Bowl Show

Part of every OCA monthly meeting is the bowl show. At each respective meeting three classes of fish can be shown. These classes are outlined in the Schedule of Bowl Show Classes which can be view by clicking below.

Download Bowl Show schedule »

What follows is a Bowl Show Primer by our former Bowl Show Chairman Lew Carbone
When I first joined the OCA, one of the main attractions of attending meetings was the Bowl Show. It was a chance to look at actual live fish I’d read about and heard about but never got a chance to see. I can think of no club activity that better fulfills the OCA’s reason for existence.

Because some members decline to participate because they’re not sure how, I offer the following information, some of it contributed by Ron Georgeone, a fellow OCA member and one of the nation’s top cichlid showmen.

What Judges Look For

Size: The closer to full adult size for that species, the better. Keep in mind, however, that most of the fish that are brought in are young, and therefore undersize. Also, what might disqualify a fish from consideration in a big show will only be a factor to be considered in a monthly Bowl Show.

Color: Specimens should have the correct color for that species, as intense as possible. The stress of moving (and the small container) sometimes causes colors to fade, so serious showmen accustom their fish to that situation. In our Bowl Show, however, you will very seldom, if ever, be facing that kind of competition, so the other fish in the show are very likely to be in a similar condition.

Finnage: Fins should be full sized, with extensions when appropriate. There should be no nicks, tears or splits. An imperfection won’t disqualify an entry.

Deportment: The fish should look comfortable in the show tank, and should not be trying to hide in the corner. A fish that looks like he wants to take a piece out of the judge scores highest in this category. Serious showman train fish to deport well, but remember, they will probably not be your competition in our Bowl Show.

General Condition: Show fish should have no deformities, missing scales or other injuries. The eyes should be clear. Bellies that appear hollow or bloated lose points unless that is a characteristic of the species.

2024 OCA Monthly Bowl Show Competition Rules

The primary purpose of the bowl show is educational and practice for the annual Extravaganza. It enables members to see and examine different species of fish, it familiarizes members as to judging procedures. In addition to encouraging the showing and keeping of fish.

  1. The Bowl Show Chairperson, or designated appointee for a specific month, shall have complete charge of all entries. Any unusual requirements or exceptions or questions about these rules must be discussed with the chairperson or appointee.
  2. All entries shall be in containers having at least 1 flat side (not including the bottom). It’s also a good idea to have some form of lid for your animal’s protection.
  3.  All containers must be devoid of contents, except for water and fish. A background, outside of the container, is allowed. However, special lighting is not allowed.
  4. A label (piece of paper) should be placed in front of each entry giving the scientific name and the class the fish is being entered. The owner’s name (the person[s] receiving points) of the entry should be placed on the back of the label.
  5. Only members in good standing and present at the monthly meeting may submit an entry.
  6. No more than 6 entries may be submitted by any one member during a monthly show.
  7. Entries must be owned by the person(s) submitting it for judging. In addition, the last permanent residence of the entry must be from an aquarium maintained by the owner(s).
  8. The chairperson, from time to time, may ask for guest judges in helping to award points. However, the final decision to award any points is the responsibility of the chairperson.
  9. Each month different categories, typically Cichlids and Catfish, will be judged. Checkout the most current listing for monthly classes.
  10. Size restrictions refer to full-grown adult sizes as reported by Cichlid Room Companion or Planet Catfish.
  11. A fish can be entered in only one of the available classes, each month.
  12. Diseased, malformed, mutilated, hybrid specimens (other than aquarium strains, such as some discus and Ancistrus), or other reasonable grounds may be cause for disqualification of an entry. If an entry is disqualified, then all points and cash prizes accumulated for that month’s show will be forfeited by the owner(s) of that submitted the entry.
  13. The decision of the chairperson is FINAL.
  14. Monthly Point awards and cash prizes: (OCA to potentially award $160 monthly, if all places are filled.)


Points awarded

Cash Prize

Best of Show*



First place, each class



Second place, each class



Third place, each class



Non-placing entry



*Will only be awarded if there are two or more entries

  1. Yearly Point awards and prizes:
    1. Grand Prize for 2024: 75-gallon aquarium with canopy or cash equivalent (wholesale). To qualify for the grand prize, you must have earned points in at least three separate monthly shows.
    2. A Certificate (or plaque) will be awarded to the OCA Bowl Show Champion (overall point leader for the year). To qualify for the certificate, you must have earned points in at least three separate monthly shows.
    3. Certificates may be awarded to the 1st runner-up in the yearly point totals. To qualify for a certificate, you must have earned points in at least three separate monthly shows and have at least half the total points as the overall point leader.
    4. For tie breakers, the number of monthly awards won will be utilized starting with Best of Show.

Good luck, and remember that we want to see your fish!

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