Thursday, December 11, 2014

Focused... ... ...

Sapporo TV Tower

Life is like a Camera...
Focus on what is important,
Capture the good times,
Develop from the negatives,
And if things don't work out,
Take another shot.

~ author unknown

I had a great family vacation in Hokkaido where I was once again immense and impressed by the Japanese culture. The Japanese's passion for detail and quality is evidence in almost everything made-in-Japan from fruits, wagyu beef, gift wrapping, cuisines, even the toilet bowl and of course, the Ranchu! I know what comes to most people's mind - nope, I didn't manage to bring back any Ranchus for it seems that only food fishes are popular in Hokkaido :((

MIFY 2014
Every year, the cyclical routine of Ranchu breeding, Pearlscale breeding, Oozeki Ranchu Club Tosai Study meetings (MIFY) swashed by and before long, the Oozeki Ranchu Show (OARS) on New Year's Day would prelude yet another new cycle of goldfish activities. Back home in Singapore, as the year-end monsoon brings good respite from the tropical heat, I am kept busy with preparing the seed Ranchus for the breeding season.

Pearl breeding pair
2015 will be my 12th consecutive year of breeding the Japanese Ranchu and as usual, it is my resolution to better myself in Ranchu breeding than the previous year. I have some interesting experiments for the coming Ranchu breeding project, but first of all, lets hope for a few healthy and big spawns to play with. 

Well, even if things don't work out as plan for my Ranchu breeding, there is always the Aquarama 2015 to look forward to. How not to feel excited for 2015? :-))

Seed Females for 2015
I wish all readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


14th Oozeki Ranchu Show (OARS)
Hong Lim Green Community Centre
12pm ~ 3pm

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Efficiency ~ 效率

真的很重要,你会找到一个方法。 ,你找到一个借口。

If it is important to you, you'll find a way. If not, you'll find an excuse.

~ Unknown

A baby black dragon eyes pearl
that I am monitoring closely
Thanks to the concern from some readers about my well being since I have not been active in this blog for quite a while. Rest assured that I have never been more active in the goldfish hobby than ever before. 

Besides my annual Pearlscale breeding and planning for next year's Ranchu breeding, I am preoccupied with something that I have not indulged for many years - collecting other varieties of goldfish!

In fact, I love all fancy goldfish and used to keep almost every variety of fancy goldfish until I had to make space and time to focus on goldfish breeding. For years, I abstained from keeping other varieties of goldfish that are not directly relevant to my Ranchu and Pearlscale breeding projects.

New collection:
Pair of blue brown dragon eyes butterfly
This year, I am very fortunate to have a good friend who helped to improve my set up and cut down on the time and effort of my maintenance chores tremendously. So now with an efficient set up that free up much time and spaces, I am happily succumbing to my temptations to collect other varieties of goldfish again. I may also breed some of the other varieties in a small scale just for the experience as I do not think I will have the capacity to track the bloodlines as much as I do for my Ranchus and Pearlscales.
New collection:
Thai black orandas


It is a matter of time that my freed time gaps and spaces will be filled up with fishes and more fishes. Kudos to my good friend Xing again ;-))

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Mountain Is Still A Mountain ~ 見山還是山


~ 史蒂夫·喬布斯

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish
~ Steve Jobs

Some of my 5-month-old

Not too long ago, I learned something very interesting from a good friend regarding the Zen (禪) perspective of the different stages of learning:

Stage 1: A mountain is a mountain (

This is the beginning level where we simply use our senses to experience the things around us. There is no profound feel for the subject matter (the mountain). This is the state of mind of the layman.

Stage 2: A mountain is not a mountain (

This is the next level where we use our logic to analyse the subject matter. We see multiple perspectives and dissect the subject into smaller parts to analyse. The mountain is no longer just a mountain as we examine the streams, the birds and the animals within. This is the state of mind of the scholar who studies the subject earnestly.

