Discus competitions: The situation (part 1)


Discus competition or the assessment of discus beauty is a rather recent activity. It is indeed since arround twenty years that the professional and hobbyist breeders engage their fish in these contests.

From today, the number of events around the world and especially in Europe have literally exploded. In the same time, These discus competitions began to suffer more and more of contestations...

Contestations that; with the advent of social networks, sometimes lead to hundreds of more or less constructive comments. This is detrimental to the image of our hobby and can no doubt discourage beginners who would like to participate in this kind of event.

As discus breeder and enthusiast of these contests for a long time, I had always followed these events.

Infact, I have often been surprised not to see an association, a reflection group or other take this subject "head on" in order to achieve concrete results.

I don't count the countless number debates and discussions we had with my friends, breeders and organizer of contest. Also, I recently decided to propose a system of classification for discus phenotypes during the France Discus Show in may 2016.

A conference which was well received, at the end of which a good number of passionate people asked me its publication. As promised I propose this article which you'd see it, will be maybe a little larger. For ease of reading, This topic will be split into 5 Parts.

A craze goshawks the subject "Contest discus"

It is true that the current crisis limited the development of our hobby. Nevertheless,  we can regularly see next to hundred fish in european discus competitions.

Despite the costs, hobbyists and professionals continue to move, boosting our little microcosm.

When I proposed this topic as theme of conference to Xavier Jeanmaire,  President of the France Discus Show jury; He was quite enthusiastic. We regularly exchange our points of view and i have to admit that the open mind of the SODA association members is a real pleasure.

Today, I must confess... I would not have thought to see so many people come to attend the presentation of this topic!

Evidence that this topic interest a huge number of discus lovers.

Yann Hoiret conference on the Arvert discus competition 2016

Conference during the France Discus Show 2016 Avert (Thanks for coming!) 🙂

Conference Yann Hoiret Arvert 2016

Various worlds revolve goshawks discus competitions

We must be borne in mind that the success of a discus competition is a learned balance of three actors: The organizers, hobbyist competitors and professional competitors.

This often overlooked aspect is very important to take into account. My discussions with the actors of these three universes have helped me to understand their expectations and constraints they could have.

The competition organizers…

With regard to the organizers, the blocking points are rather many... But this do not discourage them for as much! (And fortunately!)

Indeed, the Organization of a discus show requires still a little money because it usually takes to rent a room, to carry a good amount of material (discus aquariums, heaters, furniture etc...), buy trophies and anticipate the several and varied costs.

They need also a good team because the development of the event requires labor. They are dedicated to provide a healthy environment for fish and manage the risks associated with the spread of diseases.

All this is of course, in addition to the desire to offer a quality jury which they will propose an evaluation system to assess fish during the competition.

contest preparation Arvert 2016

Organizing a competition very labor…

Hobbyist participants…

Hobbyist participants have generally modest financial means, register few fish. Their technical means are often more approximate and they are less experienced about rating systems. They have a ''fun'' approach and often feel difficulty to participate (due to a lack of explanations). They are also very sensitive to disease risks that exist in these competitions.

The professional participants…

Michael Pikis France discus show Arvert 2014

Michael Pikis (Greece) Professional participant during the France Discus Show Arvert 2014

Professionals need these competitions to ensure their notoriety and in this way hope to develop their sales. They became "masters" in the art of compete and master of many techniques to best prepare their discus. They are not afraid to put a lot of fish in competition and have financial means to the scale of their businesses.

Their discus being sometimes prepared like athletes for competitions, their need for health prophylaxis is important. For them, contests are essential and they become more and more exigent regarding the regulation of competitions.

Each of these three worlds needs the other to exist, they share the passion of the King of aquariums. Oppose them does only affect the hobby.

Regulation = categorization + scoring system

There is a common desire of the professionals and amateur world for clear and educational regulations.

Europe today has more than a dozen contests. Each contest has a regulation that its own.

This regulation articulates goshawks two aspects:

The categorization of the discus (Or their classification by type of color and pattern) and the scoring system. The results of the competition will first depend on these two aspects.

Over the competition, it seems obvious that this regulation suffers from two evils:

The first is for me the categorization since overall the proposed categories may not be scalable. Participants must register their discus according to categories proposed by the organizers. This has the immediate effect to limit the number of registrations or lead to disputes on the results of the competition.

