THEY HAVE KOI SHOWS?
By Dayleen Van Ryswyk aka “The Koi Lady”
(from my article in Garden's West magazine 2009)
Marilyn Steel (left) Dayleen (right)
This past February I had the good fortune of taking some customers, turned friends, to their first Koi show. The show was on the Hawaiian island of Oahu and was a great getaway during a very harsh winter. Some of you reading this may be finding out for the first time that there are Koi shows. Koi shows are similar to dog and cats shows, as in; it’s a place for people to show off what they believe to be exceptional specimens of the particular breed. Where Koi shows differ a bit is the fact that Koi being a fish, they need to be in water. So, instead of huge fish tanks, the Koi are housed in blue canvas pools so the fish have lots of room to swim around. The pools are a blue colour for a reason. The blue helps to better show off the colours of the Koi, it’s a better contrast to say, a black background.
The Hawaii show wasn’t my first time at a Koi show. I have been to quite a few in California and they are a great place to see some really awesome Koi. The varieties, patterns and colours you see on high grade fish are amazing. If nothing else, it sure inspires you to up-grade the fish in your own ponds to a higher caliber. It’s a shame really; that there aren’t many, if any Koi shows in Canada. Maybe the odd Koi club has a little show for its members but they are nothing in comparison to the shows in the USA and certainly not like the big one in Japan. The Japanese Koi show is rightly called “The Greatest Show on Earth”. The best in the world compete for Grand Champion and the entries are phenomenal.
What the judges are looking for are a few things, body shape, colour and pattern to mention a few. When a Koi entry first arrives at the show, they get a health check. Then they are measured and placed in a size group, then a variety group. Japanese style shows used to put a group of Koi from all different owners, together in one show tank for judging. Because of the possible outbreak of disease, they have changed the way they judge the Koi. They now reserve individual show tanks for each owner and don’t mix fish from other farms or owners together. It makes it somewhat more difficult to judge them when they aren’t swimming together side by side but the pay off has been an almost elimination of possible disease transfer. When you have a $30.000 Koi, you want to keep it as safe as possible. Some people might wonder why you’d risk taking them to a show in the first place; after all, the airline could lose your fish in transit or it could get sick and die. But I think it’s a lot like having a classic car that has been beautifully restored. It was meant to be shown off and appreciated. I think it’s the same with Koi.
Now, the trip to the show in Hawaii was even more exciting for a few reasons. It was the first time the people we were with have been to one but even more exciting, is the fact that we entered some Koi in the show. We had gone to Kodama Koi farm on the island a few days before the show and we selected 3 Koi for the people we were with. The farm asked us if we would like to enter them in the Aloha show and we said “sure, why not” I’ll tell you, there is nothing more exciting to the Koi Kichi (Japanese for Koi crazy) than to have your own Koi come in first in a show. 2 out of the 3 Koi I selected for them (out of 34.000 Koi) came in first place. We let out a scream when we found out, I’m sure people thought we had lost our minds. It was really thrilling and couldn’t possibly have been a better ending to a fabulous day in paradise!
This spring the show Koi flew into Kelowna with the 5000 other Koi I import every year. When the Fisheries Vet came to inspect them (mandatory inspections and 21 day quarantine in BC) He stood looking at the huge school of fish and remarked how nice they were. I said to him “can you tell who the show winners are?” it took him about 3 minutes to pick them out of thousands of beautiful fish. They were that stunning, they just stood out from the rest. We can’t wait until the Aloha show in Oahu again this February. We are taking even more people with us to the show this year. There’s something about your first Koi show you’ll never forget…coming home with a winner…priceless!