Language of Koi – Tancho

Published on May 1, 2011

Tancho Kohaku
Tancho Kohaku

Nothing strikes fear in the heart of a Koi retailer than these four words, “I want a Tancho.” It’s at that moment you realize your customer has been looking at Koi books and has envisioned a beautiful snow white Koi, with traditional circular red spot on the head, swimming gracefully in his/her backyard pond and eagerly accepting food from the hand of its owner. Sigh…..

As a Koi retailer you may feel the pressure to find each customer the exact Koi he is looking for, but you probably realize that unless the customer has an unlimited budget, a perfect Tancho Kohaku is not going to be forthcoming.

Just why is it that this one Koi always seems to elude us? The answer is very simple, yet so complicated.

Since Koi patterns are random very few Tancho patterns emerge from a single Kohaku spawn. It is true that some parent stock will produce more Tancho offspring than others, but finding a perfect Tancho is like finding a needle in a haystack. And generally speaking, Koi producers and Koi brokers don’t let these little gems slip through their fingers.

**Pure Simplicity**

Tancho Kohaku is a pure white Koi with a single hi (red) marking that is exclusive to the head. No other red should be visible on the fish. The red should be a crisp crimson color and the body a flawless snow white base. One attribute without the other is usually a disappointment. The white body color is called *shiroji*, or white ground. Tancho is a non-metallic variety. The Tancho is a fixed idea of beauty, which is hard to achieve. The single red spot on the head is reminiscent of the national bird of Japan, Tancho crane, as well as the Japanese flag.

**Tancho Variations**

The best known, or easily recognizable, is the Tancho Kohaku. Other identifiable varieties are Tancho Showa and Tancho Sanke. Keep in mind that virtually any Koi variety displaying an isolated symmetrical head marking can be called Tancho, but only the Gosanke varieties (Kohaku, Sanke, and Showa) will compete in the Tancho class at a Koi show.

Tancho Showa has the *sumi* (black) pattern of Utsuri with the addition of the lone head hi. A good Tancho Showa is surely a head-turner.

Tancho Sanke will have the *sumi* spots of a Bekko, but they must be located only on the Koi’s body starting on the shoulder. No *sumi* should intrude onto the head.

**Tancho Head Markings**

Variations of Tancho head markings are gaining in popularity and acceptance by Koi hobbyists. Since the ideal, nearly unattainable, circular markings are seldom found, Tancho with deviations are also in high demand.

The classic Tancho is a perfectly centered circular marking that lies evenly between, but not touching the eyes. It should not extend forward beyond the nostrils nor back onto the first scales of the shoulder.

An oval Tancho is almost as valued as a perfect round marking.

Unconventional markings such as a flowery, diamond, or heart shaped patterns are acceptable alternatives, although symmetry is particularly important in these types.

The Tancho**

A pure and simple beauty is a site to behold. It embodies power and demands respect. It is no wonder that this is one of the most highly sought after Koi by hobbyists all around the world.

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