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.


Unknown October 13, 2009 at 12:57 PM  

Cool! I thoroughly enjoyed your taming of ranchu video =) Love the clever wordplay on Art Quatics =D Interesting blog - keep up the good work!

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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