Friday, December 20, 2019

The SingPost Goldfish Definitive Stamps 2019

Be like a postage stamp, stick to one thing until you get there.
~ Josh Billings

SingPost recently launched Singapore’s 2019 goldfish definitive stamps. I am honoured that the image of one of my goldfish was featured in the 1st Local and Local Stamp Book designs.

The image is of a Telescope Eye (a.k.a Dragon Eye) Pearlscale that has been on the main banner of my Facebook page for some years. Born and bred in 2010 in Singapore, it won first prize in the Pearlscale class at the 2011 Aquarama International Goldfish Competition. This uniquely Singaporean creation was the product of a breeding program that I had begun in 2006.

Tank view of the First Local Stamp Pearlscale

The basic features of the Pearlscale are a roundish body and pearl-like protruding scales, from which the breed derives its name. The more commonly available strains are the Ping-pong Pearlscale and the Crown Pearlscale.

The idea of creating a new strain came about in 2005. I wanted to set myself tougher challenges in the goldfish hobby and was determined to refute critics who believed it impossible to produce quality goldfish in tropical Singapore. Thus was the blueprint of the new variety conceived, based upon the Pearlscale variety - one of the most demanding goldfish to properly cultivate.

A big pearlscale from the Little Red Dot:
Size from the top view of the First Local Stamp Pearlscale

My dream was to develop a Pearlscale with an adorable rounded body and short tail; and exotic oriental features in the form of dragon (telescopic) eyes, pom poms (velvety narial bouquets), and topped off with a mini crown. I also wished for it to have a multitude of colour variations and the potential to achieve an impressive size.

It does not take much imagination to realise that my ideas would be accompanied by a engineering challenge - a fish with a short tail on one end having the daunting task of powering a plumpish body which would sport the heavy payloads of dragon eyes, pom poms and a crown at the other end. Balance had to be achieved through careful selective breeding for the optimal backbone structure, body-head-tail proportions, eye size, tail shape and angle. This was important to allow the fish to swim with grace and refined deportment, and live a healthy dignified life.

Dragon Eye Pom Pom Crown Pearlscale came to life in 2013

A goldfish breeding programme is a long term project. It entails knowledge of goldfish genetics and show standards, water quality management, contingency planning, ample pond space and the commitment to track the development of the bloodline.

In livestock breeding, a stable bloodline is one that exhibits a high consistency of desired traits over generations. Outcrossing - ie mixing with unrelated strains or bloodlines - is necessary to introduce new desired features to the baseline pearlscale variety.

Power of the dream

However, outcrossing is akin to shuffling a deck of hitherto ordered cards - once done, it is difficult to predict the hand that will next be dealt. Stable and desired traits may diminish or even disappear in the new hybrid offspring. A bad decision in outcrossing or casualties in brood stock can have catastrophic - or even show stopping - consequences for the whole breeding programme.

Tank view of a Singapore Dragon Eye Pom Pom Crown Pearlscale in 2015

If the outcross proves promising, back-crossing - breeding the new outcrossed hybrid back to the original stable line - is done to reinforce any original desired traits “diluted” by the outcross. This process may take multiple iterations over years before the new bloodline stabilises. As such, preserving the “last working version” is crucial so that there is no need to return to square one, when things go awry.

Creating a new goldfish variety is a long game of patience with no guarantee of success. The journey was at times lonely, with few fans or believers when it began with the first generation in 2005. Singapore’s tropical climate has allowed me to breed up to 3 generations of goldfish a year (as compared to only one generation in spring for temperate climates like China’s or Japan’s). But even with the quickened progress, it took years to stabilised the new variety.

2019 Dragon Eye Pom Pom Pearl babies 5 month old

As of the time of writing in December 2019, this labour of love has endured for over a decade. Having given many of my best years to the cause, it all seems worthwhile whenever I see specimens developing nicely.

Whilst still less known here at home (at least before the stamps were launched!) the Telescope Eye Pearlscale has gained recognition internationally as a uniquely Singapore variety.

However, the quest for “pearl-fection” is a continuing passion and I would hope to continue enhancing the breed for as long as I possibly can.

My heartfelt thanks once again to SingPost for showcasing my work in the prominent way that they have!

You may purchase the Singapore goldfish definitive stamp set and Stamp Book from

Check out some of my blog articles:

My Goldfish Breeding Journey:
~ Dream of a Goldfish Fanatic
~ Aquarama 2011
~ Balance

My Goldfish Artworks:
~ Serenity
~ A Minute on Stage is 10 Years of Hard Work
The Art of Patience
~ 5 minute Pearlscale

Enjoy more than 100 goldfish articles posted in Goldfish ArtQuatics!!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Master of the Game ~ 遊戲大師

“The future was clay, to be moulded day by day, but the past was bedrock, immutable.”~ Sidney Sheldon, Master of the Game 


It's the season of the Japanese Black Baby Ranchu (BBR or kurroko 黒仔 in Japanese), named after the greenish-black colouration of the baby Ranchu that has yet to acquire its adult colouration.

