Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Party Has Begun

The road to success is always under construction.
~Lily Tomlin

The sudden change in atmospheric pressure from yesterday's downpour had triggered the spawning of TVRs this morning. About 4000~6000 eggs were collected from 2 females belonging to different sub-lines.

I track all spawning information and bloodlines very closely. Most of the time, I will hand-spawn two or more males from the same bloodline to one female. More males increase the fertility rate and the chances of good parent matching to produce good babies. There are also times that I will breed one male to a female if I know that the particular combination is good or I want to enhance certain genetic traits in that combination.

From this juncture, there are numerous huddles to clear before we can "make" some decent fishes. Unfortunately, not all spawns will develop well - sudden temperature swings, bad fertility and bad quality of eggs/milt are the major factors affecting the outcome of the hatching.

Success is also not assured even after the eggs are hatched. Fries that are not able to swim for more than 3 days after hatching, high percentage of deformities like bent body, fused caudal tail joints, deformed eyes are also signs of problem with hatching or the health of the parent fishes.

Breeders in cooler climates use the heater to control the water temperature during incubation of the eggs. In tropical countries, we can use the air conditioner to lower the temperature near to 20°C. More spawns are expected in the weeks to come. The fertility yield of eggs is usually, but not always, better in subsequent spawns.

1) party time 2) hand spawning 3) eggs collected 4) porous fine netting media for collecting eggs

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Clouds On The Horizon

Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain.
~Author Unknown

The weather is showing signs of getting cooler with occasional drizzles. In the early hours of dawn, some fishes are engaged in courtship chasing - a sign of imminent spawning. It is time to start feeding the female breeders slightly more.

However, with humid and warm weather near 30°C, the risk of egg engorgement can be high. More rain is expected towards the peak of the spawning season around end March to April this year. I will be very careful with water quality as the health of parent fishes are of paramount importance now.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Romancing the Stone

Art collecting is: "A passion pursued with discipline and Science is a discipline pursued by passion."
~Arther Sackler - scientist and art collector

Collecting goldfish artifacts is another addiction introduced to me by my good friend and mentor, Alvin Lim.

Recently, I got hold of a piece of Chinese stone seal artifact with a refine goldfish carving and an auspicious wording - 金玉滿堂 - literally means "a hall full of gold and jade".
金玉滿堂 is also a common wish phrase for prosperity in the Lunar New Year.

The Chinese pronunciation of goldfish - 金魚 (Jin Yu) sounds like 金玉 (gold and jade). As such, goldfish is frequently used as the subject together with designs of Lunar New Year cards, lanterns and red packets. This carving is the masterpiece of Master Chen from Fujian province who took years to master this art.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Dreamer's Life

If you want your dreams to come true, don't sleep.
~A Yiddish Proverb

Goldfish usually spawn in the early hours of dawn, sometimes as early as 5 a.m. More than one female fish may collaborate to spawn in the same morning. This is one of the important reasons why a breeding plan must be prepared beforehand, otherwise, with half of me still in slumber-land, I will sure to panic and not know which fish to "squeeze" (hand-spawn).

My busy work schedule in the beginning of every year always coincide with the TVR breeding season. It is both mentally and physically taxing especially that I have to work late nights and wake up so early to check the spawnings. However, I always feel very happy and excited in the TVR breeding season. Few people could understand why I would sacrifice 2 hours of good sleep everyday for weeks and months just to squeeze some fishes. Now you know why I am always sleepy :)

Picture: Conditioning the breeders for the big day

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Peacock Dancers

Dance is the hidden language of the soul.
~Martha Graham

he jikin is also known as the Peacock Tail, a good jikin specimen has an arched-up body in order to have the desired near-vertical top caudal fins. The fins should also spread open like the petals of a flower when viewed from the rear.

In recent years, a Chinese breeder has managed to produce a bloodline of very nice jikins with very good tail quality. Contrary to the Japanese, the Chinese hobbyists appreciate the jikin from the side view and are not so particular on the 12-red colour patterns mandatory in Japanese show jikins.

Nevertheless, the Jikin is a undisputable dance artiste be it viewed from the top or the side. Notice how beautifully the 4 caudal fins move independently of each other in the video.

Whether the Weather be Kind?

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.
~ Mark Twain

It is the time of the year again to prepare my TVR breeders for spawning. From as early as last September, breeder candidates were put on a staple diet of bloodworms and good quality pellet food. It is also very essential to keep breeders very healthy so that they will produce good eggs and babies.

Goldfish are coldwater fishes; in countries with 4 seasons, goldfish spawning is much more predictable than in the tropical countries. As Spring approaches, goldfish "wakes up" from their hibernation in winter and started to con
sume more food, their body naturally conditions for spawning when the water temperature becomes warmer.

It is often said that Singapore also has 4 seasons: warm, warmer, wet and wetter. It is possible to spawn goldfish the whole year round - thanks (or no thanks) to the monsoon and seasonal downpour that brings about changes in atmospheric pressure and temperature. For goldfish bred
and raised for sometime in Singapore, conditioning them for spawning requires more patience, as well as understanding of the climatic conditions. With accelerated growth in the all-summer tropical climate, yearlings becomes sexually matured earlier than in cooler climates. However, warmer weather could also result in higher chances of egg-engorgement in the female fishes.

The weather has been scalding hot these few days and spawning is not expected any time soon. Yeah... now with my breeding plan and breeders ready, it's time for some rain dance :)


Ōzeki Ranchu Club: Tosai Ranchu Study meet late December under tropical heat.

