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Thread: doing my koi homework

  1. #1
    Daihonmei
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    doing my koi homework

    As I am between ponds at the moment and have only a few koi let in my collection, I sometimes travel to a friends wholesale building to study koi " I don't know personally!"

    One of the drills I do is to find as many defects and deficiencies as I can in a batch of imports within a 5 minute period. It is fun and sharpens the eye. One funny thing about this exercise is once one has identifed a missing ray for instance, the eye keeps going back to that one fish over and over. The lesson there is NEVER ever buy a fish with a defect, no matter how nice the pattern might be or how minor the defect might be, as that is ALL you will ever see once your eye develops.

    I can't tell you how many times exhibitors come up to me after judging with a statement that they brought such and such a fish to a show because it shows well and most times the judges don't pick up on the defect. This used to be upsetting to me as it could be terribly embarassing to miss the detail!! But as an established judge, I now get upset for a different reason--
    The koi show is for displaying excellence. These fish represent the very best of our collections, the very best examples of their breeds and potentially tomorrows future breeding stock.
    A koi show, is both a competitive beauty contest AND a live stock exhibition to show examples of a standard and soundness of a gene pool.

    A good fish reflects the eye, knowledge and husbandey skills of a koi keeper. if your koi was born with a deformity or has experienced a deformity due to injury or disease, in the spirit of excellence and the comradery of the koi culture, it is best to leave that pet home. Because it is not, or no longer, a show fish. JR

  2. #2
    Sansai almostgeorgia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasPR View Post
    As I am between ponds at the moment and have only a few koi let in my collection, I sometimes travel to a friends wholesale building to study koi " I don't know personally!"

    One of the drills I do is to find as many defects and deficiencies as I can in a batch of imports within a 5 minute period. It is fun and sharpens the eye. One funny thing about this exercise is once one has identified a missing ray for instance, the eye keeps going back to that one fish over and over. The lesson there is NEVER ever buy a fish with a defect, no matter how nice the pattern might be or how minor the defect might be, as that is ALL you will ever see once your eye develops.

    I can't tell you how many times exhibitors come up to me after judging with a statement that they brought such and such a fish to a show because it shows well and most times the judges don't pick up on the defect. This used to be upsetting to me as it could be terribly embarrassing to miss the detail!! But as an established judge, I now get upset for a different reason--
    The koi show is for displaying excellence. These fish represent the very best of our collections, the very best examples of their breeds and potentially tomorrows future breeding stock.
    A koi show, is both a competitive beauty contest AND a live stock exhibition to show examples of a standard and soundness of a gene pool.

    A good fish reflects the eye, knowledge and husbandry skills of a koi keeper. if your koi was born with a deformity or has experienced a deformity due to injury or disease, in the spirit of excellence and the camaraderie of the koi culture, it is best to leave that pet home. Because it is not, or no longer, a show fish. JR
    Sharpening one's eye for the appreciation of koi sounds like a good and fun use of your 'down-time' between ponds, JR. But if I might, I would share a bit of a cautionary tale with you. I have an acquaintance who loves to spend countless hours looking at and studying Navajo weavings and has thus developed a keenly refined sense of proportion and design for that particular art form. As you may know, however, the finest examples of such weaving can quickly run into the many 10's of thousands of dollars -- and up! He can now spot a good rug in an instant, and clear across the room at that. Unfortunately he now has also developed 'filet mignon' tastes for the rugs, which leads to much frustration when he is forced to remain within his 'hamburger budget'!

    All kidding aside, I understand the point of your discussion regarding the need to only display the best examples of our hobby at koi shows. But playing the devil's advocate a bit here, what of the 'truism' that no koi is ever perfect? Where does one draw the line beyond, 'pond grade' or 'grotesque deformity' to a fish of near perfect proportions that still has an ever-so-slight flaw, and thus 'not make the grade' when deciding what to show?

    Let me give you a couple of examples to illustrate the quandary as I see it. At a recent show I observed a nice fish win a high award, but I personally didn't care for the pattern as I felt it was compromised by the few odd 'gin rin' scales scattered over the body, though it was not benched in that category. I've had pros tell me those tell-tale glittering scales are not detractors, even in the eyes of the judges, but they are to me.

