Image by David Emrich
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Shusui Challenge - Results & Thoughts.

The koi Makoto thought was the best future prospect was....


Well done if you got it right!

Interestingly, there was substantially less involvement with this challenge on social media than I have seen with previous challenges. Which could be down to a sheer hatred of shusui (possible!) or perhaps less understanding of how to appreciate them/select them as tosai.

So, I thought we could take a closer look and perhaps aid some further understanding...

The aim was to find the shusui the breeder thought best for the future, not easy considering shusui are a tricky variety to predict!

One of the most important aspects in the appreciation of 'finished' shusui is the symmetry of the scales, something to remember is that any issues with irregularity as tosai will only amplify as the koi grows. So when selecting tosai we want them as uniform as possible and here the scales are very good, as seen at location 1.

Finished shusui should also posses a clean, white face. One might look at the head of this koi and think it stands no chance of ever becoming white. However, the dark area (chobo zumi) is just the skull present under the thin skin. The clue that this koi should develop a white face later in life lies in the beautifully clear skin at location 2. In addition to a clean white face, shusui would traditionally feature yakko hi (red that frames the head of the koi on the gill plates and cheeks, this too should be symmetrical). Here the head pattern is uneven, however, shusui throw a curve ball, the beni changes - read on...

The beni running down the flanks of this koi (location 3) is also very even and attractive and the colour is wonderfully consistent. Something to bear in mind with shusui is that the beni can change dramatically, emerging much like the sumi on a kumonryu. There is no hard and fast rule with this, some tosai will change very little, others may look like entirely different koi! So in the instance of the head pattern on this koi, it may stay the same, it may link with the beni on the other gill plate, or anything in between - who knows!

I've highlighted location 4 because this is an area where extra scales can develop as the koi grows. This can be very hard to spot on young koi. On the right hand side in the same location I can see a glimmer that could be a scale, yet again it could be the picture itself. Ideally we wouldn't want scales here, however if they do appear, they need to guessed it, symmetrical!

Location 5 indicates the blue skin often seen in tosai shusui. This normally becomes lighter in colour as the koi ages, something that disappoints some hobbyists. One should be looking for the skin to be clean and free of blemishes.

Only brief, but hopefully that may provoke some further contemplation on what is very much a marmite variety!

Side Note:

In the last post I featured some larger shusui produced by konishi and said how I’d seen one age rather well. The shot on the left is at Nisai/Sansai and the shot on the right taken last month, some eight years on...

You can tell this girl is getting on a bit, but what struck me was that the beni has stayed relatively strong, vibrant and clean, also note the growth of the scales and how this highlights the irregularities before the dorsal...

Interesting...very interesting...

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