Why Show Your Fish?

By Ray Jordan


There are several excellent reasons to take your fish to a show.                                                

  1. The enjoyment of sharing your pets and experience with other fish lovers. It is a really wonderful feeling when you hear other fish lovers admiring and enjoying your pet koi or goldfish.
  2. The satisfaction of knowing your pets are getting the best possible care. First and foremost fish are judged on their overall condition and health. Their size, shape, condition, and quality of color are determined mostly by your care, feeding techniques, and pond water quality. If your fish are not growing or developing as they should a show is a good way to find out and then gives you a opportunity to improve their living conditions. 
  3. The opportunity to see and study the best. The chance to learn from other fish/owners what is the ideal shape, color, patterns, etc. Ask other owners for advice and learn how to select and grow better and healthier koi & goldfish in the future. Better fish can be affordable if purchased when small. 
  4. There is a different experience when you are part of the event vs just being a spectator: Let’s face it is fun to watch a tennis or golf match but it can be much more fun to be a part of the action.

So why don’ t more hobbyist’s take their fish to a show?  A few of the most common concerns I hear expressed are as follows:

  1. I don’t want to harm/stress my fish: I can assure you neither do anyone else.
  2. I would never take my fish to a show if I experienced significant problems. The #1 priority at every show is fish safety. We have spent a lot of extra money to help insure the health of our pets at our show. We have specially designed tanks with a unique flow through water system for koi and large 20 gallon aquariums for goldfish. With the koi tanks we run enough water through each tank to completely change the water four times a day. We also shelter the fish and ourselves from the elements and block out direct sunlight. Every fish is very carefully inspected for any problem before being admitted to the show. Also fish are carefully monitored and water is tested regularly and changed if necessary. All fish handlers are trained to handle fish with minimum stress and as much as possible eliminate possible injury. Remember my fish are in the show also so I am committed to keep fish safety our #1 priority. 
  3. I do not feel comfortable catching my fish and transporting them safely. This is a training and a practice issue. We all needed some helpful hints the 1st time we took fish to a show. But also realize there will come a time when you need to be able to catch a fish to move it while cleaning your pond or to treat a small health problem before it becomes a major one. To be a responsible fish owner you must be able to net and examine your fish whether or not you take your fish to a show. At our next meeting we will discuss catching and transporting your koi to a show please try to attend. Also I find that taking a few minutes to do a short practice run is well worth the additional effort. One of our more experienced members are willing to help you with this practice session which is a real plus. Unfortunately at show time our more experienced members are busy catching their own fish and other show responsibilities so it is best to practice this a few weeks before the show and be prepared to handle it yourselves. 
  4. I am concerned my fish will catch a disease or parasite at the show. We use what is called the English Style method of showing fish. Each owners fish are displayed separately from all other fish in their assigned owners tank/s. Separate tubs and nets are used exclusively for a single owners fish to keep from exposing water from one tank to another. Fish handlers and judges wash their hands and equipment in special disinfectant to prevent transferring anything from one tank to another. Most fish capable of transmitting a problem will show some sign of their infection. Some of these signs could be sores, bloody or ragged fins, excessive slime production, redness around the mouth or vent, difficulty in swimming or maintaining their balance in the water, flashing or visible parasites. These "suspect" fish will be prevented from entering the show. Also, healthy fish in water above 75 degrees have a strong immune system capable of resisting most infections. Our best prevention is to keep sick fish out of the show. So we will err on the right side of this issue. In other words, if in doubt we will not allow a suspicious fish into the show to protect everyone’s fish. Additionally, "potential disease causing" critters live in everyone’s pond. It is the amount of these "bad" guys and the health of your fish and pond/filter system that determines your problems or lack of problems. All this said fish shows are not perfect isolation situations it is inevitable that some water could be mixed between tanks accidentally or by the fish jumping and splashing.
  5. I do not have expensive or large enough fish. Most fish entered in our show were relatively inexpensive when purchased (koi @ $100 or less, goldfish @ $20 or less). Fish are judged first on conformation (shape), then color, and then pattern (genetics). How well you care for your fish is the biggest determination of their quality. Koi are judged by size and small koi are judged against other small koi, so size is not an issue. Also consider, a few years ago the Grand Champion koi was purchased locally (several years earlier) for $50 when it was six inches long. It was then lovingly and carefully grown by its owner before winning the top award. A $5 fish will not likely win a top award but we have awards for "Most Unique" and other ways to reward good fish that have been well cared for. You just might be surprised how well your pets could do if given a chance.
    1. Alternative: Another idea for 1st timers might be to buy a koi or goldfish at the show from one of the fish vendors on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning before 9:30am when the fish registration is completed. This way you do not have to catch or transport your fish from home but you could still win an award and be a participant. In fact, we have had fish purchased from a vendor, entered in the show, win best in size and best in group, and then be donated to our fish auction after the show. (The owner kept the trophy) This is a way to participate with a minimum of hassle and also help the club pay for our annual show expenses. 

I hope this article may have generated some new consideration in bringing your fish to the show. If this will be your 1st time showing fish please check out the article that follows: Showing koi for the 1st time. you might want to bring just a few to make it easier. Remember how much more fun you have had in the past being a participant in an event vs just a observer. SEE YOU AT THE SHOW!!!!!