By Bob Randall
AS PUBLISHED IN AQUA NEWS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2004
A PUBLICATION OF THE MINNESOTA AQUARIUM SOCIETY
There are fish everywhere, mostly cichlids but a healthy amount of catfish at Ohio Cichlid Association's (OCA) Extravaganza. A few scavengers are allowed to enter the show as well but mainly cichlids and catfish. Fish in the show, fish in the rooms, fish at local fish stores, fish in the auction and fish talk on everyone's lips. The best fish talk comes from invited speakers. During last two years there have been some great presentations by speakers at the Extravaganza. Speakers come from Europe, Mexico and United States to talk fish. The Show is great too but it is the fish that are the biggest magnet of all. Fish stores in Cleveland area are interesting and fun to visit. All Champs is a store that is unique and worth one visit per lifetime. Aquarium Adventures is a large fish store with a lot of merchandise. They have some large display ponds about mid thigh high with some large cichlids and catfish swimming in them. In general though cichlid and catfish stock contained only a few interesting items for our group (Ron Hansen, Matt Anderson, Rich Smaciarz, Jeff Magg, Lenny Ancheta and myself). The next stop, RMS is not as lavishly appointed as Aquarium Adventures but has some nice display tanks with a place to sit and enjoy them. The main store, of four total stores, has many tanks of fish to choose from, numerous aquariums and large dry goods section. The staff is friendly too. However, the best store we found is Something Fishy. It is the best for a number of reasons. One, of course is the fish. Something Fishy carries cichlids that you will not find in most fish stores (i.e. Benthochromis tricoti). This store has fish we wanted and we did buy cichlids there. Prices are either reasonable to exceptionally good at Something Fishy. The next reason this is the best fish store in Cleveland is owner Dave Hall. Dave loves cichlids and has created a wonderful atmosphere. He set up a couple of fabulous display tanks with beautiful, interesting fish in them. Something Fishy is not jammed full of tanks, equipment, etc; the space is used well to create a comfortable atmosphere. There are comfortable chairs, a few tables and a coffee bar for relaxing. After our purchases we sat, watched the fish and talked fish over a cup of coffee. What could be better? OK, maybe alcohol instead of coffee but then it would not be Something Fishy. The other thing about Dave is that he is just a nice guy. Once you meet him you will agree.
Extravaganza Show rivals American Cichlid Association Show. Last year two individuals showed forty (yes, 40) each. How many total, my guess is 120 - 150 cichlids and maybe 40 - 50 catfish and scavengers. Then there are photography and art classes. This year a child's class was added. All children entered their fish into one class and first, second and third were selected. Of course every show needs an awards presentation. Extravaganza has a unique twist here; everyone that registers for Show is invited to eat salad and pizza at no additional charge. Thus, everyone is in the room for awards presentation. First, second and third prizes in every class earn cash. Carved trophies are also given to Best Catfish/Scavenger of Show, Reserve Cichlid of Show and Best Cichlid of Show. Del Calhoun created these trophies.
Selection of show speakers is remarkable. Ohio Cichlid Association finds speakers that are not often seen at United States shows such as Ian Fuller, Ingo Seidel, Ranier Stahaowkowski, Willem Heijns and others. Juan Miguel Artigas Azas from Mexico spoke about Mexican cichlids. It is also successful in bringing in the best US speakers too with talks by Paul Loiselle, Ad Konings, Jay Stauffer, Rusty Wessel, Lee Finley, Ray Lucas, Ron Coleman and others. These are great speakers with a gift for passing along information on our cichlids and catfish. Who will speak at next year's Extravaganza may be a mystery but they will be outstanding.
Room sales of fish are a tradition here. It is not uncommon to see racks of tanks filled with cichlids, catfish and anything else that may sell here. There is everything from wild caught fish to those fish bred in a hobbyist aquarium for sale. This year we had a visitor from U.S. Fish and Wildlife drop by to ask if we had any red or black piranha for sale. It was a good thing we said no.
Fish auction is huge. Ray Lucas donates dry goods to shows he attends. These dry goods were auctioned off on Saturday evening after the show awards presentation. When Sunday auction starts at 10 a.m. it is all cichlids, catfish and plants. This year 1,133 items were sold in 11.5 hours. Our group already had plenty of fish from Something Fishy and buying out of hotel rooms. However, this is a great auction with uncommon catfish and cichlids to bid upon. We could not resist great prices on these fish. Once the auction was over our group spent the next two hours rebagging fish. We bought a lot of fish.
We have a great time at Extravaganza. Unfortunately, they will be raising the price for all this fun. Bigfoot said next Extravaganza would have to go up to $12 or something like that to attend. When was the last time you attended a three day fun filled show for $12?