The Ultimate Koi Carp Glossary Guide

For new and experienced koi keepers alike, the many names and terms associated with koi colouring and patterns can easily become quite confusing:

Do you know your maruten from your motoguro, or your kage from your kiwa? Browse our go-to guide below for all the main koi keeping terms and their definitions:

Koi Fish Swimming


Koi Carp Glassary of Terms

BEKKO – Black markings (similar to Sanke koi) on a red, white or yellow base.

BENI – Red.

BENIGOI – Non-metallic, deep crimson koi.

BOKE SHOWA -  Showa with indistinct greyish black pattern.

CHAGOI – Non-metallic brown koi.

DIA – Mutant scales that appear gold over red and silver over white areas of skin.

DOITSU – Koi with no scales other than enlarged scales along the lateral line and two lines running either side of the dorsal fin.

ENYU – Purplish koi with red markings.

FUKURIN -  Net effect of lustrous skin around the scales of (usually) metallic koi.

GIN - Silver

HAJIRO – Black koi with white nose and white-tipped fins.

HANATSUKI – A red pattern that reaches the mouth.

HI – Red.

HIKARIMOJI – Class for single-coloured metallic koi.

HIKARIMOYO – Class for all multi-coloured metallic koi except Utsuri and Showa.

INAZUMA – Lightning strike pattern.

IPPON HI -  Where solid red runs from nose to tail without a break.

KAGE - Shadowy black reticulated marking over white (or red on Hi Utsuri).

KAWARIMONO -  Class for all non-metallic koi not included in any other group.

KI – Yellow.

KIGOI - Non-metallic yellow koi.

KINDAI – White skin predominates the koi carp.

KIN – Gold  

KIN-GIN-RIN / GIN-RIN – Koi with highly reflective gold and/or silver scales.

KIWA – Border of red and white at the rear edge of red patterns.

KOHAKU – White koi with red markings.

KOKESUKE – Semi-translucent.

KOROMO – ‘Robed’. Red colouration overlaid with blue or black.

KOROMO SHOWA – Solid black joins black reticulation over the red.

KUCHIBENI – Red lips ; literally translates to lipstick.

MAGOI – Ancestral black carp.

MARUTEN – A self-contained head marking, plus red elsewhere on the body.

MATSUBA – Black centre to scale, giving a pinecone appearance.

MENKABURI – Red head.

MENWARE – Showa head pattern.

MIDORIGOI – Greenish yellow with mirror scales.

MOTOGURO – Solid black colouration in the base of pectoral fish on Showa and related varieties.

NIDAN – Two-step pattern.

SANDAN – Three-step pattern.

SANKE – White koi with red and black markings.

SHIMI – Undesirable individual dark brown or black scales on areas of ground colour.

SHIRO MUJI – All-white, non-metallic koi.

SHOWA – Black koi with red and white markings.

SORAGOI – Plain blue-grey koi.

SUMI – Black

TANCHO – Circular red spot on head. No other red on the body.

TATEGOI – ‘Unfinished’ koi of any age that should continue to improve.

TORA/ TIGER/ OGON – Metallic equivalent of Ki Bekko.

TSUBO SUMI – Black on white skin.

UTSURI - Reflections

YAMATONISHIKI – A metallic Sanke koi.

YONDAN – Four step pattern.

There are many more names associated with koi so if you come across one that you are unfamiliar with, and is not listed above, feel free to ask us!  

If you need any further advice about keeping koi, our livestock specialists are always happy to make recommendations and discuss species that would be well-suited to your pond. Give us a call today at 01895 813 000.