Friday, December 23, 2011

难得糊涂 ~ Where ignorance is a bliss, it is folly to be wise


Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you. 

~John De Paola

2011 has been a great Goldfish breeding year and my day job getting ever busier. If there is just one important lesson that I gained this year, it is learning to slow down in life. Slowing down doesn't necessarily means slower or stagnated progress; in fact, when we give ourselves time to contemplate, sometimes, we could gain fresh insights and break new grounds in the things we've been pursuing.

2 ~ 2.5 years old Dragon balls

Taking a more leisurely pace in Goldfish breeding gives me time to plan on how to fine tune my bloodlines and preserve my energies for the next TVR breeding season. Slowing down also gives me more time with my family and friends, and I feel so much more wholesome. After all, a hobby is meant to relax and enjoy. It would be an utter tragedy if we can't even make strong trusting relationships and truthful bonding with our family and friends through a hobby.

Maybe age is catching up with me, or maybe I am just tired after all these years… many things doesn’t matters to me any more… I feel so much liberalized to care less… what that matters most to me is having quality time with my family, my good friends and my fishes.

The Oozeki Annual Ranchu Show (OARS) would be the next event I look forward to meeting up with my hobbyist friends again. May I wish all my readers - A Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!

Oozeki Annual Ranchu Show (OARS)
1st January 2012
Hong Lim Green Community Centre
20 Upper Pickering Street
12.00pm ~ 3.00pm

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Greenwater, "Clearwater" ~ 綠水﹑清水


中文解釋: 水太清,魚就存不住身,對人要求太苛刻,就沒有人能當他的伙伴。

Water of Extreme Clarity is Void of Fishes; A Man Too Stringent in His Expectations is Lack of Companion.
~ A Chinese Idiom

Ryukin groomed in "old" greenwater
The title of this blog post has long been a very touchy subject for many Goldfish hobbyists.

I like to think of the greenwater and "clearwater" as tools to groom our fishes. Knowing why, when and how to apply these tools is the key to enjoying a successful hobby. In grooming fishes, the basic parameters to play with are stocking, feeding frequency, type of feed and amount of space amongst others. Apart from genetic factors and depending on how these parameters interplay, in general, the greenwater is ideal for colour finishing, wen growth, and providing a more stabilised temperature for fishes in drastic weather conditions while the "clearwater" is great for developing colour depth, regulating wen balance and longitudinal growth.

A farm in Suzhou, China stocking young red cap
Oranda in greenwater during the colder months
Though the Internet is a good source for learning, it is also an information jungle. It is sometimes difficult to be objective when our judgements are biased by what we learned from some sources. There are those who would argue that a certain tool or methodology is invalid simply because it doesn't work out for them, so by this argument, they have eradicated the possibility that they may not actually know how to apply the tool properly in the first place. Yet, there are some, who for ego's sake or personal agenda make out strained interpretations and far-fetched analogies that one tool is more superior than the other by presenting skewed experiments and concealing important facts. 

Accepting that there are different routes to nirvana, we can be more objective to open our eyes, our ears and our minds to different perspectives. Along the line of achieving balance and harmony with the understanding that extremes measures almost always backfire, we would not fall prey easily to such radical arguments. 

Japan - Seed Ranchus kept in light greenwater,
Grandmaster Ishikawa's farm
For the sharp-eyed readers who wondered why I use inverted commas for the word "clearwater", let me posit that nothing can change the fact that sunlight is the life-line of all living things; a stable body of water with good clarity where fishes flourished will be directly or indirectly exposed to sunlight and having some form of plant/algae matter. Even the organic waste from dead plant matter is beneficial for the wellbeing of the aquatic ecosystem. The greenwater, on the other hand, can be a beast if not moderated; fin burns, over development and stunted growth are some of the side effects. Any tool, no matter how powerful, is a double edged sword to weld - Power is nothing without control.

Japan: Ranchu kept in "clearwater"
grazing on wall carpet algae.
For my dear readers who still can't see my point, I am sorry for the rambling. The summary of this blog post is:  just let the fish do the talking :)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Life With No Regrets ~ 無妄此生

鼎盛弊端 ~ Of Crest And Troughs

Every wave, regardless of how high and forceful it crests, must eventually collapse within itself.

~ Stefan Zweig

Enjoying my pearlies at home
All mortal beings will inevitably go through the cycle of birth, aging, sickness and death. Well-fed Goldfish in the tropical climate is on the "full throttle" of development and the price to pay for faster growth is a faster pace of deterioration. Comparing to the cooler climates where the fancy Goldfish can live for 10 years or more, the average lifespan of even the best kept fancy Goldfish in the tropical is just about 4 to 6 years only.

