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1999 British Aquarist's Festival, .......Kuhlis from Hell!

Posted By: Martin Thoene <martin.thoene@lakenheath.af.mil>
Date: Monday, 25 October 1999, at 7:06 p.m.

This year's event was the 48th, so you could say this is an established show. I went years ago with my Uncle when I was a young Teenager. Sometimes when you're young you get a false perspective of size, but I'd swear you could have dropped this year's show into that other one a minimum of 6 times.

I decided only last week to go, and Dave Guest said he fancied coming along too. Dave and I had never met before, so that made it an interesting experience for both of us. I met Dave at.........a fish shop.......of course! on the outskirts of Birmingham. It's about 2.5 hours from my place, so I had set off at 15 mins. to 6 in the morning. We met at 9 am and looked around Hollybush Aquatics before jumping in my car and driving the hour up to Manchester.

We found the venue easily, and it was obvious that there weren't many people there already. After paying the entry fee we entered the hall. Dave didn't know what to expect, but I was somewhat dissapointed because of my memories of the earlier show. There was not the large trade attendance I'd hoped for, but Rolf C. Hagen were there selling off some Fluval filters at VERY cheap prices, even the latest 04 series.

There were only 2 places selling fish. One suprisingly had a lot of Bread-and-Butter fish for sale, but Wharf Aquatics had really pushed the boat out with a mass of odd-balls and interesting fish. They had some nice Clowns at very good prices. Dave got 4 Botia dario at the cheapest price I've ever seen them for, so he was a happy chappie!

I didn't buy anything, but I did fall in love with the Titanic Plec. This seems to be the accepted Trade name for this species and it is mind-bogglingly beautiful if your into Plecs, that is! But at 47.50 pounds, my Love has to be unrequited!

They had a bunch of nice Snakehead species and also Puffers.......so cute!

The show fish consisted of "The Champion OF Champion's" contest, which brings together Show winner's from during the year. How the heck the winning Tilapia buetekefordi (spelling?) could be judged against a rather pretty Goby, I'll never know, but it beat all the other diverse species anyway, probably on sheer size.

There were some fish being auctioned the next day, and Dave and I speculated on the price that 3 nice Botia sidthimunki might reach. I think I saw a flash of lust go across Dave's face when he saw those......they were very nice fish.

We looked around several free-standing groups of tanks displaying various species and came upon one stand with 2 tanks containing one each of the biggest Pangio sumatranus that we had both ever seen. These weren't Kuhlis......they were Dojos in Pyjamas! Each fish was about 4" long and at least 5-eighths of an inch deep! I don't know what they feed their fish on in the North of England! Beautiful specemins, and I'd guess based on body depth, both Females.

You're possibly asking the question, "So what's this Dave Guest like, then?"

The answer is he's a really nice bloke! We got on really well and had a good old natter during our drive there and back. We were talking so much that I missed junctions for Motorway intersections TWICE, and we nearly ended up in Liverpool at one point! It didn't help that the authorities have deemed it necessary to re-designate road numbers since my mapbook was printed!

Eventually we made it back to our meeting point and Dave got into his own car for the drive home to his place. I left for home earlier than I had anticipated I would, because I thought we would be at the Show longer. I figured that I could make "Fishes Galore" near Huntingdon on my way home, before they closed. This place has already proved good for Loaches, despite their prices being a little higher than elsewhere. They didn't dissapoint this time..................

Clowns, B.geto, B.dario (believe me Dave, you got a bargain!),B.striata, B. modesta, B. morleti (most colourful I've seen), B. hymenophysa, and.....BOTIA SIDTHIMUNKI!!!!!! These were 5 pounds each for 1" ones.

Also, in their Coldwater section, they had "12 banded Chinese Loach". Well somebody couldn't count, because they had far more than 12 bands, being sort of marbled with brown on sand colour. Clearly a Nomacheilus type of species, at 3.50 each I decided to buy 4, so my day-trip had a souvenier!

They're about 3-4 inches long and currently in the 4' with my Botia pulchra and the Botia superciliaris that I moved from my modesta tank. The tank is unheated, but as I've got the central-heating on, it's in the low 70's. They're still hiding a lot at the moment, but I've noticed some in-specie