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Thread: Does the tail wag the dog?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006

    Does the tail wag the dog?

    I've seen many of these grow out contests over the years. In fact I competed in the first one ( fish provided by Sakai FF in an effort to build the business of Quality koi back in the day) and judged several at various young koi shows.

    In most cases, it is suggested that the outcome will be wide open and who knows who will/can win?
    And as fun and exciting as these events can be, the education is limited- very limted?
    why would I say that? Am I the Grinch that stole fun ? I hope not!

    what I want to say is --- each brand of gosanke has certain key features that make them famous and sought after. Some are known for skin type, others for thick beni, others for pure size, and some for specific genetic pattern that marks and highlights those special features of the line.
    So naturally, the fish with the features unique to that line should stand out as the best of that spawn. It is what the breeder is looking for afterall.

    So when doing a grow out contest, the education is as follows;

    1) who was unfortunate enough to get the males
    2) what females carry the best features of that line
    3) if the feature is size and color, those with a small pattern will not do well
    4) if the features are soft skin, the hard white ground fish are culls
    5) These things are evident at the beginning and the competition is really down t0 10% of the enteries. The only surprises then is who will drop out of their suggested potential and who will continue on to deliver what was hinted at ( not promised).

    My wish is that everyone, at one time or another, tries their luck at entering a grow out. But I also hope that the seasoned grow out exhibitor eventually learns what a grow out can teach and can't teach.
    Enjoy and let the games begin! JR

  2. #2
    Oyagoi kingkong's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    I will only spend $200 to $400 on big name breaders 10 inch koi from now on. That equals the unfortunate male category ... so grow out contests sound like fun if you have the dog to enter I suppose.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Kong, I think it all about where one is in the hobby at any one moment in their hobby experience.
    We all are subject to 'buying the cracker Jack's box' hoping to find a diamond ring in the bottom of the experience. It never happens of course, but even the hope of a plastic ring is exciting at one point in the hobby experience.
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with a collection moving from tateshita to better and better koi- in fact the dealer community depends on it!
    But there is also nothing wrong with collecting highly finished males to assure smaller adult sizes ( and weights) and to enjoy a mass of color swirling at feeding time.
    Others will find great enjoyment in owning just five fish, but fish of great size and quality- a kohaku, a sanke, a showa, a shiro and an asagi, for instance

    Myself? I feel I've done it all-- junk fish in great numbers, great fish in small numbers-- and now, not so much expensive fish any more-- just good fish. I have recently thought about going back to tosai and Nisai. And away from my big girls of 29- 36 inches.

    I guess what I'm saying is-- it's all a journey. JR

  4. #4
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Orlando, Florida
    I have to say that I've not learned much from grow-outs different from what is learned from raising tosai independent of a grow-out. The reason is that few of the fish are ever seen again; and, when I do see some, I do not have the clear memory of the traits exhibited by the fish as tosai. A photo taken at the time is just not good enough to learn much beyond the obvious. However, grow-outs are fun, and that's what counts.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Here's my "grow-out" experiences (that I can remember over the last 10+ years.

    5 growouts, 5 males, gone within 2 - 3 years. (growout prices ranged from $150 to $250 each)

    Non grow-out Tosai purchases:

    10, 3 males (gone in 2-3 years), 7 females either still have or kept in excess of 5 years. 6 of these were shiros to study motoguro. 3 ended up male, 3 ended up female but purchase was based on motoguro alone.

    Lessons learned:
    1) Growouts have been an even worse investment than even tosai purchases.

    2) Cheaper to make a club donation than participate in the growout.
    The views presented are my personal views and not that of any organization that I may belong to unless otherwise specified. [email protected]

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    grow outs teach hobbyists about the character of the other hobbyists more than anything else.
    the first lesson learned:
    The vast majority of Hobbyists buy into a "grow out contest" just to get a chance to have a koi from a grower they couldn't usually afford. Most never make an attempt to help the group learn from them by keeping records of what they do to the koi and how the koi changes in relation to the care given. And THIS is why i have asked that people that enter a grow out be charged TWICE as much as the fish they are buying to enter with the second half of the money being distributed to those that complete the clearly defined protocol of posting their care routine and the progress of their grow out koi.
    You miss a designated report and you are either "out" or only get a partial amount of what the others get at the end of the study.
    your koi dies and you are given the percentage of your "half" that it stayed alive for the grow out period provided you maintained a public record of the koi up until its death.

    The contest should not and can not be about who can grow the best koi in the given time period.
    it is the knowledge that is the imperative and yet the knowledge learned is how little discipline the hobbyists have for the process and care about each other.

    Instead of the hobbyists chosing the fish, the breeder should chose the hobbyists.
    it will be interesting to see how well the Quality Koi Atarashi grow out started by Mike Mc at the CFKS '10 goes.....
    Last edited by luke frisbee; 06-24-2010 at 09:07 PM.

