If you want a fish with personality, look no further than the basic Chagoi. You’ll discover this pet is probably more intelligent than other koi in your pond too. It is almost universally agreed to be the friendliest of the koi classifications because it is the most aggressive at feeding time and almost always the first fish to become hand-tame. For this reason, the Chagoi is sometimes purchased solely for the purposes of taming the rest of a group, and not for its color. Once one fish starts eating from your hand, it’s not hard to bring the rest about.
The Chagoi is basically a brown koi, however a brown koi is not necessarily a Chagoi. Within that distinction, there are levels of quality and the discovery of valuable traits. If the basic Chagoi is a brown koi, what about the different shades of brown? Let’s discuss these and the other traits that make a “good” Chagoi.
First, the fish should be big. Now, this doesn’t apply to the young fish, but you should be able to tell that the fish has been fat and robust all its life. As a young fish it should be an aggressive eater and it should be larger than all the other fish of the same age. As an adult, a Chagoi is prized most highly if it fulfills a destiny of great size – as much as 40 inches or more. That’s a big koi by any standard.
The fish should be blocky in its body shape. The base of the tail (knuckle) should be thick and fat. The head and shoulders should be broad, and no part of the fish should be slender or streamlined. The pectorals should be large and paddle shaped, and there should be no splits in the fins or the dorsal fin. And the eyes of a Chagoi should be active and bright, with the corneas being crystal clear.
A Fishnet Fish
Let’s also consider the color and pattern. There are two patterns of Chagoi – “with fukurin” and “without fukurin.” Fukurin (foo’-kure-in) is when each scale is highlighted with a black edging, giving the fish a “fishnet” pattern over the brown coloration. This may be missing in scaleless Chagois and in some of the Chagoi colors. Personal preference will dictate which style you desire.
With or without fukurin, the more “lined up” the scales are, the better the fish. For example, let’s say you have two Chagoi of exactly the same color and size. Both are chunky through the body and have large paddle-like pectoral fins. To determine the difference between the two, you would look at the alignment of the scales. If the rows were nice and straight like a corncob, then the fish with the straightest, most uniform rows would be awarded the point for scale pattern.
With Diamond Shimmer
Chagoi can also occur in a ginrin (jin’-rin or geen’-leen) scalation. This occurs when proteins inside the scale (under the epidermis) are thrown up in folds, refracting light and giving the scales a diamond shimmer. There’s nothing quite as nice as a Rootbeer Chagoi with ginrin in its scales. Ahhhh!
Varying Shades of Brown
The color of the Chagoi can vary and listed here are a few of the more popular options.
Rootbeer Chagoi – There’s probably a fancy name for this color but it’s more fun to call them Rootbeer Chagoi. These Chagoi are brown, but it’s an intense, reddish-brown. Rootbeer Chagoi are available with and without fukurin.
Green Chagoi – Green Chagoi tend to be the friendliest of all the Chagoi color varieties. This is probably because the green Chagoi always appear to be the hungriest. Secondly, even though the green Chagoi eventually turns brown, the green gives away (early) the fact that the fish is going to have truly masterful size. The best Chagoi when they are young, less than three to four years old, are tan-greenish. When the green Chagoi eventually turns brown, the final brown color it attains is an amber-blonde that is superior to the plain brown of the normal Chagoi. Green Chagoi also come with and without fukurin.
Brown Chagoi – If you have a brown Chagoi, it probably should have fukurin in it to define it from a common carp. The brown Chagoi is the most numerous of the Chagois and will make you very happy.
Chagoi-Utsuri or Cha-Utsuri (oot-surr’-ee) –This fish is brown with a black fukurin pattern, but the fish is bruised with black smudges. The deeper and more distinct the black, and the more organized the pattern is, the better the fish is. Chagoi Utsuri exist with a weak black pattern that is unevenly spread over the body, and there are those that are very artistic-looking, with deep black markings evenly distributed from left to right and front to back. Such a fish should be bought on sight. You will rarely ever see these and regret goes a long way when you realize how rare these are.
The Chagoi has relatives such as the Ochiba Shagure and the Sorogoi but, for now, as you consider getting a Chagoi, consider that while the fish has a humble color, it is in fact highly prized for redeeming traits such as size, scale alignment, and attitude. You will love your new Chagoi! And don’t forget, as with any new fish, please be sure to quarantine all new fish being added to your collection.