Are your customers requesting blue Koi?
Are you asking yourself, ”Do they make a fish that’s blue?”
Asagi (ah-saw-geeē) or Shusui (shoo-se-eeē) are blue koi and your answer to fulfilling the customer’s desire for blue koi.
**Features of Asagi**
Asagi are one of the original types of koi developed from the ancestral Magoi approximately 200 years ago. They are fairly plain koi when compared to other varieties. They are simple non-metallic, fully scaled koi, mostly blue in color with *hi* (red) accents. Asagi lack the spectacular patterns and vibrant colors of fish in the other koi classifications. Due to the lack of pattern Asagi are sometimes considered dull, or not beautiful. But rest assured, a top-notch Asagi demands your attention.
**What to Look For in Asagi**
**Head: ** The head should be a uniform color, ranging from white to slight blue. A good Asagi should have no gray shadows, black smudges, or spots on the head. A clean and clear white head is often what separates a Champion Asagi from the rest.
**Body: ** The Asagi scalation should be impeccable. Five to six rows of even blue scales is ideal. These scales should have blue centers with a very light blue-to-white rim, which makes a net-like pattern over the entire body. This net-like pattern is commonly referred to as reticulation. Having a clearly defined contrast between the two colors is what to look for. Watch for even coloration of scales and complete reticulation throughout.
**Hi Accents: ** *Hi* on Asagi generally appears more orange than red, but the redder the better. The *hi*should also be free of dark spots and should be symmetrical at each position. The *hi* on Asagi should be visible in three locations; the cheeks, along the sides of the body and the fin joints. *Hi* on the cheeks may reach up and around the eyes but should not go higher on the head. *Hi* on the sides of the koi should extend from the lateral line downward and may connect with the *hi* on the cheeks or jaws. Asagi should still retain a white abdomen. A good Asagi will have *hi* in the fin joints, and is most desired in the pectoral joints (moto-aka).
If you see all of these attributes, white head, consistent blue color, distinct reticulation, symmetrical *hi*, as well as great conformation, then you are looking at an outstanding Asagi!
**Features of Shusui**
Shusui are non-metallic blue colored koi with hi accents much like Asagi. Shusui were developed in the early 1900’s by breeding Asagi with Doitsugoi, German scaled carp. They are the Doitsu version of Asagi although the two look completely different. Shusui have scales only down the middle of their back and along the lateral line rather than being covered completely with scales. The lack of scales reveals light blue skin on their back and is the reason they are sometimes referred to as ‘blue-backs.’
**What to Look For in Shusui**
**Head: ** As in Asagi, the head of Shusui should be a clean and clear uniform color ranging from white to slight blue and free of discoloration or dark spots. Shusui may occasionally exhibit *hi* pattern on the head or face.
**Body: ** Shusui are not fully scaled. They have large scales on the dorsal line from the base of the head to the tail, and also along the lateral line. The scales should be very neatly aligned and deep blue-to-gray in color. Occasionally you can find clumps of scales at the base of the head. The contrast between the dark scales and light colored skin is very attractive and dramatic. Symmetry is key when evaluating *doitsu* scales. Try to find Shusui without missing scales, or bare spots, in their row of *doitsu* scales.
**Hi Accents:** The *hi *of Shusui is generally redder than the *hi* on Asagi, but placement is similar. It should be present on the cheeks, sides and the fin joints. The cheeks or jaws should display *hi* and it may extend onto the head. An interesting pattern is preferred when *hi* appears on the head. *Hi* placed above the lateral line on the back is perfectly acceptable, actually expected. Most importantly *hi* should be apparent on the pectoral fins. Tight *hi* markings at the fin joint are preferred over *hi* stripes. Many times you can also see *hi* in the tail and dorsal joints on Shusui.
Overall you have two options when it comes to finding blue koi for your customers, Asagi or Shusui.
When selling Asagi, there are key features that set them apart from most other koi. The most prominent is the detail of the scalation. Asagi scales benefit from close examination.
When showing a customer an Asagi, bowl the koi, then gently gather the koi in your hands, holding gently but securely, and bring it to the front edge of the bowl where you can control it comfortably. Hold the koi and gently bring it to the surface bringing the back up out of the water. In this position you can point out the blue color and the lighter edging present on the edges of each scale clearly. Comment on the degree of uniformity of the markings on the scales. The more even the scalation the better. You may want to compare the scalation between two Asagi, to detect and draw out your customer’s preferences, and build a desire for a particular favorite.
The blue on the scales can range from rather bright to grey or black in color. Asagi tend to darken as they mature.
Note the red that begins at the lateral line and covers the belly. Ideally the red markings should be symmetrical. Note the red on the base of the pectoral fins and on the cheeks, and how it balances out the red on the belly. Usually koi vary and some will have better scalation than others, better red than others, cleaner heads than others. Use these traits to impress upon your client the unique, one of a kind nature of the koi you have for sale. Pointing out these traits will help your customer feel good about choosing one over another, and come to a buying decision.
Customers having learned something new and interesting about the koi, can now tell their friends when they show the koi off in their pond.