April 26

Sarah Robertson

Guide to Utsurimono Koi Varieties, Care, Size & Diet

Koi carp are known to have been around for thousands of years. While the exact origins of koi are unknown, they are thought to have first appeared in China. Koi then made their way to Japan, where they became a popular ornamental fish. Today, koi can be found all over the world and come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. utsurimono Koi is one such beautiful popular variety of the koi carp family.

The koi farming business has grown in popularity as a result of the development of koi strains, patterns, and colors. These specially bred carp were usually presented to high-ranking persons as a sign of goodwill and peace.

This is how they traveled to Europe and, subsequently, the United States, becoming beloved pets of people all around the world. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about the Utsurimono koi, also known as Utsuri koi, which is a non-metallic black koi with yellow, red, or white beautiful patterning on it.

What Is Utsurimono Koi?

The Utsurimono or Utsuri koi is a well-known type of koi fish that has a black non-metallic color with a secondary hue. There are three distinct secondary hues: red (hi), white (Shiro), and yellow (Ki). The appearance of a secondary hue on the body is one of the categories considered for judging purposes.


An Utsurimono koi fish has a non-metallic black skin with white, red, or yellow patches. They have pleasing checkerboard patterns and clearly defined colors. The placement of the patches is what determines the variety of Utsurimono koi. It has one other non-metallic hue surrounding the body in the form of patches.

Utsurimono Koi

What Distinguishes Male and Female Utsurimono Koi Fish?

It might be difficult to tell male and female Utsurimono koi fish apart without formal training. Until a fish matures sexually, all of the same breed or types are morphologically identical. However, we have listed a few main differences between the two. The following are the main ways to tell genders in this variety of koi:

  • Female Utsurimono has a more rounded shape and generally grows larger in body size than males of the same age. Males are often more streamlined and slender.
  • The pectoral fins in male Utsurimono tend to be solidly colored and are slightly more pointed compared to the more rounded fins of females.
  • A mature female Utsurimono koi's vent extends from the body. It has a crosswise slitted texture and is more flexible to the touch. Males, on the other hand, have a tighter vent that does not substantially bulge away from the main body and may appear to be receding.
  • Male Utsurimono koi have tiny, hard bumps called tubercles, which boost the roughness of the skin membrane and are only found in males and serve as an indication of their maturity.
  • Male Utsurimono tends to develop their bright color quicker than female Utsurimono. This can make young females look dull in comparison.


The Utsurimono koi also known as Utsuri Koi was developed from Showa koi over a century ago. It took another 25 years to breed and develop the three distinct types of Utsuri – the Ki Utsuri, Hi Utsuri, and Shiro Utsuri.

This makes them suitable for certain fish keeping hobbies, like collecting and exhibiting. However, their unusual appearance and ancient history have resulted in them being compared to the Big Three: Kohaku koi, Showa koi, and Sanke koi.

Size and Lifespan

The Utsurimono koi have an average lifespan of 20 to 25 years, with some specimens known to live up to 30 years or more.

Utsurimono koi can grow quite large, reaching lengths of 28-40 inches. However, the average body size is usually between 20 and 30 inches.

Utsurimono Koi

Utsurimono Meaning 

So, what does Utsurimono mean? The name of Utsurimono implies "reflection," as the foundation is Sumi, which means "black." There are three lovely types of Utsurimono, each with its own distinct hue: Hi (red), Shiro (white), and Ki (yellow).

Utsurimono Koi Varieties

Many aquarium keepers adore these beautiful fish because of their lovely coloration. The three different types of Utsurimono koi are defined by their secondary coloration on their non-metallic black body. These colors are white (Shiro), yellow (Ki), and red (Hi). This combination creates a stunning contrast that makes these fish stand out from the rest.

Ki Utsuri

Ki Utsuri is black koi with a bright yellow secondary color. They are one of the most popular Utsurimono koi, and their name translates to "yellow mirror."

