At the koi farm visitors often ask, “What is the best koi fish?” To answer their question I usually reply with a similar question, something like this; “Well, what do YOU think is the best koi fish?” And the response I hear is almost never the same. Their answer generally reflects where the visitor is in their evolution of koi-keeping, or how long they’ve been in the hobby, and occasionally how knowledgeable they are, or how familiar they are with the many varieties of Japanese koi fish. If the question comes from someone that has been in the hobby for quite some time or is a keeper of high-end show fish, the answer will most always be “GoSanke”. Any koi that is a Kohaku, a Sanke, or a Showa is referred to as GoSanke, and for the purist koi-keeper the GoSanke is always the best koi fish.
However, there are many koi enthusiasts who would never consider entering their fish in a koi show and are more than happy just to enjoy their pets in their own backyard. So in answering their question “What is the best koi fish?” I usually take the opportunity and help them learn a little more about koi while they try to answer the same question that was asked of them.
First, we discuss color because more often than not, the first thing commented on is color. Visitors usually want, or are looking for, a particular color of koi. Once we find a few koi of the requested hue and examine the depth and consistency of the color, we move on to evaluate the koi’s other attributes such as skin quality and shine.
The next stop in determining the best koi fish is body shape. The body shape is always an important consideration when evaluating koi fish for sale. You want to pick a koi with a nice voluminous body, one that is symmetrical and even. Also, pay close attention to the fish’s spine making sure it is straight and sturdy. A nice straight spine will ensure that the koi swims effortlessly and glides through the water with ease. Then evaluate the fin size, location and condition of the fins.
Pattern is always of high importance and is usually the deciding factor when determining what is the best koi. Every variety of patterned koi has certain characteristics or guidelines for pattern elements. The closer each pattern comes to perfection, the higher the value of the koi. One basic point to mention is balance. All the pattern markings should be well balanced and consistent over the body of the koi. A well balanced pattern will have a very pleasing look. An unbalanced pattern can appear incomplete or the fish may seem odd.
In conclusion, to determine which koi is best you need to evaluate their color, quality, body and fin shape, and their pattern. Also consider the intent and the budget, as the best koi for one person may not be the best koi for another. Of course what really matters is which koi fish is best in your eye. You are looking at and comparing koi fish that will go into your pond. You will be taking care of, and feeding the fish for quite some time. You are the one that must determine which is the best koi for you.