Hikarimoyo / Metalics

Koi with metallic lustre are often some of the first fish bought by newcomers to the koi keeping hobby and it is the lustre and the brightness of these types of koi that when first viewed have great appeal. There are many different types of metallic koi and each year the koi breeders in Japan seem to invent a new one to add to the list, the most popular varieties of metallic koi are Ogon, Kujaku, Ki Ki Sui and Yamatonishiki. The classification of metallic koi falls into two categories. The first being the Ogon and the second being the Hariwake.


YamabukiOgons really only appear deliberately in three colours - yellow, white and orange. Yellow Ogons known as Yamabuki Ogons are the probably the most popular. Many different breeders in Japan breed these koi and one of the best is Izumiya in Niigata. The second most popular Ogon is the white one known as a Purachina, these koi are extremely sought after but only if they are true white. There is really only one top breeder of Purachina in Japan and he is a man by the name of Choguro, his white Ogons are without doubt the very best in the world. Orange Ogons known as Orengi Ogons are far less sought after than its yellow and white contemporaries. However in its Doitsu form (scaleless) known as Mizuho Ogons, a very good example with an almost luminescent glow can command quite large sums of money.

When selecting an Ogon of any colour the main point to look for after body shape is what is known as a ‘clear head’. This means the koi’s head should be unblemished and completely smooth of colour, any variation in pigment on the head area and also the body will render the koi fairly worthless. The colour of any Ogon should be consistent throughout the body of the fish.


Kujaku are technically three-coloured koi. The main base colour should be as white as possible, the pattern is usually an orangey red and the scalation is normally etched in black, to give a pine cone effect along the back of the koi. The pattern of the Kujaku ie. the red markings, should have similar traits to that of a Kohaku giving an overall balanced look to the koi. The Kujaku is all about lustre. The brighter the koi the better the Kujaku, this will only be achieved if the white base colour is of the highest quality. Any yellowing will ruin the appearance of the koi. When buying a Kujaku of a young age ie. 2 years and under, try to avoid the specimens with too dark a pine cone effect as these koi have a tendency to end up going far too dark and looking like ghost carp!

Kujakus’ are probably the only metallic koi that can command fairly large sums of money and prize specimens are extremely sought after. The criteria for a good Kujaku is fairly complicated compared with an Ogon and this is probably the reason that good specimens are much harder to find.

Ki Ki Sui

Ki Ki SuiKi Ki Sui have always been popular. They are white Doitsu (scaleless) koi with orange markings. As with the Kujaku snow white skin with good metallic lustre are of utmost importance. The orange pattern of a Ki Ki Sui can be extremely varied ranging from large orange patches that can create a similar appearance to that of a Kohaku, to small circular markings that may only take up just 10% of the koi’s body.

An important point to remember when purchasing Ki Ki Sui of any age, is to pay particular attention to the Kiwa (the edging of the orange pattern where it meets the white). This should always be sharp and as if it has been drawn with a marker pen, a blurred edge which gives the appearance of the orange and white merging is an indication of a poor example.


Kin Ki Utsuri

Kin Ki UtsuriThis variety of koi has become incredibly popular in the last couple of years. It is basically a metallic black and yellow koi. The koi’s appeal is without doubt the stunning contrast between a rich golden yellow and a gloss black that can be achieved on the top specimens.

Although sought after, good specimens of this variety are very hard to find as they invariably suffer from a lack of depth in the black markings giving a more grey appearance thereby losing the contrast of yellow and black that makes this variety of koi appealing.



Kin Showa

Kin ShowaKin Showa are basically a metallic Showa. As with the normal non metallic Showa a good balance between the red, black and white is important.

When buying any variety of metallic koi the first thing to look for is the body shape, if this is good then progress to lustre, if this is bright and luminescent you have the basis for a good metallic koi. Then comes the all important head area. As previously stated this must be clear, smooth and devoid of any faults. Overall the criteria for buying a metallic koi is not as particular as that of the Go Sanke varieties (Kohaku, Sanke and Showa) but good attention to detail should always result in a good specimen.

Every year there seems to be a new type of metallic koi being bred somewhere in Japan and with this article I have only just scratched the surface of this fast developing and diverse category.

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