May 4

Sarah Robertson

Complete Guide to Taisho Sanke

Koi carp have been in existence for thousands of years, dating back to the fourth century in China and Japan. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that Koi was introduced to the Western World. Over the years, many different Koi varieties have been bred, but the taisho sanke is one of the most popular.

The Taisho Sanke is an expensive koi fish and is very famous among koi fish hobbyists. It has a beautiful white base color. The white should not have any discoloration, and it should start at the nose and continue down to the tail. On Sanke koi, red patches are generally larger, more obvious patterns in contrast to the black markings. In this article, we shall discuss this amazing ornamental fish.

What Is Taisho Koi 

The Taisho Sanke has a red and black design on a white base. There should not be any yellow marking or yellow pattern, and the reds and blacks should be vivid and well-defined. It's unusual to find blue edging in young specimens, but it should become ink black as they mature. They are available in Doitsu, Maruten, Gin Rin, and Tancho varieties.

The most popular name for this koi species is Sanke, and the best choice is Taisho Sanshoku. Sanshoku refers to a three-color, that is white, red, and black, seen in Sanke koi. The Taisho Sanshoku is a very intelligent koi, and it is known to be one of the best swimmers in the koi world.


Koi species are considered to be the descendants of common carp or wild carp. The Taisho Sanke koi, often known as the Taisho Sanshoku koi fish, is one of the most well-known and popular types of koi.  This tri-colored Koi variety was first created in 1914 during the Taisho Emperor. In the United States, this fish is often known as just "Sanke." Kohaku, Sanke, and Showa are among the "Big Three" of the Koi world, which includes Taisho Sanke.


The life expectancy of an ornamental Sanke koi in a pond is typically 30-40 years; however, this can vary significantly depending on genetics and care. With excellent maintenance and genetics, these Japanese koi fish may live to be more than 50 years old.


So, how big do Sanke koi get? The average length of a domestic Sanke Koi is around 12 to 15 inches. The typical length of a Japanese Koi Sanke is 22 to 26 inches long. In terms of length, jumbo-sized Koi grow up to 34 to 36 inches long. However, it will depend on certain conditions such as water quality, diet, and genetics.

Taisho Sanke Meaning

Taisho Sanke Meaning 

There have been many discussions regarding Sanke koi meaning in different languages. However, in Japanese culture, the word 'Sanke' literally means 'tri color'. Sanke Koi as the name suggests has three colors. The three colors are white, black and red. The Taisho Sanke Koi is also known as the Taisho Sanshoku in Japan.

Appearance & Behavior

The Taisho Sanke was the first tricolor (white, red, and black) koi variety to be created. It is considered to be the second koi in the "Big Three" (Gosanke) group.

The Taisho Sanke are known for their exquisite white bodies and a wide range of hi (red) and little sumi (black spotting) on their bodies. These fish species usually only have the sumi on the upper half of the body, they typically shouldn’t have any below the lateral line.

The lack of motoguro, which is a block of black at the base of the pectoral fin, distinguishes Sanke sumi from Showa's, whose sumi are frequently larger and reach down to the belly. The pectoral fins of Sanke may have some black stripes, but they should not have motoguro - a completely black pectoral fin.

The absence of sumi on this koi fish head distinguishes it from Showa. While a typical Sanke will have only red over white on its head, a high-quality Showa will always have a lot of black on its head.

Types of Taisho Sanke 

These amazing koi breeds come in many different colors and patterns. Some of the most popular varieties of Taisho Sanke include:

Doitsu Taisho Sanke: The scale-less version of the typical Taisho Sanke is known as Doitsu Sanke. They have a very beautiful appearance and are incredibly sleek-looking. They can be a great addition to any garden pond.

Gin Rin Taisho Sanke: The Gin Rin Sanke is the glittering version of typical Taisho Sanke. These beautiful Koi have metallic scales on their entire body which gives them a metallic sheen. They have a sparkling appearance and are very popular among Koi enthusiasts.

