Koi Varieties - Goshiki


Goshiki from breeder Aokiya

Welcome to our latest ‘Koi Varieties’ blog where we are working through all the different koi varieties we stock here at Keruto Koi. Today we will be looking at the Goshiki koi which was bred from an Asagi koi and a Kohaku koi to create one of the most colourful varieties in the koi keeping hobby.



Goshiki (GOSH-key) koi are one of the most desirable koi varieties due to their unique colours and eye-catching patterns. Goshiki translates as ‘Five Colours’ and the name refers to the five colours seen in this variety of koi. These colours are:

  • Shiro (white) in the base colour

  • Hi (red) in the Kohaku-like pattern

  • Sumi (black) in the pattern over the whole top of the fish

  • Konjo (dark blue) in the reticulation in the scales on the top of the koi

  • Akebi (light blue) in the reticulation in the scales on the side of the body.



The reticulation in a Goshiki's scales from the Asagi parent give this koi a fantastic pattern. The reticulation gives the koi a fishnet-like appearance over its whole body and it makes each of the scales distinctive and stand-out on top of the black and white colouring below. On top of the body, the scales appear to be mostly black but underneath the koi, and on its sides, the scales are much whiter with a lovely gradient effect between the black on top and the white below. As well as all this, the Goshiki has a stunning red pattern from the Kohaku parent that appears to float on top of the black colour and reticulated scales. Every part of the Goshiki pattern combines together to result in a stunning looking fish that will truly take your breath away.


Gin Rin Goshiki from breeder Kawakami

The Goshiki koi are actually a very interesting variety because they have 2 different versions, or styles. The first version, called the ‘dark’ or ‘Kuro’ Goshiki is much darker with stronger, deeper sumi (black) and is the original version. The second style is the newer ‘light’ or ‘Mameshibori’ Goshiki and has sumi that is much less developed resulting in a koi that looks more like a Kohaku but with the reticulated scales such as the Goshiki shown here. The newer style, the Mameshibori Goshiki, is a lot rarer and more expensive because the old style, the Kuro Goshiki, is well-established and is more commonly bred. Both styles have the same 5 colours and the same requirements for the colours, the only difference being the strength of the sumi.




Pongoi (Best Quality) Goshiki Koi


Since one of the parent varieties of the Goshiki koi is the Kohaku, the hi pattern is very important and should follow the same rules as a Kohaku. That is to say, the hi pattern should begin at the head of the koi and continue down the spine of the koi towards, but not onto, the tail. The hi pattern should also not extend below the lateral line of the fish onto the sides and underneath of the koi and, ideally, should be as symmetrical as possible. In a Goshiki, a Sandan (three-step) pattern where the hi is contained within three disconnected islands running along the dorsal fin of the fish is most favoured. This is because a Sandan pattern allows for a good amount of vibrant, eye-catching red but also leaves enough of the base colour to appreciate the reticulation in the scales. The hi itself should be a vibrant deep and fiery red with crisp, clear kiwa (edges).


Goshiki from breeder Aokiya

In a Goshiki, some allowances are often made regarding the hi pattern. At the end of the day, a perfect Kohaku is rare and a perfect Goshiki (with both perfect Kohaku traits and perfect Asagi traits) is even more rare so some leniencies must be made! One such allowance is regarding the presence of the hi pattern on the head of the koi. In a Kohaku, this is an essential part of the hi pattern, however, in a Goshiki, it is desirable but not essential. The most important thing is that the hi is clean and of a consistent shade throughout.


The base colour of the koi is, of course, shiro and this should be a clean and snowy-white as possible wherever it is visible. Often the shiro is not of the best quality on a Goshiki but it is usually mostly hidden by the sumi pattern, so imperfections are often hidden. With the lighter Kuro Goshiki, the shiro is much more visible so it is very important that the colour be beautiful and clean. The fins should be either all white with a clean shiro colour or have hi at the base of the fins. This fin pattern with red at the base is very desirable but rare in Goshiki. The pattern is called motoaka (MOH-toh-AH-kah) and is often seen in certain varieties, including the Asagi, and vastly increases the value of the koi.


Finally, the reticulation of the scales should be considered. On a Goshiki, this is called Amime (ah-ME-meh) and it occurs when the border of each scale is a different colour to the skin of the koi. In the case of Goshiki, the border colour is Ai (blue) which contrasts with the sumi or shiro underneath (depending on the type of Goshiki). This gives the fish a net-like appearance that is very visually appealing and eye-catching, especially in the Wagoi (non-Doitsu) version of the variety.


The Amime itself should be even with each part of the fish appearing to have the same amount of reticulation as any other part of the fish. It should also have a consistent colour all over, the only allowance is made for a gradual fading of Konjo to Akebi reticulation from the top of the fish to the sides. The Amime pattern should also not occur on the hi pattern, instead, the reticulation should appear to be underneath the hi pattern, giving the unique appearance of a floating pattern.

Gin Rin Tancho Goshiki from breeder Aokiya

Goshiki koi are one of the more difficult varieties to judge when they are young due to the fact that they often undergo dramatic changes before they reach adulthood. The two main parts of the koi that do not appear initially are the sumi pattern and the Anime pattern and these are often not visible until the koi is 3 or 4 years old. This means that young Goshiki are often mistaken for Kohaku before any darker colouration comes through and it also means that adult Mameshibori Goshiki are incredibly valuable as many young ‘Mameshibori’ Goshiki turn out to actually be Kuro Goshiki. The best way to ensure that you will end up with a good quality koi when you are buying young koi is to do your research on the breeders as they will know the variety best and be able to make the best predictions.





Overall, the Goshiki koi is one of the most impressive looking koi in the koi keeping hobby. Regardless of the type of Goshiki, this variety will always catch your eye and look stunning in any pond.


To browse our current selection of Goshiki koi, click here: