Butterfly Koi, Longfin Koi, or Dragon Carp are a type of ornamental
fishnotable for their elongated finnage. The fish are a breedof the common carp, "Cyprinus carpio", which includes numerous wild carp races as well as domesticated koi("Nishikigoi").
Butterfly Koi originated in the mid-20th century as a result of an effort to increase the hardiness of traditional koi. Japanese breeders interbred wild Indonesian Longfin river carp with traditional koi. The resulting fish had longer fins, long barbells, pompom nostrils, and were hardier than koi. These were known in Japan as "onagaoi" or "hire naga koi", or translated in English "long tail koi". Randy LeFever, the son of Wyatt LeFever, a noted breeder of koi, is credited with suggesting they looked like butterflies, a trait for which the breed is named. They are also sometimes referred to as Dragon Koi.
Butterfly koi cannot be judged using the traditional criteria of used for koi judging. The standard criteria used in these events has evolved over many years, and they are specifically tailored to rate the characteristics of koi. According to an article in KOI USA magazine, the following characteristics are largely the basis for the unsuitability of butterfly koi in traditional competition:
Conformation - The ideal shape of a koi has been set by tradition to be generously oval. By contrast, butterfly koi are naturally more slender. This difference is amplified by the fact that traditional koi judging is done from a top-down viewing angle.
The Relationship Of Fin To Body – The ratio of fin-to-body is an important scoring criteria in nishikigoi competitions. By design, Longfin embody a ratio that exceeds the standards applied to nishikigoi by 500 to 1000 percent.
Pattern Differences - Great energy has been given to developing butterfly koi versions of traditional koi patterns, (eg: kohaku, sanke, show, utsuri and ogon). Butterfly koi, however, exhibit these patterns in a slightly different way.
For these reasons, Japan’s
airinkai(an organization that sanctions Japanese nishikigoi hobbyist competitions) have disallowed butterfly koi from competitive judging for many years, although their American counterpart the American Koi Club Association (AKCA) has (as of June, 2006) reportedly created new standards for judging butterfly koi at future AKCA competitions.
Butterfly koi are strongly disliked by many keepers of traditional koi who view the breed as inferior to koi. This polarization of traditional keepers may be the reason why some koi retailers do not sell butterfly koi, and why many of Japan’s famous and most prestigious breeders do not breed butterfly koi today. They are largely unpopular in Europe and Asia, but are popular in the United States where they are more readily available. The popularity of these fish in the United States has earned them the nickname American Koi.`
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