Read about Pam Spindola


 Our koi expert details other koi varieties in WGI Online.
Each will open in a new window for easy reference.
Introduction & Kohaku | Sanke | Showa | Utsurimono

Did you ever wonder why koi have the formal name nishikigoi? 
The term “nishikigoi” refers to a richly brocaded Japanese fabric. Because of its unique production, using gold, silver, or lacquer coated paper for the warp and dyed silk thread for the weft, only several inches (1 inch = 2.54 cm) of fabric are produced each day. Consequently, the cost is very high for this highly sought after cloth, used for kimonos and table coverings. One can observe the strong resemblance to the exquisite symmetry of the scales of the koi to this glistening rare fabric. I suppose the correlation can be made in some instances to the cost of koi, as well. 

Koi Varieties


by Pam Spindola, California USA
Click images to enlarge

Credits with large images

One of the original nishikigoi, over 160 years old and said to be one of the purest breeds, is the asagi (ah-sah-gee). The asagi is also named after a unique intricate cotton tie-dyed fabric colored in shades of blue called “narumi shibori”. 
The narumi asagi is a koi with a darker blue background of uniform scales with reticulation in a lighter blue. Most modern asagi are developed from this strain. A second type of asagi, called konjo asagi, was developed about the same time, but it lacked the artistic value of the narumi. It is a very dark asagi, almost blackish to purple in color. Both types of asagi originate from the asagi magoi, which has a blue reticulated back and is almost as dark as the original magoi, or black carp. It is used for production of other varieties needing the black color trait such as matsuba (a variety we will cover in the future). 

Geneology of Asagi
from Manual of Nishikigoi by Takeo Kuroki

The base color of blue of the asagi can vary from almost white to deep blue. However, when buying a young koi it is advisable to buy the lightest shade possible. This variety tends to grow darker with maturity. Some say the blue darkens with colder climates or water which has a higher pH. The head color should be light blue-grey or almost white with no mottling or discoloration. Many times, this variety forms small dark freckles on the head which is unappealing and very distracting.

Young asagi - notice the clear head >

< Young asagi 
Of utmost importance for the beauty of the asagi is the precision of scalation. The scales need to run in symmetrical lines along the body. The contrasting white reticulation has to be a sharp definitive line with no blurring. The scales must be of equal size and cover the entire body. This net-like effect can be breathtaking and very difficult to achieve. The breeders say the netting or reticulation doesn’t really take effect until the koi is three years old, already very expensive for many hobbyists. We are told that one should buy several small asagi, and hopefully one of them will develop to our expectations!  

The accent color is red. There should be red or “hi” on the cheeks, pectoral fins, and along the sides. Sometimes, the hi extends along the mouth or on the forehead, above the eyes, and on the tail, but only as a small accent color. It is considered a fault if the red is on the dorsal area. The abdomen should be white although, many times, red is found on the belly. The most important area of placement is on the fins. On a young koi the entire fin may be red, but as the koi grows, the “motoaka” (red on the fins) will recede and the fins will gradually become white from the tips. A rule of thumb is that the fins need to be one third red. However, there are asagi which have no hi on the fins but their beauty and elegance surpass the rules! The hi should be bright and the shade is deep orange-red. It is interesting to note that, as the koi ages, the hi on the body increases and, unfortunately, many times rises above the lateral line enveloping the koi. As judging criteria this is not desirable, but for the hobbyist wanting an interesting beautiful koi, it may be perfect! The judging criteria do not necessarily correlate with the hobbyist’s aesthetic values. 


Young shusui and asagi

There are a few types of asagi patterns not as common as the one I have detailed. The “ mizu asagi” has the lightest of blue body. In the Japanese language, “mizu” is the word for “water”. This variation is highly regarded. The “taki asagi” sports a white band of color separating the blue body and the red sides. “Taki” means “waterfall.”

The asagi is one of the oldest varieties of nishikigoi. It is complementary to the koi collection swimming in the pond to have this unique pale blue and reddish orange koi with the distinctive netting come up to greet you for feeding. Why not select a few young ones soon? 




WGI ONLINE Journal Table of Contents

Water Gardeners International
Home | Join WGI | Members' Exclusive | Gateway to Water Gardening