Every two years, Napoli Aquatica organizers are taking advantage the attractivness of the discus World Championship to organize the World Discus Congress.
This Congress brings together professionals, club presidents, the authors or experts to share their skills and their points of view about the worldwide discus hobby.
The aim here is to discuss the situation and the progress that could be made for the discus world and its competition.
This year, Carmelo Arico (Italy) President of the jury of the World Championship, Jeffrey Tan (Malaysia) and Cüneyt Birol (Turkey) wished to talk and debate about four main themes that I propose you to discover here.
Is not less than twelve nations who gathered to discuss. So, was present personalities from Japan , Malaysia, Taiwan, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Austria, Spain, Greece, England, Indonesia and France 😉
The topics were very interesting and these privileged moments a real pleasure.
I thank the organizers for inviting me to take part in discussions.
The invitation from the organizers of the NaQ 2015
The four themes were dedicated to wild discus competitions, categorization in discus competition, the evaluation system used in competition and the World Discus Federation.
Here you will find a summary of some hours of discussion and my opinion. As i cannot summarize everything, I invite you to intervene at the end of this page (Comments) which will remain open for those who wish to.
Wild discus in competition
For some time now, the judgment of wild discus raises many debates and controversy after podiums are awarded. So, whether contest of Athens (Greece), Paris (France) or for that matter ; we were able to read sometimes "virulent" comments on forums or social networks...
Should then talk about this topic in a constructive manner and not "destructive" by remembering to the various situations encountered.
One of the winners at Paris 2015 that made debates
There were in the middle of participants wild discus enthusiasts . Their positions were interesting to listen to.
Manfred Göbel (Germany) will have moreover started the debate by highlighting the fact that should be given more importance to hobbyist who have no economic interests in game when comes the moment to discuss and decide about the wild discus competition. It is the responsibility of contest organizers to adapt themself to the particularities that requires the judgment of wild discus.
I must say that I rather agree with this, but we cannot in my point of view exclude professional exporters or importers of a reflection process. with of course the condition that they agree to put aside any economic aspect.
Several sticking points have been reported during this World Discus Congress 2015 :
First, should be in agreement with the definition of a wild discus, should we accept only wild in contest ? the F1, the F2 ?
Should we have special way to lay out the wild discus competitions aquariums ?
Wild discus should be judged with the same hybrid discus judging system ?
What can encourage people to register their wild discus ?
How solve the experience problem of some judges in this field ?
As you can see, the problems are numerous...
Twelve countries together to debate
In regards to the inscriptions of the wild fish or their descendants ; we can first legitimately ask the question of ethics as to involve fish in an event stress a lot the animals. More importantly when they originate from the nature.
But a majority of people believe, however, that these animals allow us to keep the link with our roots ; because these fish represent a part of the breeding discus history.
With the question of mixing wilds with F1 or F2 etc. Manfred Göbel rightly pointed out that this element was impossible to control... The interest to prohibit or not the "from wilds breeders " finally seemed not so important.
If a participant wanted to circumvent a regulation oriented in favour of the wild discus registering F1 or F2, Nobody could accuse him in any formal way... (Lack of evidence)
Manfred Göbel Germany left and Hiroshi Irie Japan (World champion 98) with his translator on his left
For my part, I also think that once the owner intervenes, (Food, selection for reproduction etc.) he change the original aspect of these individuals.
So where is the limit not to cross ?
Listen to the opinions of each and others, But let us not fall into extremism...
New lay out ?
Talking to the wild discus competition aquariums lay out, It seems to me that some improvements can be easily made. Way Mentioned during the World Discus Congress 2015 seem interesting to me.
As we know, These fish require special attentions to express their beauty.
Jeffrey Tan evoked the possibility of placing sand on the bottom of the Aquarium, and propose dark water for these discus, with why not different aquariums dimensions.
Aquariumsfor wild discus in Duisburg
I do not know if the sand would be a necessity, but pay attention to the painting bottom color of the aquariums (Which could be beige ?) seems already to me a good reflection.
What is proposed by the organizers of competition at this subject?
As for dark water, I find this proposition very interesting. Why not also propose a more adapted wild discus water ?
Because today, It seems to me that the water quality proposed to competitors are all identical, whether they are tank raise or wild fish... This aspect is also very important.
I do not think that decoration enhances the well being of these fish ; I am reminded theEdition 2010 DUISBURG where the wild discus seemed not less stressed than before.
Talking with Frédéric Gobert (France) who import wild discus, He also referred me the idea of placing floating Ceratophyllum plants that also reassure the animals.
In addition, It would be possible to give one more day of acclimation compare with hybrid forms. This could allow the wilds to be judged later and show their finest assets.
