May 5

Sarah Robertson

All About the Showa Koi Fish – Koi Story

Showa koi is one of the most popular and well-known varieties of koi fish. They are brightly colored and graceful, with white, red, and black markings on their bodies. showa  is one of the Gosanke, or "Big 3," koi fish, along with Taisho Sanke and Kohaku. The beauty of these fish is enhanced by their bright color combinations.

Showa koi are also known for being particularly hardy and resilient, which makes them a popular choice for koi keepers. Showa koi are also relatively easy to care for, and can thrive in a wide range of water conditions. They are a lovely addition to any pond, and with the proper care, they may live a long and healthy life.


During the reign of the Showa emperor in Japan, the first Showa koi fish emerged in 1927. The Showa koi are also part of the Kohaku and Taisho Sanshoku varieties.

Jukichi Hoshino hybridized a Ki Utsuri and a Kohaku koi fish to produce the Showa variety. Surprisingly, the original Showa was not particularly attractive. The scales weren't as brilliant white as we're used to seeing in fish, but they were a dingy, muted yellow.

In 1965, Tomiji Kobayashi introduced a modern Showa koi. He bred a Showa female with a male Sanke koi fish, and then a male Kohaku fish. The combination generated the Showa pattern that we see today.

How to Identify Showa? 

It's difficult to identify a Showa koi from other koi fish, but there are certain indications that will help you determine one.

To determine the breed, you must first understand what you're searching for, where colors should be placed, and how pattern distribution should be.


Sumi markings are the glossy black seen on Showa koi, Taisho and Sanke kinds. On the other hand, a Sumi has the following features:

  • Along the length of the entire body, it extends.
  • Appears Bold in saturated black color - not grey 
  • It is large with wide bands that wrap around the body

If you notice smaller black splotches or Sumi on the top of the body, then that koi that isn't a Showa.

Hi / Beni 

Beni is the red-orange markings seen on the body of a Showa koi. These red markings are on a variety of koi breeds, so double-check to see if they're Showa. In Showa, Beni will have the following features:

  • Large, paint-like patches around the face, tail, and spine.
  • It will also appear to be more orange in color rather than red.

The Beni should be vibrant, shiny and free of excessive white scaling on a Showa koi.


Shiroji simply means the white color of a koi fish. A Shiroji on a Showa koi should resemble the Beni. It will not be apparent near the face or in large patches on the body. Instead, the Shiroji blends in with the Sumi to create lovely designs. The pattern covers the entire body. Some modern Showa koi, however, may have more Shiroji than others as a result of breeding.

Showa Koi Varieties

Showa Koi Varieties & How to Identify Them 

Although all Showa must have black (Sumi) skin marked with red to red-orange markings (Hi) and white (Shiroji) markings on top, there are several distinct varieties of Showa. Showa can be classified according to the markings on the body as well as those on the head. The following are showa varieties:

Varieties - According to Markings on the Body

  • Hi Showa
    Showa's most distinctive characteristic is its bright red color. Sumi shows through, and there isn't much, if any, white.
    A distinguished Showa, the Hi Utsuri can be confused with this Hi Showa. However, the small bit of white near the base of the tail distinguishes it from a Showa.
  • Kindai Showa
    Kindai Showa are becoming more popular now a days. It has white as the dominant colour (40% or more), while the hi and sumi are proportionally less.
  • Old Style Showa
    The old Showa are, as might be assumed, one of the original Showa bloodlines. The Showa are black with little white and red as a secondary color. A good rule of thumb to go by is 40% or more black, 40% or less red, and 20% or less white.
  • Doitsu Showa Koi
    This beautiful Doitsu Showa has a more traditional pattern, where the hi and sumi are more prevalent than the white areas.
    Aside from some broad scales along the lateral line and dorsal fin, Doitsu Showa koi are scaleless.
  • Kin Showa Koi
    Showa can have any of the above patterns, however they will be metallic gold in hue. The effect may seem to twinkle with only a little bit of gold or prominent gold presence.
  • Gin Rin Showa
    They look similar to Kin Showa, but they have a more silver metallic sheen to their body. The name "kin-gin-rin" is derived from the terms "gold" and "silver scales," which describe a koi with both traits.
    The Gin-Rin Showa is not only gorgeous, but it's also enhanced with reflective scales, making it a stunning fish in its own right.
  • Ai Showa
    The main feature of Ai showa is the blue or deep indigo speckles all over the body.