    Here's another example; in my area there exists a gargantuan gin-rin chagoi with beautiful conformation, massive 'presence', and an amazing 'root beer' coloration that is always a crowd pleaser at the local shows. Now this fish just happens to also have an ever-so-slightly 'clipped' left pec fin, with the leading ray not as perfectly arched out as the other side. It's a flaw I'm sure every judge notes, and many experienced koi keepers would probably pick out as well. But it's a huge crowd pleaser at the shows, and because I never get to 'enjoy' this fish in it's owner's pond, I'm always happy to see it too. Should this fish owner forgo bringing it to future exhibitions as well based on the unfortunate, ever so slight 'bend' in that first ray?

    Just some food for thought.

  3. #3
    Nisai
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasPR View Post
    I now get upset for a different reason--
    The koi show is for displaying excellence. These fish represent the very best of our collections, the very best examples of their breeds and potentially tomorrows future breeding stock.
    A koi show, is both a competitive beauty contest AND a live stock exhibition to show examples of a standard and soundness of a gene pool.

    A good fish reflects the eye, knowledge and husbandey skills of a koi keeper. if your koi was born with a deformity or has experienced a deformity due to injury or disease, in the spirit of excellence and the comradery of the koi culture, it is best to leave that pet home. Because it is not, or no longer, a show fish. JR
    JR,

    Good to have you back actively posting again.

    I have a quandary with the above quote - as partly i agree with you in that in the ideal world you are exactly right and i would be totally behind you.

    BUT....

    There is no such thing as a ideal world or a perfect koi. Every koi has its defects wether that be slight colour or pattern issues or plain downright deformed. I can think of several koi here in the UK that have been shown on a regular basis and won MAJOR awards - we are talking "champion" awards at koi shows right up to National level that have been properly deformed.

    A few instances without picturing the koi if possible:-

    A very famous koi over here that won multiple awards that had a deformed mouth - it was twisted off to one side. Now 90% of the koi show visiting public will have never spotted it and they got to see what was other than that a tremendous koi.

    Another and probably the most "shocking" one was a Grand Champion with a barbel missing. This koi was simply amazing and in fact the best show koi on the day in the country on its day even with this defect.

    Another a koi that had its anal fin missing - a sublime kindai Showa that if you didn't know the fin was missing you could not fail to be impressed with at the time.

    So i think there is room for both - especially as in the beginnings of the hobby you can "live with" a slight defect - clipped pec, twisted mouth etc etc then as the hobby grows for you or the viewing public then an element of education is added - you begin to spot these things and your hobby grows. I would bet 99% of the koi buying public have to make sacrifices with their purchases - should they be ruled out from showing because of the koi not being perfect - no not IMO.

  4. #4
    Oyagoi RayJordan's Avatar
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    Hi Almost Georgia,

    Your excellent example of a huge chagoi with a slightly deformed pec fin as you stated is a minor defect overall considering the size, conformation, and rest of the qualities. If every small defect excluded koi from our shows there would not be many larger koi entered anymore.

    I am sure that JR did not intend to infer that any koi regardless of the quality or size with a minor defect should not be taken to a show. He was talking about major defects and especially deficiencies. Defects refer to things that are damaged or slightly outside the accepted norms but still mostly intact. For example slightly deformed fins, small window in the hi plate, small area missing scales, etc.

    Deficiencies are unaccepatable where something is missing or significantly outside the norm. Missing eye, fin, deformed gill cover, significantly bent head or body making it difficult for the koi to swim normally, etc. These are things that should be excluded during benching.

    The reality today even at All Japan Shows and elsewhere is that koi organizations need to encourage more entrants and less and less are koi being disqualified during benching. So some koi that should have really been disqualified to save an entrants feelings are placed in the show. Then judges are asked to rank these types of koi. As judges we likely just place them last in the group where they are competing. If there are a number of koi ranked above it the entrant will likely get the message. The problem comes when there is only one koi in the group that really should have been disqualified. More than once I have seen a show chairman ask judges not disqualify a koi even if it is the only koi and would in reality earn a 1st place by default.

    It is difficult at times but important for judges to teach what is acceptable and what is not acceptable at a show. Where things get dicey is when an koi with a major deformity was sold without disclosure for a high price that inferred the koi was show quality. The dealer attempts to blame the judges for not accepting a deformity as a minor defect, etc. Also the opposite happens when a expensive koi loses at a show to another koi with a minor defect. The dealer insists in that situation the minor defect should have disqualified the koi from a major award, etc.
    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.

