I get asked the question all the time, ‘what is your favourite variety?’, the answer is, and has long been, an unequivocal, ‘Showa!’.  Goshiki interest me, indeed fascinate me, but not as much as Showa, were I a breeder then Goshiki would play merely a supporting role.

There are breeders trying to do some great things with Showa in respect of size, beni quality and other stuff.  There are also things going wrong with Showa at the same time, in my humble opinion, including weakening of sumi (and Showa are all about sumi) and some really poor body shapes.

When I visited Purdin Koi Farm there was a female Showa, of Purdin’s own production, that caught my attention.  The Koi was growing in ‘The River’.

Purdin Koi Farm female Showa

Purdin Koi Farm female Showa

The thing that particularly attracted me with this Koi was her body line, it was strong, powerful and muscular.  There was no sagging in the belly line, so common with Showa, and increasingly so I think.  The head curved nicely through the gill plates and onto the body, the head likewise across the shoulders.  This wasn’t a Showa for winning Koi show prizes, this was a Showa to potentially be a parent, still young I think she is still not quite 4 years old.

Of course, a female alone is worthless without a complementary male. Whilst males may be much maligned, seemingly of little interest to far too any hobbyists, their role in the spawning process cannot be understated.

Purdin Koi Farm Showa parent, bred by Isa Koi Farm

Purdin Koi Farm Showa parent, bred by Isa Koi Farm

This male Showa, bred by Isa Koi Farm, was imported by Purdin Koi Farm as nisai with the sole intention of using it as future oyagoi.  Since then it has been grown on and yesterday was harvested from its growing pond.  The minute I saw him emerge from the brown water of the pond I was impressed, once released into the plastic bowl of cleaner water I was blown away.  This Showa would 100% have competed for a male Kokugyo award at the recent All Japan Koi Show.  Everything about it was superb, the sumi quality where it fell on the white ground was thick and black, where it fell on the red it was like the shiniest gloss black paint – in itself an visual lesson in how a red background can change the appearance of sumi.  Both on the shoulder area, and at the tail, were areas of what Mitsunori Isa calls ‘Asagi Sumi’, not kage, but very much like the skin and scalation of Asagi.  Look at the close up below you can see that this area also has a kado gin like effect on the edge of these scales.  All this on a absolutely wonderful frame which completely belied the fact it is male, in fact the same can be said for many of the males on the farm, more of which in another post.


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'Asagi Sumi' with kado gin effect

‘Asagi Sumi’ with kado gin effect

Side view of Isa male Showa

Side view of Isa male Showa

Side view of Isa male Showa

Side view of Isa male Showa

I remember back to 2010 when Isa Koi Farm first used a very expensive Kokugyo winning Dainichi male Showa, Mitsunori paired it with something like 9 females in controlled spawnings over the course of the summer, it was essential that he learned as soon as possible which pairings with the male gave the best results.

As I stood looking at this male swimming in the bowl my mind immediately wandered to the female Showa I introduced above, that would be the perfect mate, wouldn’t it?  Of course the truth is that my knowledge and experience of such stuff is pretty limited, it just felt right to me, at least to try it out.

It is said that an offspring will inherit the body of its mother, the male can influence the pattern.  How much truth and scientific evidence of this I have to wonder, after all it is the breeder’s selectio process that dictates what makes it to market.  If one assumes he uses females with a body shape he likes then he will also raise offspring with bodies that he likes, rejecting others.

Anyway, assuming that there is some truth in the theory, as I’ve said, that female has a great body shape and structure to my mind.  Unfortunately she is still young, I think turning just 4 this summer.  In itself not a disaster, a small batch of eggs in a controlled spawning would give an indication of what could be achieved in the future.

If the male can put some of that superb sumi onto the female’s frame, well, what’s there going to be not to like?

Of course I don’t actually know what parents Scott, Bill and Maureen will use, certainly the female above wasn’t in the running this year, she is still growing in the ‘river’, the female candidates have gone out to the mud ponds for conditioning.


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If I do hear the 2 Koi above are being paired I could even be convinced to pop on a plane and do some Kuroko selection…..


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