There are some things to consider, Here also I think that the opinions of experts would be interesting to hear.
Judging wild discus
For judging these discus, Here also the situation deserves to be studied very closely. Evaluation systems seems not to be really adapted to wild discus. We cannot no longer use the same evaluation criterias and weight of the notes given to evaluated each criteria are not adapted.
As for the hybrid discus evaluation , ratings systems vary from one competition to another. This situation becomes too difficult for those who wish to participate in competitions.
During the World Discus Congress 2015 I had the opportunity to speak on this subject. My opinion is that it becomes necessary to create a standard defining the judging criterias for the different wild discus types.
My small contribution during the World Discus Congress 2015
Apart from scientific nomenclature debates which don't have to be taken into account here, I believe we could first define four major standards.
This would concern the so-called green discus,, blue, brown and heckel. The distribution of scores on each criteria and their coefficient which might change from one wild discus type to another.
Furthermore, as today there are not enough participants to create four distinct categories of wild discus ; It will be necessary in my opinion to establish a clear system to elect the trio of winners.
Ideal would be to have enough participants to form four separate categories with each time 3 podiums. (As it was the case during the Duisburg discus World Championships).
Contest having difficulties to gather many participants, I think that a different rating system dedicated to wild discus types would allow us to choose the best Brown, the best green, the best Blue, the best heckel (If they are all represented...) and define the winner among these best 3 individuals.
No doubt we will have to accept for example that a beautiful Brown discus could ahead a blue discus, judging the types of fish and not their rarity.
That is why a system of notation with coefficients, differing and depending on each type of wild discus would be in my humble opinion a good track of work.
Remains to all agree...
Motivate wild fans
This brings me to the qualification of judges, subject raised at the Congress. Because all are not the most qualified to judge all the subtleties of wild discus.
A standard would help I think all juries .
In my opinion, a clear scoring system for example associated with the presence of one or more judge(s) could improved the judgments.
In order to evolve all the judges who are present with for effect an improvement of their knowledge over the competitions.
Concerning the low popularity of enthusiasts to register their wild discus, Jeffrey Tan proposed to re-establish a "Best Wild in Show" trophy that could become a source of motivation for participants.
Rob De Fouw winner of the Best Wild Form in Duisburg 2004
This kind of trophy existed also in Duisburg (Germany). May this kind of disposition suffice to find a more important number of wild discus in discus shows ?
Nothing is sure, but participants could have more chance to win a trophy in this category that seems to be more open to amateurs.
Even if wild discus are not so present in enthusiasts aquariums in comparaison with "modern discus forms" ; the unshakeable wild fish lovers hope andwait for a change.
The above-mentioned work tracks seem consistent and could give new impetus for the wild subjects craze.
However, I believe that all of the actors should remain more open mind and not fall into a form of conservatism...
Categories in the discus competition
The World Discus Congress 2015 is also an opportunity to discuss the categories that are offered to the participants of the Championship of the world.
The categories proposed this year during the NaQ 2015 come from the discussions of the previous Congress agreements (2013).
For a better understanding, I suggest you (Re)Discover the nine classes of the World Championship 2015 :
1) Wild (Collected in nature or from breeding origin f1/f2)
2) Brown base Pattern and stripes (Chromatic variations of turquoise and snakeskin)
3) Yellow base pattern and stripes (Chromatic variants of pigeon blood)
4) Solid blue (Blue Diamond)
5) Red (Which is not called solid because most of the red varieties are not 100% solid)
7) Red spotted (Spotted types like leopard and leopard snakeskin varieties)
8) Albino solid or pattern (All types of albino)
For the next edition of Napoli Aquatica, the organizers will have a reflection about the category 2 "turquoise".
This year, as I presented you in the report dedicatred to the World Championship 2015 ; This category has hosted the largest number of participants.
This category could be divided into two : the striated turquoise, and to other types of turquoise pattern ("checkerboard.", 'pearl '., «tiger»...).
Furthermore, category 6 "yellow" was the subject of debate because this color can be obtained with fish "genetically programmed" to be red...
Giving them yellow pigments in their diet, These change colour.
Although some breeders agree that the yellow color exist genetically speaking, the opportunity to radically change the color of a discus so that they become yellow is debated.
In addition, This color is not really present in breeding programmes of discus farms.
Maybe this category will not exist again for the next World Championship ? Nothing is guaranteed...
The "yellow" category it is actually relevant?
Personally, I think that we cannot propose a too strict system. For a system adopted by a large number of contest organizers, It must have a minimum of flexibility.
I believe in a "tree system" categorization based on a variety judgment. (I will present this a bit more later to prepare the meeting in April in Arvert (France).
