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Koi Varieties

Koromo and Goshiki


Various Types of the Koromo which means “robed” or “veiled” in Japanese have been developed by crossbreeding Asagi with other varieties. It is a group of Koi patterned similarly to Kohaku, Sanke and Showa with the additional common feature of a vignette or scale reticulation over the red pattern, or in the case of Goshiki, over red and white or white only. They are most easily distinguished by simply referring to the position of the vignette with reference to the other pattern features. The vignette may be blue or black in colour. You may notice that I have also included a short description of the Goshiki under Kawarimono. The reason is that in different countries Goshiki is judged under different varieties. For purposes of appreciating these beautiful Koromo or Goshiki, the variety under which they are judged, is purely academic. Because of the close relationship between Koromo and Goshiki, it was deemed fit to describe them under one heading.

Koromo and Goshiki are multi patterned non-metallic Koi with the additional feature of a vignette or scale reticulation. All Koromo and Goshiki have a common Asagi bloodline. The scale reticulation, also called “amine” is an important Koromo feature and is common to several varieties of Koi. It may appear in a range of strengths, from a faint lattice of colour around the scale edges, either darker than the centre, as in Chagoi, Ochiba Shigure and Sorogoi or paler as in the Ogon, or it can be very bold two-tone pinecone effect as in Asagi and Matsuba. Regardless of the level of contrast of the colours over each scale, consistency and clarity of the vignette along the body is a vital appreciation point for these Koi.

As in all varieties, it is important to consider the overall shape and conformation of head body and finnage, with excellent skin quality. The Koi should look alert and balanced with well displayed finnage.


The Koromo appreciation points are similar to Kohaku namely pure unblemished white skin on which hi patterns are superimposed in a balanced pleasing manner with sharp clear kiwa to each coloured pattern. The only difference is the additional vignette on the coloured areas. A stepped pattern is particularly desirable for Koromo. Pattern should be present on the head, but not too predominant. Unusual head markings are appreciated in Koromo. Homogeneity of colour along the head and body is desirable, although colouration in the head marking may be a deeper shade because of the absence of scales. Finnage should be clear white, although red pectoral fin joints (motoaka) are acceptable. Important points relevant to Koromo are a clear unstained head, no sumi speckles on the body and scale reticulation that looks precision-etched over each scale area. This particular characteristic has the greatest significance because the vignette of the Koromo is the only obvious feature inherited from the Asagi lineage.


One of the representative types of Koromo is the Ai-Goromo which has blue bordered scales on the Hi patches, but the head Hi is completely free of blue colour. “Ai” means indigo blue in Japanese. It was bred by cross-breeding a male Kohaku with a female Asagi. The first point of appreciation is deep Hi, with a pattern like that of the Kohaku. Secondly, the area of blue-edged scales should be neatly aligned. There should be no blue on the head Hi. Some Ai- Goromo has blue edges on the shiroji around the Hi markings, and this is undesirable. This is sometimes referred to as, “going Goshiki”. Young Ai-Goromo may be indistinguishable from Kohaku since the blue reticulation of the scales may not develop until the Koi is a few years old. Patience is required if you want to see this variety develop its full potential. Ai-Goromo are very elegant, having clear white skin and the hi markings are delicately etched with a blue vignette. This blue vignette enhances the kiwa and the contrast tends to make the shiroji look even whiter. A colouration of a truly good example of Ai-Goromo gives the impression of being three dimensional. Ai-Goromo is very attractive and unfortunately quite rare.

Sumi Goromo

Koi with Sumi instead of Ai are called Sumi Goromo. In this type of Goromo, the sumi appears not only on the body, but also on the head Hi. The appearance of Sumi Goromo is quite different from the Ai-Goromo. The sumi has a more “brushed-on” look and overlays the marking on the head as well as the markings on the body. Sometimes the reticulated effect is very blurred and if too heavy, it can give the Koi a very sullen look. Some excellent Sumi Goromo is currently bred in South Africa, leading to the popularity of this variety in recent years.

Budo Goromo

Budo Goromo are rare Koromo offspring that develop with dark purple markings. The markings each covers a small group of scales, creating shapes like bunches of grapes. As with other Koromo, the skin should be pure white. The Markings should be well defined and the colours deep and strong. Budo Goromo are unusual in that a fish may have a head marking or it may not have a head marking. It makes no difference in Budo Goromo. A clean white head combined with the unusual purple markings make quite a striking contrast.

Koromo Sanke and Koromo Showa

These Koi are produced by back-crossing the Ai-Goromo to Sanke and Showa respectively. The Koi that result from this crossing resembles Sanke or Showa with the presence of scale reticulation overlaying the hi patterns. This reticulation should appear well defined and neat. In all other aspects these Koi should be appreciated on points applicable to either Sanke or Showa. It is quite uncommon Koi, rarely seen.


Goshiki (go’ she key)

 Goshiki means five colours. The Goshiki were first produced by crossing Asagi with Aka Bekko or Aka Sanshoku. However, the Goshiki we know today, come from an Asagi X Taisho Sanshoku cross and breeds true. They have the blue (both light and dark) of the Asagi and the three colours of the Taisho Sanshoku, giving them an overall purplish appearance. It is not always possible to distinguish all five colours on a Goshiki. The hi forms the most obvious and clearly defined pattern on most Goshiki. Therefore deeply coloured Hi in a stepped Kohaku pattern is preferred, as is bright, clear Hi on the head. One problem that is often seen on Goshiki is an all red head (menkaburi) pattern. The head patterns for Kohaku are preferred. The scale reticulation usually extends over both the hi plates and the white skin. Traditionally, Goshiki often had dark drab colours with almost unrecognisable vignette. This was slowly improved resulting in eye-catching Koi that have a unique hi colouration. Today, the Goshiki is described either as the traditional Kuro Goshiki or the modern Kindai Goshiki. Both are actually a far cry from the real traditional Goshiki. Because the vignette may cover both the hi plates or the Shiroji, stunning Goshiki are seen today. It can either be a very dark fish with the most brilliant hi markings or it can have very light vignette on the shiroji with dark vignette overlaying the hi plates, giving it similar hi markings as Sumi Goromo. There are numerous other combinations that a particular Goshiki may be blessed with, making it in my book a most unique and enjoyable variety. Some examples are below.

       goshiki_dark          goshikii       

       goshiki_kinginrin04           goshikiginrin

Goshiki Sanke and Goshiki Showa

These Koi are produced by back-crossing the Goshiki to Sanke and Showa respectively. The Koi that result from this crossing resembles Sanke or Showa with the presence of scale reticulation overlaying the hi patterns as well as the shiroji. This reticulation should also appear to be well defined and neat. In all other aspects these Koi should be appreciated on points applicable to either Sanke or Showa. It is rarely seen Koi.


Other interesting notes on Goshiki and Koromo

Tancho Goshiki has a blue or black reticulated white skin, with a single hi marking only on the head. A dark blue-black specimen with a brilliant hi tancho marking is stunning.

Photo by William Kelly

The “Budo (grape) Sanshoku” can on rare occasions be found among the fry of the same Kohaku X Asagi cross that produces the Ai-Goromo. It is a very unique type with a violet-coloured Hi. Doitsu Budo Sanshoku can also be found.

The “Hagoromo” resemble Ai-Goromo with the blue over the body Hi, but the cheeks and pectoral fins are red.

“Shochikubai” (Pine-Bamboo-Plum) are one type of Hakarimono of the Ai-Goromo. (Metallic Ai-Goromo)


Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10