Tancho Taisho Sanke: The Tancho Sanke is a very striking type of Taisho Sanke. Tancho Sanke has a beautiful red spot on their white head, and the rest of their body is usually white with black markings.

Maruten Taisho Sanke: The Maruten Sanke is a very rare type of Taisho Sanke. If a koi has a circle spot on its head like Tancho but still has some Hi pattern on the body, it cannot be called Tancho, it's known as "Maruten."

How to Choose the Best Taisho Sanke

How to Choose the Best Taisho Sanke

How do you pick a Sanke koi? People often confuse Sanke with Showa. So it is essential to know how to identify a Sanke. Let's look at some key points that you should remember while choosing this expensive koi fish.

  • The base color of high quality Sanke will be pure white. It starts at the nose and continues to the tail, including the fins, and is clean, bright, and free of any discoloration.
  • Be mindful of their body shapes. They should have a clean slender body.

  • The red should be more of an orange color than a pure, fire engine red. The Sanke are generally known for their big, ruddy-orange patches that make up the bulk of their color scheme.

  • They will have tiny black spots or sumi markings when compared to the huge crimson areas. Red and white are the major colors on Sanke, while sumi is a secondary color.

  • Red patches on the Sanke's body must extend downward slightly below the lateral line.

  • Small, infrequent, or isolated sumi markings are typical of Sanke. The solitary, round black dots will be seen above the lateral line on the koi's back to accentuate the red pattern. One indicator of Sanke is individual blotches of sumi.

  • Sanke fountains are generally composed of two colors: white and red, with no sumi on the head. The face should be white since this is where the important red design begins.

  • The pectoral fins of Sanke should have the same clean, bright, white base. The pectoral fins are white in color, although a few black stripes may appear here and there to accentuate the design. On Sanke, however, a black spot appearing on only one pectoral fin is quite typical and acceptable.

Habitat Setup 

The aquarium in which they live is fundamental to the care and maintenance of Koi, as water quality, rigorous filtration & aeration, high-quality food, and protection from predators are all essential to good Koi keeping.

  • Keep in mind that, when it comes to Koi, you'll need a pond that's big enough to match their size. It depends on the number of Koi one wants to keep and the size of the pond required.
  • A pond that is at least 4 times the length of an adult Koi and 3 times the width, with a depth of roughly 3 feet, is recommended as a minimal beginning point for an acceptable Koi pond.

  • Modern filtration, on the other hand, may keep fish alive in very small amounts of water. For such huge fish, some space for swimming is required, as well as some depth to enable them to change their temperature by swimming closer or further from the surface of the water depending on the temperature.

  • Water temperatures of 50° F to 78° F (10° C - 25° C) are optimal for Sanke Koi, who prefer ponds with depths deep enough for them to regulate their body temperature as they see fit by swimming higher or lower within the pond.

  • The precise ideal depth for a pond is determined by the climate in which it is constructed; ponds can be as shallow as 3 feet deep in warm regions and as deep as 5 feet in colder areas to ensure that fish can survive the cold winters.

  • Koi are especially susceptible to low oxygen levels and high nitrate levels in the water. As a result, good pond filtration is critical for Koi health and longevity. Proper Koi pond filtration should provide high levels of dissolved oxygen, excellent mechanical, biological, and chemical filtering, as well as parasite control via a UV light. Partial water changes or the use of plants as a vegetable filter to export or remove nitrate from the water should be done.

  • Providing a lot of hiding places for your koi is important, as it will reduce stress. Koi feel safe when they can hide from view, so be sure to provide plenty of places for them to do so. You may want to add some aquatic plants for beauty and to improve pond water quality, aquatic logs and rocks for hiding places, and a visual appeal. Your Sanke koi pond should have a variety of places for your fish to swim, such as a shallow end, deep end, and middle depth.

  • Shallow ponds with no shade from pond structures or overhead greenery, in particular, make it tough for koi to avoid the intense sun and high water temperatures during the summer. Therefore, providing some kind of shelter or shade is essential to keeping your koi healthy during the hot summer months.

  • To protect the koi fish, ponds should have smooth edges that plunge down to a depth of 2 to 3 feet quickly to repel predators. Ponds should also have sections deep enough to keep predators away and prevent them from becoming trapped in freezing or excessively hot water.

Taisho Sanke Koi Food & Feeding

Taisho Sanke Koi Food & Feeding 

Koi are not fussy eaters and will consume almost anything that fits into their mouths. In the wild, they primarily feed on small aquatic creatures, plants, and algae. In captivity, they will accept a wide variety of commercial pellets and flakes as well as live food such as brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms, tubifex worms, and earthworms.

A good rule of thumb is to feed your koi 2 to 5% of their body weight per day. For example, if you have a Koi that weighs 10 lbs. (4.5 kg), you would feed it between 1/2 lb. (0.23 kg) to 1 lb. (0.45 kg) of food per day.

Koi should be fed two or three times per day in small quantities rather than one large feeding. This will help prevent water quality issues and reduce the amount of uneaten food that sinks to the bottom of the pond and decomposes, leading to ammonia and nitrite spikes.

As a general guideline, koi should be fed when the water temperature is above 50° F (10° C). In colder weather, koi metabolism slows down, and they require less food.

If you are unsure how much to feed your koi, it is always better to err on the side of underfeeding rather than overfeeding. Overfeeding can lead to a number of problems, including water quality issues, bloating, and swim bladder disease.

Breeding Sanke Koi 

Koi are fast-growing fish, and they can reach sexual maturity in as little as 18 months. However, it is best to wait until they are 3 to 4 years old before breeding them, as this is when they reach their full potential size and coloration.

Sanke koi are egg-layers, and spawning usually takes place in the spring when water temperatures start to rise. Spawning is triggered by a number of environmental cues, including an increase in water temperature, longer daylight hours, and a decrease in barometric pressure.

When ready to spawn, the male koi will chase the female around the pond and nudge her belly with his nose. This stimulates the release of her eggs, which he then fertilizes. It is always best to place a koi fry mat or some other type of spawning medium in the pond before breeding, as this will give the eggs a place to attach and hatch. It will take at least 3 to 7 days for the eggs to hatch, and the fry will be free-swimming a week or so after that.

Sanke koi are not easy to breed, and even experienced koi keepers often have trouble getting them to spawn. If you are interested in breeding Sanke koi, it is best to consult with a knowledgeable breeder or koi dealer to get some tips and advice.

Caring for Sanke Koi Fry

Caring for Sanke Koi Fry 

Sanke koi fry is very delicate and needs to be kept in a well-oxygenated, clean environment if they are to survive and thrive. A good rule of thumb is to change at least 50% of the water every day for the first 2 weeks. After that, you can start to decrease the frequency of water changes to once or twice a week.

For the first few days, you don't have to feed the fry, as they will live off their yolk sacs. After that, you can start feeding them small amounts of live food such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and micro worms. As they grow larger, you can start to introduce them to commercial koi pellets or flakes.

But make sure to crush the pellets or flakes into a powder before feeding them, as their mouths are very small. Once they are 4 to 6 weeks old, they can start eating the same food as the adult koi such as pellets, flakes, live food, etc. Providing foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals will help to ensure that the fry grows to be strong and healthy.

As the fry grows, they will need to be moved to progressively larger tanks or ponds. It is best to wait until they are at least 6 inches (15 cm) long before moving them to a pond, as this will give them a better chance of surviving predation from adult fish.

