From a plethora of Koi varieties to choose the best Koi fish for an individual is a subjective matter, which varies by their preferences. However, there are certain factors which can be considered while choosing a good Koi.
Color is a visibly dominant factor while choosing Koi. A good Koi has pure, deep, and strong coloration.
- If you are choosing a Red and White Koi which is Kohaku, make sure the red is rich and white is pure. The transition of colors should be sharp and clear in mature Koi whereas in the young ones Tategoi (a Koi that will improve as it ages) the transition can be blurred
- Some colors will not be clear and distinct in young ones or Tategoi and Black is one such color in Koi. Black will be either missing in several places or blurred in young ones when compared to an adult finished Koi
- In a metallic yellow Koi, the color should be the same and even across the top of its body, usually its head with no blemishes, the color fades down only towards the lateral line. The fins may be yellow, white, or a combination of, but make sure the color is evenly balanced
So, when it comes to color make sure it is rich and deep and also factor in the transition of colors from young to adult ones.
Look for a Koi with a good uniform body shape. Avoid the ones that are either too fat or thin. Ensure that body shape is uniform on both sides with no lumps, bumps, or protrusions or any obvious deformities.
Though koi can have different shapes and sizes of pectoral fins make sure both the pectoral and pelvic fins are the same in shape and size. Also check the upper and lower lobes of the tail fins are not damaged and have the same size. An ideal fish would have a symmetrical body with even fins.
Inspect for any deformities around fins, mouth, and eye areas.
Quality of Skin
The quality of the skin is very important, it should be bright and lustrous. There are different types of skin on Koi.
- Metallic scalded skin
- Gin Rin (metallic) scaled
- Doitsu (No scales)
- Metallic Doitsu
Metallic-scaled and Gin Rin scaled should be bright and even across the body. Gin Rin scales usually extend across the top of the body and not the sides and they should be bright. Scales of the fish should be in even straight lines and not twisted.
Doitsu should be bright, clean, and even with no discoloration.
A good quality Koi’s skin is free of blemishes and is rich in pigments. They can be easily identified by their lustrous body.
Pattern is a subjective issue and differs between individuals, so choose a pattern that you like the most instead of being bogged down by in demand varieties with certain patterns. Also look for consistency and balance, a well-balanced pattern will be pleasing to look at compared to uneven or unbalanced patterns which are one of the factors involved in the pricing of the fish.
Next comes the Health a very important factor while choosing a good fish. While the Koi is swimming, notice its movements and ensure that it moves gracefully without exhibiting any unusual or exaggerated body movements.
While trying to catch it, make sure that it is agile and trying to evade the net. A good Koi is alert and interested in its surroundings. A best Koi fish can and does jump and may injure them in the process so make sure the whole body is having no signs of obvious injuries or scales which are cut. Look for signs such as vitality and its behavior.
Factor into account the budget you are going to spend as Koi can usually range from a few dollars at a pet store to even a million dollars at competitions. Its price can be dependent on various factors like color, age, body shape, sex, and genetics. The larger and more attractive the fish is, the more expensive its price. Also, the more the demand the higher the price.
Although there are many varieties, ‘Gosanke’ is used to refer to three categories of Koi namely Kohaku, Showa Sanshoku (Showa), and Taisho Sanshoku (Sanke). These are referred to as the ‘Big Three’ in the USA and Europe and are a very popular choice among Koi enthusiasts.
In conclusion, as Koi is a pet that can be domesticated and has a long life span, choosing the best Koi fish is subjective as the experience with the pet differs from individual, so make sure to choose the one which you like the most instead of preferring the most popular or the ones in demand while keeping in account the factors which have been mentioned above.