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Glossary of Terms

The following is a list of koi terms that you will see in use on this site.  There are dozens of additional Japanese and English terms in use in the koi hobby today, and this list is by no means meant to be all encompassing.

Ai Goromo – a subset of the Goromo variety.  Ai Goromo have blue or indigo coloring to the border of their red scales, giving the koi a reticulated pattern.

Aka Bekko – a koi with a completely red body and black marking overlaid.

Akame – a red iris in the eye of a koi.  This is seen almost exclusively in Kigoi, and is exceedingly rare

Aka Matsuba – a subset of the Matsuba variety.  Aka Matsuba have a red body with a black reticulated pattern on the back.  Also referred to as a “net” or “pine cone” pattern

Asagi – a blue or gray scaled koi with a reticulated net pattern and red at and below the lateral lines and in the cheeks and fins

Bekko – a koi with a single solid-colored body.  Can be white (Shiro Bekko), red (Aka Bekko) or yellow (Ki Bekko)

Beni – red color in koi that is very deep and even

Beni Kumonryu – a Kumonryu with red markings

Bozu – No color on the head.  A bald head.  The word “bozu” in Japanese describes the bald head of a monk.

Budo Goromo – a subset of the Goromo variety.  Budo Goromo have blue or purplish “grape-like” clusters in their pattern

Chagoi – a non-metallic variety of koi, closely related to Soragoi and Ochiba Shigure.  The color of chagoi can differ significantly from fish to fish, and can be described as copper, brown, green or even yellow

Doitsu – a type of koi that is not fully scaled.  Doitsu koi usually have one row of scales along each lateral line, and one row of scales down the

Gin Rin – used to describe koi with reflective scales, which give the fish a glittering, sparkly appearance

Gosanke – a koi family comprised of the three main varieties of koi keeping: Kohaku, Sanke and Showa

Goshiki – a five colored koi.  White, red, black and varying shades of blue can mix to give the fish a purple appearance

Hajiro – a solid black koi white tips on the tail and pectoral fins

Hariwake – koi with a solid white pattern overlaid with metallic patterns of orange or yellow

Heisei Nishiki – a scaleless Sanke with metallic colors.  A Doisu Yamato Nishiki.

Hi – a general term used to describe red color on koi

Hi Asagi – an asagi with red patterns extending up and over the lateral line

Hi Showa – a Showa with a predominantly red pattern

Hi Shusui – a Shusui with red patterns extending up and over the lateral line

Hikari – “metallic”

Hikarimono – solid, metallic koi of one color.  Also known as Hikarimuji

Hikarimoyo – metallic koi of two or more colors.

Hikarimuji – solid, metallic koi of one color.  Also known as Hikarimono

Karasu – a solid black koi

Kawarimono – a family of koi containing all non-metallic koi that do not fit into any other family

Kawarigoi – a term used to describe any koi that does not fit into one of the accepted koi varieties

Ki – a general term used to describe yellow color in koi

Kigoi – a solid yellow, non-metallic koi

Kikusui – the most common term used to describe a Doitsu Hariwake

Kin – 1. a general term used to describe gold color in koi 2. metallic coloration in koi

Kin Ki Utsuri – a Ki Utsuri with metallic yellow and black patterns

Kin Showa – a metallic version of Showa

Kohaku – a koi with a solid white body overlain with patterns of red markings

Koromo – the family of koi comprised of Goromo and Goshiki

Kuchibeni – term used to describe red lips (“lipstick”) on a koi’s upper lip

Kujaku – a metallic white koi with red or orange markings and a reticulated net pattern

Kumonryu – a Doitsu koi with black and white markings that change continuously throughout the life of the fish.

Maruten – a koi with a red tancho mark on the head, in combination with other red markings on the body

Matsuba – a solid, single color koi with a reticulated net pattern on the back

Matsukawabakke – a scaled version of the Kumonryu.  A scaled fish with black and white patterns which change continuously throughout the fish’s lifespan.

Menkaburi – red pattern covering the entire face and head

Midorigoi – a green doitsu (scaleless) koi

Ochiba Shigure – translates literally to “autumn leaves on the water”.  A solid gray koi with patches of brown pattern.

Ogon – a collective name for all metallic koi

Orenji – orange color in koi

Sanke – abbreviated name for Taisho Sanke.  A solid white koi overlain with patterns of red and black

Shiro – general term used to describe the color white in koi

Shiro Muji – a solid white, non-metallic koi

Showa – a koi of three colors, black, red, and white.  Showa differ from Sanke in that the black patterns of Showa are bands which wrap all the way around the body, where Sanke black are patches that do not extend below the lateral line.  Also, Showa have black on the head, Sanke do not.

Shusui – a Doitsu Asagi.  A blue Doitsu fish with one single row of scaled down the dorsal line, and patches of red below the lateral line, on the fins and cheeks

Soragoi – a solid silver or gray, non-metallic koi

Sumi – general term used to describe black markings on koi

Sumi Goromo – a subset of Goromo, Sumi Goromo have a reticulated black pattern overlain on top of the red pattern.  Sumi Goromo are quite rare.

Taisho Sanke – full name for Sanke.  A solid white koi overlain with patterns of red and black

Tancho – a koi with a single, round spot on the head.  “Tancho” is most often used to refer to Tancho Kohaku (solid white koi with only red marking being a red spot on head).  Other varieties of Tancho exist as well (e.g. Tancho Sanke, Tancho Showa, Tancho Goshiki).  “Tancho” can also be used to refer directly to the head marking.

Utsuri – translates as “reflections” or “reflecting ones”.  A solid black koi with bands of one other color.  White (Shiro Utsuri), orange or red (Hi Utsuri) or yellow (Ki Utsuri)

Utsurimono – the full name for Utsuri.

Yamabuki – a solid yellow metallic-colored koi

Yamato Nishiki – a scaled Sanke with metallic coloration.