Koromo or ‘Robed Koi’ Dazzles Collectors

Published on February 26, 2023

Illustration ofm Ai-Goromo
Illustration of Ai-Goromo

Language of Koi

gin-rin Goromo from Kloubec Koi Farm
Ellen Kloubec, co-owner of Kloubec Koi Farm, measures a gin-rin Goromo prior to listing it online for sale.

The Koromo or Robed Koi is a fairly new variety. Developed between 1945 – 1950 in Japan, the variety emerged as a by-product of Goshiki breeding. Both varieties, Koromo and Goshiki, are grouped together for judging purposes and compete against each other at most koi shows.

Koromo are white, non-metallic koi having a red pattern and blue or black reticulation. Similar to other koi varieties with hi plates (red markings), the red pattern should be pleasing and well balanced over the entire body of the fish. However, on Koromo, the hi plates will have a very unique feature — the addition of blue or black pigment draping the red. This overlay, an unusual characteristic, is why Koromo are referred to as robed koi. The word koromo literally means “robed” in the Japanese language.

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The indigo-colored overlay may be faint on young Koromo and easily overlooked. Reticulation, or netting, will gradually increase in intensity as the koi grows. Therefore, the blue color of a seemingly perfect tone on a small koi may become too dark when the fish matures. A blue color of the perfect tone on large koi was in many cases a very light hue when the fish was small.

Water quality may also play a part in its development. A koi fish with this unexpected and unique pigmentation is sure to be a great addition to any koi collection.

Popular Variations of Koromo

The group or class for Koromo includes several types within this major variety class. Ai-Goromo and Budo Goromo are the most well known in America.

When the unusual and interesting blue coloring appears exclusively on the beni (red) markings the fish is named Ai-Goromo. The blue pigment may lightly cover the beni on young koi prior to concentrating on the scale edges, forming reticulation. A textbook example of a fully finished adult Ai-Goromo may exhibit a blue-indigo color on the outer edge of all scales on the hi plate. Koi with these distinct blue crescents arranged in a very orderly manner are highly valued.

If the overlying color on the beni is black or purple-like, the fish becomes a Budo Goromo. It frequently appears with a burgundy or deep-plum tint, making it a very popular variety. The word budo translates to “grape,” which refers to both the pattern as well as the color. Often the pattern markings have an irregularly shaped edges that can resemble clumps of grapes.

Rare Variations of Koromo or ‘Robed Koi’

Koromo Sanke and Koromo Showa are quite rare, especially in the United States. They have very complicated patterns that are not easily identified. Both Koromo Sanke and Koromo Showa will have the traditional beni pattern cloaked with sumi. Each will have the addition of sumi spots patches. The specific type of the sumi helps us differentiate between the two rare and exciting types of Koromo.

Even more variations are possible. Koromo can be produced with butterfly fins, sparkling gin-rin scales or Doitsu scales. Each dazzling feature enhances an already beautiful specimen and moves the fish to an alternative classification for judging.

Many Koromo variations are produced at Kloubec Koi Farm. Can you identify each type in this viewing bowl?

Note that Goshiki and Koromo are very similar. They are nearly identical when young, as both generally display a faint blue coloring. But when the indigo color intensifies and extends beyond the hi plates to cover the white ground, the koi it is technically a Goshiki. Often, these fish are inadvertently mislabeled as the other variety. As the koi age and the indigo pigment fully emerges, their true identity and correct variety will become evident.

Read more Language of Koi stories

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