Common Sanke Disease 

Sanke koi are generally hardy fish and are not prone to disease. However, like all animals, they can sometimes fall ill. The most common illnesses seen in Sanke koi are listed below:

  • Parasites: Koi are susceptible to a number of parasites, including flukes, tapeworms, and nematodes. Parasites can enter the fish through the gills or skin, and they can cause a variety of problems such as weight loss, lethargy, and death.
  • Bacterial infections: Bacterial infections are one of the most common health problems seen in koi. They can be caused by a number of different bacteria, including Aeromonas and Pseudomonas. Bacterial infections often occur after a fish has been injured, and they can cause a variety of symptoms such as fin rot and ulcers.
  • Viral infections: Koi are susceptible to a number of viral infections, the most common of which is koi herpesvirus (KHV). KHV is highly contagious and often fatal, and it can kill entire ponds of koi in a very short period of time. Other viral infections include koi pox and koi adenovirus.
  • Fungal infections: Fungal infections are relatively rare in koi, but they can occur if the fish are stressed or have a weakened immune system. Saporegnia is the most frequent fungal disease in koi, resulting in cotton wool growths.
  • Fungal infections: Fungal infections are relatively rare in koi, but they can occur. The most common fungal infection is mycosis, which can cause a variety of symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, and death.

Tips to Identify a Sick Taisho Sanke 

The following are some tips that will help you to identify a sick Taisho Sanke:

Loss of appetite: A loss of appetite is one of the most common signs of illness in koi. If your fish stops eating, it is important to take notice and investigate the cause.

Lethargy: If your fish is listless and seems uninterested in its surroundings, it may be sick.

Gasping at the surface: If your fish is gasping at the surface of the water, it may be suffering from respiratory distress. This can be caused by a number of different problems, including parasites, bacterial infections, and viral infections.

Wheezing or coughing: If you hear your fish wheezing or coughing, it may have a respiratory infection.

Flashing: Flashing is when a fish rubs its body against objects in the tank or pond. It can be a sign of irritation, and it can also be a sign of parasites.

Sores or ulcers: Sores or ulcers on the body of a fish can be a sign of bacterial infection.

Clamped fins: Clamped fins are when the fins are held close to the body and not extended. It can be a sign of stress or illness.

Discolored fins: Fins that are discolored or frayed can be a sign of disease.

Prevention Is the Best Medicine

These are quite expensive fish so it is always better to know how to prevent your fish from getting infected. The best way to prevent disease in Taisho Sanke is to maintain a clean and healthy environment. This includes regular water changes, filtration, and the use of UV sterilizers.

It is also important to avoid overfeeding, as this can lead to pollution and disease. Quarantine all new fish before adding them to your pond, and inspect them for signs of illness. If you suspect that your fish are sick, isolate them from the rest of the population and seek veterinary treatment.

Taisho Sanke Vs Showa Koi

Taisho Sanke Vs Showa Koi

The Sanke and Showa are two distinct species of koi carp fish with many similarities. Both species have three different hues, and they're both non-metallic fish that does not have any metallic color.

The Gin Rin koi and Doitsu scale variations are present in both these koi. If you purchase these koi fish when they are young, it'll be difficult to tell one from the other since their hues and patterns will take years to fully mature. So, what is the difference between a Showa and Sanke?

Here are a few pointers to help you distinguish Sanke koi from Showa koi if you are someone interested in fish keeping:

On the Basis of Colors

The base color of the Sanke koi fish will be white. The white should not have any discoloration, and it will begin at the nose and progress down to the tail. They will have larger, more prominent red color patches than other koi varieties. The black markings are relatively faint in comparison to the red (hi). You may think of the sumi as an accent rather than a major feature.

Showa Koi fish have a black base color. The sumi base runs the length of the body and thins out at the fins. There can be heavy clusters of red on the face, back, and tail. The Showa koi will have white woven through with the black and red to create designs on their coats.

On the Basis of Pattern 

On these koi fish, the scale pattern will be an enormous benefit in determining what type of koi you have. You must first see if the pattern is largely on the back of the fish or if it wraps around its body. Does it run down the back or does it go down the sides of the fish to the belly?

You frequently observe that Sanke koi patterns remain above the fish's body lateral line on the back, as opposed to along its length.

Showa koi will have a thicker pattern that wraps around the fish's body and past the lateral line to the belly, whereas Heisei koi will have a finer appearance.

