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Thread: should gravid females be entered in a beauty contest?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006

    should gravid females be entered in a beauty contest?

    A koi show is many things--
    1) A beauty contest
    2) A live stock exhibition
    3) A serious competition
    4) A highly educational experience
    5) A social event for chapter hobbyists
    6) A fund raiser and recruitment tool for new members
    7) A sales promotion tool for the industry
    You will notice that the first identity of a koi show is A BEAUTY CONTEST!
    And ironically the next two (live stock exhibition for soundness of breeding stock and A serious competition) can be compatible with a beauty contest or they can begin to work against the prime directive of a beauty.
    Indeed, beauty is in the eye of the beholder but extremes of competition for instance can often lead to a questioning of where the line is.
    In the ever stretching effort to create a bigger and more robust show koi we have all come to favor the female entry over the male. The thinking behind this being that the large robust female is so more 'present' and majestic than her thinner, smaller male counterpart. Fair enough.
    In this quest for the jumbo female uber- competitor, we do however begin to over look or accept the negatives that come along with a magnified body and huge girth.
    this is also the trend and fine but the beginner judge and serious exhibitor must realize that there IS a line where size and its consequences begins to battle the basic desire for soundness and object beauty as based on the standard.
    Case in point is the very gravid mature female koi. Female koi are always more robust than males as their anatomy, swollen reproductive tract and general fluid distribution make for a robust silhouette. And when the Japanese first established their shows the traditional autumn show removed all issues of egg mass carriage as females were in post breeding condition.
    In the west we were quite innocent as to why koi shows were in the cooler seasons and decided for social and economic reasons, that spring and summer shows were fine for koi. In those days because most competing fish were males ( tateshita) it really was not a major issue.
    Today however, with exhibitors bringing large females to spring and summer shows, gravid females are a very large percentage of entries.
    I will not go into the dangers of this or the biology involved in this dynamic. Instead, I'd like to focus on the practical issues we face when it comes to the terms of the beauty contest.
    Some females carry egg mass symmetrically. And based on fluid retention, age of the egg mass and general shape and condition of the rest of the koi's body, a gravid female can be a very acceptable (even desirable) entry. But not all wonderful female koi carry eggs of that description. Instead we see females carrying eggs very high in the body and looking "pigeon or chicken breasted" or deformed or even ill with dropsy. Other females will only have one side of their reproductive organ filled with eggs. Still others will show lopsided egg masses and masses that look the entire world like a tumor (a definite antidote to the idea of healthy beauty, yet the fish is perfectly healthy-- just not pleasing to the eye). And egg mass always brings in discussions of health issues and deformities such as a bent spine or twisted tail tube. So is a hanging belly acceptable--- are any of these things acceptable?
    The answer is yes. But there is a limit to acceptability and there is the reality of what the other competitors look like.
    I'm running long here so I'll rest and see if there is interest or observations from others on this subject-- JR

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Brazoria County, Texas
    Personally, JR, I think you are asking the wrong question. You allude to the proper question in your treatise.

    "Should koi shows in the US be held in Spring and Summer?"

    Alternatively, "Should koi shows in the US be held in late fall and winter?"

    I see so many Japanese koi show pictures with snow on the ground, or raining, the people in long winter coats and rubber shoes, and cold, yet healthy koi in the tanks.

    Then I see pictures of people at US shows trying to clean up a tank (or tanks) after spawning has occurred, and the female fish stressed to the max. But, the people are warm and comfortable.

    I have always pushed for koi shows, especially in the South and warm areas, to be held in late fall, winter, or very early spring when it is still cold and the koi are not in the mood for spawning.

    Seems that here in the US that with respect to koi shows, the koikeepers place their own comfort considerably above that of their fish.

  3. #3
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Orlando, Florida
    Yes, Brett, but .... I'm not sure how to predict when that will be in Florida. It may be downright cold in February, or it may be in the 80sF.

    It does make sense to hold shows at the time of year when they look best in the area where the show is held. In Fall, koi in much of Florida are still showing the effects of very high pond temperatures. I think they look best in the January to March time frame, but egg issues are present. Fasting can help, but is not always enough. (Pond water temperature this morning was a bit over 70F.)

