The East Pennine
Our past shows:
The East Pennine Open Show 2011 - Gallery & report coming soon »
The East Pennine Open Show 2009 - Gallery & report coming soon »
The East Pennine Closed Show 2008 - Gallery & report coming soon »
The East Pennine Open Show 2007 - Gallery & report coming soon »
The East Pennine Closed Show 2007 - Gallery & report coming soon »
The East Pennine Open Show 2006 - Gallery & report coming soon »
The East Pennine Closed Show 2006 - Gallery & report coming soon »
Koi Varieties / Show Classifications
Understanding koi classifications and recognising varieties can sometimes seem bewildering to all concerned with koi keeping especially new comers to the hobby. However, if we look at it from the point of view of the standard benching classifications used for shows then the following hints, which were drawn up to help Benches, might shed some light on the subject. For those of you unfamiliar with the word, benching merely refers to the process of classifying, sizing and recording koi at shows to enable them to be judged.
From the judging requests received each year, it has become apparent that general guidelines regarding benching would be appreciated by most show committees and the following hints have been drawn up in the hope that they will assist benching teams in their tasks.
At the outset it may help to distinguish between classifications and varieties. If we regard a variety as a koi which can be reproduced regularly, as apposed to the one-off unique koi, and use the term classifications for the 13 basic benching divisions, it follows that some classifications contain several varieties e.g. Gin–Rin include Gin Rin Kohaku, Gin-Rin Sanke etc; Kawaramono includes Karasugoi, Kigoi, Aka Matsuba, Chagoi to name but a few.
It would also be helpful to recap on the 13 benching classifications which comprise:-
Ten classes of non metallic koi:-
- Showa (including Kage Showa)
- Koromono (including Goshiki)
- Tancho (including Gin-Rin Tancho)
- Gin - Rin
- Kawarimono - all other non metallic koi not already mentioned
And three classes of metallic koi:-
- Hikari Utsuri – Metallic Showa and Utsuri
- Hikari Muji – Orgon and Matsuba Orgon
- Hikari Moyo – all other metallic koi not already mentioned.
A Kohaku should have a pure white base from nose to tail, with hi (red) patterns on the head and body. A stepped or zigzag pattern is preferred.
Rarely are problems experienced in benching Kohaku. The one that sometimes crops up is that of shimmies, were the exhibitor is not sure if he/she has a Tategoi Sanke. As a general rule shimmies tend to be brown rather than black, especially in their early stages, and rarely cover more than 1 scale, remember a Kohaku with shimmies is still a Kohaku.
2. Sanke and 3. Showa
hints for these
are taken together as the confusion between Sanke and Showa is probably
the one that crops up most often to the new comer to the hobby, and
with growing popularity of “modern” Sanke's and Showa's can present
even the experienced Benchers with a few headaches.
As a general guideline, a Sanke is a white Koi a Hi (red) and sumi (black) on it, the sumi is in clusters located above the lateral line, it shouldn't have sumi on the head and can have striped sumi on the pectoral fins.
A Showa is a black koi with white and hi on it, the sumi in large areas above and below the lateral line, it has sumi on the head and motoguro on the pectoral fins. This still rings true to a certain extent, especially regarding traditional patterns, however it is when we throw in the modern Sanke and Showa both of which have small areas of sumi and large areas of white/hi that this area becomes blurred.
In these instances (and when the usual guidelines require confirmation) we need to look at the essence of the differences between the two varieties, and that is the type and shape of the sumi. The sumi of the Sanke appears in blobs, or spots on the skin of the Koi, where as that of the Showa appears to have risen from the base of the Koi in blocks or streaks.
The difference goes back to the general guidelines of Sanke being developed from a white koi (or Kohaku) and Showa from a black koi, although it is probable a fair amount of cross breeding now occurs to produce the modern varieties and we are therefore left to look for clues as to the original lineage.
When confronted with a variety dilemma of Sanke/Showa it is probably easier to look for the Showa clues initially and ask yourself:-
- Does if have large blocks of sumi above/below the lateral line?
- Does if have sumi/emerging sumi on the upper lip/nose? This will always be a sign of Showa.
- Does it have sumi on the head, which will be in streaks/blocks or a combination of both?
- Does it have motoguro (thick sumi joints at the base of the pectoral fins)?
If none of the typical Showa giveaway are present then you probably have a Sanke and other clues should confirm this e.g. striped to the pectoral fins etc.
It should be stated here that the general guide lines are exactly that, general and there can be variances e.g. it is possible for a Sanke to have sumi on the head but it will appear in blobs or spots, it is also possible for both Sanke and Showa to have clear pectoral fins and we should not confuse emerging Tategoi (for want of a better word) sumi on young Sanke for the more deeper based Showa sumi.
If you are still unclear of the variety, and they are both getting so close together it will be happening more often, it is certainly not a reflection on the benching teams abilities, all they have to do is take a note of the Koi in question and refer it to the senior judge before judging commences.
Also worth mentioning is that here Showa classification now includes
Kaga Showa, a logical step as it is usually a transient Koi which ends
up a true Showa in any case.
4. Utsuri Mono
& 5. Bekko
Again these two classifications are combined as they are often confused. If we look at Shiro Utsuri and Shiro Bekkos as Showa's and Sanke's with hi removed then the reasoning just given for the differences between Sanke and Showa apply equally here and should resolve the differences.
