PREPARING YOUR FISH FOR A NATIONAL SHOW, CCA IS HOSTING THE AKA, SO HERE IS HOW TO MAKE YOUR FISH SHINE The DC area will be having the National Show for the American Cichlid Association (ACA) July 19 through 24th. So you do have an opportunity to show a fish at a National Show. The deadline for fish entry into the show is JULY 5TH. Our club, Capital Cichlid Association is hosting the ACA Convention. Maybe if you know how to prepare your fish for the show you will feel more confident in bringing a fish or two to the big show. Knowing how to prepare your fish for any show and doing so can make all the difference in how the fish looks at the show and helps guarantee its successful arrival back home. Iâ€™ll talk about three things to get him prepared for the show: 1. Water quality; 2. Feeding; 3. Acclimation to a bare tank. To understand the transition, think about the conditions your fish is in at home and those it will encounter at the show. At the show it will be in a bare tank with sponge filter and the water will be fresh out of the tap. The water will have been treated with something like either Prime or Amquel to remove toxics. The show temperature is always ambient, that is to say somewhere in the 70 to 78 degree F range. Tap water almost anywhere in the US will be coming out of the tap at a pH between 7 and 8. So your fish will have to adopt to these conditions. 1. WATER QUALITY Make sure your fish is living in the best quality water it can be in at home. If you are doing water changes at least weekly, you are doing well. But to make sure it is really good, start doing 50% water changes twice a week and the week before you might consider doing them once a day. The fish can handle stress better in good quality water. Water with a high pollutant load usually means a lower oxygen level available to the fish mainly because there are more bacteria in the water. For the big shows where you want to use the water provided at the show, making sure your fish is in the best water it can be in at home is a must. By providing the best water at home, the fishâ€™s transition to water provided at the show will likely be more like a water change at home to the fish. If its water quality at home is not good, its transition to great water at the show will likely be quite stressful to the fish. It will likely survive, unless the difference in water quality is too large, but it may have enough of a stress to make it look less than at its best. 2. Feeding Stop feeding your fish for at least a day prior to taking him to a show. Stopping three to five days prior to the show might be better for larger fish. Most fresh water fish can go without harm for 10 days to two weeks without being fed. The reason to do this is to clean out their intestines. That way they produce a lot less waste in the SHOW TANK. In other words, a lot less ammonia is produced and a lot less solid waste. Since the show tank will not have an established colony of nitrogen cycle bacteria, ammonia could build up to toxic levels and bacteria feeding on waste could help consume dissolved oxygen. Adding excess Prime or Amquel Plus will consume ammonia and other nitrogen by-products. Read the label to add the right amount of excess. An air stone or sponge filter with bubbler provides oxygen in a multiday show. Make sure you adjust the airflow to a moderate level. A high level of air flow can make a current the fish must fight against. A low air flow likely means less oxygen to the bottom of the tank where the fish might be. 3. Acclimating to a bare tank This step is not a necessity but can give your fish a leg up on attitude in the SHOW TANK. Some cichlids take to bare tanks as if it were routine. Others can require training; in fact if you think of it like training a dog, you get the idea that it will take time and patience. The simplest acclimation method is to put the fish into a bare tank with aeration about two days prior to the show and to not feed it during this time. Change the water daily and use Prime or Amquel Plus to neutralize toxic chemicals and wastes. But you can take acclimation to the next level, if you want. Your fish has adjusted to life in its home tank that is not likely to be a bare tank. When you take it out and place it in a bare tank, your fish probably will not like it and will show it by loosing color or trying to go someplace else. But if you were to keep your fish in a bare tank for a week or ten days, it will become accustomed to life in a bare tank. When adapting a fish to a bare tank at home, take care to provide a somewhat gradual transition. At least initially place the fish in a tank where there is little or no activity outside of the bowl or tank. Use an air stone or sponge filter with bubbler to help assure there is maximum oxygen in the water. Realize the fish may have more reason to jump, so use Saran Wrap or other cover or else keep the water level about three inches below the top of the tank. Do not feed for 3 days. Then when you feed it on the fourth day, make sure the fish comes to the front before you feed, only feed it a bite. Repeat as you can. You are training the fish to come to the front whenever anyone approaches the tank. Increase the activity around the tank possibly by moving the tank to an area where there is usually more activity. Change water daily and add agents to remove toxic materials.