A male seed ranchu with shooting stars on the pectoral, ready action anyt

Friday, January 23, 2009

Water Change

Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine

~Robert C. Gallagher

Like all ornamental fishes, goldfish needs good water quality and space for optimum growth and health. Even a fully cycled home aquarium is a closed ecosystem, too small for the biological-load in a goldfish tank. In a typical goldfish aquarium or small goldfish pond, besides maintaining an appropriate stocking ratio, a routine water change is essential to replenish the trace elements and remove the nitrates. The frequency and amount of change depends on the water parameters, climatic conditions and feeding regime. In Singapore with soft and warm water, a weekly change is usually needed to keep the goldfish healthy.

Another important aspect of water change is to remove the growth inhibitor secreted by goldfish.
Growth inhibitor is nature's way to keep the fish growth in check due to the environmental constraint. Our home aquarium and pond is a closed eco-system where trace elements are not replenished naturally and new water are not usually flushed into the system.

In Thailand, it is very popular to use the "dripping" method, where new source of water is dripped continuously into an overflowing system that displaces the old water. In essence, it is a constant water change system to dilute the biological-load and growth inhibitor of old water and thus stimulate the growth of goldfish. There are many varied setups but they all make use of the continuous water change principle to attain growth for the goldfish in a restricted space.

Picture shows the setup of a Thai goldfish hobbyist. Note the overflow and continuous water input.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


The early bird catches the worm, but the second mice gets the cheese

~ Jon Hammond

The high protein and fibrous bloodworm is an excellent food for many ornamental fishes, it aids digestion and also promotes wen growth and fertility in goldfish. However, being live feeds, bloodworms carry many protozoans. The safer option is to buy the frozen-sterilized bloodworms. Have you ever wonder why the frozen bloodworms are so well preserved? They can maintain that fresh blood redness through weeks and months in the freezer?

I got the answer from a discus hobbyist I met 2 years ago and I thought that it is important to share it around. He thinks that the bloodworms are preserved with formalin - an active ingredients used in the process of embalming ( to preserved carcasses and kill protozoans (! I was told that two of his discus hobbyist friends developed serious cracks and skin sore on their hands after prolong periods of handling bloodworms, eventually to quit their hobby!

Of course I would not deprive my beloved goldfish from bloodworms. I always use a hand glove and wash my hands thoroughly with soap after handling them. It is also advisable to store bloodworms in a different compartment from food in the freezer and keep them away from children. The crack and dry skin on my fingers eventually heal in a couple of weeks - thanks to the kind gentleman who shared this information!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

In My Ideal Goldfish World...

The holy grail mock up (click on the pond to dispense food) >>>

In my ideal world...

Goldfish never falls sick,
there's no diseases to treat!
Even for the kids,

the hobby's an easy feat!

Stocking as many that fits my whim,
in any space to the rim.
They'll grow strong and big,
with colours that won't fade a bit.

No staggering of feeds,
no more green water like weeds.
Shower 'em plentiful of food,
without water change for good!

Is this holy grail,
ideal or wholly real?

The seasonal higher demand for goldfish is geared up again towards the Chinese Lunar New Year (Jan 26th to Jan 27th). In the orient, goldfish is an auspicious pet and an emblem of peace, prosperity and harmony. As such, many Chinese families purchase colourful goldfishes for display in their home tanks during the Chinese New Year. The ancient art of fengshui (geomancy) also practices the keeping of 9 goldfishes (8 red and one black) to bring good luck to the owner. These and many beliefs makes goldfish one of the most popular but also one of the least understood of all ornamental fishes.

Lovely as they are, Goldfish are messy. For the owner, the joy of feeding is soon overwhelmed by the chore of water change. The bio-load of goldfish is just too heavy that it demands more skill and effort on water management. Many people try hard to find ways to keep goldfish with the least maintenance possible. The quest for a zero water-change system continues.

Then again, not everyone keeps goldfish just for the Chinese New Year or fengshui and there are many hobbyists who strives to keep them healthy, growing and more beautiful. Like any other pet or plant hobby, one would need to understand the basic physiological needs of the subject matter to be successful. If you are interested to find out more about the goldfish, you can write to the avid goldfish hobbyists club to meet up with us in our regular sharing sessions.

Wishing everyone a Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Top View Ranchu Breeding 2009

A goal without a plan is just a wish.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Oozeki Annual Ranchu Show (OARS) marks the beginning of another ranchu year. It is the time again to plan for my Top View Ranchu (TVR) breeding.

I prefer to breed the TVR in the first quarter of every year to coincide with the Japanese TVR breeding season. In this way, I can benchmark the growth rate and development with those of the Japanese TVR breeders.

Every year, when I look at my breeding plan, there is a mix feeling of excitement and anxiety. I am both excited and geared up in anticipation of breeding TVR but also anxious about the difficulty of this feat. I strongly believe that without approaching this hobby with humility and respect, I would never be successful in breeding the TVR.

My goal each year is very simple - to improve a little from my previous year.

Breeding the TVR

Breeding the TVR
Breeding and maintaining a bloodline of the Japanese TVR since 2003.

Goldfish Artwork

Goldfish Artwork
Marriage of 2 of my passions - Goldfish and Art.

Creating a New Variety

Creating a New Variety
My dream of creating a new variety of goldfish in 2006 has proven to be more than just an impulsive fantasy.

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