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Koi ("Carp;" or nishikigoi, "brocaded carp") are ornamental carp (Cyprinus carpio) that are kept for decorative purposes in outdoor koi ponds or water gardens in Japan an elsewhere. Their bright colors put them at a severe disadvantage against predators, so a well-designed pond will have areas too deep for herons to stand, overhangs high enough above the water that mammals cannot reach in, and shade trees overhead to block the view of aerial passers-by, and it may also be necessary to string nets or wires above the surface. Koi will recognize the persons feeding them and gather around them at feeding times; they can be trained to take food from one's hand. Since "koi" is a homophone for another word that means "affection" or "love," the fish are symbols of love and friendship. The Chinese first bred carp for color mutations more than 1,0000 years ago, developing the Prussian carp (Carassius gibelio) into the goldfish (Carassius auratus). By the 1820s the practice had spread to Japan, initially in the town of Ojiya in the Niigata prefecture on the northeastern coast of Honshu. The first ornamental variety to be established in Japan was kōhaku ("red and white"), white koi with large red markings on top. The Niigata koi were exhibited at an annual exposition in Tokyo in 1914, and the practice of keeping koi quickly spread throughout Japan and the rest of the world.
New varieties have actively been bred, including Taishō sanshoku (or Taisho sanke; often abbreviated to just "sanke" in the US), exhibited in 1914 by Hiroi Gonzo Hiroi during the reign of the Taishō-tenno, which resemble kōhaku but with small black markings (sumi); Shōwa sanshoku (or Showa sanke; often just "showa" in the US), black koi with red (hi) and white (shiroji) markings first exhibited in 1927 during the reign of the Showa-tenno; tanchō, named for the Japanese crane (Grus japonensis) because of the red patch on its head; chagoi ("tea-colored"), regarded as a sign of good luck; asagi (meaning "pale greenish-blue, spring onion color, or indigo"), which is light blue on top and red or pale yellow below; utsurimono ("utsuri" means "to print," since the black markings resemble ink stains) is black with white, red, or yellow markings in a zebra pattern -- the yellow variety, kuro ki madara ("black and yellow markings") was developed in the 19th century and was renamed ki utsuri in the 20th by Hoshino Elizaburo, and the red (hi utsuri) and white (shiro utsuri) came later; bekko ("tortoise shell") is white (shiro bekko), red (aka bekko), or yellow (ki bekko) with black sumi; goshiki ("five colors") is almost black or sky blue with hi above reticulated (fishnet pattern) scales; kinginrin ("gold and silver scales"), or ginrin, has glittering, metallic scales; ōgon ("gold"), created by Aoki Sawata in 1946 from wild carp he caught in 1921, is hikarimono (one-color, usually gold, platinum, or orange but sometimes cream and metallic; the metallic-skinned ōgon is crossed with ginrin varieties to create the ginrin ōgon with metallic skin and sparkling scales; doitsu-goi originated by crossbreeding numerous varieties with "scaleless" German carp (generally with a single line of scales along each side of the dorsal fin): shūsui ("autumn green"), created in 1910 by Akiyama Yoshigoro by crossing asagi with German mirror carp, is blue or gray on top and red, orange, or yellow below and scaleless except for a line of large mirror scales extending from head to tail, a second type has a row of scales beginning where the head meets the shoulder and running the entire length of the fish, a third type ("mirror koi") adds a line of scales along the side of the fish, and a fourth type ("armor koi" or kagami-goi "mirror carp") is covered with very large scales that resemble plates of armor; the kumonryū ("nine tattooed dragons") is a black doitsu-scaled fish with curling white markings that change color with the seasons; kikokuryū（"sparkle" or "glitter black dragon") is a metallic-skinned version of the kumonryū; kin-kikokuryū (kgold sparkle black dragon" or "gold glitter black dragon"）is a metallic-skinned version of the Kumonryu with a kohaku-style hi pattern developed by Igarashi Seiki; ochiba ("fallen leaves") is a light blue/gray koi with a copper, bronze, or yellow pattern; koromo (developed in the 1950s as a cross between a kohaku and an asagi) is white with blue or black-edged scales over a hi pattern -- the ai goromo is colored like a kohaku but the scales within the red patches have a blue or black edge to it, the budo-goromo has a burgundy hi overlay, and the tsumi-goromo with a nearly black hi pattern; hikari-moyomono has colored markings over a metallic base or in two metallic colors; ghost koi (a hybrid of wild carp and ōgon koi) has metallic scales and was developed in the 1980s; and butterfly koi (also known as longfin koi, or dragon carp) is a hybrid of koi and Asian carp with long flowing fins, also developed in the 1980s. "Kawarimono" is a generic term for koi that cannot be put into any of the other categories.
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