Language of Koi – Kujaku

Published on May 1, 2010

Ellen Kloubec culling fry
Ellen Kloubec culling fry

The Kujaku is a koi variety that has evolved from the combination of Shusui with Kin Matsuba and Hariwake to become one of the most popular koi in the Hikari Moyo class. Hikari Moyo you ask? Hikari Moyo is a ‘show class’ of koi. But for the typical koi enthusiast any fish in this group is sure to please. It’s the shine, or luster, or sheen, as you’ll hear it described.

Hikari describes the metallic skin, and *moyo* means ‘of more than one color.’
However, modern Kujaku rarely display the black, brown, white, red and yellow of their ancestors. A current day Kujaku is basically a Gin Matsuba that has a Kohaku pattern, if that makes sense to you.

Oh,…so Kujaku is the five colored koi, or peacock koi that everyone is searching for. Yes, it is, although Goshiki is also a koi, which also sports 5 colors. Confused yet? Look for the luster, or sheen. If it doesn’t have a thick metallic Platinum base, it’s not a Kujaku.

In other words, Kujaku is a metallic platinum based koi that has black Matsuba (pinecone) scales, and orangey-red markings like a Kohaku. Good Kujaku usually showcase large platinum pectoral fins that are a superb accent to everything else the fish has going on. The solid platinum fins are a calm retreat from the very busy dark scalation and *hi* (red) pattern. A clean white head or face pattern is ideal. The fish should have good metallic luster, evenly colored pinecone scales, a clean clear head and a pleasing pattern. Five or six rows of scales with dark colored centers is acceptable.

With so much going on, a Kujaku is sometimes mistaken for a Kin Showa, but Kujaku do not have large black patches like a Kin Showa.

As if our heads were not already spinning, Kujaku also comes in a Doitsu variation. On a Doitsu Kujaku the scales appear only along the dorsal line, or backbone, and possibly along the lateral lines. Look for the dark centered scales and clean Platinum skin to identify the Doitsu Kujaku.

Due to the diverse lineage of Kujaku culling its offspring is quite a challenge. Not only do the young Kujaku resemble ‘pond mutts’ at an early age, many of their siblings are of various varieties. We can also find Ogon, Kikusui, Kohaku, Aka Matsuba, Gin Matsuba, Asagi, Hariwake just to name a few from a single pairing of Kujaku breeder koi. Then add in the variable of Doitsu scales and the task of culling 100,000+ babies is not for the faint of heart.

**Making Beautiful Babies…**

At Kloubec Koi Farm we generally designate two or three mud-ponds to hold the enormous number of Kujaku fry that we hatch most every year. (See photo 6 of three-day-old Kujaku fry) Nursery mud-ponds are prepared to receive the young fry. Each pond is drained and cleaned of any remaining fish. The pond bottoms will be dredged if necessary. Filtered water will re-fill each pond, and fertilizer added to produce the perfect bloom. The fry are stocked out into the ponds at dusk. Then we take a sigh of relief before we start to anguish over their uncertain survival.

**They’re Alive! …(Now get to work!)**

A first culling is done around the 45-day mark. It is during this stage when we begin to see which little fish will exhibit a good metallic sheen. Any fish with defects are discarded during the first cull. Notice the different varieties. Not only are we reviewing every Kujaku, we have to evaluate the others to determine if they are worthy of stocking back into a mud-pond. Some of the koi are obvious at this age, but many are not. At this time any inferior fish will not make the cut. Back to the mud-pond they go. After restocking the koi are fed three to five times per day.

At the second cull you can definitely see the vast assortment of varieties. This sample of culled fish is ready to go back into a mud pond. Before long it will be time to cull them again.

Soon we’ll end up with only the best fish to keep and grow. At this stage we’re looking for koi with the highest sheen, consistency in the Matsuba scales and the potential to grow very large. If they have high luster on the head it is a good indication that the entire body will have the same consistency of the shine. We also evaluate the scales. We want uniform centers on them. Patches of uneven sumi (black) on the scales can indicate an unfavorable amount of pigment. It may spoil the appearance of the scales, and reduce the value of the koi. Having a pretty little white nose is definitely a plus! Now, back into the mud-pond to grow some more!

At the end of the season we are happy with our shiny and plump 6˝ koi. The fish are up to size, and ready for harvest and be shipped to koi stores and pond contractors. The Kujaku have the shine that we’ve been expecting and a great start to growing into the Kujaku (Hikari Moyo) of our dreams.

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