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Koi Varieties - Ki Matsuba

Our latest instalment in our ‘Koi Varieties’ blog series is the final blog post in our Matsuba trio where we are looking at the three Matsuba koi varieties that we stock here at Keruto Koi. You can find all three of the Matsuba subvariety posts here: To complete the trio, today we are looking at the Ki Matsuba koi, which is the non-metallic, yellow version of this subvariety.

Ki Matsuba koi from breeder Aokiya

The word Matsubagoi (maht-SOO-bah-GOY) translates as ‘pinecone carp’ and refers to the very recognisable pinecone or net-like pattern visible on all Matsuba koi. This appearance is caused by a reticulation pattern on the scales of the koi and originally comes from the Asagi koi, one of the original ornamental carp varieties. Matsuba koi come in many different colours, with some metallic versions, like the white Gin Matsuba, and some non-metallic versions, like the red Aka Matsuba. The Ki Matsuba (KEE maht-SOO-bah) has a beautiful sunshine-yellow base colour and is one of these latter, non-metallic variations.

The Ki Matsuba variety began with the Kin Matsuba koi, which is a yellow, metallic koi with the Matsuba reticulation. This metallic koi was created in the 1950s from a pairing of a Yamabuki Ogon (a single-coloured, yellow metallic koi, the ancestor of all metallic koi) and a Shiro Matsuba (a single-coloured, white koi with reticulation in the scales). This pairing resulted in koi which had the metallic, yellow colour of the Yamabuki Ogon with the reticulated scales of the Shiro Matsuba. These koi were named Kin Matsuba, meaning ‘golden pinecone’. From the Kin Matsuba, the Ki Matsuba was created using selective breeding to slowly reduce the amount of sheen and lustre in the skin until a non-metallic version of the Kin Matsuba was created in the 1960s and named Ki Matsuba, meaning ‘yellow pinecone’.

Doitsu Ki Matsuba koi from breeder Aokiya

Pongoi (Best Quality) Ki Matsuba Koi

As with any Matsuba, the Ki Matsuba koi are single-coloured, so the base colour and the quality of the base colour are incredibly important. Firstly, the ki should be a beautiful vibrant yellow all over the body. A few different shades are acceptable depending on personal preference, some people prefer a lighter, lemon yellow while others prefer a darker, orange-tinged yellow. The most important thing is that the shade is consistent and clean over the body of the koi with no areas lacking in colouration. For a koi, clean means that there are no areas of discolouration and, in particular, there are no single spots of a different colour within the ki. The whole body should just be one consistent colour with no obvious imperfections.

The fins and the tail of the koi should also display colouration with no areas lacking in colour. The ideal, but rare, pattern in the fins involves a shiro (white) base colour with the ki colouration on top of the shiro, fanning from where the fin meets the body of the koi towards the tip of the fin. Most Ki Matsuba koi, however, have only ki colouration on their fins which is acceptable in a Pongoi Ki Matsuba as long as it is clean and consistent and covers the whole area.

Ki Matsuba koi from breeder Hirasawa

The other thing to consider when judging a Ki Matsuba koi is the reticulation pattern. The reticulation pattern in any Matsuba koi involves a darker tint colour on each of the scales. This tint starts darker at the top of the scale and gradually gets lighter towards the base of the scale to give a lovely gradient effect. With this effect on every scale of the koi, the fish has the appearance of a net or a pinecone with the scales being a darker colour to the skin around them.

With regards to the actual colour of the reticulation pattern, the most important thing is that the tint colour contrasts nicely with the ki colour of the koi. In most Ki Matsuba koi, the tint colour will be either a dark blue (if the koi is young and the darker colour is under the skin, yet to come through) or a grey colour. In the very best, and most valuable Ki Matsuba, the tint will be grey at the base of the scale and a lovely, dark, and inky black at the top of the scale. Most importantly, however, the tint colours must be consistent with every scale displaying the exact same colours and gradient and the scales themselves should all be in neat lines with no scale appearing to be out of place.

Ki Matsuba koi are a lovely variety of koi that are often not so well-known, but they will bring a beautiful touch of colour to your pond with their stunning ki colouration that is a colour often not seen in koi varieties.

To browse our current stock of Ki Matsuba koi, see here:

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