Koi fish are perhaps one of the most diversely bred aquatic animal species in the entire world.
There are tons of different colorations and sub-varieties that are bred for, creating a massive market with a huge interest spanning hobbyists and professional, traditional breeders alike. With so many different options out there, it can get a bit overwhelming to select specific sub-varieties for your pond or even tell the different types apart.
Let’s learn about one of the most popular and historically rich koi sub-varieties, the Doitsu Kohaku, and see what makes them so very special and interesting!
The History of the Doitsu Kohaku
Also known as the Doitsugoi, Doitsu Kohaku koi are not actually solely Japanese in origin. In fact, part of their lineage does not come from any Asian country at all, instead hailing from Germany.
Known in some areas as German carp, this species of ornamental fish was actually sent over to Japan as an imported food fish meant for cooking and eating.
Fortunately, their beauty was recognized and soon they became kept as pets since their bright, bold coloration accented ponds nicely.
For specifically Doitsu Kohaku koi, there is a mixed origin. There are Doitsu, or scaleless koi, in almost all sub-varieties, but for Doitsu Kohaku, a Doitsugoi and a Nishikigoi were bred to create the desired red and white coloration that is associated with Kohaku koi in combination with the scaleless nature of the Doitsu German Koi.
What are Doitsu Kohaku’s Characteristics?
As a scaleless species, Doitsu Kohaku koi are often referred to as leather carp since you can see and feel their leathery, scaleless skin. The second variety of Doitsu Kohaku, referred to as a mirror carp, has a line of thick, highly visible dorsal scales down its back and at the lateral line.
Ideal Kohaku koi, Doitsu or not, have a primarily unblemished white body with red accenting. The white hue should be clear and even, with no discoloration or yellowing to be seen.
Despite this, many Kohaku koi do have yellow noses, which causes them to lose points in showcases. Still, these koi are often high ranking in showcases due to their absolutely stunning nature.
The red markings of the Kohaku can be one of two colorations: purple-tinged red or pure, true red. Called hi, the Kohaku koi’s red tones are more favorable as the true red but many accept the purple-toned red, too.
The purple tint is most often chosen by hobbyists, though, since it is more vibrant and does not fade as the koi ages. However, it does not have the crisp, clean edges that many of the brighter, true red kois do, resulting in them not ranking in competitive settings at very high levels.
Kohaku breeders, especially in the smooth-bodied Doitsu realm, often want their koi to have as much red as possible since it really pops and acts as an eye-catching, memorable aspect of the fish to judges and admirers.
There are many different types of Kohaku patterns, including boze, which means the head is purely white, and bongiri which means the pattern of the body connects to the red patterning on the head.
The best quality Kohaku koi, Doitsu or not, have a separate, very bright red patterning on their head that does not connect to the body patterning at all.
Part of what makes the Kohaku koi so important and highly sought out is the symbolism associated with its coloration.
Its name literally translates to red and white in English from the native Japanese, which is significant in itself. The Japanese flag is white with a red circle in the center. The Kohaku is beloved in Japan due to its coloration mimicking this pattern, especially with Tancho Kohaku koi, which have a red circle on their foreheads and red patterning on their body.
The colors are often symbolically associated with peace and the sun, making them culturally significant, as well.
Doitsu Kohaku Health
Like other koi, Kohaku koi are very hardy. This is especially true with Doitsu koi, who were bred with German mirror carps. This results in a boosted immune system and resistance from a wider range of illnesses when compared to other koi sub-varieties who are solely bred from ornamental koi varieties.
There are some concerns centered around the koi being scaleless, though. This could potentially make them more susceptible to injury or illnesses of the skin. While this is true in some cases, there is evidence to support that the koi’s skin is thick enough that there is generally little to no need to worry about this if the enclosure is properly set up with no sharp edges or areas where the koi could become trapped and injured.
Still, being extra cautious with decorations is not a bad thing, as it is better to always err on the side of caution when concerning your pets!
Koi are, as a whole, the perfect example of living history. They have such a rich culture surrounding their breeding, care, and symbolic nature and are literally interwoven into the fabric of Japanese culture, creating something truly special.
Their mere existence is a testament to the good that can come from a careful, artisanal approach to creating what you care about. The art that is koi breeding is absolutely mindblowing and contributes to the overall appeal and interest of the koi as a pet and showcasing animal.
This is especially true with the Doitsu Kohaku, as it showcases the melding of two very different countries to create something beautiful. What better is there to represent the power of nature than a cultural fusion through fish breeding, especially when it results in something so beautiful and generally wonderful?
You cannot go wrong with these beautiful fish, as Doitsu Kohaku add interest and look stunning as they swim through any pond. Owners across the globe love these stunning fish, calling them some of their favorites due to their unique scaleless texture and stunning classic Kohaku coloration. If you are a koi lover, you totally need one in your collection as soon as possible!