How to Identify Koi Varieties2018-01-12T07:06:02+00:00

New Koi varieties are still being actively created. Koi varieties are identified by color, pattern, and scales.  There may be variations within each classification such as Tancho Kohaku and Maruten Kohaku.  These fish are Kohaku because they have a white body with red markings.  The red, almost round, spot on the head make them a variation.

Maruten Kohaku

Maruten Kohaku

While color is theoretically unlimited, the most popular are red, white, black, yellow and blue. The following chart will help you identify 10 of the most common varieties of Koi.  The first 3 varieties, kohaku, sanke, and showa, are commonly known as the “big three” and are the most popular.

Learn to identify the most popular varieties below and then take our quiz.

Image Class Description
 Kohaku_Q  Kohaku  A non-metallic white body Koi with red markings.  The name means “red and white”; kohaku was the first ornamental variety in Japan.
 Taisho_Q1  Taisho Sanke (Sanke)  A non-metallic white body with red and black markings.  Sanke means tri-color.  Taisho refers to period between 1912 to 1926 in Japan.  The Sanke was developed during this period.
 Showa  Showa Sanshoku (Showa)  A non-metallic black body with red and white markings.  First developed in 1927, the current variety dates to 1964.  Similar in appearance to the Sanke but the Showa  has black on its head which the Sanke lacks.
Tanchō  Tanchō  The main characteristic of a Tancho is the read spot on its head.  Tancho literally means “red spot on the head.”  Tancho with just a white body are most popular but Koi with black markings are also included. A non-metallic body.
 Chagoi  Chagoi  The Chagoi has just a single color which may be green, brown, copper or orange.  Chagoi means “tea-colored.”  A very friendly fish which grows large and is considered to be good luck for its owners.
 Asagi  Asagi  Gray-blue with red along the sides, cheeks, and fins.  A relatively older variety  Koi which has been around nearly 200 years.
 Utsurimono  Utsurimono  A black Koi with white, red or yellow markings in sort of zebra pattern.
 Bekkokoi  Bekko  White, red or yellow body with black markings.  The Japanese name means “tortoise-shell.”
 Goshiki  Goshiki   The Japanese name means “five colors.”   The primary color can be black to pale-blue with red markings.
 Shūsui  Shūsui Very similar looking as the Asagi but the Shūsui has no scales except for line dorsally from its head to tail.