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Friday, May 10, 2013

MerLion Arowana Blog 9 - Ranchu Journey I

MerLion Arowana Blog 9 - Ranchu Journey I

  • Two weeks ago, I was in Philippines for the Aqua Fiesta organized by the Philippines Arowana and Luohan Society (PALHS). While I was there, I was invited to be one of the judges for their goldfish competition. While I was looking at the goldfish, it brought back many memories….
    Not known to many, Ranchu was my first “serious” fish hobby. I would spent most of my salary chasing after one after another piece of ranchu to satisfy my desire in obtaining the best ranchu…in the world. I visited all ranchu dealers in Singapore and still, they can’t seem to give me the many answers that I have in mind…”What is a good ranchu”…What is the meaning of ranchu bloodline”…”What is the true knowledge of ranchu keeping”. Most of the dealers were only interested in making a sales time to teach...or lack of knowledge. These happened to be the same questions I asked about arowana. In fact, my ranchu journey has greatly influence the way I am as an arowana breeder.

    In this blog series…I hope to share my knowledge on the ranchu…but first...this was what had happened some 13 years ago.

    Due to the heavy “cash” commitment in ranchu hobby (some of you probably know how expansive a ranchu cost and how easily it died without any prior warning), I have decided to do part time trading in ranchu. Since those ranchu in Singapore were unable to satisfy me, I had decided to go to the country of origin - Japan to source for myself. I would select some for my personal keeping and some additional pieces for sales to cover my hobby cost and travelling expenses.
    (Goldfish was originated in China but Japan breeders perfected it because of their Samurai spirit…Those who have read about the Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi would understand what I mean. This is my motivation…even though arowana was originated in Indonesia and Malaysia... Singapore can perfect it!)

    In Jan 1999, I made my first virgin trip to Japan-Nagoya. I met up with Haru San…introduced by a manager of an tropical fish exporter here in Singapore. He brought me to Yatomi to hunt for my dream ranchu. In Yatomi, we needed Nagatani San of Maruu Co. Ltd to help us because he was the better connected to the breeders there. Not many breeders will entertain our request if we were to go direct, this was their protect the industry through integrity.

    From Right: Nagatani San, Me and Haru San...when we were 1999!

    We travelled to a few breeders but were rejected as the weather was cold and the breeders were not willing to risk killing the fishes by netting them up from the ponds. At the same, it was in January…a time where only the best and reserved ranchu would be stocked for their breeding in April or May. However, there was a kind breeder who accepted our visitation and request. He told Natagani San and Haru San that he did not wish to disappoint me as I travelled a long way to be there. I am really grateful to him. Till today, I remember his kindness. He was the first breeder to sell me ranchu!

    Mr. Fukami netting his "precious" from the concrete pond in his greenhouse.

    Some might knew that during winter, only best selected fishes were kept in greenhouse by ranchu breeders to secure the next breeding production when the spring arrived.

    He is famous for producing Ranchu with super “Buffalohead”. He enjoys producing new Ranchu variety. He is probably the first in the world to produce the Black/White (Hagaromo) Ranchu. He is also very popular for his Sakura Ranchu (another form of Red/White Ranchu with translucent scale) and Edo Calico Ranchu.


    Fukami San Sakura Ranchu...with buffalohead.

    Mr. Fukami San Edo Calico Ranchu…with buffalohead.

    I am not sure if he has perfected the bone structure and tail shape of the above two varieties. But I am sure their bloodline must have been much better than I last seen them.

    The above were the Tosai ranchu selected - 10 pcs. Look at their buffalohead! Do they look small? I sold a few pieces to Mr Koh...a serious ranchu hobbyist in least 10 years experience then. He kept them to at least 7-8 inches...or 9inches?? One of the biggest ranchu that I have seen in Singapore...The ranchu headgrowth, backbone and tails are super! This was the work of good bloodline with good keeping skill. 

    Bloodine is critical for true/full enjoyment of fish keeping! Many hobbyists have neglected this import criterior when selecting fishes. But again, how many hobbyists really understand about fish bloodline?

     These were the Tosakin I bought and I hand carried them back to Singapore. It was permitted then to carry them up into the plane. In the plane, I kept opening up my bag to check on them. I was really excited and yet worried if any thing would happened to them. They were my dream came through and ...costly!

    Fukami San and me...I visited him again during summer 2000 to purchase more fishes...

    I have asked Fukami San many questions. But the one answer that have embedded in my mind...the question: "how can I know ranchu can I obtain the best ranchu"? His answer: "BREED YOUR OWN RANCHU"! This was something that I couldn't understand till I became a "full-time" arowana breeder.

    There were few other breeders who have taught me many things ...not just on ranchu...I will share with you more in my next blog...the late Tokutake San...and his many "precious".