Language of Koi – Kikokuryu (Kee ko ku roo)

Published on July 4, 2009

Koi fish (Pic A)

>> View all the koi images to this article, by clicking here, “Language of Koi | Kikokuryu (Kee ko ku roo) , p. 32.

If you like Kumonryu… you will love Kikokuryu. Kikokuryu is in essence a Kumonryu that is metallic. This fish poses many challenges to those who dare breed them. You can boost sales with this fish because no two will be alike and they are seldom seen in the marketplace in any quantities. More on that later.

The ever-changing nature of a Kumonryu is exciting in itself. Adding more to the mix of genetics by including a metallic sheen increases the difficulty of production many, many more times.

There are many types of Kikokuryu from the standard white/black metallic look that originated from crossing Kumonryu with platinum. This koi fish (Pic A) is a very unique fish with a scale pattern down its back. We differentiate this fish from a Gin Matsuba Doitsu because of the underlying black color that shows in the head. The sheen and dark, dark black of this fish make it truly spectacular.

Another good example of this is pictured here in a butterfly fin type.  With this fish no color other than black and white are showing, however as with these ever changing varieties, to the surprise of the hobbyist who kept this fish, it developed into a beautiful Kin Kikokuryu the very next year! (Pic B)

Adding to the Base Colors of a Kikokuryu

We have mixed in colors to promote deep shades of yellow, orange or even red. When all of these colors come together we call this a Kin Kikokuryu or Beni Kikokuryu. This variant can produce some very spectacular looks from a subtle yellow  or a very rare lemon/lime green look. More often a brilliant shade of orange.

Kikokuryu sometimes have little sheen and look more like a non-metallic koi. When the patterns are pleasing, this can be very attractive and sometimes the edging of the red/orange/yellow color will have a black line around it. In my experience, older larger non-metallic fish around six to ten years old exhibit more of this look.

It’s hard to believe that out of a trio of fish produced, all these variants can emerge in the same pond. It’s hard to tell what these fish will do. Only time, growth and proper water quality will determine the outcome. Remember this fish is ever changing and you will always look forward to the next season and a whole new look

Water Quality

Water quality plays a very large part in determining what these fish will look like. Just like the black of a standard Kumonryu, Kikokuryu has an underlying black that shows itself best in hard water and cooler waters. Fall through spring is the best time to see the ebony black that makes these fish shine. A great way to help this is to be sure your alkalinity of your pond/holding systems is high (180 ppm or greater). Some of the simplest ways to do this is to keep a bag of oyster shells in your filter where it can dissolve as needed.

What to Look for in Small Fish

0907koi002Small fish are exciting because, in general, they have not developed all of the black color yet. Fish under two years of age will continue to change. The best advice is to look for a nice red, yellow or orange pattern on the fish, as that changes the least. The black will do what it likes (when it likes).


(Pict I) shows a bunch of Kikokuryu we were culling at less than 2?, you can see that the metallic sheen has not developed yet. Can you pick the best ones out?

What to Look for in Big Fish

As with Showa, the black tends to be a bit more stable as the fish matures. They will still change, but as with all Kikokuryu, look for a great pattern and think about the water temperature and hardness when judging the quality of the fish. If it was just pulled from a warm mud pond, it probably is not going to look its best.

How Big Do They Get?

Contrary to popular belief the Kikokuryu we produce can get very, very large, one of our females is currently over 32?.

What to Expect to Consistently Get in the Market Place

Kikokuryu are a fairly new variety. I expect more people will try their hand at these because of the excitement (and disappointments) of the outcomes. Most of what is available on the market currently, at a wholesale level, is the small size fish with a solid pattern – as the outcome of this breeding yields a lot of this (Pic J).

>> View all the koi images to this article, by clicking here, “Language of Koi | Kikokuryu (Kee ko ku roo) , p. 32.

What’s a Great Fish Look Like?

Well that depends on who you ask. I have a few personal favorites that we have produced over the years. The first fish has a strong, steel looking under-color with an over-pattern of some of the strongest red I have ever seen. Currently, this fish is around 12? and I’m excited to see what the outcome will be in the next few years. (Pic L) is a Beni Kikokuryu that has the desired thick deep black with an interesting orange pattern…I love this fish as well.


Here are a few other fish that either have not reached their prime, have past their prime…. Or are of a lower quality, only time will tell


Retail Business

New and exciting varieties are the lifeblood of a retail business. Give your customers a fish they have not seen before and they will buy. Be sure to have a couple larger fish on display to show a potential buyer how they change. With this variety, your customers will return to your shop over and over for a show and tell of what the fish looks like now. What’s better than an excited happy customer? Not much.

Variety is the spice of life!

>> View all the koi images to this article, by clicking here, “Language of Koi | Kikokuryu (Kee ko ku roo) , p. 32.

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