Just turning 2 years of age, my favourite tri-colour Dragon Eyes Pearlscale is now in the zenith of its beauty. I am elated that the injury it sustained on the right side its body during the Aquarama has completely healed and the new scales hardly review the old scars. While loving every moment of its glamour, I am also lamenting that from this point of its life onwards, it will be going slowly downhill and retiring from shows. I think it would be very difficult for me to breed another specimen matching this fish - a one-in-a-million fish with balance eyes, full armoured pearls even found on its peduncle, a beautifully set tail, strong colour and evenly matched patterns on both sides of its body, 
 good body structure that contributes to its balance, and it is plump but still swim with great agility and balance...

Video taken on 24th September for BBRs spawned on 21st August - 
their growth rate is at least double those in cooler climate

The day will come too that I become too old to breed Goldfish any more. But I have live this life with no regrets that I have created some fishes I love and getting to know so many truthful and wonderful friends to share and learn about the Goldfish hobby. 

Regrettably, quality do not always come hand in hand with quantity, be it fishes or friends. G
ood fishes and good friends - the more the merrier, but it is the paradox of life that good things don't come easy. We cannot hope for many real good fishes and real good friends in our lifetime, so having even one would be a great blessing not to be taken for granted ;)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Simple Joys of Life ~ 簡朴的樂趣

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
~ Leonardo da Vinci

Breeder Pearlies: Where is our breakfast?
I am greatly appreciative of the kind concerns of readers who wrote to enquire what I have been doing these days. Well, I am really fine and as always, happily enjoying the fish keeping hobby with my friends and very busy with my day job. I also had a great time in the Tosai Study Workshop and catching up with some avid hobbyists in the Merlion Goldfish Competition.

Many people also asked me how I managed to find time to juggle so many things simultaneously. Admittedly, it can be very difficult and a real test of perseverance especially when problem strikes. However, it is always in a crisis that triggers the brainstorming on how I can improve and simplify things in order to steer the hobby to fit my lifestyle.

One of the winning fishes of the Merlion
Goldfish Competition
My line of Salamander HMPK
It has always been my dream since my childhood days that I would have lots and lots of fishes and be proficient to keep them healthy and beautiful. So currently, I have 2 batches of BBRs, one big spawn of 10-days-old Pearlies, a few spawns of Bettas and my new strain of Guppies to maintain. How can it ever be a chore if I enjoy every moment of it? :)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Growth ~ 成長

不是所有的變化都代表成長﹔ 就像不是所有的行動都是前進的。

All change is not growth; as all movement is not forward .

~ Ellen Glasgow

Spawn from 23rd July
Some unforeseen events kept me very busy for weeks. Nevertheless, in the midst of all the mayhem, I am glad to collect a spawn from a pair of Nisai TVR in the last week of July. Though I often collect test spawns to fine tune my techniques and verify the best combination of seed fishes,  this is the first time that I breed the TVR later than May.

Actually, its running quite late by the Japanese TVR calendar where most of the TVR breedings in Japan have stopped. By now, many of the avid Japanese Ranchu fanciers would be ardently pushing the growth of their TVR to at least 12cm in order to field them in the All Japan Ranchu Show (AJRS).

CBR from spawn D
Video shot in late April 2011 (2 months old)

Same fish video taken on 12 Aug 2011
(about 5.5 months old)
No doubt size do have an edge in TVR competitions and it is not difficult to accomplished rapid growth for Ranchu in our tropical climate, I strongly believe that growth must be an accompaniment of balance but not vice versa. After all, the Ranchu is an ornamental fish and not a food fish. 

Many beautiful things in life became out of proportion and ugly at the expense of greed and growth. The Ranchu hobbyists should study and moderate the growth rate of each fish to harmonize with its overall development. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Complacency Begets Calamities; Humility Reaps Benefits ~ 滿招損﹔謙受益。


Don’t let your victories go to your head, or your failures go to your heart.
~ unknown

To be honest, after 8 years breeding the TVR, I only begin to feel a little confident this year. It has been a tough journey to tackle the macro technicalities of breeding TVR, but there lies far greater challenges ahead as I delve into the micro details. My aim now is to achieve greater consistency and improving the yield of having more good fishes. 

It is also one of my wildest fantasies that one day, I could acquire the skills comparable to the the top Japanese breeders - a big dream that will probably take years to fulfill, or maybe not in my lifetime at all. Many pessimists don't believe we can achieve anything like this in Singapore... but that only makes me more motivated to prove them wrong :)

Few hobbyists really have the time to kill for real serious Goldfish breeding, i.e. going through years of painstaking efforts to improve and track their line of Goldfish for many filial generations. Be it Goldfish or even the relatively easy-to-breed Betta or Guppies, earnest breeding of livestock requires a very high level of passion and commitment. It can be a very depressing and lonely game in times of failures as most of our peers and dear ones cannot comprehend why are we doing our own fish breeding when it is much easier (and cheaper) to purchase from a good source. Hence, there is no coincidence that the avid breeders process the character traits of hard work, a strong sense of pride and the dogmatic will ("stubbornness") to realise their dreams against all odds.

