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Koi Varieties

Asagi and Shusui

Asagi (ah saw-gee): Light blue or grey fully scaled Koi with dark blue or black vignette (reticulation) of the scales, and orange or red pectorals and red below the lateral line.

Shusui (shoo-sue-ee): The Doitsu (German) version of the Asagi. The red can be higher on the body. Large zipper like scales run along the top of the Koi from head to tail. (Kagamigoi with rows or scales along the dorsal or lateral lines only, or kawagoi that have almost no scales at all) Shusui means "Autumn Water".


Asagi are thought to be the very first recognized variety of nishikigoi and with the introduction of Doitsu into the nishikigoi lines, the Shusui were produced. The blue base of the Asagi and Shusui may be a variety of shades from almost white (Mizu) to very dark Konjo). A basic feature of Asagi and Shusui is the reticulated effect of the scales. This effect is the result of each individual scale that has different shades of blue. Each scale usually has a dark centre with a paler well-defined leading edge to give a reticulated netlike pattern- Some hobbyists calls this fukurin scalation. If the leading edge is almost white, it is called Narumi Asagi. The bluish black Asagi (Konjyo) is not as popular.

Below the lateral line, hi (hara hi) is the predominant colour, sometimes shading into a white belly. Some hi also occurs on the cheeks (ago hi) and pectoral fins (motoaka hi). The hi markings on the face and fins should be symmetrical. A white line may appear between the blue reticulated back and the red flanks. This type of Asagi is known as Taki Sanke. Hi Asagi are fish where the hi is visible when the koi are viewed from above. Sometimes the hi extends right up to the dorsal fin. It must be remembered that that the absence of hi on an Asagi or Shusui where all the other appreciation points are of a high quality, should not disqualify a koi.

Appreciation of Asagi and Shusui, as with all other koi begins with the figure. A good strong conformation, meaning the overall shape and the proportions of the head, body and finage provide that incredible impression of power, grace and elegance. It should be noted that the male Asagi tends to be long and thin almost snake-like, while some females have a tendency, almost like the Ogons to develop sagging bellies.

The true blue Asagi and Shusui are subtly beautiful fish and if the light blue is accompanied by by correctly placed fiery hi, it can be quite stunning. Both Asagi and Shusui change radically during their lifetime. The amount of hi usually increases over the years and may spread to cover almost the entire body. In some extreme cases the Asagi may turn into an Aka Matsuba. The blue on the Asagi and Shusui also tends to become darker with age. The head of the Asagi and the Shusui should be as near white to white as possible. The blue influence of the basic colouration of these fish will always give a blue hue to the white head. The most important point is therefore to look for even colouration with no dark spots or dark smudges. Genetics, water quality and diet, will determine how long an Asagi or Shusui will retain their good looks. It is said that hard water and poor diet can turn blue scales to grey/black and dark spots (shimis) may appear on the head.

As pointed out earlier, it is important for the colouration of Asagi to be symmetrical and even throughout the entire body. It is also very important to pay attention to scalation. Inconsistency in the Konjyo (deep blue) colour of the Koi’s body normally does not change as the Koi grows. This darker area normally gets darker.

Chobo Zumi is that dark part found on the heads of young Asagi that is caused by the thin transparent skin on the head. The area appears dark because one is looking through the transparent skin at the skull. The quality of the skin determines the potential of it to become clean and white. One should look for this potential in pure white skin on the nose that has a transparent effect.

Funazoko Hi describes the Hi below the lateral lines of Asagi and Shusui. Funazoko means the bottom of a ship and is called as such because it resembles the red paint seen on the water line of a steam ship. It is one of the appreciation points of Asagi/Shusui and is enhanced by a clean white line between the netting pattern and the Funazoko Hi. Asagi that has the darker Ai of a Konjyo Asagi and a distinctive white line will have beautiful contrast

In recent years the requirement for both Asagi and Shusui to have the hi colouration on the head confined to a thin line around the cheeks and nose, were relaxed. Both are now developed with forehead hi. When selecting young Asagi and Shusui, you should concentrate on pure light blue colouration. In the case of Asagi, look for hi confined to the area well below the lateral line. The head should be clear and as light blue as possible with no dark smudges. Sometimes the skull will be visible through the skin. This may or may not disappear a the skin thickens. Uniformity and placement of the scales is very important in both Asagi and Shusui. It should be placed in neat even rows. In the case of the Shusui, rogue scales (mudagoke) give a very untidy impression and should be avoided (As with all Doitsu koi). Kin Gin Rin scalation, where rows of very shiny scales appear on the back and sides of the Asagi, are seen more and more frequently in Western countries. These fish are bred in Japan for the export market, but are not popular in the country of origin. The dark blue, light blue, vignette and Kin Gin Rin are just too much for one scale to handle!

Some other facts about Asagi and Shusui

  • Hana Shusui: Hi markings appear between the lateral and dorsal lines.
  • Hi Asagi: Asagi where the hi around the flanks of the koi has extended over the lateral line onto the dorsal area.
  • Hi Shusui: Hi extends over the back of the Shusui.
  • Ki Shusui: The hi pattern of the Shusui are replaced by yellow (Ki)
  • Konjyo Asagi: Very dark blue giving a purplish-black impression.
  • Mizu Asagi: Also called “Water Asagi”. A very pale blue/white Asagi.
  • Narumi Asagi: The best known Asagi. Light blue.
  • Taki Asagi: Also called “Waterfall Asagi”. A white/light blue band divides the Asagi blue dorsal are from the red abdomen.

Asagi and Shusui have been unkindly called the “dinosaurs” of the koi varieties. The fact that they are also allotted their own showing classes in some countries are also a bone of contention. The Asagi and Shusui are beautiful koi and worthy to be in any collection. I hope that this ancient lineage will take a more prominent place in ponds as a tribute to the contribution that they have made to the development of subsequent varieties. It is therefore with great appreciation that one can take note: The ZNA has selected the Shusui as Special Variety for 2009, while the South African Koi Keepers Society has named The Asagi as Special Variet for 2010!

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                           Photo: Erns van Dyk              

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10