This weekend I did something I've never done before. I drove half an hour to attend a live fish auction. It was run by a local aquarium club- well, not local to me, but in the greater area. I'm considering joining the club- they hold a lot of interesting-sounding workshops on things like better fish husbandry practices, breeding methods, raising your own live food and so on. It's just a long ways to go...
It was really cool to be there. To walk into a room full of like-minded folks, very down-to-earth people in their plain clothes, toting styrofoam boxes and coolers to pack their fishes in. I always feel kind of silly when I go to the pet store with a lunch cooler in hand- but it does lessen the shock on the fish, whether keeping them warm against sharp cold air outside in winter, or keeping them cooler than the broiling temperature inside my car in summer (before the AC kicks on). But I digress.
I've been reading a lot on fish forums online, and it was something else to hear people around me talking about those very same things- fish behaviors, spawning triggers, the quality of finnage... I even got the jokes. And listening to the auctioneer I learned that quite a few fish and plant names (scientific and common alike) I've been pronouncing completely wrong, because I'd never heard them spoken before! I sat up close to the front just so I could see the fishes. They were laid out in bags on the tables (ready to be picked up and transported home) and I could only imagine the stress they were experiencing, although most people seemed to have prepped and bagged them properly. Most of them looked great, in fact. It was so cool to see bags of cichlid pairs with little tiny baby fry swimming around them. Many beautiful and interesting fish I had never seen in person before, but I was reluctant to pick up bags for inspection, which could stress the fish- I didn't want to contribute more to their handling. So I sat in the front to see them as they were held up by the auctioneer.
The one item I was hoping to get -hornwort- had been listed at a fixed price, but by the time I got to the venue that lot had sold. I saw four more bags of it on the table though, so I got a card and joined in the bidding. This is also something I've never done before, bid in an auction. I waited to see how the first bid went- the first lot of it sold for $12. I'd been hoping to pay $10 or less, so I thought: I can do that. I'll bid up to $12. But the auctioneers kept switching out (can you imagine how tired their speaking muscles get!) and when the next bag of it came up, the guy really touted its qualities as a natural algaecide. That lot went for $20. I didn't really want to pay that high, but I saw the crowd was thinning out and I did want to see more of the fishes, so I waited. I sat in that chair for about four hours, all told. When the third bag of hornwort came up, a lot of people had left already and I bet that some of those other folks interested in hornwort had gone home. I bid on it and got it easy for $8. That's a steal. Especially when I got it home and saw how much there was.
I know where I'm going when I'm ready to buy my angelfish someday.