Koi Varieties - Golden Corn

All Japan Koi Show Winner (Credit to Taniguchi Koi Farm)

Welcome to another blog in our ‘Koi Varieties’ series where today we will be looking at something a bit different. This blog is all about the Golden Corn which is a very new and interesting variety from breeder Taniguchi.

As the name suggests, Golden Corn koi bear a striking resemblance to a corn on the cob! There are a few different versions of the Golden Corn but the most well-known version has a bright yellow base colour with red reticulation on the scales as well as a Gin Rin sparkle across the whole body. The best Golden Corn also have a red speckled pattern, called kanoko (KAN-oh-KOH), which adds emphasis to the red-coloured reticulation. The other two variations both have a grey-white base colour. One has a bright red-orange kanoko and reticulation patterns like the first variation and the other has the same pattern but with a yellow colouration to the kanoko and reticulation.

Here you can see the three types of Golden Corn koi (credit to Taniguchi Koi Farm):

Left - Bright Orange base with Red Kanoko, Center: Grey-White base with Red-Orange Kanoko, Right: Grey-White base with Yellow Kanoko

Golden Corn koi first became known to the general koi world during the 2020 All Japan Koi Show where a Golden Corn bred by Mr. Youichi Taniguchi from Taniguchi Koi Farm was entered (see photo at the top of the page). The koi was very large and impressive so there was little surprise when the koi won its category, the Kawarimono koi (competition group for non-metallic koi that do not fit into any other category). Over the course of the weekend, many koi breeders and keepers got to see this exciting new koi and the variety was so impressive that it instantly shot into the public eye and before long, most koi enthusiasts in Japan had heard of the variety. Altogether, the show led to a perfect introduction of the new variety!

Selection of Nisai Golden Corn koi from breeder Taniguchi

Nisai Golden Corn koi from breeder Taniguchi

History and Development of Golden Corn

In order to produce a new koi of good quality, a breeder will need to go through a number of generations of koi, firstly to produce the pattern and colouration they are aiming for and then to improve the quality until the variety is good enough for koi shows. Showing a koi at one of the big Japanese shows is the best way to get a new variety into the koi world and recognised enough for people to want to buy any future koi of the variety. This means that when creating a new variety, a breeder will want to use koi that will have a great shape and grow quickly so the variety can be developed to show quality in as little time as possible. Because of this, when creating the Golden Corn variety roughly 12 years ago, Mr Taniguchi started with one of his most prized koi, a very large Chagoi female measuring over 1m in length. This was a fantastic koi for any breeder and was a parent to many Chagoi, Ochiba, Karashigoi and other Chagoi cross varieties. Her fantastic size meant that all her offspring were considered Jumbo koi and grew to breeding age very quickly.

Once Mr Taniguchi had decided on his starting koi, he then had to choose a male to pair her with. A Gin Rin Asagi was chosen as this would introduce the Hi colouration, the Gin Rin sparkle, and the fukurin reticulation pattern, all desired aspects of the Golden Corn. From this pairing, a Gin Rin female koi was produced. This koi is described as being Soragoi-like because it had the colour of a Soragoi and looked like a Soragoi except it had a small amount of hi-coloured kanoko pattern which made it different to any existing koi variety but was a great start to the Golden Corn variety.

Tosai Golden Corn koi from breeder Taniguchi

In order to increase the amount of the hi kanoko pattern, this female was bred to another Asagi male, this one without any Gin Rin pattern. The intention was to use the hi colouration of the Asagi to enhance and increase the hi kanoko pattern of these pre-Golden Corn koi without overpowering the base colouration and without losing the fukurin reticulation. Fortunately, this pairing proved to be successful and there was one particular offspring koi that Mr Taniguchi was very excited about. He described this female koi as a Gin Rin Asagi-like koi because, while the colouration of the koi was very similar to that of an Asagi, the hi colouration that you would typically only see on the belly and sides had spread around the body and was now also beginning to appear on the top of the body in a kanoko pattern.

Mr Taniguchi was also very experienced with both the Benigoi (single-coloured red koi) and the Karashigoi (cross between a Kigoi, a single-coloured yellow koi and a Chagoi) varieties and he knew, from experience, that a cross between these two varieties would produce a light-yellow fish with red spots. So, he bred his female Gin Rin Asagi-like koi to one of his male Benigoi-Karashigoi cross koi with the intention of maintaining the hi kanoko pattern while also changing the body colour from the grey-blue of the Asagi to the nicer light-yellow colour of the Karashigoi.

Golden Corn Lineage

After 3 generations of breeding pairs, Mr Taniguchi was very pleased with the next generation of koi produced. In particular, they had all the aspects he had been aiming for, the light-yellow body colour and the strong hi kanoko pattern. Interestingly, they also had a much deeper hi colouration in the kanoko pattern from the Benigoi genes that Mr Taniguchi was very excited about. He had achieved the exact koi he was aiming for but he had expected to have to breed another generation to introduce more Benigoi genes and enhance the hi colouration further but, fortunately, one Benigoi was enough! Now Mr Taniguchi had created the variety he had aimed for, it was now time to improve the quality and continue developing the various aspects of the pattern until show-worthy koi were produced and then grown large enough.

Selection of Tosai Golden Corn from breeder Taniguchi

Pongoi (Best Quality) Golden Corn Koi

It is often very difficult, and even impossible, to judge new koi varieties as they often do not have a specific standard to conform to. It is much easier to judge older varieties such as Chagoi and Gosanke koi as there is a set standard in the colouration, pattern and body shape. Newer varieties, such as the Golden Corn, are often still quite experimental with lots of different patterns and lots of different colours being preferred by different hobbyists, breeders and judges.

Nisai Golden Corn koi from breeder Taniguchi

That being said, there are some aspects of the Golden Corn we can judge based on the definition of what a Golden Corn should be. We know that it should have either a yellow or a silver-grey base colour and we know that the scales should be a bright red (or yellow) with a strong reticulation and kanoko pattern, giving the appearance of a corn on the cob. We also know that the koi should have a Gin Rin pattern. So, we can judge each of these individually. However, it is important to consider that in any koi, but especially new varieties, compromises are often made as a perfect koi is very difficult to find.

First of all, we can consider the colouration of the koi, specifically the quality and consistency of the colours. Depending on the variation of Golden Corn, the base colour should either be a bright yellow or a light grey colour. If the base colour is yellow, it should be a beautiful vibrant colour, similar to a sunny yellow. If the base colour is light grey, then the shade should be nice and light, almost similar to an off-white colouration. Most importantly, regardless of the base colour is the consistency. The koi should have the same base colour all over, including the head, fins and tail, with no variation in the colour. Any deviation in shade is considered an imperfection in the fish.

The next thing to consider when judging a Golden Corn koi is the reticulation pattern, specifically the colour and consistency. When a koi has reticulated scales, it means that each scale has a light tint at the base that becomes a darker tint at the top of the scale, resulting in a gradient effect. The colour of this tint varies between varieties, but, typically, the best reticulation occurs when the tint colour is a sharp contrast to the scale and skin colour. For example, in a Golden Corn koi, the skin is either a bright yellow or a paler grey and the ideal reticulation colour in the scales i