How do you determine the value of a Koi?
I get this question almost daily. Why is that 8” Koi worth $40 and that 8” Koi over there $500? It is difficult to sum up what makes a koi valuable, but the best place to start is the koi show judging standards as these will dictate what the rest of us pay for koi. Koi shows are not unlike dog or horse shows. It’s a competition were the koi are viewed and judged by a group of experts. Numerous winners are chosen in each category then in turn the Grand Champion. Just like in other animal shows, the judges use a very specific, even rigid, set of standards to judge the koi.
Koi quality is typically split into three categories
Conformation or body shape
High quality begins with the overall shape and condition of the koi, or its conformation. High quality koi should have no defects in body shape. The body must be balanced, symmetrical and torpedo-shaped. The fins should be in proportion to the body and even.
Breeders and judges look for intensity and purity of color – whether the Koi are all white, all black, or richly patterned. Borders between colors should be well-marked and distinct. The saturation of color, its consistency and how well the colors are separated determine the quality of the color. Without good color, the pattern of the fish is not as appealing and the value of the fish is lessened. The skin should be free from any blemish and be lustrous. Black markings should be dark and defined, as if they were painted with a fine brush. Reds should be opaque without orange . White areas should be pure silky and free from speckles. The edges of the colors should be crisp and not show fading. Colors that bleed together are not desired in most koi. On certain varieties of koi, such as Kohaku, the edges of the red coloration come under high scrutiny by show judges.
Koi patterns are rich and varied. Judges and breeders look for fish with sharp, distinct pattern edges. The symmetry of the head, shoulders, mid-section, tail, and pectoral fins are taken into account, as well as the integrity of the eyes and mouth. An ideal koi has an absolutely straight line from the snout to the tail. The proper proportion should be maintained between the body, head, and the fins. The distance between the dorsal fin and the tail should be 1/3 the distance between the head and the first ray of the dorsal fin. The head should be smooth, with no pits or indentations. Overall size is also important, the larger the better
Quality and Elegance
This is a bit of an intangible and not necessarily a judgement category but I have witnessed it as a important element. Sort of a personality test. The overall presence of the fish, including swimming ability and how it relates to other fish (too passive or aggressive are marked lower) side-by-side comparisons are used to recognize personality and behavior differences in the Koi. The fish are also judged by their grace in movement. Individual Koi that appear healthier and more vital than others are rated higher.
These are just a few guidelines used by the Koi big boys. The important thing is if you like it then that is the best reason to add it to your collection.
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