In mid-November the Ohio Cichlid Association held its annual â€œExtravaganzaâ€ at the Holiday Inn in Strongsville, Ohio. People came from all over the region and many came from much farther out to meet and mingle with other fish enthusiasts who specialize in keeping cichlids and catfish, including a growing number of TFCEC members. The festivities began on a Friday at 2 pm and ran through Sunday evening, the program for the weekend kept us busy from start to finish.
Upon arrival the first thing we did was to set up several fish tanks in our room and post our fish for sale sign on our hotel room door. Then we walked the corridors and shopped the other rooms as well, and I must say, it is very hard to control yourself! I found several â€œmust havesâ€ including Red Laser coridoras, L002 and L183 Plecos, all of which I purchased, and Peter came home with L006 Plecos and Scleromytax coridoras. Many of these fish are unavailable in the pet shops, supplies in the rooms are limited so decisions need to be made quickly, he who hesitates misses out.
The speaker presentations run from Friday evening through Saturday afternoon. This yearâ€™s lineup included:
Julian Dignall â€“ â€œIntroduction to L Number Plecosâ€ and â€œCollecting Catfishes in Indiaâ€
Ted Judy â€“ â€œPeru Pipeline, From the River to Your Aquariumâ€
Heiko Bleher â€“ â€œDiscus & Angelfish in Natureâ€ and â€œCichlidae of India and the Middle Eastâ€
Ad Konings â€“ â€œNews and Views from Lake Tanganyikaâ€
We really enjoyed hearing about the fish we keep and how they behave in their natural habitats in addition to some of the extraordinary efforts these men went through to gather them and bring them from the wild to our aquariums.
Saturday morning and afternoon were action packed with several activities to keep us entertained; speaker presentations, shop hops, viewing bowl show entries, checking out the vendor sales and shopping the swap meet. Peter picked up some adolescent opthalmotilapia nasuta, a very attractive Lake Tanganyikan mouthbrooder at the swap. Then we were off to the speaker â€œMeet & Greetâ€ and awards presentations.
TFCEC members Tony Martina, Dawn Domagala and Chris Hardy represented us well by placing in several categories in the bowl show. Then there was a dry-goods auction that followed.
Throughout the weekend there were several get togetherâ€™s in the â€œHospitality Roomâ€; evening socials with chili-dogs, nachos and beer/soda, breakfast with coffee and donuts, and even a pizza party prior to the awards banquet, all of which were included in the very reasonable admission price of $35 per person. These get togetherâ€™s were a wonderful place to make new connections. Peter and I have had the opportunity to meet so many new people in our travels, and have made friends we never would have made had we not left the comfort zone of WNY, it really has been a quite a pleasure.
Then on Sunday at 10 am the fish auction began; fish and plants are the only items auctioned. Again, many of the bags for sale contained fish that you just donâ€™t see every day. I picked up adolescent Pseudocrenilabrus multicolor victoriae, a dwarf Egyptian mouth brooder and Nanochromis transvestites, a rare cichlid from the fast moving waters in the Dominican Republic, both of which I am hoping to breed and introduce to the clubs in our area.
All in all we had a wonderful time and are sure to return next year for another fabulously fishy weekend!