Among the Utsurimono koi family, this was the first color to be developed. These koi were initially called Kuro Ki Han, which means “black and yellow markings.”However, the meaning of its current name is “yellow reflection or yellow mirror.”

Hi Utsuri 

Hi, Utsuri is a black koi with a rich red secondary color. They are one of the three Utsurimono koi, and their name translates to "red mirror." A good Hi Utsuri will have a pleasant balance between red (hi) and black (Sumi). Look for a distinctive design while purchasing.

The Hi Utsuri was the second type of Utsuri koi to be created after Ki Utsuri. These Koi were bred from the cross of a male Gin Rin Showa and a female Kohaku. The Kohaku was likely in the lineage of the famous “Beni Kumonryu,” which is why this Utsuri koi is also known as Beni Hi Utsuri.

Shiro Utsuri 

A Shiro Utsuri is a black fish with white markings, and they are one of the three Utsurimono koi. As Shiro Utsuri is a two-colored Koi with a traditionally basic design, the quality of white skin takes on great significance. This should be snow-white with a healthy sheen and an understated gleam.

The ornamental qualities of Shiro Utsuri Koi can be influenced by the water chemistry in which they are raised. The Sumi (black) variety grows best in hard, alkaline water; however, it takes on a gray or blue tint when grown in softer, more acidic ponds.

Doitsu Utsuri 

Doitsu can be applied to all kinds of Utsurimono, whether Ki, Hi, or Shiro. A Doitsu koi is one that has no scales and lacks pigmentation and patterning on its skin. Doitsu Utsuri, while not as valuable as the ones with the scales, can also be very beautiful. The price of a Doitsu Utsuri fish will depend on the quality of Sumi (black) and the contrast with the white skin.

 Kin Gin Rin Utsuri 

Utsurimono koi with metallic scales are called Kin Gin Rin Utsuri. The term “Gin Rin Koi” translates to “silver bell koi,” which is an apt description for these beautiful fish. The word “Kin,” on the other hand, means “gold.” So, a Kin Gin Rin Utsuri koi is one with golden metallic scales.

These Koi are quite popular because of their unique coloration. They are also considered to be more valuable than the non-metallic Utsurimono koi. However, they are more difficult to care for and require special attention.

Kage Utsuri 

Kage Utsuri features a typical solid black background design, with Hi, Ki, or Shiro as the accent. What distinguishes them is smoky, reticulated black shadows that rest on top of their accent hues and are barely visible. In Japanese, “Kage” actually means “shadow.” Kage Utsuri is capable of being a normal koi, Kin Gin Rin koi, or Doitsu koi.

Graceful Utsurimono Koi Fish

How to Identify the Graceful Utsurimono Koi Fish? 

Whether you are looking for a Shiro Utsuri, Hi Utsuri, or Ki Utsuri, you look for the same basic characteristics and patterns. The following tips will help you identify and purchase a healthy, high-quality Utsurimono koi:

  • Must have pleasing checkerboard patterns and clearly defined colors

  • The edges of the secondary hue on the fish must be sharp and distinct

  • The koi should have good body conformation with no deformities

  • The Sumi, or black spot, should be a jet black color with a glossy sheen. To properly evaluate the quality of the sumi, look at the fish in bright light and search for a deep black color. If the sumi takes on a brown-black or gray-black appearance in bright sunlight, then it is not of high quality.

  • The bands of color that makeup Sumi or the black spots on an Utsuri should be visible all over the body, including the nose, face side, and throughout the pectoral fin joints.

  • In the instance of a Shiro Utsuri, head patterning might take many forms, from the conventional lightning strike or V-shape to considerably smaller counterpoints on the white skin. These do not need to be identical, but the margins should be clear. The amount of black on the head, particularly if there are many little patches rather than a continuous pattern, indicates a lower-quality Koi.

  • The pectoral fins should not be too black, but instead, have a neat motoguro on the pectorals. The white on the finnage should complement the body Sumi. The dorsal and caudal fins may have some Sumi, but if there is too much, the Koi will appear unbalanced.

