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Koi Varieties



The Japanese word “Hikari” means “shining” and “muji” means “single- coloured” Hikarimuji are single-coloured Koi with an overall dull metallic lustre. The fish most commonly associated with this group are Ogon, but the group also includes metallic Matsuba. To most newcomers to the hobby, this is a little confusing because they see the dark reticulation as a second colour. However, since the colours are merely different shades, with each scale similarly affected, “two-tone” Matsuba are correctly classified with the single coloured Hikarimuji group rather than as a patterned Koi.

In 1921, a Magoi with gold-striped back was caught from a river in Takezawa, Yamakoshi prefecture by Sawata Aoki. Fascinated by this unusual carp, he and his son Hideyoshi embarked on a process of selective breeding, keeping back only those fish that showed some golden scalation. After four or five generations, Aoki succeeded in producing the forerunners of the Ogon. These forerunners were carp with silver and gold heads (Ginbo and Kinbo), and Gin Kabuto and Kin Kabuto (Silver and gold edges to their dark scales and a characteristic helmet-shaped head marking). All four types are still thrown in spawning today but are considered to be valueless. Some dealers still sell these as Ghost Koi because the head marking resembles a human skull. “Kabuto” in Japanese means “rubbish”. Aoki spawned the first Ogon in 1946 by introducing Shiro Muji into the breeding programme. This was a major milepost in the history of Koi because it triggered the development of many metallic varieties. The Ogon have been crossbred with almost every other variety of Koi to produce the wide range of always fascinating and often spectacular metallic Koi we seen today.
Early Ogon were golden with a tendency to turn blackish as the fish matures. This trait was bred out by the introduction of Kigoi to produce the Yamabuki Ogon. Because of this genetic makeup, one should be alert to the presence of orange spots, especially on the head, because this will devalue them.

Ogon have an immediate appeal to newcomers to the hobby. These Koi grow large, can become very tame and are easily visible in a pond. As the newcomer becomes more discerning, Ogon tend to be abandoned in favour of the Go Sanke. However, few ponds are without at least one of these imposing, shining fish. Modern Ogon are produced in huge numbers all over the world and the quality is not always good. The most common faults with Ogon is the tendency to grow fat, short body (dumpy appearance), discolouration of the head and fins and deformities of the fins. The pectoral fins tend to be too small, sickle shaped, or ragged. The heads of many youngsters may be too pointed. When buying an Ogon, look for deformities of the mouth and the absence of one or both pectoral fins. The faults mentioned above are the result of inbreeding and can be overlooked at a casual glance.

To succeed in shows they must be exceptional specimens with fine skin and a clear broad lustrous head. The lustre (fukurin) of the edge of the metallic scales must be even across the body, preferably extending onto the abdomen. The metallic sheen should extend into the finnage, especially the pectoral fins. A desirable characteristic of Ogon is their imposing appearance so choose one that has the potential to grow big. Concentrate on a thick peduncle and wide shoulders. With all Ogon, the color should be uniform throughout the fish.  Also, look for any signs of previous damage, for any scars will show clearly on this variety.

An interesting fact is that in some bloodlines the juvenile Ogon appears very insipid because the colour looks bleached/washed out and will only attain the rich metallic yellow when the fish reaches maturity. A notable example is Ogon from Izumiya. Not only is this breeder known for the huge size of the parent stock, but all the indications are there that one should select Ogon that is as light as possible.
Below are two photos of the same Koi. The first photo is when the Koi was a Tosai and the second when it was just over three years old.


Ogon can be found in quite a variety of colours:

The original golden coloured Ogon.
Yellow-gold or lemon-gold, Yamabuki Ogon.
Deep metallic orange, Orenji Ogon.
Metallic white, Platinum Ogon, also called Purachina.
Mouse-grey silver, Nezu Ogon.
Midway between a Purachina and Yamabuki Ogon, the Cream Ogon. It is rare today.
Metallic black, Kuro Ogon.
Bronze, Mukashi Ogon.
Brilliantly coloured Doitsu Kin Hi Matsuba, Mizuho Ogon.

doitsu_orenji_ogon_010            nezu_ogon_003
ki_mizuho_ogon      ginmatsuba0

  picture_020      platinum-ogon_102


When the overall sheen of an Ogon is overlaid with sparking Gin Rin scales, the effect can be stunning. A good clear head with “Fuji” is the hallmark of a fine Gin Rin Ogon. Gin Rin Ogon will be benched Hikarimuji in Western shows. Doitsu Ogon are also grouped with the fully scaled counterparts. The Doitsu scalation should be neat and symmetrical and the same colour as the body of the Koi (See Doitsu elsewhere on this site).

The matt scaled Matsuba are grouped in Kawarimono. As previously stated the metallic Matsuba are grouped in Hikarimuji. The most commonly available are Kin Matsuba and Gin Matsuba. Both are sometimes referred to as “Leopard Ogon” due to the resemblance to the spots of a leopard. Orenji Matsuba and Aka Matsuba Ogon are not often seen. The pine-cone scalation must be pronounced. If the black is more of a grey, it will have a washed out appearance. In Doitsu Matsuba Ogon, the Doitsu scales will have the same distinct pinecone effect as the fully scaled Matsuba Ogon.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 12:10