  5. #5
    Nisai
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    DQ's

    I understand alot of what you say. It bothers me alot. When I am judging, in my mind I am passing over very nice LOOKING fish because of something not formed right or missing. Like that GC in California with no Barbels. When I ask questions in that direction, I always get the response"Yes we saw it but this fish is so far above the rest that it does not matter" Damn it, it does matter. We also see this with bent spines. Response" The skin is so much better or it is so much bigger or this is an older fish so it is OK." Red pupils, deformed anals. I get the response "You can't see that from the top anyway." Many judges have no problems with pigeon chest. I do. Maybe I am just picky.
    Gin Rin on scales, even if a few, is not the same to be as a crooked mouth, or something in body shape.
    In my mind all bodies have to be perfect no matter what size or age. Then you judge from there. Forgive some kiwa on older fish, but not missing fin.
    Forgive color, some luster but can never for me give up on body. This is a standard like a dog show. Missing tail is major no matter how nice the poodle cut and cute face.

  6. #6
    Nisai
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    I am very new to the hobby compared to most of you on bito, but from what I am reading is that exquisite looking fish can still rank high in shows even though they are lacking a barbel or two, that doesn't make any sense to me, shouldn't the body structure be judged first then skin quality etc....

  7. #7
    Oyagoi kntry's Avatar
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    I've always understood that body conformation was the first consideration in larger fish, size 3 and up. In smaller fish, pattern.

    I agree that there is no perfect fish but some are more perfect than others. I would not consider entering a fish that did not have all its body parts, crooked mouth or spine.

  8. #8
    Nisai
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    Quote Originally Posted by ben5020 View Post
    I am very new to the hobby compared to most of you on bito, but from what I am reading is that exquisite looking fish can still rank high in shows even though they are lacking a barbel or two, that doesn't make any sense to me, shouldn't the body structure be judged first then skin quality etc....
    Yes but for some reason in American shows defects are EXPECTED and let go by. This does not happen in Japan because if any body defect exists the hobbyist is too embarassed to even enter it. You do not have to look for defects in Japanese shows as they are not there. People just do not show them. There are great looking fish in Japan with defects and they are sold as "GOOD DEALS" to the foriegn market. No market for them in Japan but the breeders know they can PASS them off. To me high priced pond koi. BODY IS MOST MOST IMPORTANT. If I buy fish I look at body first. Even if something small I pass. You can maybe convince yourself early but your eye always goes to it.
    I have a 1949 Truck I show and has won many awards but there are DEFECTS in the paint that I see and it drives me nuts.

  9. #9
    Nisai
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    Quote Originally Posted by koidoc View Post
    Yes but for some reason in American shows defects are EXPECTED and let go by. This does not happen in Japan because if any body defect exists the hobbyist is too embarassed to even enter it. You do not have to look for defects in Japanese shows as they are not there. People just do not show them. There are great looking fish in Japan with defects and they are sold as "GOOD DEALS" to the foriegn market. No market for them in Japan but the breeders know they can PASS them off. To me high priced pond koi. BODY IS MOST MOST IMPORTANT. If I buy fish I look at body first. Even if something small I pass. You can maybe convince yourself early but your eye always goes to it.
    I have a 1949 Truck I show and has won many awards but there are DEFECTS in the paint that I see and it drives me nuts.
    Ha I paint cars for a living, hopefully one day I will have enough knowledge and experience to notice the mi or flaws in koi, as for paint I can spot defects easily, you get what you pay for is all too familiar in many aspects of life and hobbies, but at the same sense it's very easy to over pay!!! Knowledge is key!!

  10. #10
    Daihonmei PapaBear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koidoc View Post
    Yes but for some reason in American shows defects are EXPECTED and let go by. This does not happen in Japan because if any body defect exists the hobbyist is too embarassed to even enter it. You do not have to look for defects in Japanese shows as they are not there. People just do not show them. There are great looking fish in Japan with defects and they are sold as "GOOD DEALS" to the foriegn market. No market for them in Japan but the breeders know they can PASS them off. ....
    Only because so many Westerners have conditioned themselves to accept it. SOME (obviously not all) dealers have been participants in the dumbing down process, but therin lies much of the value in JR's "Western Eye" thread and this one. A shallow understanding leads to a shallow view.

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