Your First Show

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Mike McBrien

So, the first show of the season is a few weeks away and you have been looking at your young bettas and thinking they turned out real nice. And the thought of entering them in a show sounds fun and exciting. But you are new to the hobby, so how do you get your fish registered and present to be judged at the show.

First thing one needs to do is determine who you want to send. Make sure you go over the IBC standards and the fish fit in a class. For the New Breeder division the judging criteria is more on form than the colors.. but the closer you are to a color standard the better your fish can do. I have my fish mostly in barracks of plexi.. but do house them in beanies too. The ones I am thinking about showing I take a dry erase marker and write “SHOW” on their container. As the show approaches these fish get a few extra meals to build condition, extra water changes to get size and maximize finage and constant scrutiny for faults. You will also want to down load the current entry form and class list.

Show date is now a week away. Most clubs require preregistration of entries so they can be prepared with containers for the show. It also allows the show secretary to get some of the paper work done or ready for the show. Since fish have to be shipped I do all this the Sunday before the show weekend. I take a blank copy of the entry form on a clipboard and walk through the fish room. I usually start with my males in barracks but you may already have your fish lined up on a shelf and ready to list. As I walk through the fish room I give a final once over of the ones marked “SHOW” and look for fin tears, color faults and anything else that might cost them points. If they look good I start to list them on the entry form.

If you look at the entry sheet you will see it is numbered down the left side 1-25. So, the first fish is listed on line #1 and the entry number is marked on the container in dry erase marker. On the forms I usually list my fish id number and the color and if DT in the label/remark column. At this time that is all the info I put on this form. Then I move to the next fish. After a good look over they are listed as entry #2. And so on till the show fish are all listed on the entry form.

At this point this is all I do on the entry form. Now it is time for me to bag and box my fish to be shipped out in the morning on my way to work. If I had the day off I would bag, box and ship on Monday. I usually have a few fish to ship so I lay everything out before I even grab the first fish. You will need clean water, shipping bags, an insulated shipping box, and I use a small canning jar, ½ cup measure and the top of a soda bottle for reasons to come. I have become rather anal about disease so I have a beanie with sterilized nets so I can use a clean net on each fish. And I lay out a dish towel to work on and catch all the drips.

I take a large 1 gallon container and add clean, clear water. At the shows the bags are floated in beanies and after about 30 minutes the top is cut and both fish and water are dumped into the show container. You do not want meth blue or IAL in that to discolor the water. To my water I add just a pinch of salt and dissolve it. Why salt? Salt increases the slime coat and that increases resistance to parasites. I do not use salt on a regular basis so it may help with the stress of shipping to give just a little more protection. I then take the small canning jar and add not quite ½ cup water with the measuring cup. Then I grab a net and go get my #1 fish. I take the top of a soda bottle and put the neck opening into the top of the bag and grab it there creating a funnel. I tip the funnel slightly and slowly pour water and fish down into the bag. They slide very nicely down the funnel hole and into the bag. I then tie off the bag with some air in the top. You have to look at how deep your box is and make sure you don’t have so much bagged air you can not get a lid on. And if I have to use heat/cold packs I go a little less air so there is more space between the fish and the heat/cold pack. Make sure you tie this bag TIGHT. Pull that knot a few times then once more to be sure. The last thing you want is a bag to leak. Then you invert the bag and slide it down into another bag with the tied knot in first. Here is a very good video on bagging your fish. Once the fish is double bagged you mark its entry number on the outside of the bag with a permanent marker. Then check off that fish and head for #2. Continue doing this until all fish are double bagged and in their shipping box.

After the fish are shown they will be rebagged and shipped home unless they are sold at auction. If you are getting your fish back you need to send bags for them to be returned in. I take the number of fish am sending, double it and add some more. I usually have less come back but some bags could have a hole, some might not sell at auction and often someone forgets to send some bags and the extras get those fish home. I take a large Ziploc bag and insert the bags for my returning fish in there. Also to be included in that Ziploc bag are your entry form and check for the entry fees. Now is the time to get back to that hand written entry form.

At this point I sit down at the computer and create the entry form I will email to the show chair and also send in my box. Starting with the first fish I add my fish id and color info into the label/remarks column. Then I look up the class the fish would go in. On the entry form spreadsheet the last tab has the current class listing. So you go there and determine the Division and the Class your fish belongs in and add that information in the first two columns. In the box under auction is where you let the show know if you want the fish back or you are going to auction it off. If you put NO then the fish will be returned to you and there will be many sad faces it is not for sale.. lol. If you mark YES then the fish will be auctioned after the show. The rest of the form past the label/remark column is for the show secretary to fill out.

Continue entering your fish until they are all listed. Total up your entries and determine your entry fees. Make sure the top of the form is complete with your information. Often you will receive an email or a phone call about your fish/entries so make sure the info is good. The return fish via is how the fish are to be sent home. Check the appropriate box for how you want your returned.

Some address 

When I print my shipping label I print a return label that only needs to be stuck on the outside of the box. I use PayPal and use the Multi Order shipping option. The first label is from me to the person receiving the show fish. In the Multi Order shipping to do the return there is not a way to ship from the show address. The Multi Order will automatically put in your address. But if you look further down you will see a box for originating zip code. Put the zip code of the show in that box and where you want to fish shipped back to in the ship to area. Then print out both labels and a couple copies of your entries. The one to the show will go on the box now and the other you will put in the box. In that Ziplock bag with your shipping bags you now want to include a couple copies of your entry form, a check to cover the entries and your return shipping label.

Depending on the weather you may want to add a heat or cold pack. Whichever you add you want to make sure neither comes in contact with the fish bags. I add some layer of insulation between the fish and the pack. Since I ship out the next day I do not seal up the box and add the packs

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