Along the way as we push on, there will be a fair share of successes to boost our pride as well as failures to test our perseverance. Nevertheless, the line between pride and ego is very thin and a real threat to advancement. People with great pride and a stubborn character are also easy victims to their egos and become their very own enemies. Complacency and ego blind us as we fail to approach issues objectively; when we think that we are always right, and that we can no longer tolerate contradictory views, our minds are shut, learning stops and there is absolutely nothing to improve further.  

Just like many good things in life, the learning never stops in the dynamic art of Ranchu. We are always the students of Ranchu.

If circumstances allowed, I hope to try more TVR spawning again before the end of this year. The only way to learn is to make mistakes, acknowledge them and think of how to improve.

As requested by some keen readers, I have updated the pictures of some of the Tosais bred this year. They are about 4 to 4.5 months old and measuring 10 ~ 11.5 cm.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Uniquely Singapore ~ 非常新加坡


Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.
~ Greg Anderson

Category A 1st Prize

Finally, I realised one of my lifelong dreams to create the first new variety of Goldfish uniquely Singapore and showcase it officially in the New Varieties Category of the Aquarama International Ornamental Fish Competition. 

It has been an extremely backbreaking project going through numerous failures and persevering to breed and track my own bloodline of Pearlscale for nearly 7 years. Actually I have created two new varieties: the Short Tail Dragon Eyes Pearlscale and the Short Tail Dragon Eyes Pompom Pearlscale. Rightfully, I should be on cloud nine since my new varieties had also won a few prizes in the Goldfish Competition but I was rather disappointed. It was quite an anticlimax because the Pearlscale category in this Aquarama was not as heavily contended as do other categories like the Ranchu and the Oranda categories. I would prefer a strong showdown :(

Category A 2nd Prize
A consolation for me this Aquarama is my winnings in the Guppy competition with my new strain of "Moscow-Maroon-Brown" (Class 9 Open Group 1st Prize and Trio 2nd Prize). Yes, you have read correctly - Guppy. I love ornamental fishes as far as I could remember in my childhood days. Guppy breeding was supposed to be a small project with my younger son but I got a little carried away and decided to selective breed to create a new strain of Guppy instead. It took me almost 2 years, but it was an enriching journey making lots of mistakes and getting to know and learn from some of the best Guppy experts in Singapore. Though I must admit it has also been tough as I always give in my best to whatever I set my mind on doing.

Uniquely Singapore - Short Tail Dragon Eyes
Pompom Pearlscales
I am still contemplating about my game plan after the Aquarama. Surely, I would want to further improve on my bloodline of Pearlscales and I may also try to focus on another variety of Goldfish. Of course, there is also my beloved TVR ... Maybe it is time to slow down on Goldfish competitions and devote more of my time on breeding and painting Goldfish - I just couldn't resist the joy of creation :)

PS: I have updated the Aquarama Competition results in the Vermillion Goldfish Club Website.

Guppy Sidetrack :-p

My sweat and his pride :)
~ receiving the trophy from Mr John Dawes

Our new breed of Guppy

Saturday, May 14, 2011

An Itchy Idea ~ 心癢癢

If you can't take the heat, don't tickle the dragon
~ unknown

The weather in the month of May in Singapore can be extremely warm and humid in one moment and torrential downpour in the next moment. Fortunately, I have concluded my TVR and Pearlies breeding for year 2011 and need not spend too much time in the outdoors.

2011 Spawn A

I am quite happy with the results of this years' breeding for both the TVR and the Pearlscales which I attributed to better seed fishes. In fact, I was thinking of attempting more spawns to prove certain concepts if not for the heavy work load in my day job and preparation for the Aquarama International Fish competition.

2011 Dragon Eyes Pompom Pearlscales

Knowing jolly well that it would be too tough to take on the heat of both the task of looking after thousands of fries and coping with work simultaneously in this time of the year, it is wiser to forget about the itchy idea altogether - - - just for now :-p

Friday, April 15, 2011

Trust & Integrity ~ 信譽

信譽就像一面鏡子 ..一旦打破,就永遠不一樣了...

Trust is like a mirror..once it is broken, you can never look at it the same again...
~ unknown

Its about time to foster a relationship of trust with the Ranchus. Hand-feeding is a routine practiced by the avid Ranchu fanciers to accustom the Ranchus to manhandling. For the Ranchu fanciers, nothing beats the joy of having a school of Ranchus wagging their tails and feeding off our hands. As mentioned in one of my earlier blog, hand feeding is also an important routine to train the Ranchus to get use to the intensive human presence and handling during the TVR competitions.