    For other areas of the country, late September through mid-November make a lot of sense. But, there is a tough economic reality to confront. That is the time when dealers are off to Japan for the harvest and readying their facilities to receive shipments of newly acquired fish. And, a lot of folks won't buy fish until Spring because of over-wintering concerns. Without the dealers coming as vendors, show finances are a real challenge. It is much easier financially when vendors see the timing as coinciding with the start of the pond-purchasing season.

    So, you see, money may be at the root of this "evil" as well.

  4. #4
    Daihonmei dick benbow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    seattle, wa
    great contributions.....here in the pacific NW our shows start in June and work their way thru September. back when I started the Puget Sound Koi Club's young fish show, It was in october, but has since been worked slowly back to August, for the convenience of the members. Initially, I had attempted to find a compromise of timing for the fish and the members.
    Also since that time the length limit of 16 inches has crept up to less than 20.

    So like water, folks seem to seek their own level. interestingly enough, we have to ask why a show is held and most agree it's for bragging rights for participants and the best opportunity to attract new members.

    I also find the timing of shows for bonsai in america tend to be, more in the interest of the people versus the trees.

    Thank God for Suiseki, they're not gravid, or have any needs like something living first pic from l to r is boat stone, tunnel stone, Ice caves
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails should gravid females be entered in a beauty contest?-img_2252.jpg   should gravid females be entered in a beauty contest?-img_2262.jpg  
    Dick Benbow

  5. #5
    Honmei ricshaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Southern California
    Quote Originally Posted by JasPR View Post
    Should gravid females be entered in a beauty contest?
    What difference does it make if the judges follow their judging criteria and select the best Koi?

    Should Koi owners risk entering gravid females in a Koi show? That is the question.

  6. #6
    Daihonmei PapaBear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Davenport, Oklahoma
    We in the Western world do tend to set different priorities when it comes to things like this. Scheduling a beauty contest at a time of year when the potential for imperfect entrants is high is a bit odd, even if it is more convenient for us. No simple answers to that particular question though...

    A lot of the difficulty JR points out when it comes to properly judging a gravid female invites speculation and projection, neither of which any Judge in any arena wants to engage in. I can think of several females who carry their eggs like a "seasonal tumor". Those who understand the anatomy and physiology of Koi can see beyond it and evaluate the "Frame" purely on the musculoskeletal structure and reach a sound judgement, but "on the day" steps into the fray... "On the Day" implies perfection in the moment, which is an obstacle for the "lumpy/lopsided" look of many a gravid female. Judges with an influence from Shinkokai or Airinkai may see these things in completely different ways from most others, which further confuses the issue for the more casual observer.

    Simple answers just don't come easy on things like this, but they are worthy of the conversation.
    Larry Iles

  7. #7
    Oyagoi RayJordan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    San Antonio, Texas
    My short answer would be it depends on how gravid they are.

    A bit more expansion might be indicated. (Excuse the pun) The health of the koi are paramount objectives of every koi show. Very gravid females can suffer internal injuries from transport damage. They will not likely die at the show but can several weeks to several months later as a result of transport damage to and from a show. So in the interest of the koi's health I would say that koi with significant swelling of the abdominal area especial if asymetrical should not be taken to a show.
    Disclosure:These opinions are based on my experience and conversations with persons I consider accomplished koi keepers and do not reflect the viewpoint of any organization.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    just wish there would be a shot or some "bottle" to make them release the eggs and not need the hardship of spawning.
    wouldn't it be nice place in a qt minute later done dropping eggs then place back in pond.no harm and just flush tank out add pond water(for stability) then add next female.

  9. #9
    MCA is offline
    Honmei MCA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    What about gravid males? I can remember a show where one of Steve C's males dropped eggs.

    But perhaps I digress....

  10. #10
    Daihonmei PapaBear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Davenport, Oklahoma
    Quote Originally Posted by MCA View Post
    What about gravid males? I can remember a show where one of Steve C's males dropped eggs.

    But perhaps I digress....
    Yeah, but did you hear the one about the female that shot milt across the show tank

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