On the Basis of the Black or Sumi Pattern 

If the black pattern is on the body and not on the head, and it is tiny and uncommon, it's a Sanke koi.

If the head has a black pattern, it's probably a Showa koi. All three of Showa's hues are typically visible somewhere on their head.

On the Basis of Black Coloring and Pattern on the Pectoral Fins 

The term "Morogoro" most commonly refers to black markings on koi carp's pectoral fins, whether they are a solid marking at the base of the fin or spreading out across the entire fin. Morogoro is somewhat common (though not always visible) on Showa koi. On the other hand, Sanke koi usually have clean white fins, although sumi stripes can appear on one or both of the pectoral fins.


What Is a Taisho Sanke Koi Swordtails?

The Koi Sanke Swordtail is a very uncommon and highly colorful swordtail variant with a lot of orange, black, and white koi-like features. Males generally have a long "sword" tail extension, although some females can as well. The Koi Sanke Swordtail is a type of wild Green Swordtail, but it also contains genes from different Xiphophorus species to produce new color patterns.

What Makes a Sanke Koi?

The white base color will be seen on this variety of koi fish. The white should not have any discoloration, and it should start at the nose and proceed down the tail. On Sanke koi, red patches are generally larger, more vivid patterns. In comparison to the red, black (Sumi) markings are typically small.

What Is a Gosanke Koi?

The term "Gosanke" refers to three koi fish subcategories defined by the Japanese: Kohaku, Sanke, and Showa. Gosanke (goh-SAHN-keh) comes from the Japanese for the Tokugawa clan's Big Three families.

What Color Is Sanke? 

A Sanke is a three-colored koi. These koi varieties can be recognized as white koi fish with a red pattern and occasional black spots.

Do All Koi Have Patterns?

No, not all koi have patterns. The base color of the koi can be different shades of solid black, white, or yellow. Some koi have no color at all and are just a clear fish. Patternless koi are also known as "Doitsu" or mirror carp. These scale-less fish have large, reflective scales along their lateral line that resemble mirrors.

Do Sanke Koi Get Along With Other Koi

Do Sanke Koi Get Along With Other Koi? 

Sanke koi are generally peaceful and can get along with other koi in most cases. However, as with any animal, there can be exceptions to this rule. If you are keeping Sanke koi with other koi, it is always best to keep an eye on them and make sure they are getting along well. Feed them enough so that there is no aggression over food, and provide them with plenty of space to swim so they are not feeling crowded.

Do Sanke Koi Eat Algae?

Sanke koi will eat algae, but they are not as effective at it as some other koi varieties if you have an algae problem in your pond, the Chinese algae eater fish is recommended. They are adaptable to a variety of environments, including ponds and aquariums. They are herbivores by nature and reside in ponds with both koi and goldfish.

Do Sanke Koi Need Companions?

Sanke Koi are peaceful fish that may live in harmony with other freshwater species. If you want to add variety to your pond and don't want anything to threaten or overshadow your koi, there are a lot of wonderful alternatives such as goldfish, turtles or even other koi varieties.

What Are the Variation in Showa Koi?

Like the Sanke variety, Showa Sanshoku, commonly called Showa are available in four variations namely Doitsu Showa, Tancho Showa, Maruten Showa, and Gin Rin Showa variations.


Taisho Sanke is one of the most popular fish varieties among many types of koi fish. They are a favorite among koi fish enthusiasts. These stunning fish are prized for their beautiful coloration and patterns, and they make a great addition to any koi fish pond or water garden.

While Koi are fairly hardy fish, they do require some special care and attention. Be sure to research everything you need to know about keeping koi before you add them to your pond.

In this article, we have covered everything you need to know about keeping and caring for your Sanke koi. From their diet and feeding to their tank mates and housing requirements, this guide will set you on the path to success in keeping these beautiful fish. So what are you waiting for? Go out and get yourself some Sanke koi!

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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