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Koi Varieties – Kikokuryu

In the last instalment of our ‘Koi Varieties’ blog, we talked about the Kumonryu variety of koi which is a Doitsu (scaleless) white koi with black patterns that shift drastically over time. Today, we are going to continue by looking at the Kikokuryu koi which is a very similar fish and is derived from the Kumonryu koi. Before continuing, we suggest you review the Kumonryu koi by reading our blog ‘Koi Varieties – Kumonryu’ which can be found here:

Kikokuryu Koi from breeder Aokiya

The Kikokuryu (KEE-koo-KUR-ree-YOO) koi is essentially a metallic version of a Kumonryu koi. That is, a Kikokuryu koi is a metallic, scaleless white coloured koi with black markings. It was originally created by breeding a Kumonryu koi with a Doitsu Platinum Ogon koi which is a scaleless, metallic koi with a solid white colour. This pairing improved the white quality in the skin of the koi while also giving it the lovely metallic sheen that is so recognisable.

As with Kumonryu koi, the Kikokuryu has an ever-changing sumi pattern. The word Kikokuryu translates to ‘Shining Black Dragon’ and is a reference to the Kumonryu koi (‘Nine Crested Dragon’) as well as to the metallic sheen. In the same way as Kumonryu koi, many factors can affect the sumi pattern and the speed at which it changes. It can be affected by temperature, pH changes, water quality, diet, stress, age as well as other factors and no two fish will change in the same way. Some koi keep a very similar pattern but the black and white colours swap, while others can be completely unrecognisable. Some fish will change pattern within weeks, others will change so slowly that the pattern appears stable. Every fish is different, the only guarantee is that the sumi will change eventually in some way!

Kikokuryu Koi from breeder Aokiya

Judging a Kikokuryu Koi

When it comes to judging a standard Kikokuryu koi, many of the same rules apply as for a Kumonryu koi, especially when it comes to the colours of the koi. With the pattern of a Kikokuryu constantly changing, the pattern itself is impossible to judge. Instead, you can focus on the quality of the colours. The shiro (white) base colour of the koi should be a beautiful, clean white with no areas of faded or dull colour. The colour should be as close to snow-white as possible, but a slight blue tinge is to be expected, and is acceptable, from the Shusui ancestor. When it comes to the sumi (black) colouration, the ideal shade is a deep, dark black with an even colour all over. The younger the koi, the more likely it is that the sumi will appear blue as it has not yet fully developed, so a blue pattern is acceptable in young koi. The most important points about either the sumi or the shiro are that the colour is even and consistent through the fish’s body and that there is no bleeding between the colours, the kiwa (edges) should be crisp and clean.

Of course, a Kikokuryu koi is a metallic fish so the best examples will also follow the rules for metallic koi. As with a Kujaku, or any other metallic koi, the skin should have a good amount of lustre and sheen over the whole body of the fish. Metallic skin looks very lovely on white colouration, so it is here that you should look closely. The white should be beautiful and glossy with no spots lacking the reflective sheen.

Beni Kikokuryu koi from breeder Aokiya

Beni Kikokuryu koi

A very common subvariety of the Kikokuryu koi is the Beni Kikokuryu (BEN-ee KEE-koo-KUR-ree-YOO) koi which was developed from a Kikokuryu koi and a Kohaku koi. This gives the fish a red or orange pattern as well as the Kikokuryu colourations and sheen. These fish are particularly interesting because the sumi of the Kikokuryu will continue to change but the beni (red) will not once it has stabilised. This gives the fish a metallic Kohaku appearance with ever-changing black clouds hiding part of the pattern.

Like a standard Kikokuryu, a Beni Kikokuryu can be very hard to judge. The same points apply with the addition of consideration of the beni colour. This should be a strong red colour and consistent within a stage as well as across the whole body. Within the beni, there should be no imperfections in the colour and the kiwa should be crisp and clean. Finally, the best Beni Kikokuryu koi have a balanced look to their beni pattern with no more than 50% of the body coloured red. However, with the constantly changing sumi pattern often obscuring some, or all, of the beni pattern, it can be very difficult to spot such imperfections.

That being said, the best quality Beni Kikokuryru koi are truly stunning and there is so much variation in the pattern and overall look of the fish that no two are exactly the same!

A great Kikokuryu or Beni Kikokuryu is a beautiful koi for anyone to have in their collection. To check out our current stock of all Kikokuryu koi, have a look here:

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