Show level koi fish are truly a work of art. Carefully bred and raised to have specific colorations and patterns, these koi are stunning and virtually represent the rich craftsmanship that exists within traditional koi breeders.
Truly, you will never find anything quite like a show koi anywhere outside of these carefully designed and protected breeding techniques.
Showa koi, one of the big three species, really showcase this craftsmanship and carefully curated skill level in its tri-color patterning and stunning, bold hues.
Let’s take a look at what makes a Showa Koi Grand Champion and discuss a few specific koi that have been showcased at recent events.
What is a Showa Koi
As part of the “Big Three” koi fish, Showa koi are a sub-variety characterized by a set number of attributes.
Showa koi were first bred in the early 1900s, around 1927, but would not become what we currently know as Showa koi until over thirty years later in 1965.
A man named Tomiji Kobayashi bred the currently known coloration and discovered that Showa carried a unique trait:
breeding them with other koi sub-varieties just enhanced or made variations in the coloration instead of changing it altogether, resulting in Showa koi being one of the most diverse varieties.
Showa koi are characterized as black as their base, ground color with red and white markings.
They are frequently mistaken for the Sanke variety of the “Big Three”, but you can tell them apart since the Sanke has a white base color with red and black accents.
On a Showa, the colors should be very vibrant with no yellowing of the white or brown peeking through the black. Solid, bold colors indicate a fish of high-quality.
The markings on a Showa koi should be crisp and clear.
White should be defined where it meets black or red and should not blend into the other colors.
The black color appears to wrap under the koi’s lateral line and the red hues usually only appear on the head and back of the body.
This can vary but in the highest quality, traditional Showa, there will be almost no white showing with mostly equal amounts of black and red.
Showa Health and Care
Showa koi are very vibrant which may lead you to believe that they will be more susceptible to becoming prey for birds and other animals.
Fortunately, they are not as prone to predatory animal attacks since they do have less white on their bodies but you should obviously take precautions to ensure no other animals make a meal of your gorgeous Showa friends.
Keeping your koi safe is relatively easy and affordable so let’s take a look at some of your options.
There are several different methods to ensure your Showa is protected against predatory animals.
Many people install nets above the top of their pond when they have a high occurrence of birds, especially in more rural areas since they tend to flock due to lack of humans and machinery noise and activity.
Additionally, some people will also design their pond with predators in mind, helping eliminate the problem from the start.
To do this, consider making parts of your pond deep enough that larger animals cannot stand in it; this will deter creatures like herons and other large birds from standing and making a meal of your fish.
Additionally, making the outer rim of the pond tall enough that animals like raccoons and foxes cannot reach into the pond for the fish is a good idea to prevent them from catching smaller sizes within your population.
You can also heavily plant the pond to give your koi plenty of space to hide, as well.
As far as health goes, Showa koi are generally cared for under the same parameters as other koi fish.
The main difference is that they are somewhat more prone to their colors appearing dull if they are not properly cared for due to the stark contrast of their hues and patterning.
To prevent this, feed your Showa a very diverse and balanced diet.
Some foods and supplements can also work to help increase the coloration and vibrancy of your koi, too.
Carotenoids, especially, are valuable in helping your koi develop a more vibrant color, especially in their red tones.
Be careful, though, as overfeeding of carotenoids can result in yellowing of the white areas of a koi or cause them to form a sickly green tone.
Fortunately, this discoloration is temporary and can be reversed by not feeding color enhancers for a period of time.
You can get these carotenoids from commercial products or from including foods like spirulina, crayfish, and krill, along with other algae sources and small crustaceans.
Additionally, supplementing with aquatic beta-carotene, canthaxanthin, and astaxanthin.
If you are looking for increased coloration, seek foods that contain these ingredients.
Current High Ranking Showa
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, a lot of koi showcases have been canceled, resulting in fewer koi champions being named than previous years.
Fortunately, the 2020 All Japan Show, one of the biggest koi showcases in the world, was still able to occur before the cancellations began, giving us a look at some of the best of the best koi, including two very high ranking Showas!
The Male Mature Champion was a Showa from the Dearest Club Japan that was bred by Dainichi Koi Farm and handled by Narita Koi Farm.
Its bright coloration and bold contrast made it a fantastic contender and definitely worthy of its Male Mature Champion title.
The second high ranking Showa was owned by Tham Zhan Yang of Malaysia and was bred by Sekiguchi Koi Farm and handled by Narita Koi Farm.
Earning the title Young Champion, this koi had a gorgeous, painted-appearing pattern and looked absolutely stunning through the showcase.
If you want an example of just how beautiful a Showa can look, these two are essentially textbook cases of traditional, stunning Showa koi!