The Greater Louisville Koi and Goldfish Society hosts their annual show every Memorial Day weekend. It’s always a well attended show with a lot of social media buzz. This year I was invited to be part of the all-women judging team. Our judging team included head judge Pam Spindola from Southern California, Luanne Porter from Florida (koi and goldfish judge), Teri Alexander from Michigan, Michelle Gravenish from Minnesota and me, the student judge. It was quite warm in Louisville, say 90 ish and we all put on our jackets for our official photo shot with Troy Head, GLK&GS president.
Judging a koi show is both work and pleasure. It’s kind of like having a front row seat at a sporting event. We have the opportunity to observe the koi bowled and up close – or in the case of the larger sizes, someone is holding the air so we have the best viewing conditions. All of the hobbyists bring koi they feel are special so we see a lot of quality koi. Our guidelines are conformation, skin quality, pattern and deportment. Conformation may sound boring but it’s the biggest piece when evaluating the koi. What shape is the koi, does it have all of its parts, fins, head, eyes, gill plates, barbells, belly line and more – it’s actually a great deal to look at in every koi. Surprisingly or maybe not so surprisingly, there can be a lot of things that can go wrong when it comes to koi conformation. After conformation, you are now looking at skin quality. There are different indicators of quality depending on the variety but the brightest whites and depth of color are the easiest to understand. Shiny koi should be exceptionally shiny, even out to their finnage. Color should be even and where there should be contrast, we should see it. Then we finally get to pattern and there are many things to learn about refined patterns, traditional versus modern patterns, bold patterns. On top of that, you have koi that have a presence or aura about them. Here are some of the koi entered in the show:
The other fun part of koi shows is that you meet other hobbyists and the vendors associated with koi keeping. Who else would understand that some kind of food is contributing to better growth, better color, more poop … geeky filtration facts … and looking around at the vendor tanks for something new to add to the pond? I feel US koi keepers are a pretty friendly, helpful bunch – whatever kind of koi we have, there’s a lot of passion in this hobby. The weekend pretty much flew by and after 50 fun hours on the ground, I was heading back to Little Siberia. Sidebar: my flight had a medical emergency and I was worried it might get diverted. Luckily there were a lot of random medical personnel on board to help a woman who had gone into labor early. No baby actually born during the flight but I’m sure it wasn’t long after. Kind of exciting…
The pond builder stayed home this weekend and put in my new trees and re-stained the filtration house:
Our next project is to rip out the steps we currently have and create a switchback path. The garden was lovely yesterday evening when I came home. So many more things had grown with the 70 degree sunny weather.
Today is another story. It’s about 55 degrees and rainy. We’re hoping that it will clear soon so that we can shuffle the koi. I placed them in the two ponds by variety but the larger koi in the 5000 gallon pond don’t seem as happy as the ones in the upper pond. So we’re going to set the standard as 20″ or larger, you get to be in the upper pond, everyone else is in the lower pond. We are also trying to put some discouragement bars on the skimmer entrance on the lower pond. While I was away, the 18+” asagi managed to swim in and get stuck (lost a scale on top 😩) and today we have watched the budo goromos trying to squeeze in as well. The pond builder placed some PVC piping in the entrance which will still allow debris through but might keep the koi out – we’ll see.