In fact, the spirit of friendship with emphasis in trust, integrity, respect and honour is highly regarded by some revered old Ranchu Masters in Japan. Sad to say, the lucrative TVR trades around the world have diluted much of the original teachings, even in the land of the Ranchus... :(

The video shows one of this year's BBR exhibiting the typical traits from the old Okayama bloodlines of 2002 ~ 2005 - longish head frame and "dragon cheek" funtan. This is an interesting piece with exaggerated features of well developed head and wide open tails, plump but yet swims with relatively good control! It is also a bulky babe (approx. 7.5cm) and has not completed colour change yet. I love the cute baby fats of the BBR... enjoying it as much as I could before it changes colour. Hopefully, it will not change for the worst under my care.

* PS: The date in the video is wrong... it should be 15th April. I think I am looking too much forward to the Aquarama 2011 :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Over Developed??

I can't think why mothers love them. All babies do is leak at both ends.

~ Douglas Feaver

A quick post amidst my very busy schedule. This year I am very happy that some of the baby Ranchus have not completed colour change at 6.5cm ~ 7cm! However, I am also concern about the over development of the head... I do not want to their heads to be too big...

Both my good friends and seniors, Geert and Alvin think they are OK though...

Spawn A : 7 April

Friday, March 25, 2011

Herding Instinct ~ 群集本能


But Far More Numerous was the Herd of Such, Who Think Too Little, and Who Talk Too Much.
~ John Dryden

Spawn A ~ Photo taken 17 Mar
 Herd behavior pertains to the behavior of animals in herds, flocks and schools, and to human conduct in stock market bubbles and crashes, mob violence and opinion forming. In many cases, circumstances can conspire to undermine the wisdom of crowds if a few individuals in a population  could exert an excessive influence to kick start people's "herding instinct" and rally around an absurd idea.

Herding animals do better when they live in larger social groups than in solitude. In the wild, many animals depend upon their sheer numbers to gather food, confuse or ward off predators to ensure a higher chance for survival.

Video taken on 25 March ~ a school of Spawn A BBRs

Likewise, our domesticated fancy Goldfish do better in a herd too; they are less stressful, more accustomed to humans and develop better when they are kept in appropriate numbers. Though a group of Goldfish, especially Ranchus swimming and glazing together is a charming sight to behold, however, a bigger number of fishes translates to a bigger challenge on water quality. The successful hobbyists balance their stocking based on the size of the fish, the space and the amount of food to keep their fishes healthy. 

Our Goldfish reacted out of their basic instinct for herding and could not rationalise, shouldn't we humans? ;-) 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In a Trance ~ 心神恍惚

People Who Say They Sleep Like a Baby Usually Don't have One. 

~ Leo J. Burke

Spawn A ~ 21 Mar
Another devastating earthquake, this time in the land of the Ranchus shocked the World. The wrath of nature just reminded us time and again of how fragile and unpredictable life is. Everything from ships, houses and cars looked like toys in the tsunami... It was very sad to see so many homes, families and lives lost, and even more worrying is the radiation from the nuclear facilities. Let's hope for the very best for the survivals of this tsunami and for mankind to evade a potential nuclear disaster.

Spawn B ~ 21 Mar
Merely 5000km away from Japan, I feel somewhat awkward that I am fully engaged in another kind of worry - in providing the best I could to 4 spawns of BBRs with enough food and water changes to keep them growing and healthy. Frankly, I have  not got the time to review them in detail this year. Sometimes, I feel myself in state of trance losing the sense of time while rushing to juggle fish, family and work. I think I badly need a good ZZZzzzzzzz… but no matter how tired I am, I have never failed to wake up very early to buy live feeds for my babies.

Spawn C ~ 21 Mar
Spawn D ~ 21 Mar

Friday, February 25, 2011

Group Learning ~ 三人行,必有我师焉。


I Have Never in My Life Learned Anything from
Any Man Who Agreed with Me.
~Dudley Field Malone

Spawn A - photo taken this morning

My wish for this year's TVR breeding to achieve bigger spawn sizes came true.  The challenge now is about grooming so many TVR fries, which are much more time and space consuming to raise than Pearlscales.

Spawn D hatched today!
Like the previous years, I will be passing some newly hatched fries to my fellow club members to groom. Healthy group learning like this speeds up the pace of progress because no one could possibly experiment everything and make all the mistakes. Moreover, variations in techniques provide a wider perspective when comparing notes.

Today, I took a day's leave from work just to do the culling for 2 batches of TVR spawns. After the second culling for spawn A and the first culling for spawn B, there are more than 900 fries altogether. Spawn C is too small to cull now while spawn D, the biggest so far, hatched today...

For quick updating of the growth of my BBRs, I have created a spawn log link on the top right hand corner of this blog. I will try to update this link as frequent as possible.

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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