Types Of Koi Fish: A Comprehensive Guide

If you are looking to explore a more unique variety of fish, the koi fish is what you need to learn about. Koi fish are available across different parts of the world. Yet, they are particularly popular in Japan.

Due to their unique colors and patterns, experts consider them special fish. Their unique appearance allows people to keep them for ornamental purposes in aquariums, ponds, and water gardens.

But, to be able to choose the right variety, it is good to learn more about these distinctive fish. Below, we’ve shared a detailed guide to the different types of koi fish so you can choose the right variety.

What Are The Different Types Of Koi Fish?

What Are The Different Types Of Koi Fish

Also known as Nishikigoi, koi fish refers to a variety of colored fish. They fall under the family of Cyprinidae. In fact, koi fish is a cross between carp and different types of fish. Koi fish dwell in various climates in the world – in coldwater surroundings. However, these fish were originally bred in Japan.

As time went by, the fish were introduced to the wild in different parts of the world except for Antarctica. You can find different types of koi fish – distinguished by coloration, patterns, and scales. Popular colors include blue, yellow, orange, red, brown, black, white, and cream. Some of the popular koi fish include;


Kohaku, Showa sanshoku, and Taisho sanshoku are amongst the most popular koi fish varieties. The three varieties are sometimes known as the Big Three. Kohaku is amongst the very first ornamental varieties bred in Japan in the late 1880s.

Kohaku features a white-skinned body with large red markings. The red markings are normally precise with distinctive details. On the bodies, the red markings are bright and even. Additionally, the markings feature a defined edge and extend to the head of the fish.

Showa Sanshoku

Also known as the Showa sanke or Showa, this variety is a black fish with red and black markings on the body. First bred in the late 1920s, the fish showcases an impressive display of red and black markings.

Plus, the fish display an attractive and high contrast of three colors. To differentiate Showa from the Taisho variety, you want to focus on the black markings. This is because the Taisho koi don’t have black markings.

Taisho Sanshoku

Also known as the Sanke, the Taisho sanshoku is quite like the kohaku fish. However, it doesn’t have small black markings. First exhibited in 1914, the fish only have two colors on their head – white and red markings.

The Taisho sanshoku varieties do not have black markings on their heads. The fish grow to a size of about 2 to 3 feet long and weigh about 35 to 40 lbs. Typically, the fish survive in temperatures between 59 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.


Koromo koi fish variety features a white body with a Kohaku koi fish style pattern. On the edges, the fish has blue or black scales over the patterns. The fish is available in three common variations.

The Ai goromo variation is the most common one. This Koromo type features a pattern similar to Kohaku. However, on the scale area, red patches with blue or black edges adorn the fish. The Budo-goromo variation is a less popular one.

This variation features a dark burgundy pattern that mimics grapes. Another lesser popular version is the Tsumi goromo koi fish. In fact, the Tsumi variation is like the Budo. Their only difference is that the former is in darker burgundy – almost in black! Additionally, the Tsumi goromo koi fish is a rare variety.


The Bekko koi fish variety comes in a choice of three skin colors. The colors may be white, red, or yellow. Yet, both skin varieties come with black markings. The white, red, and yellow varieties are also known as Shiro bekko, Aka bekko, and Ki bekko, respectively. The yellow koi fish is the rarest of the three bekko fish varieties.

The non-metallic fish feature clean skin. Their Sumi stripe marking appears to be uniform on the back. In fact, the Sumi marking should be above the lateral lines and never cross the shoulder region. The head area shouldn’t have any black markings, patterns, or spots.


Utsurimono has a non-metallic black body with a variety of three secondary color markings. On the body, the fish is black and marked with a secondary color in a zebra or checkered design. Typically, the fish are available in black & white, black & red, and black & yellow varieties.

The varieties are also known as Shiro utsuri, Hi utsuri, and Ki utsuri, respectively. The Shiro utsuri variety is the most common one. In many koi fish competitions in the US, this variety competes alongside the Kohaku, Sanke, and Showa.


The Asaqi koi fish variety features a fully scaled and non-metallic body. The fish features a pale blue back and are sometimes referred to as blue-back koi. Typically, Asaqi fish closely resemble the wild black carp variety.

The fish are normally red-colored on the belly. But, occasionally, you can find Asaqi fish with pale yellow or cream bellies and cheeks.


Shusui koi fish features a blue scaleless body with a single row of scales on the dorsal fins. The fish have hi-red spots that extend above the lateral line and onto the back. The Shusui’s head is white or pale blue with no discoloration or spots.

The most common Shusui koi fish variety features a pale blue to gray color area above the lateral line. Another popular variety is the red or orange variety.


If you are looking for a more fashionable koi fish variety, the Kingirin is a perfect choice. This variety features a metallic look that makes them stand out. The body’s metallic look resembles a glittery and metal flake-like appearance.


The Doitsu-goi koi fish is a variety bred from a mix of different scaleless German carp. You will find a selection of four types of Doitsu-goi scale patterns. The most common Doitsu-goi koi fish integrates a row of scales at the front, sides, and dorsal fin ends.

The second most common type of Doitsu-goi fish features a row of scales where the head meets the shoulder. Additionally, the scales spread along the entire length of the fish. The third Doitsu-goi variety features scales along the lateral line along with scale patterns like the second variety.

Also known as the Armor koi, the fourth variety is the rarest. This variety of fish is covered with very large scales that mimic armor.


The Chagoi koi fish features a tea-colored body. The fish has colors ranging from pale olive green, and brown to a copper or bronze finish. In recent years, there’s also been an introduction of the darker orange shade.

The Chagoi koi fish variety is popular for its tamed, yet, friendly personality. Additionally, the Chagoi is amongst the largest koi fish variety. Some koi fish keepers consider Chagoi to be a sign of good luck.


The Kumonryu koi fish variety is a black doitsu fish adorned with white markings. Their white patterns are reminiscent of Japanese ink paintings of dragons. Kumonryu fish are famously known for changing their colors as the seasons change.

What Is The Rarest Koi Fish?

The Ki utsuri is considered the rarest type of koi fish. Combining a yellow patterned color with a lacquered body, the fish is uncommon to spot.

What Is The Most Colorful Koi Fish?

The Ochiba koi is the most colorful koi fish. This is thanks to its beautiful blue-grey body, brown markings, and net-like patterns.

How Can I Make My Koi Fish Brighter?

To brighten up the color of your koi fish, you want to feed them the right diet. Their diet needs to consist of nutritious foods and color enhancers. Examples include components such as carotene and spirulina. If you house your koi in a pond, you can also opt for a colorful pond to enhance their colors.

Can I Touch Koi Fish?

Humans can touch koi fish without worrying about an attack. In fact, koi fish are considered to be amongst the friendliest fish. The fish are even more likely to interact with humans. You can even feed your koi fish straight from the handy without worrying about bites.

How Much Should I Expect To Pay For Koi Fish?

You should expect to pay anywhere between $10 and $100 for one koi fish, depending on its size. But, you can also find rare prized koi fish breeds that sell for record millions. These types of koi fish are normally bred in special conditions with special characteristics. They are also larger-sized.


Keeping koi fish is one way to enhance your settings, whether it’s in an aquarium in your living room or garden pond. Plus, the fish come in different variations to give you a wide selection. You can always choose the type you like based on your preferences.

Additionally, as time goes by, even more variations continue to emerge. Since these fish are not aggressive, you can even pair up different varieties too. 

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