Utsurimono Koi Pond Design

Caring for and maintaining Utsurimono Koi is dependent on the pond in which they reside. They must develop into large fish and require a pond that can support them.

Depending on how many Utsurimono Koi one wants to keep, they will need to design a pond capable of sustaining a group of 24" to 30" big fish that weigh approximately 30 lbs on average. The following are some important considerations when designing an Utsurimono Koi pond:

  • The pond's size is the first and most significant consideration. Because Utsurimono koi may develop to be quite big, the pond must be able to sustain them. The pond must be at least 4 times as long as an adult Koi and 3 times as broad, with a depth of roughly 3 feet.
  • Koi, like their carp ancestors, are cold-water fish that can survive in temperatures ranging from mid-35°F to 84°F. However, if Utsurimono koi were kept in excessively hot or cold water for an extended period of time, they would perish. Water temperatures of 50° F to 78° F (10° C - 25° C) are ideal for them, with ponds that are deep enough for them to regulate their body temperature as they see fit by swimming higher or lower in the water column.
  • Koi are particularly vulnerable to low oxygen levels and high nitrate levels in the water. As a result, maintaining high-quality water is critical for Koi's health and survival. A UV sterilizer should be used to maintain parasite control in a good filtration system that includes optimal dissolved oxygen levels, and excellent mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration.
  • You may use pebbles, rocks, and plants to decorate your outside pond or tank. Aquatic plants such as water lilies, lotuses, and irises are essential in a koi pond as they help to maintain water quality by absorbing nutrients and providing shelter for the fish. It also helps to create a more aesthetically pleasing environment. It's critical to utilize aquarium-safe aquatic plants that won't pollute the water.

Note: Considerable shade and a lot of vegetation should be available in the pond to keep it cool. Shallow ponds that do not have shade from pond structures or overhead vegetation are difficult for Koi to avoid the intense sun and high water temperatures throughout the summer months. To deter predators, koi ponds should have sheer edges that fall rapidly to a depth of at least 3 feet.

Utsurimono Koi Food & Diet

Utsurimono Koi Food & Diet 

Koi are an omnivorous fish species that, with their downturned mouths, consume food items they find on the bottom of their natural pond, lake, or river home. However, because Koi are selectively bred in captivity and raised in well-maintained ponds, they have evolved to eat food from the water's surface and will readily accept pellets, flakes, or granules designed specifically for them.

Koi need high-quality foods that provide them with a mix of meaty and plant-based food items that will provide a balanced and nutritional diet. A good quality Koi food will have a minimum of 32% protein and 5% fat.

What Can You Feed Utsurimono Koi Fish?

There are a variety of food items that can be fed to Utsurimono Koi, including:


There are many different types and brands of pellets available that have been specifically designed for koi. These pellets should be the primary food source for koi as they provide a well-balanced and nutritional diet. It contains all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that koi need to stay healthy and thrive.


Koi flakes are a good supplementary food source and can be fed sparingly. They should not be the primary food source as they lack some of the essential nutrients that koi require.

Spirulina Algae 

These blue-green algae, often known as cyanobacteria, live in water and create their own food. They're rather small, growing only up to a millimeter long. This algae is free-floating and can be found in lakes with high pH and hard water.

Spirulina Algae enhances growth, improves digestion, aids in the maintenance of a healthy immune system, and helps to prevent bloated abdomens and dropsy. It also aids in the breakdown of fatty acids by improving their utilization. In addition, spirulina algal pigments make koi more colorful.

Wheat Germ

The grain component of wheat that sprouts and develops into a new plant is known as wheat germ. Wheat germ has been proven to help goldfish and koi grow faster in the lab. It also contains vitamin E, which promotes blood flow, improves oxygen and nutrient circulation, encourages balanced development, and aids in disease prevention. Wheat germ can be found in most pet stores that sell fish food.