Varieties - According to Markings on the Head 

  • Maruten Showa
    The “crown,” or red spot on the head, is the main characteristic of this koi. There are also various red patches on the rest of the body, with varied patterning. Red, white, and black may appear on any part of the body.
  • Tancho Showa Koi
    Tancho Showa are red-headed, with a single red dot on their head and the rest of their body is white. Sumi can be found virtually anywhere, even in the red region. The sumi has a typical design and is well-balanced across the body.
  • Maruten
    The Maruten translation is somewhat rough, but koi with this design have a red spot on their heads that is called a "crown." There are several red regions on the rest of the body, each with its own unique patterning. Sanke koi have a distinctive black patterning, which may be seen on the back in red or white plates.
  • Boke Showa
    The Boke Showa have a subtle appearance, with Hi and Shiroji typically still vibrant (but not always), whereas the Sumi strokes look more blurred and grey than sharp and black.
  • Menware & Hachiware Showa
    The term "menware" is used to describe the lighting-shaped Sumi pattern that generally extends from the base of the head to the nose or mouth. Hachiwara is the Japanese term for a Sumi design that extends from gill to gill along the base of the head like a collar or yoke. It can also create a V or Y pattern that extends onto the face.
Showa Terminology

Showa Terminology 

The following is a list of Showa koi terminology, as well as explanations and phrases that are frequently used to refer to them;

  • Aka – (AH kah) Red
  • Aka hana – (AH kah HAH nah) Red nose

  • Aka Sanke (AH kah SAHN keh) A sanke with large areas of hi (red) without breaks in the pattern 

  • Hachi  – (HAH chee) Head

  • Hara – (hah RAH) Abdominal area

  • Bozu – (boh ZOO) No hi on the head, bald head

  • Ginrin or Gin-Rin – (geen reen) Refers to sparkling scales 

  • Hi – (HEE) A term for red

  • Hi Utsuri – (HEE oot SOO ree)  A black koi with red markings

  • Showa – (SHOH wah) A black koi with hi (red) and shiro (white)

  • Sanke – (SAHN keh) A white koi with hi (red) and sumi (black) patterns

  • Hi Showa – (HEE SHOH wah) A Showa with hi (red) as the predominant color

  • Kindai Showa – (kin DEYE SHOH wah) A Showa with shiro (white) as the predominant color

  • Menkaburi – (MEHN kah BOO ree) Hi (red) covering the entire face or head 

  • Motoaka – (MOH toh AH kah) Red markings at the base of the pectoral fins

  • Motoguro – (MOH toh GOO roh) Black markings at the base of the pectoral fins

  • Nezu – (NEH zoo) Light Grey

  • Ojime – (oh GEE meh) Gap between the last pattern marking and the tail

  • Shiro – (SHEE roh) White

  • Sumi – (SOO mee) Black

  • Odome – (oh DOH meh) Last marking before the tail

  • Tancho showa – (TAHN SHOH wah) A showa with a single hi (red) spot on the head and typical sumin the body

  • Tsubo sumi – (TSOO boh SOO mee) Black pattern (sumi) over white skin

  • Utsuri – (oot SOO ree)  A two-colored koi, a black koi with one other color;

Keeping Showa Koi

Keeping Showa Koi – All You Need to Know 

Showa, like other koi, can grow to be quite big, therefore the expense of food and water quality maintenance should be considered before purchasing. This is all you need to know before getting Showa koi for your pond;

Showa Koi - Ideal Temperature 

Some people believe that temperature of water plays a role in the appearance of Sanke koi. Just like Kohaku and Sanke, colder water produces a darker red Showa coloration, while warmer waters produce a more orange-red Hi. Like Sanke, Showa prefer water temperatures of approximately 13 to 26° C, or 55 to 79° F.

