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AKA Convention - My perspective (another long ramble)
This was my first convention so I can not compare it to others. But then
comparisons serve no purpose when it comes to events like this.
I arrived at the convention on Friday night already seriously deficient of
sleep due to the hurried preparations I made to get there. I attended most
of the lectures in part or in whole but overall spent much of my time
talking killies with the other attendees. I enjoyed seeing the fish, but
when someone handed me a flashlight I got a whole new perspective.
As far as the hotel went, I could certainly pick a bone or two with the
architect who designed it. It looked like something which started out small
and orderly and got added on to until it reached the current absurd
configuration. I am sure that we will hear more about the convention as soon
as the rest of the attendees find their way out of the maze of corridors. As
to the hotel staff, I have to guess that it consisted of those poor hungover
souls without the seniority or intelligence to take the holiday weekend off.
But AKA conventions are not about hotels, they are about people and fish.
First to the people. All of you guys were absolutely great. After a few
days without sleep I was not only incapable of remembering fish names most
of the time I was having trouble with my own. Thank God for the name tag. I
sure was glad you folks could fill in the blanks which my brain couldn't. I
learned allot and even heard a few good killitales. I believe that a few new
legends were born at this convention.
Now to the fish: There were more killies there than I had ever seen in one
place at one time. Many I had never seen before. As a Notho person I suppose
that there could have been more than there were, but those which were there,
were among the nicest. South American annuals were well represented as were
Aph.'s of course. Fp. were relatively abundant. Although Ep. is not my thing
there was no shortage there either. Lampeyes and native species rounded out
the show but again these are not my primary fields of interest. I'll bet
that the judges did not have an easy time. I did gain a respect for a few
fish which I never though much of before, after seeing what they should look
like. I saw many very nice fish, although at the time I thought that there
were few spectacular ones. But upon reflection I find that this was not
because they were not there, rather this impression was caused by the fact
that there were so many gorgeous fish in one place. This made it hard for
any one fish to stand out. In my mind the Riv.sp.Mahdia GY 97/7 was really
a show stopper, but the A. Hera was also a stand out. As to the Nothos, I
had never seen the Geisenbergi before, it looked rather plain at first
glance but when it colored up it was really an exceptional fish. The
Rubripinnis KTZ 85/28 was really good to see. It goes to prove that even a
short lived annual fish can survive long term in a hobby where the flavor of
the month is ever changing. Special awards should be given to breeders who
keep a collection or strain going for such an extended time. The
Fuscotaeniatus was in good form and color as were the other fish. I was
hoping to see Fuerzeri (sp) from the original and recent collections, and
virgatus but if they were there, I for one, missed them. Which was possible
(but unlikely) given my lack of sleep. Given the cyclical nature of Nothos I
can understand why some species were not represented eggs and fry show
The fish room contained some real prizes. When I walked through the room
before the sale I picked a few fish I liked. First I saw the N. Rubripinnis
KTZ 85/28 which I had once heard was gone from the hobby. It is probably
less showy than some of the more recent imports, but it has been on my wish
list for a very long time. It has now moved off my wish list and into my
fish room where it belongs. Then I saw the Riv. Agilae. I had never seen
these up close and personal but as they are not available to me locally I
added them to my wish list and my collection. I bought one pair in the fish
room and one from Shane at the auction. He was preoccupied with bidding on
other fish when I seized the opportunity to lighten his load for the trip
home. (Thanks Shane!)I had hoped to pick up a pair of the A. Elberti N'tui
as my third choice, but this was not to be. At least one pair made it back
to my club it went to a great breeder and a fine fellow. (I figure this is a
good opportunity to start buttering him up in case he is reading this as I
will be after him for some fish soon.) After the numbers were all run and
the room was open for the picking I found a pair of Fp. Fallax Fifinda
Yellow, I picked them up on impulse and I really wonder how these guys made
it through the first two rounds. I have since found them on the BKA web site
labeled as Fp kribianus Fafinda Yellow. Although I am not sure what the
correct name of the fish is at this point, it is a stunning yellow fish.
