Lucky is the pond owner who enjoys having a beautiful Kohaku koi swimming among the lily pads. They are the oldest and most well-known variety of koi fish, and often the most popular among koi lovers. It is in the group of koi known as the ‘Big Three’ (Kohaku, Sanke, and Showa) also known as Gosanke.
Kohaku is a bright-white koi patterned with red. There are a few types of Kohaku – one has a red pattern all over it and is the most common. The second type of Kohaku only has a red spot in the middle of the forehead. This is an extra-special type called Tancho Kohaku, and is a highly prized specimen because of its rarity.
Types of Kohaku Koi Fish
The most remarkable thing about them is their colors and patterns. These guys are large fish and roundish with beautiful red markings (or orange) and white color all over their bodies. There are a few varieties of “Hi” (red) patterns.
- Straight Hi Kohaku has a large, continuous splotch of red color along the back of the fish. These are the most common variety of Kohaku.
- Inazuma Hi Kohaku has lightning-shaped or zig-zag red markings along their back.
- Nidan Hi Kohaku has two large patches of an unconnected red pattern, usually one at the front and one at the tail.
- Sandan Hi Kohaku has three patches of unconnected red along the fish’s body.
- Goten Sakura Hi Kohaku has a pattern of red spots that resemble cherry blossoms. These are the rarest variety of Kohaku.
How Big Do They Get?
Kohaku Koi fish are classic; they’re what people picture first when you say “Koi fish.” They can grow to be around 120cm but usually stay in the 60cm range because of pond sizing. They’ve got ghostly white (or sometimes pinkish) fins at their sides, tail, and back and have significant, distinctive, and slightly weird eyes.
Desirable Kohaku Koi Fish Characteristics
There are a number of features that are sought after. The white skin must be pure, with no presence of yellow or pink coloring whatsoever. Reddish coloring that appears on the skin of the fish must be sufficiently thick that the scales are hidden. At the same time, the colors that it displays on its scales should not bleed into one another, especially into the white scales.
Frecking and spots are undesirable, as is red coloring on the fish’s fins. The scales themselves should be distributed evenly over the body of the fish, and the patterns must start at the head and be prominent and balanced. The fish should be shaped like a torpedo with body parts that are well-proportioned.
Kohaku Handling and Care
One benefit of owning these koi is that they don’t have any special maintenance needs. The standard fish care which is used for koi will also suffice for them. These fish tolerate cold weather well and as such can be kept outside all throughout the year. The popularity of koi both within and outside Japan has made it a species that appears in ponds all over the world. Those looking for high-end Kohaku will have to acquire them through specialty breeders, and the price tag for these fish will be a hefty one. The top breeders will typically have a record of certifications involving the bloodline of the fish to verify their quality and lineage.