Every year, from February to June is the busiest period of the year for the Japanese Ranchu breeders. It is also an exciting season for the Ranchu hobbyists as they look forward to acquire good quality baby Ranchus.

Grooming Ranchu from their baby stage may seem like trying your luck with the Japanese gachapon (capsule toy) machines ("tikum" in local Singapore context). The suspense and excitement in opening the capsule, hoping for your favourite toy model within is simply overwhelming.

However, Ranchu grooming entails more than sheer luck. The Japanese masters referred to grooming Ranchu as "making a Ranchu". They emphasized that a good Ranchu is 30% good bloodline and 70% good grooming. No doubt a higher grade BBR of good bloodline will have a much higher chance to become a good quality Ranchu, even the best Ranchu will be ruined if not groomed properly. 

Gachapon goldfish

There are techniques in making the head, body and tail of a baby Ranchu in different stages of its life. By studying the characteristics of each Ranchu, the Ranchu keeper tailor and "fine tune" their development by adjusting the food amount, food duration and food variety. They also control the amount of water change, water temperature, depth of water and the number of fishes among other things.

Ando BBR 2017
colour changed about 1.5 months after arrival
If making a Ranchu is just about growth and size, then it would be so easy to push BBR for rapid growth with an aggressive feeding regime and frequent water changes. However, the standard of a Japanese Ranchu is not to make a couch potato; a good Japanese Ranchu is a fish that epitomize both power in features and elegance in movement.

BBRs do much better in a group than in solo or fewer fishes because by nature goldfish are sociable fishes. In a group, they are less stressed by movement and disturbances near the pond. Group grooming also promotes competition for food and mitigate the risk of over-feeding. A few fishes will take their own sweet time to finish their food because they perceived the abundance of food. On the other hand, a group of fishes will naturally compete for food and in the process, they exercise more, which aids in food digestion and the building up of a strong bone structure. 

The same spawn of fish from the same breeder groomed by different keepers will turn out very differently because of varying keeping techniques and environment. There is also a saying in Japan that many of the best Ranchu keepers are those who are creative because they tend to experiment on new and different techniques in making their Ranchu.

I am thankful to a modest and avid Singaporean hobbyist (who prefers to remain anonymous) to share his grooming in this blog post:

In April 2017, he acquired 10 pieces of Ando BBR and many of his fishes turn out very well. As a typical Singaporean staying in high rise flats with the constraint of space, he successfully groomed his Ranchu indoors without the natural sunlight. The use of LED lighting indoors to mimic the natural sunlight helped in the growth of the green wall algae. In turn, the green wall algae acts as a natural filtration and also provided a nutritional food source for the Ranchu.

One of his BBR even won 6th position out of more than 50 entries in the Small Tosai class in Thailand (Mid Year Siam Ranchu Challenge 2017). The following video shows the development of the prize winning fish:

If you are game for "Ranchu gachapon", 
please enquire for the annual BBR sales:
Email :
Tel: +65-96732638

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Minute on Stage is 10 Years of Hard Work ~ 台上一分鐘,台下十年功


Art is universal. It unites mankind in common brotherhood.

~ Excerpt from the quote of James Jackson Jarves

The appreciation of all things beautiful is human nature, more pertinent is the fact that people from any culture can appreciate the beauty of a great piece of art or music from a foreign culture, without the need to understand that foreign language.

Today, I would like to share one of my favorite YouTube video - "Matsuri" by Master Kitaro. Master Kitaro often coalesce his music with the flavors and cultures of the countries that he performed in. In this particular music video, filmed in 2011 in his Hong Kong performance tour, the Matsuri theme was harmoniously blended with the euphony of Oriental musical instruments.

The sheer concordance of the Kitaro tempo often evokes psychical peace and inspiration to many... including myself - overwhelmed by the profound serenity and inspiration from the tempo of Matsuri to sketch the dynamic beauty of the Goldfish :))

Beyond doubt, many cultures also found the love for the Goldfish and develop various strains of Goldfish in accordance to their aesthetic preferences. We can often appreciate different perspectives of beauty from these communal development. Breeders also cross bred Goldfish developed by different cultures to create new and interesting perspectives. Like the beautiful music of Master Kitaro, the beauty of the Goldfish is appreciated by people of many cultures!

Please also enjoy the exceptional musical performance by master Kitaro with the VIVA girls in this music video!

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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