Koi Varieties – Gin Rin Koi Carp

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

Welcome to our newest blog in the ‘Koi Varieties’ series where today we will be looking at Gin Rin koi. Gin Rin, or Ginrin, koi are a little different to other varieties of koi as the term refers to a type of scale on a koi rather than a specific colour and/or pattern.

The common name Gin Rin (GEEN-leen) is actually shortened from the Japanese name Kin-Gin-Rin (keen-GEEN-leen) and is translated as ‘golden-silver reflective scales’. As the name suggests, Gin Rin koi have beautiful, sparkling scales that appear to be of either a gold or silver colour. These scales give the koi a lovely, glittery effect and look stunning at all times, but especially so on particularly sunny days.


(Diamond) Gin Rin Tancho Goshiki koi from breeder Aokiya

Any koi variety can have Gin Rin scales and when a koi has this scale type, the variety name is preceded by the words Gin Rin. For example, you could have Gin Kin Kohaku, Gin Rin Benigoi, or Gin Rin Goshiki. You could even have Gin Rin Doitsu varieties!

The Gin Rin variety was created by a very respected breeder called Eizaburo Hoshino in the early 20th century. No one is certain how the Gin Rin koi were created. The story states that Hoshino came across a local fisherman who had caught a Magoi fish (a Japanese common carp, a black fish from which all modern koi descend) whose scales glittered and shimmered magnificently. Hoshino brought this fish and bred it with some of his own koi to eventually create the first proper Gin Rin koi. The scale type took a long time and a lot of work by various breeders throughout Japan to fully stabilise but by the 1950s, the Gin Rin type was established and even refined into four subgroups.

It is important to note when discussing Gin Rin koi that the scales of a Gin Rin will appear to be a golden colour when they cover hi (red) pigments and the scales appear silver when they cover shiro (white) or sumi (black) pigments. If you are familiar with koi, you could compare Gin Rin koi with Hikarimono and Hikarimoyo koi which are metallic fish with one colour, or multiple colours, respectively. The metallic of the Hikari koi is from the skin of the koi having a lustre or sheen to it, as mentioned in our last ‘Koi Varieties’ blog post about the Kujaku variety: kerutokoi.com/post/koi-variety-kujaku. Meanwhile, the Gin Rin is a scale type and the glitter effect is only on the scales of the koi. So, the difference between Gin Rin and Hikari koi is that the Gin Rin affects the scales of the fish while the Hikari affects the skin of the koi.


So, what should you look for when picking a Gin Rin koi?

The first point to note is that in order to be classified as a proper Gin Rin koi, the fish must have at least three full rows of Gin Rin scales. The koi must also conform to the rules for its base variety. For example, a Gin Rin Kohaku must first follow all the rules for a Kohaku and if it does not, the Gin Rin is not even judged.

While a koi must have at least 3 rows of Gin Rin scales, the more rows it has, the better! Ideally, each row of Gin Rin scales should start at the base of the head of the fish and continue down the length of the koi to the base of the tail in line with the pectoral fin. Then, there should be a sufficient number of rows to extend from one pectoral fin to the other, although this is not essential as long as the Gin Rin coverage looks good from a top-down view. Of course, the Gin Rin scales themselves have to look good – each scale should be equally spaced apart and the rows should be aligned neatly without adjacent rows looking mismatched.


The most important thing about the Gin Rin scales is that the whole body of the koi should be symmetrical. The Gin Rin scales should look the same on both sides of the body and there should be no obvious scales without Gin Rin within a row of Gin Rin scales.

When it comes to choosing your own Gin Rin koi, we recommend first ignoring the Gin Rin scales and first judging the base variety of the koi, as they would in a competition. Once you have chosen a base variety that you like, you should then pick out a number of Gin Rin koi that fit the ideal body shape and ideal patterns and colours of the base variety. Finally, you can start to look at the Gin Rin scales of the koi and select your fish based on the quality of the Gin Rin. This way, you can ensure that you have the best quality Gin Rin koi for your koi collection!


Types of Gin Rin

Pearl Gin Rin Benigoi koi from breeder Sekiguchi

You may notice that the Gin Rin on one fish is not always the same as the Gin Rin on another fish. This is where the four different subtypes of Gin Rin come in. These are called Diamond Gin Rin, Pearl Gin Rin, Beta Gin and Kado Gin. Here we will give a brief overview of each:


Diamond Gin Rin – This is the most common type of Gin Rin. Diamond Gin Rin scales look like cracked glass and the sparkle appears to fan out across the scale away from the head of the fish.

Pearl Gin Rin – This is the rarest type of Gin Rin. The scales of this type each have a small raised deposit in the centre that is incredibly shiny, giving the appearance of a pearl.


Beta Gin – This is a fairly rare type of Gin Rin but it is highly in demand thus making it the most valuable type of Gin Rin koi. Beta Gin was the original type of Gin Rin and was very popular and common in the 1950s and 1960s when Gin Rin koi were stabilised, but now are much more difficult to find. For this type, each scale looks like a mirror with the effect covering the whole scale to give a beautiful effect.

Kado Gin – This is also a rare type of Gin Rin; however, it is the least popular out of the four types as it has a more unusual look than the others. For this type, each scale has a glittery scalloped edge to it only rather than covering the whole scale.



That concludes today’s article all about the beautiful Gin Rin scale type. These can be truly stunning koi and a fantastic addition to any koi keeper's collection. Since almost every koi variety has a Gin Rin version, there is a Gin Rin koi for everyone!


Take a look at our current stock of Gin Rin koi here:


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