Welcome to another blog in our ‘Koi Varieties’ series! Today we are looking at a very new variety of koi called the Ochiba koi. While this variety is a little less flashy than some of the other koi varieties we stock here at Keruto Koi, it very much has its own beauty that really has to be seen to be truly appreciated.
Ochibashigure (OOH-chee-BAH-shee-GORE-ay), often shortened to Ochiba (OOH-chee-BAH), is a brown or grey koi fish with an orange pattern reminiscent of a Kohaku pattern. The name translates directly as ‘leaves of Autumn in the water’ which compares the pattern colour to the reds and oranges of Autumn and the brown base colour to a typical Japanese mud pond, where koi carp are most commonly found.
The Ochiba koi was first bred in the mid-90s from a pairing of a Chagoi koi (a light brown koi that is very similar to a wild carp) and a Soragoi koi (a grey-blue single-coloured koi). The result was a koi with the grey-blue colour of the Soragoi, overlaid with a pattern in the colour of the brown of the Chagoi. Over the following years, the variety has been developed to develop the brown markings into a more bronze or orange colour, with both colours being very popular in the variety today.
One of the biggest draws of an Ochiba koi is in its personality. The Chagoi, in particular, is a very friendly koi, often greeting you at the pond and being easy to encourage hand feeding. (For more information about the Chagoi variety and its personality, have a look at our blog post here: https://www.kerutokoi.com/post/koi-varieties-chagoi) By using the Chagoi as a parent koi for the Ochiba, the breeders have ensured that this new variety has the same fantastic personality as the Chagoi.
Pongoi (Best Quality) Ochiba Koi
If you are considering adding a new Ochiba koi to your koi pond, the main things you need to judge about this variety are the two colours and the pattern. There are certain things, like body shape, that you should be looking at when judging any koi and you can read about these here: https://www.kerutokoi.com/post/koi-varieties-what-to-look-for-when-buying-a-koi. In this blog post, however, we are just going to be looking at the specific judging criteria for an Ochiba koi.
Firstly, we start by considering the pattern of the orenji (orange) colouration. Since the orenji pattern is similar to the hi (red) pattern on a Kohaku, it is judged in the same way. To start with, 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 orenji pattern should be evenly spread over the available space in the cha (brown) colouration 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 an Ochiba koi. Personal preference comes into play a lot here as, in general, no particular pattern is better or worse than any of the others. The most common patterns are the following ones: Tancho, where the fish has only a single orenji spot on the nose; Maruten, which is very similar to the Tancho but also has additional orenji markings down the body of the koi; Straight Orenji, where the fish has a continuous, connected orange pattern down its body; Inazuma, which is similar to the Straight Orenji pattern but has the pattern running in a zig-zag shape; and there are also stepped patterns. The stepped patterns are the most common and they involve the fish having a number of islands of orenji that are completely disconnected from each other, in a similar way to stepping stones. These stepped patterns are named depending on the number of steps, the most popular patterns here are the Nidan (two-stepped) and the Sandan (three-stepped) patterns.
Finally, we need to consider the colours of the koi and the quality of these colours. Firstly, the orenji colouration should be a beautiful orange or brown colour. The colour should stand out from the brown base colouration but not be too bright as one of the main draws of this variety is its subdued colouration. The base colour should be either a tea-coloured brown or a blue-grey colour. Most importantly, the colours should be consistent with the same shade over the whole body. The kiwa (edges) are also very important as they should be sharp and clean with no bleeding between colours or blurriness in the edges. In young koi, if the kiwa are particularly weak, this often means that the overlaid colour will fade into the base colour as the fish gets older.
Within the cha base colouration, the koi should display a slight reticulation, or net pattern, with each scale having a slightly darker outline. In this variety of koi, like its parent, the Chagoi koi, the pattern is called fukurin (FOO-koo-REEN) and is very desirable as it makes the variety a little more interesting! The best quality fukurin should involve each scale having an even border all the way around and be consistent in both the colour and the thickness of the border across the whole fish.
The Ochiba koi is a great fish to have in your koi pond. The patterns are incredibly varied and are often subtle enough that they are only appreciated properly close up. Their friendly nature will have them eating out of your hand with hardly any work at all and their confidence will help to improve the confidence of all koi in your pond.
To browse our current stock of Ochiba koi, click here: