A real Festival of Fish

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A real Festival of Fish

 This year's Supreme Champion: Allan Finnegan's  Aulonocara maylandi.

The weekend of October 7–8 of saw the UK’s penultimate Festival of Fishkeeping at Hounslow, Middlesex. The show, directed annually by the Federation of British Aquarist societies, and now into its 31st consecutive year, acts as host to various members of numerous clubs, who come together to display the best of the best of UK show fish.  


WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY: NATHAN HILL

Over two days, contest categories included the British Open, the Diamond Class Final, the Supreme Breeders Final, the Supreme Pairs final, and the crème-de-la-crème, the Supreme Championship Final. Winning this last category is ‘the’ coveted position for fish showers, and this year the prize went to Allan Finnegan for an outstanding Aulonocara maylandi

For those unfamiliar with fish showing, the initial layout would come as a surprise. After years of associating fish care with large, filtered aquaria, the sight of numerous small display aquaria, completely barren and without any life support equipment can be unsettling to those outside of the ‘scene’. As always, it requires the newcomer to actually look at the fish on display to see that they are, contrary to what might be expected, far from showing any symptoms of stress.  

Your mind is put at some ease when you speak to the showers themselves and get a feel for the love and effort that has gone into conditioning the fish throughout the year. Most of those you meet at this level have admirable fish houses, and a significant amount of time and effort is put in to their livestock – the shows are a way of showing off these efforts. 

For those looking to pick up outrageous bargains, many of the pristine show fish were sold off after final judging on the Sunday afternoon. Specimens like the Sawbwa resplendens Asian Rummynose seen here were snapped up for a mere £3 each. For collectors of unusual fish, Sunday afternoon became quite a harvest. 

As well as the traditional shows, the Festival hosted other attractions over the weekend. Set on an urban farm, the site is home to various semi-exotic animals and visitors were treated to unusual, non-fishy spectacles like owl flying. Reptiles were also displayed, for the more adventurous folks to investigate. From the perspective of those attendees with children, arts and crafts and play zones were present. 

This year also saw the first FBAS Betta Show, which was notably the largest (by numbers) of any category. Combined with the Betta displays provided on the day by LJB Aquatics, 2017 constituted what was easily the most Betta splendens oriented show to date. 

Flowerhorns played a large part of displays and sales on the day, again hosted by LJB, but for folks looking to buy, plenty was available. 

Availability of fish played a large part of the weekend, with surplus home-bred fish providing some serious bargains. High-tier Potamotrygon supplied by Freshwater Stingrays were a particular draw, in both buyers and casual admirers. All manner of fishkeeping paraphernalia, from mugs to aquarium filtration all made an appearance. Supporting companies included Rolf C Hagen, Simply Koi and Fish Science, with staff on hand to offer technical advice to hobbyists.

Sadly, absent from the year’s event were one of the Koi displayers (and subsequently his Koi) as well as Discus (usually a firm favourite) so the event was a little thinly spread compared to previous years. 

To repeat, this show is the penultimate Festival of Fishkeeping, so the last chance to attend one of these historic occasions and see what the fuss is about will be in Autumn 2018. 

 Allan Finnegan (left) collects one of his many awards at this year's Festival. Allan Finnegan (left) collects one of his many awards at this year's Festival.


Show results

British Open Champions

1st place – Aulonocara maylandi Sulphur head Eccles Reef (92 points). Allan Finnegan

2nd place – Aulonocara jacobfreibergi (91 points). Allan Finnegan

3rd place – Neolamprologus leleupi (90 points). Alan Finnegan


Supreme Champions

1st place – Aulonocara maylandi Sulphur head Eccles Reef (92 points). Allan Finnegan

2nd place – Paraneetroplus argenteus. Tansie Harrison

3rd place – Sawbwa resplendens. Mollie Edwards


Diamond Class

1st place – Otopharynx lithobates Sulphur head (86 points). Allan Finnegan

2nd place – Phallichthys fairweatheri (85 points). Terry Hewitt

3rd place – Sawbwa resplendens (84 points). Roy Chapman


Supreme Pairs

1st place – Ambastaia sithimunki. Allan Finnegan

2nd place – Xiphophorus xiphidium. Terry Hewitt

3rd place – Nannostomus marginatus. Roy Chapman


Supreme Breeders

1st place – Xiphophorus milleri. Tims Edwards

2nd place – Sawbwa resplendens. Tims Edwards

3rd place – Brachyraphis rhabdophora. Allan Finnegan