Koi Varieties - Kikusui

Welcome to another instalment of our ‘Koi Varieties’ blog here at Keruto Koi. Today, we are moving on from the newer Matsuba koi to a variation on the Kohaku koi, one of the oldest, most classic koi varieties.


Kikusui koi from breeder Aokiya

The Kikusui (KEE-coo-SOO-wee) koi is essentially a Doitsu version of a Hariwake koi which is a metallic, two-coloured koi with a white base colour and a red, orange, or yellow pattern on top of the white colouration. A Kikusui is also often described as a metallic, Doitsu Kohaku koi as it is a scaleless, white koi with a red pattern over the white and a reflective sheen, or lustre, in the skin of the koi.


The Kikusui is one of the koi varieties that unfortunately we do not know a lot about, historically. It is unknown when the first Kikusui was bred but they have been familiar to the koi keeping hobby for a number of decades now, and the variety has certainly made a name for itself at many big koi shows, especially in the last 15-20 years. Nowadays, there are a few ways to produce Kikusui koi. Essentially, a Kohaku is bred to a Platinum Ogon (a pure white, metallic koi) to produce a metallic Kohaku and then this metallic Kohaku is bred to a Doitsu variety to produce the metallic, Doitsu Kohaku koi. To save time, however, many breeders combine the two steps into one by pairing a Kohaku and a Doitsu Platinum Ogon or by pairing a Doitsu Kohaku and a Platinum Ogon. Both methods produce good results with a roughly equal outcome of good quality koi, but the preferred pairing is the Doitsu Kohaku and the Platinum Ogon koi. This is because there are a good number of each of these koi varieties available, and therefore there are a good number of good quality koi of these varieties. On the other hand, the Doitsu Platinum Ogon is a little less common and so there are fewer good quality koi of this variety to choose from for the breeding pairing.

Kikusui koi from breeder Aokiya

Pongoi (Best Quality) Kikusui Koi


When it comes to choosing a Kikusui koi for your pond, there are a lot of things to consider, starting with the pattern on the fish. Because the Kikusui is very closely related to the Kohaku koi and has the same pattern, the general guidelines for the pattern are the same for the two koi varieties. Firstly, the pattern should be evenly distributed over the body of the fish. There should be a similar amount of each colour on the left and right sides of the fish and at the head and the tail. The hi pattern should be evenly spread over the available space with neither colour appearing to dominate the other. Ideally, the fish should have around 50% of its body covered with each colour with a balanced distribution.



There are quite a few different patterns acceptable in a Kohaku koi and these are all also acceptable in a Kikusui koi. In general, no particular pattern is better or worse than any of the others. Indeed, personal preference comes into play a lot here. Some of these patterns include the following: 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.


Kikusui koi from breeder Yamazaki

When considering the colours of the koi, both colours should be blemish-free and be the same shade within a pattern section and all over the body of the fish. For example, in a Nidan stepped pattern, the koi cannot have one step be a deep, fiery red and the other be a bright orange-red. Instead, the colour and the shade should be exactly the same everywhere. Ideally, the hi pattern should be a bright fire-engine red and be attractive and eye-catching even from a few steps away. The shiro base colour should be a beautiful, clean snow-white with as bright a colour as possible and no imperfections in the colour. Between the two 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.




Since the Kikusui koi is a Doitsu variety, we need to consider the quality of the Doitsu and judge the scales of the fish. As Doitsu varieties have a very small number of scales, the scales that are present are often judged very harshly. The fish should have scales either along the lateral line of the body or down the spine of the fish, on either side of the dorsal fin. If the koi has any other scales elsewhere on the body or that are not in line then it will typically score very badly as these are considered to be big imperfections.

Kikusui koi from breeder Aokiya

Finally, we judge the metallic sheen of the Kikusui koi. With this koi variety, both the shiro and the hi should be metallic, that is to say, the whole body of the koi should have a good amount of sheen and lustre with no obvious areas on the fish that appear to have no reflective sheen. Most importantly, the quality of the lustre on the skin should be consistent over the body of the koi with the same level of reflection and shine across all of the koi. In a metallic koi, the shiro colouration is very eye-catching so more attention is often paid to the sheen of the base colour in the Kikusui koi than of the hi colouration. A good metallic shiro colour should appear almost mirror-like with the colour appearing reminiscent of pure snow just catching the sun’s rays on an early morning in winter.





Overall, the Kikusui is a beautiful and stunning koi that truly extends the beauty of the classic Kohaku koi. The additions of the metallic skin and the Doitsu scales allows the classic pattern to be taken to a whole new level.


For our current stock of Kikusui koi, click here:


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