Tuesday, October 27, 2009

3 Men Create A Tiger ~ 三人成虎

A conclusion is a place where you got tired of thinking.
~ Arther Bloch

The translated Chinese idiom of "3 Men Create A Tiger"
can be found in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_men_make_a_tiger

How often are we guilty of stereotyping and unfairly judging people and things, only to find out later that it is not what we had initially perceived? Sometimes, we formed our opinions based on our life's experiences or from what we like to believe, but unfortunately, most inherited our views from others' opinions where information is often warped intentionally. We therefore constrain ourselves to bias views, missing out the full picture after we have conveniently arrived at our conclusions without further thinking. We become defensive and start to denounce other contradictory beliefs, in the course of which, relations are strained and we said things that we shouldn't have. Respect and courtesy are the least in our minds in the midst of proving our points.

With the exception of individuals who had intentionally chosen to canvass for their own agenda at all costs, even for the few of us who eventually found out the truth usually became prisoners of our own words. We are victims of "escalation of commitments" because we had preached so strongly in our initial beliefs, we continue to persist that we were never mistaken - all in the name of pride. We found ourselves becoming contradictory, hypocritical and jealous, cooking out excuses to justify our failures and blaming everyone and everything except ourselves. We do many bizarre stuffs just to uphold our pride, spreading rumours, mucking up half-truths and obscured facts to support our precarious ideologies.

These are the real-life social problems from working relations, friends, family and even the Goldfish hobby. Managing differences in the human society plays an important role in social and world peace. Till the day that the human race could finally embrace differences with an open mind and learn about respect and humility, there will never be, as it had never been a day of peace in our little world. While what I have said would not change the world, why not take life with a positive light? Isn't life boring without the things that we love to hate? Sometimes, they do spur us to keep improving ourselves and provide a good laugh now and then :)

In the game of Goldfish breeding, it is important for the breeder not to fall into the trap of "escalation of commitments". Although good brood stock should create good babies, we cannot always expect this to be true. A lot of factors are dependent on the breeder's aesthetic values and culling skills. If a subline does not yield results after a few iterations. It will be better to assess the problem objectively, admit our mistakes and move on.

I will be away for a highly anticipated goldfish expedition in Northern China with some of my avid hobbyist friends. My biggest worry now is the 4 batches of baby Dragon Eye Pearlscales spawned in August and September. I hope to cull away more fries to provide more space for the better ones. Focusing on the structure and the features, if I am lucky, I may be able to achieve some breakthrough this year.

~ the testimony of three men create a tiger in the market — repeated false reports will lead one astray. Translation :


1) The most sexy blueberry eyes still come from the all-white sub-line.

2) Dragon Eye Pearlscales spawned on 26 September.

3) Dragon Eye Pearlscales spawned on 31st August.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Taming A Ranchu ~ 蘭疇の馴育

The father is to be censured for his uncouth child.
~ Excerpt from the Chinese "Trimetric Classics" - 三字經

One of the most important milestones of cilvilisation was domestication. The principal aim of animal domestication was to fulfill man’s need for food and to leverage on their field work. As society progressed, selective breeding of animals extended beyond gratifying basic needs to sensory appreciation. Animal shows like dog shows, song bird shows and fish shows all have one thing in common – besides the ornamental qualities, the animals must feel comfortable in the new environment for them to outperform their peers.

Ranchu Judging in AJRS 2005 (Osaka).
Note the transfer of fish in between judging
and the intense human interaction for the fish.

The essential factor to perform in competitions for any animal (including the human being) is what psychologists refer to as
“cognitive conditioning”, where the subject’s mindset and behaviour is tuned to response favorably to a familiar set of stimulus. In similar ways as dogs are trained to be obedient and song birds to sing unrestrained amid strangers, goldfish can also be trained to be accustomed to the show environment too!

This is particularly crucial in the case of the Japanese Top View Ranchu shows, where a Ranchu’s swimming aesthetics is the most major component of the judging criteria. During the Ranchu competitions in Japan, show Ranchus are transferred by hand from the staging tubs to a round show bowl surrounded by judges. After the Ranchu is released into the show bowl, it has about 20 seconds to show off its best to the judges. If the Ranchu became stressed and stayed stationary or ducted around in the show bowl, it would flunk badly in swimming aesthetics.

Taming my Ranchu.
Bred in 2008 (Tosai Tategyoji, Ōzeki Annual Ranchu Show)

The Japanese coined the term “jun iku” (馴育) - “taming and cultivating” to underscore the importance of training the Ranchus. Competition Ranchu hobbyists devise various methods of taming the Ranchu, all with the objective of getting them accustomed to human presence and contact. One of the easiest methods was to hand feed the Ranchu in the show bowl. A trained Ranchu would eventually associate the roundish show bowl with its meal time, swimming around leisurely and expecting its favourite treats to be served.

1) This effective "taming" tool found in almost any traditional Chinese household with children, epitomise the dawn of social civilisation of the East.

2) Judging scene in the AJRS 2005. Note how each Ranchu is transferred from the staging tubs to the show bowl surrounded by a panel of judges. Within 20 seconds, the Ranchu will be judged.

3) My tamed and happy Ranchu.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tradition & Creativity ~ 復古與創新

Criticism comes easier than craftsmanship.
~ Zeuxis (c. 400 BC)

My family and I had a joyous weekend in the Mid Autumn Goldfish Show. It was a small but very well themed event to tie in the mid autumn activities and the traditional way of showcasing the beauty of the goldfish from the top view - thanks to the passion and hard work put up by the organisers - RafflesGold and SamGoldfish.

I had supported the show with one Dragon Eye Butterfly (1st prize) in the Butterfly Category and two Short Tail Dragon Eye Pearlscales (1st and 3rd prizes) in the Open Category. The same fish that won 1st prize in the Pealscale Category of the recent Fish-Hub Competition had won the 1st prize in the top view open show. It is just over 2 years old now and I hope I can keep it healthy and show ready for as long as I can.

I was also very honoured and humbled to rep
resent The Ōzeki Ranchu Club as one of the judges in the TVR category. Being a goldfish hobbyist myself, I know how easy it is to put our judgments on a fish within that few minutes compared to the time, passion and love that the hobbyists put into their fishes. As such, we feel the great responsibility and treated our judging duty as a very solemn affair.

It was great that the TVR hobby has been maintaining strong and getting better and better over the years within a dedicated group of TVR hobbyists in Singapore. I had a great time chatting with the group and frankly, I am very impressed that many have attained good skills to keep their fishes healthy and in show standard! With due respect, I think all participants are winners as they have moved a step higher in this hobby by proudly showcasing their fishes in a competition. Winning or losing is secondary to the spirit of continual self-improvement.

For more pictures of winning entries and scene of the show, please check out the RafflesGold Forum:


I had also put the winners' pictures in the Verrmillion Goldfish Club's website.

1) Public enjoying Mid Autumn activities amid the goldfish show.

2) My 1st prize black butterfly (bottom fish). One of my only two butterfly collection earlier this year.

3) The aunt and niece - 1st and 3rd prize Dragon Eye Pearlscales.

4) A beautiful TVR in the show that did not win any prize because it refused to "dance" for the judges.

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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