is traditionally the time of year koi shows are held. Koi enthusiasts
from all over the country annually converge to the National show in
Johannesburg to let their koi compete with the best in the country and
engage in koi-speak for a few days. These shows are colourful events,
teeming with activity, with koi connoisseurs and novices discussing
seriously the merits of show entries, the public watching in awe the
magnificent koi on display in the show vats, and a good measure of
Chinese and Japanese ceremonial splendour thrown in to boot.
actual competition event will usually be staged on a Saturday. On the
preceding Friday all the koi have to be benched, meaning that each fish
is inspected for good health by a veterinarian, photographed, measured
and categorised according to its variety. Unhealthy koi are not allowed
to enter in order to prevent the spread of disease. On the Sunday of
that week-end the awards ceremony takes place and in the afternoon the
show is dismantled and all the fish go home.
the larger koi events are adjudicated by certified judges, usually from
Japan or Taiwan. These gentlemen have endless patience and will judge
all fish in a particular size and variety category on its merits, and
with all the winners moved to winners ponds, will select the Grand
Champions in a specific size grouping, and finally arrive at the Supreme
Grand Champion which is the overall winner. It takes many years of
experience and training to become a certified judge, and foreign experts
will always allow a small group of local trainee judges to
participate in the judging process. They may be asked to voice an
opinion or make a choice, but the Chief Judge will always have the right
to overule any decision.
are some generally accepted ethics which apply to koi keepers who wish
to show their fish at a show. First of these is that though every show
quality koi deserves to be exhibited, it will be unfair for the koi with
an obvious major defect for which it would be severely penalised
irrespective of qualities, to be submitted as entry. It is a humiliation
for the koi and his owner alike, and an embarrassment for everyone else.
Secondly, the selection of koi entered by a keeper should reflect some
skill. As there can only be one winner in any particular size and
variety grouping, it will reflect negatively on a keeper that enters
more than two fish in such a grouping. Lastly, it is considered rude to
comment loudly and proudly how your own fish surpasses others in a show
pond. Such discussions and comments must be dignified and never
derogatory, as though every koi can hear what you say!
should select from their collection koi that are true to their variety
and show the best qualities of colours. The strength of the red, black
and other colours are important. The ground colour should be deep. The
white as crisp as snow. Koi should not be deformed, have missing body
parts like fins or eyes. They must swim graciously and not with a jerky
motion. Only then look at the pattern. Select those fish with a
striking, different, balanced pattern. Refinement and grace in larger
fish, boldness and charm in younger ones....
are open to all, and you need not be a member of the South African Koi
Keeper Society in order to participate. There are shows held in all the
major centres, from Cape Town to Oudsthoorn. Notification of these shows
normally come via the media, but more detailed information will normally
be found in the SAKKS newsletters. Being a member of a koi society will
certainly prepare the novice and his koi better for participation.
Written for Animal Talk magazine --
© Servaas de Kock & Ronnie Watt