional Beni, some exceptional Sumi and lots do very good conformation. The trick is to find the combo on a koi that you are considering.

      Russ may be able to impart more knowledge on this. I think what I've shared kind of tapped out my oyagoi knowledge.
      I've seen omasako have like 0 sumi. Digh actually points these out and has had great results with shiro. Last genki event someone passed on a shiro that digh recommend. They passed and said digh might be wrong. Digh got it and entered it later in show . And it did well and had amazing sumi and shiroji. I now ask digh for his opinions and he has helped me alot

    14. #14
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      I've emphasized the need for conformation balance front to back and top to bottom. The first is easier to see and evaluate whereas top to bottom gets challenging especially from pictures alone.

      Here's from another thread on Koiphen and thanks to Inazuma28 for finding this pic. Frankly, neither of these koi have desirable conformation and seeing them side by side is a great way to talk about what are the faults in each. The original thread was about koi growth and how some develop humps in the shoulder area.

      The koi on the left has a nice transition from gill to body, head into shoulder but it has a very flat back. This koi will always tend to look like it has a belly. The back structure does not support growth. See how the tail turns up? That is a result of the back weakness.
      The koi on the right has many faults, as well. The head is short (top to bottom) and thus it has a huge hump. It is narrow in the head (side to side) which makes the body protrude away from the gills.

      In looking at those koi the lack of balance is apparent. If you compare them and look at the scales, the scales angle on the koi (respectively) to show a weak back on the first and angling the opposite direction on the second koi.
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      Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

    15. #15
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      If you compare those two koi to the koi in the video I posted earlier in post 9 you'll be able to see a number of those koi from the side. From second 13-17 is a nisai that it's pretty easy to se on. That video was taken in warm water so they zip around in it. Sorry about that!

      Just watch it a couple of times focusing on looking at them as a side angle. These have the balance desired. Even at that small size you can see an elegance in form with koi that have better conformation.
      Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

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      Great thread. Thanks for sharing marilyn

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      Also what variety of tosai seem to fail? To me it seems showa and the ugly ducking showa with good skin skin can turn out well

    18. #18
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      Quote Originally Posted by kevin32 View Post
      Also what variety of tosai seem to fail? To me it seems showa and the ugly ducking showa with good skin skin can turn out well
      Well, all varieties of tosai have the potential to fail.
      Since we're discussing conformation now, I would say that it is imperative to learn the bone structure that makes a good koi so that the conformation is not the basis for failure. It does no good to have good skin and pattern on a koi with a weak frame. It just won't be an enjoyable koi to see in your pond. Judges at shows observe how a koi moves as part of the assessment in judging.

      Bone structure and frame have been worked on extensively with Kohaku, Sanke and Showa but there are many other varieties that have improved a lot over the last 10-15 years. Shiro Utsuri and Goshiki come to mind. In the overall advancement of a variety, I would say Kin Showa have really improved the last few years. The Hosokai examples are exceptional. Koi of a single color such as Chagoi, Kigoi, and Ogons won't have exactly the same frame that is more common in Gosanke. There was (she may still be alive but I'm not sure) a famous oyagoi for SFF named Dynamite Ochiba. As her name says, she was an Ochiba they introduced in their Kohaku breeding. I had a lovely Kohaku from her with a beautiful frame.

      Perhaps once we move on to skin and pattern there may be information that helps.
      Still learning as I go but y'all can call me Marilyn

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