Stage 3: A mountain is still a mountain (見山還是山)

In this level, we no longer use psychological projection to label things. We see the streams, the trees and the animals as part of the whole that makes up the mountain again. The mountain has not changed, but what has been changed is a more refined sensual feel of the mountain. This realm of feel (心境) cannot be expressed with words. This is the state of mind of the enlightened. 

In the discipline of art, it is this "feel" that we should aspire to nurture. The same recipe followed by different cooks will not make the same quality of dish; the same teacher giving equal attention to his class will not have equal quality of work from his students. There is nothing wrong with the recipe or the teacher, the deterministic factor is just ourselves.

While I have yet to attain the realm of feel to fully appreciate the profound teachings of Zen, I strongly believe that the basis of learning anything really well is to first master the fundamentals. Without setting the basics right, it is just a matter of time that things will fall apart. We would be wasting our energies going round and round and nowhere else, just like a hamster on the tread wheel. 

The other key aspect of learning as I have always emphasized, is to be truly objective and humble to see our own faults. If we think we are perfect then there is no more room for improvement. The worst case will be to think that we are already in the higher levels of learning but in actual fact, still grappling with the basics. Such will be destined to be stagnated on the same spot like treading hamsters. In our local slang, it is known as "hentakaki" ;-)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Failures & Successes ~ 成敗得失

子曰: 知之為知之,不知為不知,是知也。

Knowledge is knowing what you know and knowing what that you do not know.
~ Confucius

It's been 3 months since my first Ranchu spawn for the year 2014. This year there are more fishes meeting my personal expectations. I am also extremely happy to have overcome a couple of major hurdles that have been puzzling me for years. 

Passion Fruits
Making Ranchu is very much like making crops in agriculture - even if we are prepared to work very hard and are equipped with the best tools and techniques, there is always a major element we cannot control - the weather. I reckon it is nature's way of telling us to stay humble even at times when things are looking good. The law of nature is ever ready to make a fool of any complacent man.

How easy it is for us to be enslaved by our own egos if we are afraid to admit our ignorance and only desire for others to see our successes? The fact is, experiences are gained through failures. 

I know not if I can do better next year, but common sense tells me that not everyday is Sunday ;-)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Water Change ~ 水換

Slower Growth for Refinement
~ An idiom in Chinese Goldfish aquaculture

Spawn C
Mandatory water change everyday is a misconception of keeping the Japanese Ranchu for as far as I can remember.  If grooming Ranchus means feeding them heavily and performing water changes everyday to stimulate growth and upkeep the water quality, then we are better off keeping commercial food fishes.  

Spawn C 2014

Even for young Ranchus that require ample feeding to grow and develop into strong adults, 
sometimes, we have to slow down to regulate their development so as to achieve overall balance of head, body and tail.

Skilled Chinese Goldfish masters also embarked on the technique of slower paced growth at certain juncture to fine tune the development of their fishes. The technique is called 蹲魚 (dun yu) which literally means "squat the fish". 

A hobby is meant to relax and should not become a chore. At times, there maybe no choice but to do more frequent water changes, but it should not be a normal routine. Control feeding and stocking to achieve good development of Ranchu with a manageable water change regime becomes more relaxing both for us and the fishes. Another good reason, especially for our local hobbyists now is to conserve water in the midst of this horrible dry spell.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Stress Reliever ~ 緩解壓力

It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy that makes happiness.

~ Charles Sprugeon

Youngest spawn from 13th Jan 2014
Photo: 1st March 2014
The daily lunch-time ferrying to and fro from work place and home to feed the baby Ranchus becomes very tiring in this extreme heat and humidity. Singapore has not been spared from drastic climatic changes that is also happening elsewhere in the world. Little rain has fallen in Singapore since 13th January and the prolong dry spell is the worst recorded in 50 years!

I was quite fortunate to collect one more spawn when the temperature was still not too warm for the breeder Ranchus. The spawn hatched healthily on 13th February and completed the first major culling over last weekend. I have since stopped attempting any new spawns as the weather condition is not conducive for the female Ranchus to nurture good quality eggs. Hopefully, it will be cooler in March as we expect some wet showers towards the Qing Ming Festival in the first week of April.