  7. #7
    Oyagoi gcuss's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Maple Falls, WA
    I've only participated in one grow out and that was the Ogata grow out here on Bito. I don't think I learned a whole lot unfortunately because as already pointed out, the info received from others is scattered at best...

    What is the goal of a growout really?

    - to pit one's keeping ability against another?
    - to have a wide variety from one breeder to see how certain traits develop?
    - to test one's selection criteria and what to look for when purchasing?
    - to see the effects of varying water parameters on the development of color/skin?

    Depending on the goal of a growout the focus should be aimed right at it...

    Couple of ideas that would be more educational that the traditional IMO:

    Number 1 : Breeder's Growout

    50 tosai (same variety...)
    10 breeders involved using 5 from each
    All kept in the same pond
    Twice a year data collected and evaluated
    5 yrs long

    Or Number 2 : Keeper's Growout

    -50 tosai (same variety)
    -One breeder
    -5 koi per pond
    -10 ponds with stable but different parameters in regards to hardness etc
    -Different ponds with regards to filtration designs, diet/food
    -Half the ponds go through the seasons, the other half stay heated and fed heavily for the first year, then half of those continue for one more year being heated, and the other goes into a 4 season cycle including winter fasting

    Or 3 : Selection Growout

    - 50 tosai (same variety)
    - One breeder
    - 5 koi per participant, no more, no less
    - point system figured out based on development, most points at the end wins
    - All koi stay with the buyer
    - 5 yrs long with annual updates provided to all participants

    Each scenario offers a focused learning goal and the means for that education. It would be nice to be a millionaire and be able to do all of them by one's self, but in a group situation it spreads the cost among participants.

    Obviously a lot of things could be added/adjusted and my ideas are probably flawed in execution, but that's the general idea. A focus on the education..?


  8. #8
    Oyagoi kntry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Louisiana - KHA
    I have to agree that not much is learned.

    I've been in 2 grow outs. I was extremely fortunate have gotten the diamond from the Cracker Jack's box in the first grow out with my Brady Showa that won Young GC.

    The other grow out was the Omosako grow out. Out of the 5 Shiro's that I bought, I'm not happy with any of them.

    I don't think you can learn much from a grow out when all the fish are kept in different ponds and growing conditions because most people aren't going to keep good records, you don't really know their filtration set up, maintenance schedules, water quality, etc. About the most you can learn is how much the fish grew over a specified amount of time.
    The views expressed above are my own personal views and, as such, do not necessarily reflect the views of the AKCA or the KHA program.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    If you think about it, we already have the ULTIMATE learning experience-- it's called the KOI SHOW! In that show you bring your freshly bought and also your carefully grown show fish. They are matched against someone else's freshly bought and carefully grown show fish. And in all cases they are from all the best known breeders, lesser known breeders and even domestic high end breeders. A true mix of everything of all sizes and ages! And then they are ranked by experienced advanced hobbyists who play the practiced role of 'judge'. And if that is not enough we get a group of them together to bang out the right ranking.

    what the exhibitor is supposed to take away is the following:

    1) how their 'best fish' looks against others' 'best fish'. You might learn that your really do have a special fish after all. Or that your fish is not as good as you thought as you learn from looking at the fish of others with your own eyes. In that moment you will realize why there is little to learned from a picture contest. Nothing at all.

    2) that a group of trained, experienced eyes says your fish is special in the ranking, or has some issues that makes it less desirable than some of the others.

    3) that your fish may have been robust looking and the dealer may have said it has excellent conformation but in the presence of other fish of the same age it looks thin?

    4) that you fish might not look like the fish in the magazines but in YOUR chapter, it IS a special fish. The opposite is also true as you will learn if you enter a fish in another more advanced chapter where ALL the fish are more like the fish in the magazines?! That's as valuable as going to Japan and seeing fish from different breeders.

    5) that on Sunday morning, amateur judges with no fish to sell or ax to grind, will tell you the best attributes of YOUR fish and it worst draw backs-- that is educational! Some times painful, but educational !

    6) that you "thought" you liked so-n-so San's fish but you are drawn to the fish that competed against your fish and you learn that such-n-such San's line fish appeal to your personal sensibilities more than the line you have started with. No problem, good to know!

    Honestly, I could go on and on adding points of learning at a good koi show. I'm not sure why we try and reinvent the wheel and use up personal energies on side activities when all volunteer's energy and time is needed for the annual koi show and the spring young shows?? The true center of education as regards koi appreciation--

  10. #10
    Oyagoi kntry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Louisiana - KHA
    So true, JR.

    I've experienced 1-5. Had a blast doing it, too. Even learning the bad and ugly about my fish. What you learn makes you a better koi keeper, improves your eye and makes you a wiser koi investor.

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