After buying them I really felt uncertain about this selection as I was
given to understand that these fish get really large. Thankfully the fish
are eating well and coloring up. So far every time I look at them they are
more brilliant. Even the female is a bright and colorful fish. I still can't
believe that so many people passed them by. I keep thinking that there is
something I don't know about these guys. No fish this nice could have been
overlooked by so many people who really know killies. On the other hand,
this does go to illustrate the fact that there were so many nice fish there
that these fish could have been missed. If any of you know anything I
should know about these fish, feel free to let me know what I have gotten
As to the fish which sold best and worst in the fish room and at the
auction: As you would expect new and rare species did well especially if
they were brightly colored. I think that the best prices went to the Rivs.
and the Aphs. (at auction) I was surprised how well the old favorites did.
As I recall the South American annuals did next best. If you like lampeyes,
Ep. or Fp. species you would have most likely found something you liked. As
far as Nothos went, I got my Rubripinnis and would not have minded taking
home a pair of the Fuscotaeniatus or Geisenbergi if I had more room for
I suppose that there were a few fish that did not do as well as I had
expected. Some of the newer collections of established fish which might not
have been as well known or as colorful as their predecessors or aquarium
strains did not get the attention that I expected in the fish room. Some of
the Chromas and lampeyes could have moved faster, but Aphs. remain at the
core of the hobby and the South Americans are the rising star as far as I
My ride left before the end of the auction so I did not see what happened. I
usually enjoy the end of auctions because many times the people who bid high
have spent their money early on and there is an opportunity for a little
bottom feeding. From what little I heard so far I gather that this did not
happen at this convention. Oh well...
The prices of the fish in the fish room were fair and reasonable and those
at the auction were probably also reflective of what the fish were worth. I
am lucky to be a member of a local club where fish rarely exceed $10.00 at
auction and we often exchange fish without charging one another. I have sold
excess fish from time to time, some at a profit, when one counts the food
they consumed and the cost of the breeding stock. But what is the true value
of a pair of fish which takes over a year to mature, eats only live foods,
takes several months to hatch and sexes out to an 80 to one ratio? Add to
that, that they are a rarity in nature and took great effort and personal
risk to collect. When baseball cards which are mere pieces of cardboard with
images of long forgotten athletes on them sell for hundreds of dollars how
do we value our efforts?
Just about every fish at the convention was the product of countless hours
of work and care by an individual who no doubt invested hundreds of hours
learning their craft. I suppose I can understand that as members of the
same fraternity we give each other substantial discounts on the product of
our labors, but I'll bet that when someone picks up a pair of killies at
their LFS they have no idea of the bargain they are getting. I think that
setting the fair and equitable retail prices of killifish could and should
be the topic of a thread in itself.
Finally I realize that when you read this you can not hear the inflection of
my voice or see the expression on my face nor can I see your reaction to my
comments so that I may additionally clarify my statements. Therefore you
might misinterpret what I am saying. So to be absolutely clear: The
convention was an unqualified success. I was one of the folks who was up
late so I saw the hard work that the NFKA put into it. I have organized
events and I was impressed at their dedication and commitment. The speakers
were knowledgeable and did an excellent job of presentation. As I mentioned
before it was great meeting all of the people. (Especially the other
smokers, we were having our own private meetings outside during lulls in the
Special thanks go to the:
The NFKA for their heroic efforts.
Matt Kaufman for driving to the convention.
The speakers who shared so much with us and for their commitment to
acquiring the knowledge they imparted.
The people who brought the fish for the show and auction. It takes a very
special person to give up such fine fish to benefit people they do not even
know in most cases.
To the people who went so far out of their way to attend the convention so
that the rest of us could enjoy their company and benefit from their
To the people who raised the fish I bought. They are beautiful and they are
reflections of your care and skill.
My final thoughts go to those of you who could not be there, not so much in
what you missed, as most of you already know that, but just to let you know
that you were missed.
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