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Koi Varieties - Ginga

Continuing on from our previous ‘Koi Varieties’ blogs on the topics of Kumonryu koi and then of Kikokuryu koi, we are now looking at the Ginga variety of koi which is a rather new, related variety of koi.

Ginga koi from breeder Aokiya

As we discussed in the previous blogs (which you can find on our ‘Koi Varieties’ blog page, the Kumonryu koi is a Doitsu (scaleless) white koi with black patterns that change dramatically over time while the Kikokuryu is the metallic version of a Kumonryu. This means that a Kikokuryu looks like a Kumonryu but with the addition of a sheen, or lustre, to its skin. Following on from this, the Ginga koi is the Wagoi (meaning non-Doitsu) version of a Kumonryu. So, a Ginga koi is a scaled, metallic white koi with a shifting black pattern.

The word Ginga translates as ‘Milky Way’ and was chosen because the patterns and scales of the Ginga koi look like the Milky Way and the stars we can see at night. It was also chosen to reference the constantly changing sumi (black) pattern since the star’s positions are constantly changing as they move around the sky depending on the season and time of year.

The Kumonryu koi shot to popularity shortly after it was introduced to the hobby and has fascinated many koi keepers and breeders. Following on from the demand, the Ginga koi was created as a fully scaled variation of the Kumonryu but quickly became its own variety. The Ginga koi was created from a pairing of a Kikokuryu koi and a Matsukawabake koi which is a non-metallic, scaled white koi with a constantly changing black pattern. That is, the Matsukawabake is the scaled version of a Kikokuryu. This pairing gave the Ginga koi the colours and patterns found in both parent varieties as well as the Wagoi (normal) scales from the Matsukawabake and the metallic skin from the Kikokuryu.

As with both the Kumonryu and Kikokuryu koi discussed before, the sumi pattern of the Ginga koi is constantly changing. It is not certain yet exactly what is causing the pattern to change but changes have been observed in individual fish from changing the water conditions, temperature, diet, stress levels, pH, and many other variables. For some koi, the change will be very gradual and very minimal. For others, the change can be very quick and very drastic. For still others, it can be anything in between. One thing is for sure – the changes in each individual Ginga koi make it a very interesting variety to own and watch as you never know what to expect when you look into your pond!

Pongoi (Best Quality) Ginga koi

Ginga koi from breeder Aokiya

Similar quality standards apply for Ginga koi as for Kumonryu and Kikokuryu koi. Of course, the sumi pattern is constantly changing so it is impossible to judge. However, we can look at the quality of the colours of the koi instead. The sumi itself should be a deep, dark black all over the body while the shiro (white) should be a pure, snow-white. Both colours should have a consistent shade with no variation in the colour and no single scales of the wrong colour although these can often be temporarily hidden by the sumi pattern. The kiwa (edges) of both colours should be as crisp and clean as possible with no blurring or bleeding between the colours.

It is worth bearing in mind that the shiro of a Ginga koi can often have a blue tinge to it and this is perfectly acceptable in a Ginga. The blue can come from the Shusui ancestor of the variety, or from sumi under the skin in younger koi that have not yet fully developed.

Being a metallic koi, the lustre of the Ginga koi should also be taken into consideration. The skin should have a nice amount of sheen and lustre over the whole body with no obvious areas where there is no reflective sheen. The lustre should be consistent and beautiful over the whole body, but especially so on the shiro base as the metallic skin is much more obvious on the white base. The shiro should appear almost mirror-like and in the best koi, metallic shiro is reminiscent of pure snow catching the rays of the early morning sun.

Beni Ginga koi

Just like the Kumonryu and the Kikokuryu koi, the Ginga koi has a very popular subvariety called the Beni Ginga which is a cross between a Ginga koi and a Kohaku koi. This pairing results in a Ginga koi with a lovely red or orange Kohaku pattern overlaying the shiro but underneath the sumi.

Kanoko Beni Ginga koi from breeder Aokiya. Kanoko refers to a dappled pattern in the beni, much like the pattern on a fawn.

These fish are particularly interesting because the beni (red/orange) pattern is stable and will stay consistent throughout the fish’s lifetime while the sumi is not stable and its changing pattern will hide and reveal various parts of the beni pattern at different times.

Also like a standard Ginga koi, a Beni Ginga can be hard to judge. On top of the requirements for a Ginga, the beni should be a strong consistent shade of red within each step of the pattern and across different steps. The beni should also cover no more than 50% of the body and have a balanced look that does not overpower the rest of the fish. For example, a Beni Ginga with one side of the body mostly covered by beni and the over not at all is not a very balanced koi. Finally, the beni should have no imperfections within the pattern such as a single shiro scale within a beni step or bleeding from the beni into the shiro. Of course, the ever-changing sumi pattern can often hide such imperfections and sometimes even the whole beni pattern!

With the combination of the colour changing Ginga koi and the variation in the Kohaku koi, no two Beni Ginga koi are the same and with so many different potentials, you can be sure that each fish is unique.

To see our current stock of all Ginga koi, including Beni Ginga, click below:

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