Kin-Gin-Rin (keen-geen-leen) is a reference to a koi’s scale type rather than the variety of koi, and literally means ‘golden silver reflective scales.’ Most generally, Kin Gin Rin is abbreviated to Gin Rin by koi breeders, sellers and koi hobbyists of today. Any koi variety can have Gin Rin scales, and what a brilliant enhancement the sparkly scales make. The addition of Gin Rin scales can transform an ordinarily plain koi into a stunning beauty. Gin Rin is highly reflective so that each scale glistens when it catches the light. It’s no wonder that koi are called Living Jewels.
Gin Rin Technical Info:
• The correct terminology for Gin Rin koi is to precede the variety name with the words Gin Rin. Example: Gin Rin Showa, Gin Rin Asagi, and so forth.
• The Gin Rin scales appear golden when they cover red pigment, or hi. A Gin Rin scale appears silvery when covering white or black pigment.
• Ideal Gin Rin scales should start at the base of the head, or shoulder, and continue to the base of the tail and along both sides of the dorsal fin. Rows of scales should be very neatly aligned with no random or mismatched scales.
• A koi needs to have at least 2 complete rows, preferably 3 or more, to be classified as Gin Rin for entering into any koi show. Symmetry is very important when evaluating Gin Rin.
Scales vs. Skin
Koi which fall into the Hikari Muji and Hikari Moyo classes (Ogons, Kikusui, Kujaku, Hariwake etc.) are shiny too, but theirs is very different from Gin Rin. Remember that Gin Rin is shiny scales. The Hikari classes are metallic, meaning that their skin has a metallic sheen or luster. That luster will cover the entire body, including the scales. Hikari varieties will show metallic luster on the head and fins with the pectorals being the most prominent. So, the difference between Gin Rin and Hikari Koi is scales versus skin.
Special Note – If this topic were not confusing enough, Hikari varieties may also have Gin Rin scales!
What to Look For When Selecting a Gin Rin Koi
When searching for a good Gin Rin koi you need to look past all the bling, if that’s possible, and pick a fish that is as close to perfect in every other dimension. First, check out the koi’s body conformation. See that it has correct proportions and all fins are intact. Next, watch how it swims, breathes, and reacts to other koi. Then pick out the fish with the most pleasing pattern or colors that you like. Finally you can concentrate on the Gin Rin scales. Remember that a Gin Rin Koi should have two or more complete rows of scales, the more the better. They should start at the shoulder and end at the tail. Look for scales that are neatly organized in straight and even rows. Avoid those with missing, random or jumbled scales. The layout or placement of scales will not change as your new pet grows. And lastly, choose the koi with the best sparkle as Kin Gin Rin koi are also judged on the quality of their scales.
Types of Gin Rin
See graphic by Adam Reutzel
Gin Rin scales are divided into four sub varieties, and can be flat or raised depending on its style.
1. Diamond Gin Rin: Looks like crackled glass or brushed aluminum lines radiating outward in the shape of a fan. Most common type.
2. Beta Gin: The whole surface of the scale shines like a mirror. Very uncommon type.
3. Pearl Gin Rin: Has a raised shiny deposit on the center of each scale, similar to a pearl. Most uncommon type.
4. Kado-Gin: Has a glittery scalloped outer edge instead of covering the entire scale surface. Highly unusual and least preferred.