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Common Koi Varieties

The most common varieties of koi that you see in the hobby.

By David Lass

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Depending on who you want to use as “experts” there are many different “types” of koi. The most common varieties of koi that you see in the hobby (i.e., affordable fish priced less than $100) in the United States are:

Kohaku — red and white

Sanke — This koi variety is comprised of three colors: red, white and black. For all intent and purposes, this variety is the same as showa. In the hobby both are pretty much lumped together and called “tri-color” koi.

Ohgon — These are metallic fish that have reflective scales. They come in different colors, but the most common are ohgon (gold), yamabuki ohgon (yellow) and gin (platinum or silver).

Taisho Sanke — This is a sanke with a solid red “cap” on the top of the head.

Asagi — This variety has metallic blue scales along the dorsal portion of the body.

Tancho — This can be any kind or color of fish, but it has a very distinct red “cap” on top of the head.

Bekko — These koi have black markings (and only black markings) on any solid-color fish. Utsuri are koi that are black fish with one other color marking. For koi fanatics there is a difference in these fish. For most hobbyists it is similar to arguing whether a zebra is a black animal with white stripes or a white animal with black stripes.

Butterfly — In the U.S. we also have butterfly koi, which just means that they have long fins. These are very popular in the U.S. hobby, but they are looked upon with real scorn by serious koi fanciers.

For serious koi fanatics there are many more varieties of koi, and the prices can be in the thousands of dollars for a single fish.

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