Krill are small crustaceans that are a major food source for many animals, including whales, seals, penguins, and squid. Krill are an excellent food source for koi as they contain high levels of carotene, which helps to bring out the bright colors in koi. Krill can be found in most pet stores that sell fish food.

Fruits and Vegetables 

Koi love fruits and vegetables as a treat. They are a good source of vitamins and minerals that are essential for koi health. Orange slices, grapes, and watermelon are among their favorite foods. Feeding your koi these items may assist to reduce stress as well as strengthen their immune system in addition to being entertaining to observe.

Brine Shrimp 

Brine shrimp filter water by consuming whatever they can find in it, which isn't much due to their tiny size. The nutrients they consume are passed on to the fish they're consumed by, which is known as bio-enrichment. Brine shrimp are especially helpful in providing food for newborn koi.


Bloodworms are the larvae of midge flies. They get their name from the red hemoglobin in their bodies, which gives them a blood-like appearance. Bloodworms are an excellent food source for koi as they're high in protein and fat. Bloodworms can be found in most pet stores that sell fish food.

What Not to Feed Koi Fish?

Apart from the food items mentioned above, there are a few things that should not be fed to koi fish, including:


Don’t feed your koi fish anything high in carbohydrates. You should also avoid feeding them white bread, peas, and corn. Koi fish have a hard time digesting carbs. Bread, in particular, will swell up in their stomachs and cause digestive issues.

Wild Food 

Don't offer them anything you've caught in the wild, either. It includes fish, insects, toads, and anything else. They might be infested with parasites or diseases. This can be quite dangerous for koi fish and has the potential to kill them.


Grains aren’t the best food for koi. They contain a lot of carbohydrates, which koi have a hard time digesting. In case you feed them any, make sure to do so in moderation.

When to Feed Your Utsurimono Koi

Utsurimono Koi should be fed twice a day, usually in the morning and evening. A tiny amount of food should be provided in the morning. In the evening, they should be fed a larger quantity of food. It's also important to keep your koi from overconsuming.

Overfeeding your Utsurimono Koi may lead to health issues like obesity. In 5 minutes, give them as much food as they can eat. Remove any remaining food from the pond to avoid polluting it and decaying over time.

Note: The temperature and time of year must be taken into account when feeding koi. Koi should be fed different foods or not at all depending on the water's temperature and season. When water temperatures are between 55° F and 68° F (12° C and 20° C), feed koi food that is lower in protein and easier to digest.

When water temperatures are above 68° F (20° C), don't feed koi as much or at all to avoid digestive problems. When feeding Koi in water that is below 50°F (10°C) or 10°C, there's a risk that any food consumed will not be completely digested and rot inside the fish's stomach, causing sickness and perhaps death.

Utsurimono Koi Breeding

Utsurimono Koi Breeding

If you want to breed your Utsuri for the purpose of obtaining a particular kind or scale type, keep in mind that this is difficult. It's impossible to get precisely what you're searching for unless you're a professional with an established line of Utsuri because of genetics and the enormous number of chances and nuance involved in coloration alone. Still, it's exciting and enjoyable to see what you can get when you breed your own Utsuri.

Utsurimono Koi like any other koi varieties spawn during the early summer months when the water temperatures are between 62 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The male and female fish are introduced into a spawning tank or pond, where the male will start to chase the female.

The female Utsuri will lay her eggs in plants or other structures in the pond, and the male will then fertilize them. It takes about a week for the eggs to hatch, and the fry will be free-swimming a few days after that.

Fry mats or specialized Koi breeding mops are used by pond keepers to regulate where the eggs are hatching when they want to breed their koi. In a single spawn, thousands of Koi will be produced, only a small percentage of which will have the appropriate coloration and pattern to be called Utsurimono Koi.

The rest of the offspring will be brown, black, grey, or mottled in color and have little to no discernible pattern. Professional Koi breeders will cull these unwanted fries and just raise those that display the desired coloration and pattern.

How to Take Care of Utsurimono Koi Fry?

