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Koi Varieties


The Tancho crane is a spectacular white waterfowl with a blood red crest and also the national bird of Japan.  Legend has it that these birds live for a thousand years and brings good fortune and longlivety.  Given the tendency of hi (red) markings to diminish or disappear, the koi keeper surely needs a bit of good fortune to raise the young Tancho to become a mature “finished” koi.  When selecting a young Tancho, it is therefore important to look for a koi with strong hi (red).

The name Tancho was originally given to a Kohaku that was completely white with the exception of a round red crest on the centre of the head.  Tancho generally consists of the big three varieties, namely Tancho Kohaku, Tancho Sanke and Tancho Showa with the single red head marking common to each.  It is important to note that Tancho appear by chance and cannot be planned into a breeding programme.  There is as much chance of breeding a Tancho when breeding two Kohaku as there is by breeding two Tancho Kohaku.

When selecting a Tancho, look for a koi that has strong hi on the head only.  The head marking should be as large as possible with a circular shape being the ideal.  This marking should lie in the centre of the head without encroaching onto the eyes or extending too far towards the nose or too far back towards the shoulders.  Also avoid a Tancho marking with a white “window” in the hi (red).  This is a sure sign that the Tancho marking will change shape or disappear.

Nowadays the standard has relaxed considerably with oval, diamond, heart, cross or flower shaped markings regarded as quite acceptable.  Regardless how perfect the shape of the Tancho marking, the koi will not be considered as a potential show winner if the other criteria of body shape, skin quality etc. is not adhered to.

The criteria for a Tancho are exactly the criteria set for the variety.  The only exception is that the only hi marking on the fish should be the Tancho marking.  If there is for example, any other hi marking on the body or lips of a Tancho Kohaku, it will be regarded as a Kohaku with a poor pattern.  When selecting a Tancho Kohaku, remember that the white body must be flawless with excellent skin quality.  When selecting Tancho Sanke or Tancho Showa the same criteria regarding sumi must be adhered to, as well as the sumi markings on the fins.

Remember, when considering Tancho Sanke and Tancho Showa, it is a black and white fish with a Tancho marking.  The novice frequently refers to them as Tancho Bekko and Tancho Utsuri.  They cannot be further from the truth.  Both the Bekko and Utsuri are two-coloured koi with no hi.  You will frequently encounter normal Kohaku Showa and Sanke with a nicely balanced pattern augmented by a perfect round head marking.  These fish are known as Maruten Kohaku, Showa and Sanke.

Only representatives of the big three are true Tancho.  May other varieties can be seen with perfect round markings on the head, but they will compete in their normal variety classes. Overall, the Tancho is a sought after fish and adds a bit of variety to the pond.  A good Tancho Showa is rare but can be most striking.

Recently when I browsed through prominent books and magazines, I saw photos of “rare Kin Tancho Gin Matsuba”.  To me it looked like “Tancho” Kujaku.  Maybe someone out there with knowledge will be kind enough to explain the difference and I will post it here.

vis_jan_2009_047  tavcho_kohaku

Young Tancho Showa                                                                                        Young Gin Rin Tancho Kohaku

Updated 19 January 2010

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10