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Selecting Your Goldfish (Part 2 of Choosing Your Aquarium Pet)

I believe most hobbyists are well informed about selecting a healthy fish from the pet shop. Hence I would like to approach this title in a different way. Assuming that the fish is healthy, what other aspect one would seek for?

This is an important question we should always ask ourselves before rushing down to the pet shop to buy a fish. Allow me to elaborate this further… …

In my recent visit to local fish shop, i constantly overheard hobbyists commenting things like "This is a lousy fish, the tail is not standing / stretch open / drooping... ...” I feel disturb to imagine what if all hobbyists were only seeking for the prefect fish and hardly want to take a second look on fish that are out of the competition standard. Logically, there is nothing wrong with that. In this article, I hope to share my view of appreciation and selecting a non champion fish which can bring equal joy and fun to this fish keeping hobby.

The late goldfish master from China once said, “Sometime one followed so closely to the competition requirement of defining a perfect fish, one failed to see the beauty of those so called second best fish… …cultivating such habit one tend to miss out the whole point of goldfish appreciation.”

From him, my prospective of goldfish appreciation has been widening (may I say). There are many $2 fish out there that deserve a second look, despite not fitting the competition specification, they have their ‘hidden’ beauty. Unfortunately, I was so blind by the standard that I often overlook these fish.

To illustrate my point, I have picked up a $2 goldfish from a local pet shop. See below, this is the photo taken just before I packed it home two months back.


I learned that the important factor of selecting a fish is that it must be well balance. Balance means the fish is able to maintain a physical equilibrium. The rest of the specification requirements of a goldfish are perhaps just a trend.

As you can see from above photo, the fish is not properly taken care in the shop, resulting in weight lost. Despite the bad keeping condition, the fish has remained strong. Although the dorsal fin is cramped, all the fins are not torn or folded. It is an indication that the fish immune system is doing very well fighting off an infection. On closer observation, there was a nice head growth all carved out ready for further development.

After three weeks of care taking, I have taken another photo of the same fish at home. See below photo.


From the photo, one can see that the head growth has started to grow and the fish has put on some weight. It is a nice surprise to see that the fish is holding up its dorsal fin. To be honest, on that day I packed it home, I have no idea whether the fish is able to have an erect dorsal fin. The tail fin tends to give me a hint that it has ‘hard’ fin bone instead of the ‘soft’ fin bone. So I took the chance. Naturally, fish with the genetic of ‘hard’ fin bone would usually have the capability of holding and spreading its fins. Of course, the fish is no where near any top quality standard yet, but the sights of improvement are very rewarding for fish keeping.

Another three weeks passed, that means 6 to 7 weeks after I bought the fish, I took another photo. See below


In my opinion the fish has proven itself worthy of deserving a second look. The bronze colour has transformed into a deeper colour, much closer to the magnificent black. The head growth has beautiful half covered the eyes and the cheek growth is lovely. Yet there are still room for the fish to develop further. The fins are broad and well spread. Back to the very basic of goldfish appreciation, the fish has met the requirement as stout, robust and graceful.

So my next question is “Am I promoting or encouraging hobbyists to buy $2 goldfish?” The answer is NO.

Let us now take a look at another photo.


This is a photo of a competition fish. The price of this fish is not cheap. However, if we were to compare my fish and this competition fish, there is a different. The tail fin of this competition fish is far more superior. The tail is much broader and it is opening up much wider. The fish is able to hold its tail way beyond 45 degree.

There is always a reason why some goldfish is costing much more than the other. Hence hobbyists must understand why some time they are paying a high price for certain fish. So before one goes buying fish, one should ask, to what extend one would like to see his fish. With that on mind, one would able to seek the right fish. More importantly, one should be well aware that some time they are paying a price for those unique features that are not easily found in most goldfish.

In term of goldfish appreciation, I personally feel that price should not play a part in it. As mentioned in above example of a $2 fish, it can be equally beautiful and graceful in itself own way. On the other hand, one should also appreciate the high price for some of the goldfish. As a saying goes, “Out of 10 thousands, perhaps there is only one perfect fish.”

To enjoy and truly appreciate goldfish, we should reset our eyes to see the beauty of a fish that does not necessary meet the competition specification. And at the same time appreciate those high quality goldfish that have special features that constantly showcase in a competition. Last but not least, I dare not seek for your agreement, but in hope some hobbyists would share the same sentiment with that I wish you a happy fish hunting.

Steve TONG.

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