2014 Spawn B

It can be quite dismaying to think that there may only be hope for more rain in another month to cool down the daytime temperature. Nevertheless, the baby Ranchus made me forget about my problems and fatigue every time I watch them swim. The hard work commuting all the way to feed them is definitely worthwhile for they are my best stress reliever :))

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Aesthetics & Engineering ~ 美學與工程學


~ 達芬奇

Nothing can be loved or hated, unless it is first understood.

~ Leonardo da Vinci

If we try swimming the breast stroke underwater as leveled as possible nearer the surface of the water and then in the deeper parts of the water, we will feel much more resistance in the deeper water compared to nearer the water surface.

Reducing our aerodynamic profile by pointing our hands straight or keeping them very close to the body reduces these resistances and we glide forward easily. Now imagine that we are Ranchus trying to swim with our hands wide open to simulate the open tail fins. The stress and strained will be felt mostly on our shoulders and joints as we pushed forward (assuming if we managed to swim this way underwater).

The tail bones of the BBRs are very soft and delicate and prone to damage. We can reduce the resistance and strain on the tail fins by lowering the water level (10cm to 14cm). However, do take extra precaution on the water quality and provide good aeration because the water volume is decreased and the rate of oxygen exchange from the air stones is also reduced due to the lower water level.

Spawn A:
spawn date: 11 Jan 2014
video date: 24 Feb 2014

Next, imagine swimming with hands wide open and some weights tied to our abdomen to simulate a Ranchu with a full "stomach" and then, if we can, wag our hips like the peduncle of the Ranchu (just kidding). It is just common sense that we will struggle to keep our heads up against gravity and our hips may be injured due to the strains. For a Ranchu swimming with a heavy and full "stomach" and wide open tails, the strain on the back and tail core from the weight may alter their backbones, ruin their tail bones and tilt their tail dish (ozara).

A seed ranchu having damaged tail shoulder

BBRs, like human babies need more feedings to grow and path the foundation for a healthy adult. However, overfeeding them may do them more harm than good as exemplified by the above analogy. So spread out the feedings to more moderate feeds vs a few heavy feeds to reduce the weight of the BBR and encourage them to look for more food and exercise, which in turn aids digestion and growth. 

BBR with flip up tail tip on the right side
and a folded tail tip on the left
On the flip side (pun unintended), underfeeding the BBR will make its tail closer as it naturally evolved less widely-spread tail to swim faster and compete for food with its peers. In essence, the Ranchu keeper should exercise their own feel and judgment to groom their Ranchus. As each Ranchu is unique, some will turn out better than the others with specific grooming techniques. 

Even with these measures in place, we can only minimise but not eradicate the possibility of tail or structural damages in a BBR simply because Ranchu aesthetics defies nature: In the first place, why are we asking for a fish with beautifully spread out tail to swim and glide at ease and with good balance? Isn't the Ranchu art an amazing engineering feat? Which is precisely why the Japanese always refer to "making a Ranchu" literally. There is no perfect Ranchu and as we appreciate that it is not easy to be a Ranchu, we should try to see more of the beautiful aspect of every Ranchu and not only on its flaws :))

As I am now selling some excess BBRs in my Goldfish sales blog to most people who may be keeping the BBR for the first time, I reckoned that this blog post should come in handy in saving much repetition and making the concepts clearer ;-) 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Necessity Spurs for Change ~ 窮則思變

BBS production line
I'm a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.
~ Thomas Jefferson

Yes! the Ranchu fries survived the Lunar New Year long weekend without any daphnia. Though I had started using Baby Brine Shrimp (BBS) last year, this is the first year that I attempted feeding BBS exclusively to my Ranchu fries. The truth is, I had no choice as there was no daphnia supply for a few days.  