  • Utsurimono Koi do not require any food during the first few days since they eat the yolk sac.
  • After ten days, feed the baby Utsurimono Koi powdered koi pellets. Feed the fish four times a day for 5 minutes using this technique.

  • Feed the baby Utsurimono Koi powdered food for another four weeks. By this point, you may observe how much the baby Utsurimono Koi fry can consume in a five-minute feeding. Try to avoid overfeeding since it might pollute the water and cause health concerns.

  • You may start feeding them chopped veggies like peas, carrots, and zucchini after one month. You may also serve live food including brine shrimp and daphnia.

  • Adult Utsurimono Koi food can be fed to them as they get older. They will be able to eat bigger pellets later on in life, and eventually adult Utsurimono Koi food.

  • If you discover a sick or deformed weakfish, remove it from the pond.

  • To keep your Utsurimono Koi fry healthy, maintain the pond clean and ensure the water quality is high.

Utsurimono Koi Common Diseases

Utsurimono Koi, like all common carp or wild carp, are susceptible to illnesses. The most frequent causes of koi fish illness are parasites, worms, and bacteria. Fungal infections can also occur. The following are a few of the most prevalent disorders affecting koi fish:

  • Ich -Ich is a bony fish parasite that attacks the skin and gills. White spots may appear on the body, and rapid breathing and increased mucus production are signs. To cure it, raise the water temperature and add salt to the water.
  • Fish Lice - Lice that feed on freshwater fish infest the skin of their hosts. Itching, redness, and increased mucus production are typical symptoms. A dewormer should be added to the water as a treatment.
  • Dropsy-It is a bacterial illness that causes swelling. Swelling of the body, redness of the fins, and lethargy are symptoms. Antibiotics must be added to the water in order to cure this disease.
  • Velvet-The skin of velvet fish is infested by a species of parasitic fish known as the plecostomus. Symptoms include gold or brown dust on the body, increased mucus production, and loss of appetite. Raising the water temperature and adding salt to the water are both effective treatments.
  • Fin rot -Fin rot is a bacterial illness that affects fins. The fins may be red, frayed, or lethargic in appearance. Antibiotics must be added to the water to cure it. If left untreated, it may be quite dangerous and cause the fish's death.
  • Flukes - Flukes infest the skin and gills of fish. Itching, redness, and increased mucus production are all signs of fluke infection. To cure this problem, add salt to the water. This can help get rid of the parasites.
  • Koi Herpesvirus (KHV) - This is a highly contagious virus that can kill koi fish. Symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, and redness in the body. There is no known cure for KHV, so it is important to take preventative measures to avoid its spread.
  • Anchor Worms - Anchor worms are a sort of fish parasite that attacks the skin's surface. Itching, redness, and lumps on the body are some of the signs. Treatment consists of adding a dewormer to the water.
  • Fungus - Fungal infections may affect koi fish. The body is covered with white patches, the fins are red, and the fish is lethargic. Treatment involves putting a fungicide in the water.
  • Trichodina - Trichodina is a type of fish parasite that afflicts the skin. White spots on the body increased mucus production, and gill damage is all signs of its presence. The water temperature must be raised and salt added to the aquarium for treatment to work.
  • Ulcers - Ulcers are open wounds on the body of a Utsurimono Koi fish. Symptoms include redness of the skin, loss of appetite, and lethargy. Treatment involves adding an antibiotic to the water.

Symptoms of a Utsurimono Koi Fish? 

A sick Utsurimono Koi fish behaves just like a human when it becomes ill. They'll avoid the colony and usually congregate near the surface or pond floor. They may cease eating or eat less. Other signs of illness include:

  • They tend to keep their fins close to their bodies and may look more inactive than usual
  • They gasp at the surface or remain near the bottom
  • The fish's coloration may change or fade, and their scales may protrude
  • There may be white spots on their fins or bodies
  • They start rubbing their body against pebbles and other objects.

Note: If you detect any of these indications, it's critical to quarantine the fish right away to avoid the spread of illness. Add salt to a quarantine tank at a concentration of 0.3 percent of the total volume.