Showa Koi - Gender & Age

Due to hormones, female Showa will take longer to fully develop red and black markings, but they will last longer period of time. Males, on the other hand, tend to develop their coloration sooner, but it fades more rapidly as they get older.

A showa's skin begins as entirely or mostly black, reflecting the color of its skin. Shiroji and Hi markings appear in greater quantities as they mature. Sumi can appear grey or dull in some juvenile Showa – this will, over time, become a proper, rich black. A Showa's coloration takes many years to mature, so be patient and enjoy the visual journey that your Showa takes you on!

Showa Koi - Diet 

Showa koi, like all other koi, are fed colorants in their diets to aid in the development and maintenance of healthy hues. Color enhancers such as spirulina or krill, as well as high-protein diets (more than 30%), may be used to help promote growth and maintain good pigmentation. If you don't want to exhibit your fish, these factors are less crucial. Otherwise, Showa's diet is comparable to that of most other koi.

A diet high in color enhancers, such as spirulina, carotene, and xanthophyll, might cause the white portions of the fish to take on a more yellow appearance. It may also produce off-color spots in the red areas, as well as Sumi that appear bluer than black.

Showa Koi - Care

Showa Koi - Care

Proper care of your Showa koi is essential for a successful koi pond. Here are some things you can do to extend the life of your koi long and prosper.

Showa Koi - Ideal Pond Size

The Showa koi grows to be quite huge; in fact, the Showa is no exception. They mature fast, and Showa koi can reach up to 20 inches in maturity.

The size of your pond should be around 50 gallons per koi, and the water should be about three feet deep. If the pond is not big enough, the koi will not have space to swim freely and will be more susceptible to diseases.

Showa Koi - Pond Location

They can only endure 5-6 hours of direct sunshine, therefore they need concealment. Water lilies are also beneficial since they attract insects and other plants that the fish consume, thus they perform two tasks at once. When constructing a koi pond, take advantage of additional natural safeguards such as surrounding trees to help you make more shade.

Showa Koi - Ideal pH level

The ideal pH range for Showa koi is between 7 and 8.6. If the pH is too low, it will stunt the growth of your koi. If the pH is too high, it can cause skin irritation and gill damage.

When testing your pond water, don't forget to check the ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates levels as well. Ammonia and nitrites are toxic to koi, and nitrates can cause algae growth.

Showa Koi - Water Quality

Showa Koi are very sensitive to changes in water quality, so it's important to test your pond water regularly. To maintain good water quality, you'll need to do a partial water change every week.

During the partial water change, vacuum the pond bottom and clean the filter. This will help remove any built-up waste and keep your pond clean.

Showa Koi - Food

Showa Koi fish can eat pretty much anything, aside from carbs. Following are some of the best food sources for your koi:

  • Shrimp
  • Veggies

  • Fruit

  • Wheat germ

  • Spirulina algae

  • Krill

  • Worms

  • Bloodworms

Warning Signs 

Showa koi are easily recognized. Examine the hues; if your Showa has any Beni or Shiroji that have faded, it's possible they're sick.

Additionally, if your Showa's abdomen swells suddenly or gets extremely thin, get in touch with your veterinarian. If your koi fish is flashing or scraping its body against the tank/pond, you should contact your vet as well.

These are just some of the things you can do to take care of your Showa koi. By following these, you can extend the life of your koi and enjoy their company for many years to come.


What Is the Difference Between Showa and Sanke

What Is the Difference Between Showa and Sanke? 

Showa may, at times, be mistaken for Sanke. The distinguishing feature is that Sanke koi have white base skin with black spots that do not extend below the lateral line, whereas Showa has black skin that comes through white and red markings.

The most noticeable distinction between the Sanke and Showa is the sumi on the head. Sanke will generally have only two hues on its head — white and red, with no sumi. The face should be white because the significant beni pattern begins here.