The fries fed exclusively with BBS had grown significantly enough to complete their first few major cullings since the Lunar New Year. At this juncture, I am happy to have allayed the long term worry about not getting anymore supply of daphnia in future when farmlands in Malaysia give way to urbanization.

Spawn A
Spawn date: 11 Jan 2014
Video date: 13 Feb 2014

From now, I will continue to use the BBS to supplement the erratic supply of daphnia and fine tune on the BBS hatchery. Hopefully one day, I do not have to depend on the daphnia to feed goldfish fries anymore. 

BBS feasting for Spawn E
This is the first year that I managed to spawn all the female Ranchus that I planned to breed, which means that it will be a litmus test on my Ranchu bloodline that I have maintained for a decade. I am really excited to see the potential of the bloodline this year :))

Paradoxically, as I become more relaxed and least worried of whether my Ranchus will have a good spawn, I got these big healthy spawns that I never had before. Maybe it is the weather or maybe I am just lucky to have done something correctly that I did not even realised - and this is a cause for concern because if I do not know why I failed or succeed, I would never be able to deliver consistent results. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Contradictions ~ 矛盾

Give the People what they want - and they'll get what they deserve.

~ The Kinks

Lunar New Year decorations in Chinatown

Tomorrow (31st Jan) will be the New Lunar Year of the Horse. Somehow, the festive mood is not felt as much as in previous years. Maybe there were just too many holidays in close proximity as the memories of Christmas and New Year are still very fresh in my mind.

Besides, I am also preoccupied with a big problem this year - how to feed 4 sizable spawns of baby Ranchus over the Lunar New Year holidays, during which, there will be 3 to 4 days without the supply of daphnia. Isn't having bigger TVR spawns what I have always deemed as the biggest hurdle to clear and I finally got it this year? 

Lunar New Year red packet (angpow)
from our lottery outlets
with goldfish designs for
prosperity and luck

Incidentally, this would be one of the most challenging year and a good opportunity to explore and experiment on alternative food sources like pellets or prepared food to supplement daphnia. I have culled the bigger spawns as much as possible to mitigate the limited food supply and control the water quality during the holidays.

No matter what, the Lunar New Year is the most important date in my culture for meeting up relatives, paying respects to the elders and family reunion. Of course, I will behave and spend more time with my family than with my fishes ;-p

May I wish all a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous Lunar New Year!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Feel Factor ~ 感覺

Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.
~ Albert Einstein

More than a century of intensive linebreeding and inbreeding by the Japanese breeders have produced the consistent and beautiful Japanese Ranchu of today, but also very delicate fishes that are prone to sickness when conditions are not right for them. Thankfully, the Japanese Ranchu are mostly having problems with gill flukes and gill bacterial, which can usually be treated successfully if diagnosed in the early stages. Problems like head and body ulcer, fungus, argulus, anchor worms are not common for the Japanese Ranchu, unless contaminated by fishes from other sources.

Birds that sing the same kind of song may
not be the same type of birds ;-)

Developing a keen "feel factor" for the fishes is fundamental for a successful hobby, especially so for the Japanese Ranchu which are much more sensitive than most other varieties of goldfish. Fishes can't converse with us directly, so if we have a good "feel" for how the fishes are doing, we could preempt for many unnecessary casualties.

Many people who believe that having profound experiences in keeping the Chinese or Thai Ranchu, then keeping the Japanese Ranchu will be a bliss are in for some nasty surprises. On the contrary, experience in this case may be the biggest hindrance - be prepared to unlearn many things that we learned about keeping other varieties of goldfish. 

The previous big spawn in August did not turn up well and I have culled most and kept less than 10 pieces. This is the time of the year again to breed Ranchu with the cooler ambient and higher temperature swings and I have the opportunity to experiment with more parent combinations. I am glad that the spawns size are getting bigger with better quality eggs for the past 2 years, however, my work load is also growing over the years. Hopefully, I can still juggle work and Ranchu breeding this 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.

  © Blogger template 'External' by 2008

Back to TOP