Utsurimono Koi Fish Lose Their Color

Can Utsurimono Koi Fish Lose Their Color? 

Yes, sudden temperature shifts, stressful events like poor water quality, or moving the fish from one pond to another (with different conditions in the two ponds) can all cause koi to lose their coloration. However, if the fish are well-cared-for and happy in their environment, they should eventually return to their original coloration.

What Is a Hikari-Utsurimono Koi?

Hikari Utsuri is Showa Utsurimono koi with "Hikari (luster or glitter)" as their characteristic, including "Kin Showa (with lustrous gold color)," "Gin Shiro Utsuri (with platinum sheen)," and "Kin Ki Utsuri (literally 'golden yellow mirror')."

They have markings that are comparable to those of the Showa Sanshoku and Utsurimono groups, as previously said. The gold and Sumi tone is deeper, which is better. There's also a complicated factor we need to be conscious of. Hikari and Sumi pigments have a propensity to cancel each other, as most Koi with intense Hikari have deep Sumi. As a result, it's very unusual to find a Koi that is simultaneously strong Hikari and robust Sumi.

How Can I Improve My Utsurimono Koi Color? 

Spirulina will improve the color of your Utsurimono koi and enhance their immunity as well. This nutritional supplement causes the red in your Utsurimono koi's flesh (skin) to be more vibrant. Wheat germ oil is a major component of a Utsurimono koi's diet.

How Big Do Hi Utsuri Get? 

Hi Utsuri or Hi Utsurimono koi can grow quite large, reaching lengths of 20-35 inches. However, they do not grow as big as the Shiro Utsuri, which can grow to be 40 inches or more.

How Do I Choose a High Utsuri Koi? 

Whether you're searching for a Shiro Utsuri, Hi Utsuri, or Ki Utsuri, you'll be looking for the same basic qualities. However, if you want to exhibit the fish in the future, then a Shiro Utsuri is the way to go, as they are often considered the highest quality Utsurimono.

The head of a good Shiro Utsuri should have both hues. Look for a unique pattern of black on the head, with about 50% black and 50% white.

A black spot called Sumi on the nose of a Shiro Utsuri is very important to look for. The Sumi should be a glossy black color, and not brown or gray.

A black "V" across the top of the head, known as Hitomoji, is popular; however, any distinctive design will do so long as it is well-balanced and utilizes both hues.

Avoid getting an Utsuri with too much black. The ideal body has 50 percent black and 50 percent white, although a higher proportion of white is acceptable.

The pectoral fins may be entirely black or have a stripe of black at the base. Check that both pectorals are identical.

The tail tube should have both black and white. Not just white or not just black - it needs balance.

On the Shiro Utsuri, make sure there are no red spots.

You'll need a fish with a healthy broad body and big fins once you've discovered the perfect skull, pattern, and tails. This helps to guarantee future growth. Also, examine the fish in a tub for any abnormalities or indications of illness.

Summing Up 

Nowadays you can find many types of koi fish all around the world. Utsurimono koi, otherwise known as Utsuri koi is one such beautiful variety of koi. Utsurimono koi are beautiful, unique fish that make a great addition to any aquarium or pond.

They come in a variety of vibrant colors, sizes, and shapes, so there is sure to be one that catches your eye. They are not the easiest fish to care for, but with proper diet and care, they can live a long and healthy life.

Shiro Utsuri is considered the most popular type and also the most expensive koi fish amount the three color varieties. Hi, Utsuri is less expensive, and Ki Utsuri generally comes in the middle.

The most costly sub-varieties of Utsurimono are Kin Gin Rin and Kage. This is due to the difficulties in developing exact strains. Getting a younger fish is less expensive than getting a mature one since they have not completed development and the true extent of their color and patterning is yet to be determined among all Utsurimono types.

Regardless of the variety, Utsurimono koi are a captivating addition to any pond or aquarium and are sure to bring you years of enjoyment.

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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