How to Know if It Is Showa Sanshoku?

“Taisho Sanshoku,” and “Showa Sanshoku,” are the varieties. As the name “Sanshoku” implies ('3 colors' in Japanese), both Sanshoku is tri-colored Koi (white, red, and black). However, they must be differentiated because these 2 types had different patterns and backgrounds. Black does not frequently cover the heads of Sanke.

For the first time, Shigekichi Hoshino created the Showa Sanshoku in Takesawa village, and from there, the Showa was derived from a lineage of Magoi (Black Koi).

Both have a design made up of white, black, and red dots, but you can tell them apart if you notice when they're baby fry. Showa Sanshoku fry are black in color, whereas Taisho Sanshoku fry have pinkish colored bodies. If you mate two Showa, you'll end up with approximately 70% pink fry and 30% black fry.

At one spawning, koi fish produce 400,000 fry. Later, when the pink and black fry mature, It becomes Kohaku and Showa respectively. The toughest aspect of Showa breeders is separating out 400k fish.

How to Breed Showa Koi for Color & Pattern?

Kohaku is the bloodline of Showa Koi. Trying to breed your Showa to get more Showa or a different sub-variety is difficult, as it is with every specific koi variety. Kohaku's (and, as an extension, Showa) hue is influenced by a variety of genes and dozens of alleles.; It might take several generations to produce offspring with the proper Showa coloration. There is only a 30% probability that any of the progeny will be Showa, even if both parents are Showa!

What Do You Look for in a Showa? 

Look for a healthy fish with big pectoral fins and no disease. To be able to pick a great showa, one must first understand how to select a decent Kohaku and Shiro utsuri. Taking all the black from a showa should result in a nice Kohaku, and taking all the red should give you a decent Shiro Utsuri.

What Is the Cost of Showa & Where to Buy Showa

What Is the Cost of Showa & Where to Buy Showa?

The Showa koi family ranges in price considerably, with Hi Showa being the most affordable.

Showa Koi are generally more costly than other varieties of specially-bred koi. You must also consider maintenance requirements such as food and water quality. You'll need to have adequate filtration and aeration systems in place, which will vary in price depending on the size of your pond, just as with koi.

Showa are generally the costliest among the big three koi types, with even mid-grade Showa costing hundreds of pounds or dollars and high-quality, champion line competition Showa costing thousands of dollars/pounds. Price of a Showa koi depends on a number of factors.

A pond Showa Koi usually costs between $50 and $150, depending on size, color, form, and variety. However, there are a few show-quality koi that cost more than $10,000.

Showa may be purchased in both juvenile and adult forms for a few hundred dollars/pounds, and baby showa koi or very young Showa for considerably less. Depending on where you buy them, and whether or not bloodline, or “show quality,” is a factor for you, Showa can cost can vary.

Gin rin and kin rin Showa are generally the most costly Showa varieties, prized for their metallic, diamond-like scales and valued at millions of dollars. In terms of cost, Hi and Kindai Showa are generally cheaper than most other types. The price varies considerably based on the breeder, shop, and parents.

Showa koi can be found in some physical stores, but they're most commonly obtained online. Make careful to do your homework on each firm to ensure that the fish are ethically treated and that shipping conditions are safe.

Final Thoughts:

Showa koi is a beautiful type of koi with mainly black, white, and red colors. They are descendants of the Kohaku koi fish and are known to be one of the more difficult koi to breed. They are named after the Showa period in Japanese history, during which they were first developed.

These fish are relatively easy to care for but require some specific conditions to thrive. The most popular varieties of showa are the Ginrin Showa, the Kindai Showa, and the Hi Showa.

If you're interested in keeping koi, Showa is a beautiful option that can add some variety to your pond. Just remember that they require some specific care and conditions to thrive, so do your research before you get started. Thanks for reading!

Sarah Robertson

I am a passionate blogger who also happens to be a fish keeping enthusiast. Writing about my hobby is something that I absolutely love to do, and it's no secret that my chosen topic is always centered around fish keeping.

Sarah Robertson

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