In the world of Koi fish, most people are drawn to their beautiful patterns and colours, but there’s an often-overlooked factor that’s even more important: their body shape. In this short blog we’re going to explore why the shape of Koi fish is so important to breeders and enthusiasts. If you’d like more detail about Koi body shape check out our Masterclass article in issue 11.
Why body shape matters
Before we dive into what makes a great body shape, let’s understand why it’s such a big deal. Creating the perfect body shape for Koi fish is not easy. It takes a lot of careful breeding, trial and error, and dedication. It’s not something that happens by chance. The shape of a Koi isn’t just about how it looks; it’s about the overall impression it gives when you see it. Think of it like that “wow” moment you get when you see an incredible Koi fish at a show.
While most people first notice a Koi’s patterns, breeders have a different perspective. They can’t create patterns from scratch, but they can control and improve body shape through selective breeding. This gives them a level of predictability and control that they don’t have with patterns. For breeders, the body shape is like a canvas, and patterns are the finishing touches.
What breeders want
Breeders care a lot about body shape because it’s something they can work on and improve. They believe that patterns are mostly a matter of luck, but body shape is something they can actively shape and perfect. So, while as hobbyists you might be drawn to a Koi’s pattern, breeders focus more on the body.
If Koi value was determined solely by patterns, it would be a risky business for breeders because it would all depend on luck. But by prioritising body shape, breeders can ensure that their hard work and skills are reflected in the quality of their fish.
Beyond patterns: the impression of a Koi
The immediate impression a Koi makes is vital. It starts with the body of the Koi. If the body isn’t right, breeders won’t want to invest time and effort into developing the Koi, no matter how good its other qualities are. This first impression is hard to put into words, especially with young Koi. It’s that feeling you get when a Koi really stands out in the pond.
Finding young Koi with good body potential
While there are no guarantees in breeding Koi, you can look for certain signs in young Koi that suggest they have the potential for a great body shape. It’s important to think about what size you want because that influences the body shape. If you want massive Koi, you’ll need to invest in the right bloodlines.
The ideal body standards
A Koi with an ideal body shape has proportion and balance. Its body flows smoothly from head to tail, with a visible spine under the skin. The dorsal fin is in the right place, and the tail has enough depth for a seamless look as the Koi grows. A Koi with the right body shape exudes power and presence while gracefully moving in the water. Different breeders and Koi varieties may have slightly different body shapes, but the key qualities of power and impact remain constant. Understanding the importance of body shape helps enthusiasts appreciate Koi from a new perspective.
Ideal body standards to look out for include:
- Proportion throughout
- A smooth and uninterrupted curve to the body
- Body mass throughout, no deviation in the mass (tail too thin, head too small, etc)