Discovering The Different Varieties Of Koi Fish

Discovering The Different Varieties Of Koi Fish

The colorful Nishikigoi (Cyprinus carpio) or Koi originated from the common brown carp, but were selectively bred by the Japanese over the years. The selective breeding resulted in different koi carp varieties, typically defined by their color and patterns. In this article, you’ll learn about some of the most common koi carp varieties, as well as their defining characteristics.

Basic Koi Carp Varieties

Koi carp varieties are typically named after their colors or patterns, so if you speak a little Japanese, remembering the different varieties would be a breeze. For those of you interested in finding out the different types of koi, here are the different varieties:


Kohaku is believed to be the oldest and first ornamental variety of koi, characterized by a white body with red markings. There are different types of Kohaku as well, depending on the appearance of the red markings. For example, the Tancho Kohaku is a variety of Kohaku and is identified by a single bright red circle on the forehead which “represents the Japanese flag”. Maruten Kohaku, meanwhile, are Koi with Tancho patterns mixed with other patterns.


Like the Kohaku, the Sanke Koi is white with red markings. What sets the Sanke apart  from the Kohaku is the black patterns scattered over the white. The black spots typically appear blue on young Sanke Koi, but the spots deepen to a jet black color as the Sanke matures.


The Showa was first bred in 1930. Like the Sanke, this variety features three colors: red, white, and black. Unlike the Sanke, however, the Showa has a black body with white and red markings. Owing to its black base, this koi variety is valued for its somewhat muted color combination.


Whereas the Kohaku has a white body with red markings, the Bekko is predominantly white with black markings all over. A Bekko which has a white body is more commonly referred to as Shiro Bekko, placing emphasis on the white base. That said, there are other variants of the Bekko, such as the Ki Bekkko (yellow with black markings) and Aka Bekko (red with balck markings).


Utsurimono is a type of Koi characterized by a black body and different markings. Shiro Utsuri is a variant of the Utsurimono, defined by a black body with white markings. The Hi Utsuri, meanwhile, is black with red markings and the Ki Utsuri is black with yellow markings.


The Shusui Koi has a bluish gray body with a variety of red markings, typically found on the jaws, below the lateral line, and on the finds. The scales along the lateral and dorsal lines of the Shusui appears to be a deep blue, making it stand out from other koi carp varieties.


The Matsuba is a highly-prized koi variety. It features a solid metallic base speckled with black patterns. The base color can vary, with white, yellow, and red being the common variants. What sets this variant apart though is the metallic sheen of their scales and the coherent black pattern.

Other Koi Variants

In addition to the most common koi carp varieties above, there are other variants of koi, depending on their prominent characteristics. Here are some of them:

Gin Rin Koi is a Koi variant characterized by sparkly scales. Any other koi variety can have Gin Rin scales, so long as they have shiny scales which appear almost silver or metallic.

The Doitsu is a result of breeding German carp with the Japanese koi. This variety is characterized by large scales on their back, but a generally scale-less body. As with the Gin Rin, any other Koi variety can have Doitsu scales.

Long Fin Koi, also known as Butterfly Koi, was previously known as dragon carp. They have long flowing fins which can have a variety of color patterns like Kohaku, Bekko, or Showa.

These are just some of the most common koi carp varieties. As you familiarize yourself more with the Japanese koi, you will find even more varieties with different interesting characteristics. Nonetheless, this is a good place to start if you have just started building your koi pond. A couple of great articles to check out before you jump out there to buy your Koi is a guide to Buying Live Koi Online, now before you get carried away with your koi purchases you need to make sure that you have a home suitable for them. Check out what we believe to be the most important things to remember when building a koi pond