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Koi Varieties - Goromo

Welcome to another blog post in our ‘Koi Varieties’ series, this time looking at the Goromo koi and the three types of Goromo koi, Ai Goromo, Budo Goromo and Sumi Goromo.

Budo Goromo koi from breeder Sakazume

Goromo (GOH-roh-MOH) koi fall into the larger subvariety called Koromo (KOH-roh-MOH) koi, literally meaning ‘robed’ koi. This is a competition or show class for koi with a white base colour, overlaid by red patterns, and sometimes other colours, as well as reticulated scales. As well as the three Goromo koi, you may also see Budo Sanke, Goshiki, Koromo Sanke and Koromo Showa koi and others.

The word Goromo refers to the group of Ai (EYE) Goromo, Budo (BOO-doh) Goromo and Sumi (SOO-mee) Goromo which are all essentially Kohaku koi with the addition of reticulation. Often, Ai Goromo is shortened to just Goromo as this is by far the most popular and most commonly seen koi of the three Goromo varieties. Between these koi varieties, the differences are related to the reticulation pattern and its colouration. In a reticulation pattern normally, each scale has a slight tint over it in a gradient pattern. This results in the individual scales being emphasised and gives the koi the appearance of a net or a mesh. Each of the three types of Goromo has a slightly different pattern:

  • Ai Goromo – this koi has reticulation visible only on the inside of scales in the hi (red) pattern and the reticulation itself has an ai (blue) tint

  • Budo Goromo – this koi has the same colour tint in the reticulation as the Ai Goromo, but the tint appears to surround each scale in the hi pattern giving the fish a darker appearance

  • Sumi Goromo – as with the Ai Goromo, this koi has the reticulation pattern on the inside of the scales in the hi pattern, but the tint has a sumi (black) colouration making this koi the darkest of the three Goromo varieties.

Ai Goromo koi from breeder Otsuka

The first koi in the Koromo category was the Ai Goromo koi and this was first bred in the 1950s from a pairing of a Kohaku (a white koi with a red pattern) and an Asagi koi (a blue koi with a red pattern and a reticulation pattern in the scales). This resulted, after a few years of development and perfection, in a koi that had the white base and the red pattern of the Kohaku with the addition of a reticulation pattern in the red pattern. And so the Ai Goromo was born and soon after, from selective breeding, the Budo and Sumi Goromo varieties became known to the koi hobby.

Pongoi (Best Quality) Goromo Koi

If you are judging any Goromo koi, there are a few things to consider, starting with the pattern on the koi. Since the Goromo is very similar to the Kohaku koi and has the same pattern, the general guidelines are the same for each of these two varieties. Firstly, overall, the pattern should be balanced and evenly distributed over the whole of the fish. Each of the left and right sides of the fish should have roughly equal amounts of each colour, as should the front and the back of the koi. The hi pattern should be nicely spread over the available space with neither colour appearing to dominate the other. The very best Goromo koi will have around 50% coverage of each colour.

Doitsu Metallic Ai Goromo koi from breeder Aokiya

There are a few different patterns acceptable in a Kohaku koi and these are all also acceptable in Goromo koi. Generally, no particular pattern is the best or the worst, but each koi keeper or breeder has their own favourites. Some of the most commonly seen patterns include: Tancho, where the koi has only a single hi spot on the nose; Maruten, which is similar to a Tancho but with additional hi markings down the body of the koi; Straight Hi, where the koi has a continuous, connected red pattern down its body; Inazuma, which is similar to a Straight Hi but has the pattern running in a zig-zag shape; and stepped patterns. The stepped patterns are the most common and involve the koi having a number of islands of hi that are completely disconnected from each other, similar to stepping stones. These patterns are named depending on the number of steps and the most popular ones are the Nidan (two-stepped) and the Sandan (three-stepped) patterns.

Once we have considered the pattern on the koi, we can now consider the colours and the quality of these colours. Ideally, both colours should be blemish-free and have a consistent shade across the koi’s body. For example, in a stepped pattern, the koi cannot have two different red shades, say a bright fire-engine red and a sunset orange-red, in two different steps. The colour should be consistent within a step and across the whole body. The ideal colour for the hi pattern in a Goromo is a deep fiery red and it should contrast beautifully with the clean and perfect snow-white of the bright shiro base colour. Between the colours, the kiwa (edges) should be crisp and clean with a strong definition and no blurring of the boundary of bleeding between the two colours.

Ai Goromo koi from breeder Otsuka

The final thing to consider with a Goromo koi is the reticulation pattern. This pattern normally 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. As mentioned above, the three subvarieties of Goromo each have slight differences in their reticulation but the general rules for the reticulation still apply regardless of the colour of the reticulation and whether the tint is on the inside or outside of the scales. For the Ai Goromo and the Budo Goromo, the tint colour should be a lovely blue colour, fading from a deep indigo colour all the way to a light sky-blue. For the Sumi Goromo, the tint colour should be very dark, ideally black or a dark grey. Of course, the Budo Goromo is slightly different to the other two Goromo varieties and other reticulated scale varieties as the tint surrounds each scale instead of being inside the scale. The tint should still have the same gradient effect and should be judged similarly.

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 any reticulated scale variety of koi, it is usually 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.

The Goromo is a stunning koi that is very comparable to the classic koi, the Kohaku, but with a bit of a modern twist and is very appealing to many koi keepers and breeders due to their stunning colouration. The contrasts between the beautiful white of the base colour and the dark colours in the reticulation result in a beautiful koi that will always catch your eye.

To see our current stock of Goromo koi, click here:

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