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Article - Koi Show Etiquette

Koi Show Etiquette

How to play by the rules at the show


The rules for entering a koi show are fairly obvious: arrive on time, pay the entrance fee, bring a photograph of your fish, bring your own nets and bowls, don’t feed your fish for 3-4 days prior to the show.
The rules for viewing a show are not as obvious but need to be reinforced for the safety of the koi (or goldfish, if at a goldfish show). The rules are:

  • Do NOT touch the water in any tanks, ever!
  • Do NOT share nets or bowls from one tank to another.
  • Do NOT try to feed the fish.
  • Do NOT let children wander alone among the show tanks where they may be tempted to make a "wave pool" out of them or try to pet the nice fish.
  • Take all the photos you want and talk to the owners
  • Take time to learn about judging and the finer points of koi appreciation.
  • Do NOT lean over tanks with food in your hands or drop anything into the tanks.
  • Do NOT try to chase the fish over to where you can take a better picture. The fish and the owner are already stressed just by coming to the show.
  • Do be a good neighbor and let somebody know if a fish looks like it is in trouble but do not try to help a fish yourself.

The reason for this is the disease that can be spread at shows. It was at a show on Long Island, NY, in 1998 that the Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) first reared its ugly head and nearly wiped out the contestants' ponds in a brief time. Prior to that date we used Japanese-style show format, where we put all of the same type of fish into one tank. Now we do English-style, each owner puts his or her fish in one tank and there is not cross-contamination between ponds. It makes judging a much longer and challenging task to do English-style, but we have opted for safety over convenience today.

So, when attending a show please adhere to these simple rules for the safety of these beautiful, sometimes irreplaceable fish. Let's keep koi shows fun!