I'll explain three examples:
Discus club Singapore 2014 show snow white first

If white became fashionable? would we know how to adapt us?

If two of my friends and myself decided to launch into the solid white discus breeding (Snow white). What would happen if each of us decided to register 2 or 3 of our discus in a contest? At the present time, which category should we register our 6 or 9 white fish?

Easy would you tell me: "In the open category!"

Most of the competitions do not propose "white discus" category. These fish will indeed join the generally unique "open" proposed category (All discus not corresponding to a proposed class are registered in category "open"). They probably will compete with other white discus registered by other breeders... But said so... Finally... All these white discus couldn't get their own category? ( ???)

On the same topic I give you this time a second far closer example of the reality:

During the last edition of the Arvert France Discus Show 2016 competition, There were 37 registered turquoise discus. This year, the turquoise discus represented a large percentage of registrations.(21% of fish engaged for 7 proposed categories) Never seen before for this contest.

Wouldn't it not make sense to separate all these fish into two categories as it is sometimes the case in some contests? (As in the Athens contest 2014 for example) : stripped turquoise + coarsed Turquoise.

Same in Napoli 2015 where the "yellow" category was questioned during the World Congress of discus. Due to lack of inscriptions and real representative yellow fish.

The classification systems didn't put some fish "offside"?

A last example that concerns the number of registrants. Because as I told you above, the discus competitions have today around an hundred inscriptions. What will happen if tomorrow a contest should welcome 250 or 300 registrations?  The elders will answer me "In Duisburg there was so far 750 participants! »… What I would say: "Compared to today, was there so many phenotypes of discus? "The answer is no...

The number of proposed categories should not be revised upward? (Compared to what is usually met)

With these examples, I want to just emphasize that our existing classification system does not compensate for an unknown factor for the organizers: What will be the different types of registered phenotypes?!

Should we proposed 20 categories for discus competitions?  Not obviously (At least not at the present time...).  It is not question of blaming here organisators that do their best , but to propose solutions for problems i saw.

Surely we need to evolve our classification in order to answer to these questions and situations:

*How to classify as well as possible the phenotypes that will be registered?

*How to give the fish the same chance to win?

To compensate for this, I would therefore propose a classification system that could also evolve according to registered fish and also stay evolutive over the time and based on the breeder selection..

Clear and incentive regulation for Discus contests

Also, I think it's time to review the background of our regulations to make the competition more attractive.

Those regulations should be designed to create a balance between the hobbyist and professional breeder through fair, clear and identical rules for all participants.

This equity to go for example to prohibit (?) the addition of products in competition aquariums that doubts about the origin and usefulness of these.

Really limited the number of entries per person and per category should also bring back more diversity into our events. This rule established and respected in France has reached its goals since 23 differents persons moved for 122  fish registered.

Arvert winning amateur breeders 2016

Four amateur breeders award-winning in the middle of professionals during the France Discus Show 2016 Arvert

One or more trophies dedicated to the hobbyist world can reward small breeders who have made the effort to present their fish. This type of trophy should not be limited to reward hobbyists of the host country, but open to all amateurs having done the displacement. So, the interest would be even bigger.

Finally, the categorization AND the judging criterias should be public BEFORE the beginning of the competitions.

This regulation must bring more diversity among participants. In order to bring more interest to our events, which gradually begins to run out.

I hope the following proposals will find an echo in order to begin the evolution of our discus competitions.

I will separe these subjects in several articles in order to facilitate their reading and comprehension. However, if you have any questions; do not hesitate to ask them via the comments tool above.

Following… Part 2 A new classification

Following… Part 3 The pattern discus branch

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About Author

Discus Breeder and Discus columnist, Yann Hoiret share on the website Fanatik-Discus his experience and passion for the King of aquariums. From 2014 He worked as a writer for the french magazine "AquaMag", the German magazines "Discus Live" and "Discus yearbook". He participated as an international judge in France Discus show 2014 and 2016 in Arvert, au Greek Discus Show 2014 in Athens, Discus Show in Paris Grigny 2015, 2017 and 2019, au FIDO concurso 2016, 2017 and 2018 Spain, au Nordic Discus Show 2018 Sweden, au France Discus Show 2018 Cognac, Discusvrienden the discus competition 2018, 2019, 2022 in the Netherlands.

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