We can in my opinion quite imagine this system which would present a good number of advantages.
The organizers would have the opportunity to propose representative categories changing with the received entries (You can never predict the inscriptions).
Judgments would be more fair and understandable to all. This would leave everyone a chance to find the most suitable category for his fish .
This system could remain scalable based on new varieties breeders could select. A new fixed variety could very easily find its place in the tree. Its acceptance would be discussed during Congress dedicated to this topic.
This system would also mean to consider a judgment by variety with in parallel the creation of a standard.
Finally, I think that separate the "Unclassable" category into two categories would be a good thing. It is too subjective to compete solid discus against pattern discus. History shows that polemics are often born from this kind of situation (Whether it's hybrid or indeed wild discus).
The discus evaluation system debated at the World Discus Congress
It was intended to talk here about the rating system adopted by the Napoli Aquatica discus show.
The hope of the organizers would be to standardize the rating system in the various competitions around the world.
During the Congress, It was the rating system the NaQ which was presented and discussed.
In this contest, fish are evaluated according to 8 criterias. Number of maximum points awarded differs from one criteria to another. The total of the ratings on these 8 criterias gives a maximum rating of 100 points.
Each judge completed a scoring board for each fish. It is then the average scores of all members of the jury that will determine the final note of each fish.
Sign-up sheets for the NaQ 2015
Here is the 8 criterias taken into account for this edition 2015 :
General impression = 10 to 20 points (Here : Size of the fish, its activity, its proportions, his good health etc.)
Body shape = 1 to 15 points
Fins = 1 to 10 points
Head and opercula = 1 to 10 points
Scales = 1 to 10 points
Eyes = 1 to 10 points
Base color = 1 to 15 points
Body pattern = 1 to 10 points
This rating system will raised several discussions.
The general impression : too subjective criteria ?
The general impression was overall considered as a too subjective scoring criteria. Its interpretation is not clearly enough defined.
Discussions about the general impression (Here Antonello Greco Italy)
Actually, to have judged in some contest, i can say that this scoring criteria is not everywhere interpreted in the same way.
It was also pointed out that this criteria reward a first impression of the fish. It may be good from a general point of view (Synonym for good note) ; but it could end up at odds with a more detailed analysis of the animal.
The interpretation of this criteria need to be clarified so that the judges evaluate all the same thing.
To highlight the importance of this criteria, It should be noted that it can still bring up 20 points (The highest note that can be granted on a criteria).
About this criteria, our Spanish friends noted also that it was not logical to assign a note of 10 to 20 points.
The lowest notation still giving 10 points, they have noted here a lack of logic that could be improved.
About the competition in Asia, Jeffrey Tan explained that the size criteria was noted as a full-fledged note and points giving to "general impression" were not as high as on the NaQ Championship 2015.
He also explained that in Malaysia since 2006, all the rating criteria were all noted in the same way (For example 0 to 10). But a coefficient is apply and allows to assign more points to a criteria to another.
To have used several types of judgment, I think these notations with coefficients are an excellent solution. It is easier to judge a criteria of 0 to 10 and to then apply a coefficient. Computers do this very well, and it is this system that is also used at the France Show Discus of Arvert.
Jeffrey Tan had also mentioned these topics. The number of participating judges should be according to him increased. Go to 7 or 8 judges seems to be for him the best even if he is aware of the additional costs for the organizers. (Payment, housing etc.)
In addition it proposed to integrate to the future NaQ (2017 ?) the elimination of the highest and lowest notes given by the members of the jury. To ensure that no judge is trying to promote or disadvantage a fish.
In France this was also mentioned during the last national competitions in 2014 and 2015.
In my opinion...
This subject is very important and the ratings criteria should be known by participants before the competition is held.
The universe of the contest needs clarity and the future of competitions must tend towards a harmonisation of the rating system. (European, and/or Asian initially because it is here that the majority of the competitions take place)
Do not improve this would mean to continue to invite participants to play a football match without knowing the rules !
This topic strongly implies the organizers who have organization requirements, timing to respect etc..
But I think that we have to first serve the quality of the arbitration (The judging) and the categorization of the contests .
The organisers of events will then have to adapt to this. But whether organizers or participants, only a fair and transparent settlement can pull up the hobby.
So, I think that the rating system should be accurate and contain a minimum of judgement criterias. The notes should be known to the public as we were able to see during the France Discus Show in Arvert 2014.
Published notes at the France Discus Show 2014
The work of David Delgoulet and SODA association
Publication of the notes would greatly limit the controversy (Because they explain the ranking), allowing breeders to understand and progress on their gaps and give more responsibility to judges.
