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Koi Varieties - Gin Matsuba

Today’s ‘Koi Varieties’ blog post is the next post in our Matsuba trio, where we are looking at different variations and colours in the Matsuba subvariety. For the other posts in this trio, have a look here:, or continue reading to find out more about the Gin Matsuba, the white, metallic Matsuba variation.

Gin Matsuba koi from breeder Oofuchi

The term Gin Matsuba (GEEN maht-SOO-bah) translates as ‘silver pinecone’ and describes exactly what this fish looks like! A Gin Matsuba koi is a metallic shiro (white) koi with deep, dark reticulation in its scales. The metallic shiro gives the fish a silvery appearance while the reticulation gives the Matsuba variety its recognisable pinecone, or net-like, appearance.

The Gin Matsuba koi first became known to the koi keeping hobby in the 1960s when an Asagi koi (a blue koi with dark reticulation and a red pattern along the sides of the fish) and a Platinum Ogon koi (a metallic single-coloured, white koi) were bred to each other. This pairing resulted in the Gin Matsuba koi which has the appearance of a Platinum Ogon koi but with the addition of the reticulated scales from the Asagi koi.

In fact, when Gin Matsuba koi are young, as with many other koi varieties, the darker colours take longer to develop and appear. This means that young Gin Matsuba koi usually do not have visible reticulation and are therefore often mistaken for Platinum Ogon koi. With some Gin Matsuba, a slight blue tinge can be seen which is the reticulation underneath the skin, waiting to come through, but many will not even show this. One trick that we use here at Keruto Koi to tell the difference between Gin Matsuba koi and Platinum Ogon koi is to put the young koi in a white bowl or bucket and this contrasting colour allows any darker markings under the skin to be visible!

Doitsu Gin Matsuba from breeder Aokiya

Pongoi (Best Quality) Gin Matsuba Koi

The most important thing to judge in any Matsuba koi is the base colour. Matsuba koi are a single-coloured variety so the colour should be perfect as any inconsistencies will be obvious. In a Gin Matsuba, the base colour is shiro so this should be a beautiful snow-white colour with the same shade all over. The ideal shade is a bright white but, due to the metallic sheen of the skin, a more grey or silver shade is acceptable as long as it is consistent over the whole body. Ideally, the fins tail and head should have some of the shiro colour on them, the more shiro and fewer areas of no colour, the better the quality of the Gin Matsuba koi. Over the whole body, the colour should also be clean, meaning that there are no discolourations or spots of a different colour. In particular, any missing scales, damage or scars will be very obvious on the pure-white base colour of this fish and are therefore seen as big imperfections.

The next thing to consider on any Matsuba koi is the reticulation pattern. This pattern occurs when each scale on the back of the fish has a different coloured tint to the rest of the fish. This tint starts light at the base of the scale and gets darker towards the top of the scale resulting in a beautiful gradient effect. In a Gin Matsuba koi, the tint is very dark, ideally black or a dark grey, which gives a dramatic contrast against the shiro base colour. In general, the darker the tint colour in the reticulation, the better the quality of the Gin Matsuba koi. That being said, most Gin Matsuba koi have a more blue-coloured tint when they are young which will darken to an inky, jet black as the fish ages, so it is important to bear this in mind when choosing young fish.

Gin Matsuba koi from breeder Oyaji

When considering the reticulation, consistency is just as important as the actual colour, if not more so! Every single scale should look identical with the exact same dark tints and light tints and with the same gradient pattern on each. With this particular variety, due to the high contrasts, it is instantly obvious when any scale is out of place. So, if a scale has a different tint to the others around it, or if it is not in alignment with the others, this would be a big imperfection and the fish would receive a very large point docking at a competition or show.

Finally, as the Gin Matsuba is one of the metallic Matsuba varieties, we must consider the sheen and the lustre of the skin of the koi. Just like the base colour and the reticulation, the most important thing is that the amount of sheen and the quality of the lustre should be consistent over the whole body of the koi. The sheen should be visible over all areas of the body with no areas clearly lacking the reflective sheen. For a beautiful metallic koi, the skin should be shiny like a mirror and, on a shiro base colour, be comparable to a reflection of the sun against a fresh snowfall.

Gin Matsuba are a lovely koi with their beautiful snow-white colouration and the stunning dark reticulation to their scales. They are a truly outstanding variety of koi and it is no wonder that they are so popular!

Have a look through our available Gin Matsuba koi here:

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