To explain to some readers what these problems are:-
‘Shimi’ is the Japanese word for ‘Freckle’ and these usually appear as small black spots that can ruin the appearance of Kohaku. Some can be removed completely by a deft flick of a trained thumbnail, whilst others falling on the scale-less head areas are almost impossible to remove without leaving tell-tale traces of where they once were.
‘Hikui’ is a far more sinister problem; it is a form of ‘skin cancer’ of the red (hi) pigmentation only. It initially appears as a small yellowish raised area on the red pigment and all attempts to remove it to date have resulted in bleeding of these areas, but when the bleeding is staunched the problem still remains and usually larger than when it was first identified.
Now whilst both these problems are definitely not transmittable from one Koi to the next and nor do they have any adverse effect on the health of the Koi displaying these problems; as far as showing these Koi at a Koi show is concerned, these are quite rightly viewed as ‘de-merits’ by the judges.
Popular opinion, from many quarters, suggests these are no more than ‘natural genetic disorders’ within Go-Sanke that we simply must accept as ‘bad luck’.
Whilst my own opinion is that calling on the word ‘genetics’ for assistance is simply a convenient cop-out and another golden opportunity to sweep the matter under the carpet once more and to forget about it all, as usual.
These problems have nothing whatsoever to do with genetics and here are just a few reasons as to why I can say this with some firm conviction.
· I have never witnessed either of these problems in systems less than 30 months old.
· I have seen these problems arising in enthusiast’s systems the world over, including Japan, for decades.
· I have seen these problems arising in systems with both hard and soft water.
· I have seen these problems affecting most bloodlines of Go-Sanke and from just about every breeder imaginable.
· I have never seen these problems arise with any Koi whilst still in the care of the Japanese breeders.
· For decades the very best Koi, owned by the most famous collectors in Japan, have been kept with the breeders to ensure that the owners ponds do not produce these problems.
· Many of the famous breeders will grow some of their tategoi for seven years and over before releasing them to the public and these Koi show no signs of either of these problems.
· I have personally purchased over 500 Koi from the Japanese breeders over many years for both my customers and myself, and kept them with the breeders to grow for three years and more. Not ONE of these Koi has ever shown signs of either of these problems whilst still kept with the breeders.
· My own filtration systems have been installed on ponds that once suffered badly with both these problems before my systems replaced the original ones. A few have been running on these ponds for well over 30 months now and, whilst the old traces still remain, not one single NEW outbreak has taken place.
· I have attended countless mud pond harvests for several decades, both standing in the water or at the edge of the water and have yet to see ANY Koi harvested with either of these problems.
· On every single occasion I have asked the breeders as to why enthusiasts have so many bad experiences with these problems, I’m told that it’s incorrect or insufficient maintenance of the filter system.
So why do the Japanese breeders have no problems with shimi and hikui with their concrete, filtered indoor systems that are very similar to ours?