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Display of finned folk as friends

Hustle 2023, drew participants even from Nepal and Malaysia, and was organised by Kolkata Flowerhorn Federation and Aqua Buddy, a company that makes fish feed and medicines

Brinda Sarkar | Published 28.07.23, 10:28 AM

Judges taking a look at the fish in the competition at Madhav Palace in Galiff Street

Nearly 100 fish hobbyists gathered for a show recently to have their aquarium fish judged by experts. The show Hustle 2023, drew participants even from Nepal and Malaysia. It was organised by Kolkata Flowerhorn Federation and Aqua Buddy, a company that makes fish feed and medicines.

“It’s not just about how pretty a fish looks,” said Ricky Sharma, founder of the federation, and one of the judges. The show also had a judge from Thailand. “We also have to study their anatomy, size and interactivity. If I knock on a Flowerhorn’s tank, for instance, does it come up close?”


This was the third edition of the show and the first time they, on popular demand, included other species. There were different kinds of Goldfish, some with long tails like mermaids, some with heads that looked like clusters of bubbles.

Betta varieties included Halfmoon and Placard. Sharma tapped on the tank of a Betta and the fish rushed to him, with fins flared. “They have been trained for this,” he smiled. The Betta tanks were, in fact, separated from one another by thin cardboards to prevent the fish from seeing one another. “Else they will attack the glass. If left in the same tank they will kill each other.”

The participants were an enthusiastic bunch. “My Goldfish reached me from Thailand just yesterday. I checked its health and entered it in the contest today,” smiled Jyotirmoy Halder, a businessman.

Subhodeep Mukherjee spoke of how his Flowerhorns wait for him to return from office. “Other fish swim up to humans only during feed time but my 48 Flowerhorns play with me when I return from work,” he said. “This breed is becoming more accessible too. Fifteen years ago they had to be imported from Thailand and cost Rs 20,000 but now that they are being bred in India one can even get them for Rs 500.”The show had a number of stalls selling fish feed and aquarium accessories. Akira, a Bengal-based pet food brand, said fish was an even more important segment for them than cats. “It’s the highest seller, after dog food. People have more aquariums than cats,” said director Sunirmal Das. “And among fish, the most popular category is the small fish community like as Betta, Guppy, Goldfish and Angel. Our most popular product is feed for these fish.”

The show also had a quiz and an extempore speech contest, both themed around fish. Dibyendu Saha was called to speak about a favourite fish that he had lost. “I lost Droxy, my Betta, just a few days ago,” said the student who has just completed his Masters. “He was five months old. I had kept a glass sheet over his tank but he pushed through it and jumped out,” Saha sighed.

The grand champion of the show was a Kamfa Flowerhorn from Madurai, brought by Aji.

(Clockwise) Goldfish; Flowerhorn; Betta fish

(Clockwise) Goldfish; Flowerhorn; Betta fish


  • Goldfish are not only gold.They can be a variety of colours, including orange, white, black and red and can come in various sizes too.
  • Goldfish are a popular “first pet” among children, who keep them in fish bowls. But this is not recommended. No matter how wide the diameter, the base of the bowl is small and never enough for the fish to rest. It’s worse if there is more than one fish kept together.
  • Goldfish do not have a stomach in the traditional sense.Their intestines do most of the work.This means they need to feed up to eight times a day and excrete frequently, leaving the water polluted and in need of change at least once in three days.


  • Flowerhorns are perhaps the most recognisable aquarium fish, thanks to their large, protruding foreheads, known as koks.
  • You are unlikely to see Flowerhorns in the wild. This hybrid species was created by hobbyists in southeast Asia in the 1990s by crossbreeding cichlids.
  • Flowerhorns are intelligent and interactive. They are trainable, can recognise their owners and play games like “follow the finger”.
  • Despite its fondness for people, the fish is aggressive and territorial. They are a single-fish-single-tank species.
  • Since the fish resembles the mythical Chinese dragon, it is believed to lucky in southeast Asian countries.It is a feng shui fish and makes great gifts.

Betta fish

  • Betta fish are also known as Siamese fighting fish.They were originally bred, in Thailand, to battle like in cockfights.
  • Bettas are usually about 5.5cm to 6cm long. They are territorial and must be kept in separate tanks or they will bite each other to death.
  • The male Betta is a protective parent. They prepare for their offspring's arrival by creating bubble nests—floating masses of bubbles blown with an oral secretion. These nests serve as a safe place for the fertilised eggs to be deposited and incubated, all while being diligently guarded by the male.
Last updated on 28.07.23, 10:28 AM

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