Although, I have been interested in ranchu for a long time, I only started to seriously pursue this endeavor since October, 2013, when I purchased my group of fish. As you can tell, it has been an exciting year for me, packed with activity. I made mistakes and corrected them, I have adopted others' great ideas and came up with my own solutions. I learned a great deal to only realize how much there is still to learn.
Another important lesson I learned is to focus on appreciating anything positive, instead of focusing on the negative. I could have easily accepted that there is no perfect ranchu, and be automatically dragged into finding what's "wrong" to be never satisfied with ranchu appearance, looking for that "greener grass on the other side" instead of enjoying them and myself. That however, shouldn't take away the urge for improvement. Traditional ranchu keeping is founded on this principle. While enjoying ranchu looks, we have to constantly work on improving our grooming techniques. Apart from genetics, it is all about grooming that shapes the ranchu the way we desire and maintains them the way we want. This process echoes with a quote from Buddha's teachings: "It is better to travel well than to arrive". With this in mind ranchu keeping can become very rewarding. Each fish will "blossom" at its own time, some when they are tosai or nisai, and some when oya. Once ranchu reached its peak, it becomes even more chalenging to maintain.
Being considered a "living sculpture", ranchu keeping is very similar to bonsai in terms of required determination and discipline. To keep ranchu as ranchu and bonsai as bonsai, constant training and improvement is needed. It also requires improvisation and ability to recognize and uncover the subject's potentials.
Cotyledon tomentosa ("Bear's Paws") as a year old bonsai, trained by A.Vasiljev
Suiseki, by A.Vasiljev