Also when you have high-quality fish to judge ; They will decide between details. Most criteria are accurate and numerous and more it is easy to explain the results.
An assessment based on few amount of criterias can lead in my opinion to errors of judgment.
Six judging criteria seem for me to be a minimum to be able to decide between high-level fish.
For example, Jeffrey Tan (Malaysia) has developed a rating system including nine evaluation points linkedt to coefficients. This one is also used in several Asian countries.
During the World Discus Congress I have proposed a new interpretation for the "General Impression" criteria.
It would be in my opinion interesting to translate this criteria in "attractiveness". The general impression thus reward healthy fish, which have a good behavior, who is not hidden at the bottom of their aquarium and that finaly, facilitates the judgment.
This would reward concretely the breeder which would necessarily spent time with his fish preparing it for the contest, which would have ensured a good handling before and after the travel to the place of the competition. It would be a breeder who has done a good acclimatization of his animal.
It is for me to evolve the "General Impression" criteria to something concrete, easily measurable, and that also goes in the direction of respect for the animal.
Evolve this criteria, It is in my view do away with the vagueness and the subjective of this notation.
Penalized physical defects ?
List the physical defects that can be observed by judges seems to be also possible.
An inventory of the physical defects could be created and regularly updated to integrate this into the scoring system.
It indeed happened to me to notice physical defects which could hardly be penalised in one of the proposed evaluation criteria.
This is the case for example for scales defects, double chin, asymmetry of the body, outgrowth of opercula, Scoliosis etc.
So, might be decided a list of defects which may be punished for a quantity of previously defined points.
Jeffrey Tan has integrated this notion of penalty in its scoring system. However this is only a penalty for signs of artificial colouring of the fish.
You will understand it, I think that we matbe must go further.
Would it be possible to penalize some physical defects? (Here double chin)
A minimum assessment system ?
The rating system should in my opinion assess at least these criteria :
1) General impression : As I arguing it above in this article = attractiveness
2) The fish shape : By listing the accepted shapes
3) Fins : symmetry, size, defects in rays etc..
4) Eyes : Color, Shape, size relative to the body
5) Color : With a note split into two for the pattern fish (surface color and base color, contrast between the two)
6) Pattern : Colour uniformity for «Solid» fish or uniformity of the pattern for "pattern discus"..
7) Penalties : Points removed for physical defects
Other criterias could be added without problem. As I told you, more there are numerous more judgment will be fair. But we must still incorporate imperative of time to judge the fish.
Each of these six criteria should be associated with coefficients that will have a great importance on the message sent to participants.
What are our priorities ? The shape ? The color ? The general impression ?
More questions that deserve to be discussed...
In this regard, theThe french Association SODA has accepted that people take advantage of the next France Discus Arvert Show 2016 to meet and discuss these topics.
It remains to organize, ourself the French Discus Congress that should therefore be held in April 2016.
I think that this deserves to be prepared because we have to take advantage of these moments to get things in better way . This Congress would be also open to foreigners wishing to explain their opinion. Some are already ready to join us...
I would also like to evokes the creation of a French Discus Federation able to unite us about these important topics.
This Federation could be the hyphen between the various associations of enthusiasts, and hobbyist eager to evolve our hobby and the competitions.
A World Discus Federation?
As you seen, the number of questions raised in this World Discus Congress 2015 are numerous...
The international judge Cüneyt Birol (Turkey) then summarizes very well the situation. The discus world need to take decisions and arises the need of an authority.
Create a world federation would improve the competition, evolve breeders and create a standard.
This federation would consist of contest organizers, official Discus Society, personalities.
For this we would use the support of a formal association of a country to host this Federation. The problem would be administrative and legal because the goal would be to make it officially recognized.
Manfred Göbel also raised the lack of organization in each country. Because it is true that many countries have small associations scattered and little connected each others...
Whatever it is, the idea is launched and the project is already well advanced. From the willingness to move forward together is born this World Federation.
Ideas are welcome and do not hesitate to get in touch with Cüneyt Birol or Jeffrey Tan on this subject.
Poster of the NaQ 2015
Rendezvous now in 2016 in France for the discus show of Arvert and the french Congress
So, The debriefing of the 4th World Discus Congress 2015 coming to an end. I hope I was clear enough in the transcript of the discussions and my humble opinion given on the reflections that I've presented here.
These topics can be sometimes boring but they are at the heart of current issues.
I think that the development of our hobby requires that we pass by these crucial steps.
By putting egos aside ; remaining open to discussion while keeping the desire to progress; we will end up with the structuring of the discus competitions.
We must now begin to take concrete actions!!!
This page remains open to constructive ideas, open for questions from everybody. For this do not hesitate to post your comments below.