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If it looks like a Ryukin with a single caudal, is it a Ryukin?

Well, the answer is both yes and no.

In a Ryukin spawn, some of the young will have a single caudal fin. These are called Tamaryu in Japan and have double anal fins, can be any Ryukin color including calico, and don't tend to be cold hardy. These fish do not meet the Ryukin standard, are considered culls by many, and are not Tamasaba.

Tamasaba was created by koi breeders in the Niigata area of Japan, and is the result of a cross between the cold hardy singletail Syounai, and Ryukin. Two basic types of fry were produced from this original cross. One type, called Sabao, more resembled the Syounai parent but rounder. The other type, called Tamasaba, more resembled the Ryukin parent with a higher shoulder and much deeper body. Both types showed only single caudal and single anal fins.

Tamasaba is bred in red and white, mixes well with koi, is cold water adapted and is highly treasured in Japan. Considerable variation is now found within the Tamasaba group, the roundest of all is called Fuku Daruma. This variant was created by Master Toshio Miyajima during the past thirty years, and there are now sub-varieties of Daruma being bred including short medium and long tail, and transparent scales.

Sabao, Tamasaba and Fuku Daruma are not yet well known outside of Japan, possibly this will soon change. Hope this helps sort out some of the confusion ... good_very.gif





Hello Sabao,

Owning a Tamasaba, I've asked myself the same questions. In my search throguh the Internet have found this thread the most comprehensive and enlightening.

Best regards
Hi clm - nice to hear about Tamasaba in Peru, I'm curious if you keep your fish inside or outside, or both?
Tamasaba is rare in North America, but there is a tricle of importing from Japan, I think in conjunction with bringing over koi.

That thread on Goldfish Shack was lots of fun, thanks to Tamakin for his generosity of time and knowledge. I did some research on Syounai (one half of the original ancestry of Tamasaba) that was not covered in that conversation, and was intrigued with what I discovered.

Syounai, or Shonai as pronounced, was used as the original cross with Ryukin to make Sabao and Tamasaba. Shonai looks like Comet but is not Comet, in a similar way that Tamaryu is not Tamasaba.

Shonai was first created in the late 1800's in the Yamagata Prefecture (which adjoins the Niigata Prefecture to the north). The first cross was made between the wild native gibel carp, and what was then known as the Dutch Lionhead, or early form of Oranda. I am not aware of any other godlfish variety that has included a backcross to the original wild form in it's developement.

The result of this cross, Shonai, had elongated fins like Comet, but typically had a solid scarlet red back with white belly. Also, unlike Comet, some minor wen develpement from the original Oranda parent stock persisted, and still occasionally appears on some Shonai to this day.

Interestingly, Comet was developed at about this same time period (late 1800's and early 1900's), but in the USA, as a sport of Hibuna in the commercial goldfish industry. Comet and Shonai look very similar but have quite different genetic history, and were developed on opposite sides of the planet. I was quite amazed to find this out.

Apparantly there were originally quite a few farms breeding Shonai in one small region of the Yamagata area, until a flood wiped out almost all the farms. Today there is only about three breeders remaining in this area producing Shonai.

I was quite amazed to learn all this, and also to discover that Comet and Shonai although they look similar, are actually two very different goldfish.

Here's a couple pics of Shonai, a seminal ancestor of Sabao, Tamasaba and Fukudaruma.





Dear Sabao,

Very interesting research about Syounai. As you told us, this was the part of the topic that wasn't covered but only mentioned at that time. Thank you so much for the input.

As for me, I currently maintain a 1,000 litres (263 US gal.) outdoor green water pond, where the Tamasaba and 5 other friends (other varieties) are living in. Beside this, I have 3 clear water tanks with 1,100 litres more, where 9 more fishes live at.

This fish was bought a couple of months ago from a local breeder, who was surprised about my interest. He told me 6 fishes were brought from Japan, and the original importer didn't take care of the fish, resulting in 4 casualties. When the remaining 2 fishes were sick too, the breeder asked to the original owner to give him the fishes, he accepted and he finally hand spawned the fishes before they die.

My Tamasaba is now on green water spa, so I can't disturb him until March. biggrin.gif

Haven't took pictures from the fish yet, because we went straight from the quarantine tank to the green water pond. I'll post pictures when available. To give you an idea, my Tamasaba looks a lot like the right hand fish from the third picture of your first post, but has a little more white on the belly. Same body and tail shape.

Best regards,

Hi Carlos - that's a very interesting story about the history of your Tamasaba. Very rare fish in Peru almost lost, but a happy ending good_very.gif looking forward to your photos later on.

I discovered a few contemporary updates to the Shonai story that was also a surprise to me.

Apparantly market demand for Shonai is influencing the traditional red and white pattern of this breed. In addition to the classic solid red back with white belly, we are now seeing the developement of two, three and perhaps four step patterns (top view). Also, because of demand for side view aquarium fish, red is now extending below the lateral line which wraps the entire fish in red.

Another change is the developement of transparent scales to increase the brilliance of the red.

And yet another change is the intentional promotion of this breed, in an attempt to revive a Japanese heritage fish that seems to have been overlooked and underappreciated for decades.

I thought this was all quite fascinating. Here's a few photos of the modern look of Shonai.




Great stuff Tom. Thank you very much.

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