Another grey area which sometimes arises this is the difference between
Utsuri and Hi Showa especially when we realise that most Hi Utsuri's
white on their underbelly. Here the general rule is that if
the Koi has
white on its side, which can be viewed from an angle approximately 45
as if swims in the show vat, then it is a Hi Showa. Both
have white on the finnage – it is the white on the body which is the
As Goshiki is now included
in the koromo classification the usual grey area in this classification
is removed. It was a sensible move in any case as a lot of Ai-Goromos
develop into Goshiki. It might also be worth repeating here
that a Kohaku with shimmies is still a Kohaku, and Ai-Goromo must have
underlying blue or black scale robing, be it ever so faint.
There are usually no benching or identification problems with this classification. The Asagi has deep blue or blue-grey scales, often forming a pine-cone effect. The head should be a clean pale colour. Typically there are red markings on the pectoral fin joints, and they may also be on the dorsal fin border and on the nose and cheeks.
The Shusui should have a sky-blue skin, paler on the head, which should be without spots. One or two lines of deep blue scales run along the dorsal ridge, and fiery red markings are expected on the forehead and body.
Again there are usually no problems in recognising and benching this classification. A Tancho has a clean skin, with the only mark being on the head - usually hi (red) but occasionally black (kuro). Ideally the mark should be a perfect circle, as large as possible without overlapping the eyes, nose or shoulders.
A sanke with a tancho marking is known as a Tancho-Sanke, and similarly a showa with a tancho marking is a Tancho-Showa (as in the picture on the right). However, it is a requirement that there should be no other red on the sanke or showa, if it is to be classed as tancho.
that here we only include Tancho Go Sanke (Kohaku, Sanke, Showa) and
Tancho Go Sanke. An easy way of remembering is that Tancho
over rides Gin
Rin (where Gin Rin Tancho Go Sanke is concerned).
Kin Gin Rin
Nowadays usually shortened to Gin Rin this classification includes only Gin Rin Go Sanke (i.e. Kohaku, Sanke and Showa).
All other Gin Rin varieties are benched in their representative
e.g. Gin-Rin Shiro Bekko is benched as Bekko. The guide line
a koi as Gin Rin is simple, if you can count the scales it’s not Gin
and it goes in its own Go Sanke class.
To repeat what was stated in the benching classifications earlier this class includes all other non metallic koi not included in 1 – 9 above.
From the benching point of view it can not
be put any simpler than that. Do not try to memories all the
other non metallic varieties and unique koi as it is simply not
possible. New one off unique koi are bred regularly in garden
ponds and breeding establishment around the world, in fact there are
probably few garden ponds in the UK without their own one off unique
koi. It can, of course, be a fascinating aside to try and
establish the linage and guess the parentage of a particular unique koi
and is a relatively simple matter memorising the basic single colour
and Matsuba varieties and their derivatives e.g. Kawasugoi, Chagoi,
Kigoi, Aka Matsuba etc. However from the benching and
classification angle all we need to be sure of is that it is non –
metallic and is not one of the varieties included in the other classes,
in which case it must be included in Kawari Mono. In other
words learn 1 – 9 above and Kawari Mono takes care of itself.
As you are probably aware Hikari means metallic, therefore, this classification includes all single coloured metallic koi i.e. Orgons and Matsuba Orgons. A destinction that can be drawn is that Hikari varieties have metallic skins, GinRin variaties have metallic scales. There are only about 10 varieties in this class and there are not usually any problems associated with Orgons.
12. Hikari Utsuri
Metallic Utsuri and Showa. There are only about 5 varieties in this class plus any Kage derivatives. When we consider that these are either your basic Utsuri and Showa crossbred with a Purachina/Yambuki Orgon, or bred direct, it should be come clear that to distinguish between types one can apply the same reasoning mentioned earlier for non metallic varieties and from the benching point of view this solves the two usual problem areas of, is it Gin Shiro Utsuri, Kin Showa (both benched here) or is it a Gin Shiro Bekko, Yamatonishiki (benched under Hikari Moyo).
13. Hikari Moyo
Again to repeat what was under benching classifications this class includes all other Metallic koi not mentioned in 11 -12 above. In other words if you memorise the fifteen (approximate). Varieties included in 11 – 12 then all other metallic koi are benched under Hikari Moyo. As in Kawari Mono it is not possible to memorise all the unique metallic koi. By all means learn to recognise the usual varieties that are included in this catch all groups e.g. Hariwake, Kujaku, Yamatoshinishki etc but the main thing to remember is that if it is metallic and not included in 11 – 12 above then its Hikari Moyo.
Benching can be one of the most informative and enjoyable areas of our hobby and it is possible to gain more from one days benching than from weeks of reading articles and magazines, with the added attraction of meeting and of working with a great bunch of people. So if you are one of the knowledgeable people who would like to become involved and help out with benching I am sure your local section show person would like to here from you.
Hopefully you will find these hints useful,
but like everything else koi keeping they are not written in stone,
there will always be exceptions to the rule, you just need to be able
to recognise them when they come along. The one golden rule
has already been mentioned; if you are not sure don’t be afraid to ask,
by making a note of the koi and informing the senior judge about it
before judging starts.
Thanks to Walter Reed for his expert guidance