The 2001 Australian Discus Association
By Jan Mikula.
The inaugural Australian Discus Association show was held on the
28th-29th July 2001 at the Penrith Panthers Exhibition Center in the West
of Sydney. The show was run in conjunction with The Great Australian Fish
and Reptile Show, with the main sponsor being PIJAC. Close to 12,000
people attended the show over the weekend and this was enough for the
sponsors to commit to shows planned for Queensland, Sydney and Melbourne
in the future. It appears that the next discus show will be held in 2003.
A number of exhibitors were present from pet/aquarium shops to reptile
clubs and industry representatives from the Aquarium fish producers
association of Australia including Tasmanian Ornamental Fish Farm, Bay
Tropical Fish Farm, and Kilcoy Ornamental Fish Farm . The main attraction
proved to be the 148 discus tanks that were on show , with plenty of
queries forwarded to the ADA table.
As a new member of the club, I wanted to meet with the people I had
spoken to via the computer over the past 12 months or so and to view the
quality of fish that they had on offer and I guess just to help out where
I could. The following is a diary account of my experiences leading up to
Tuesday 24th. Left Tasmania (for those not in the know, it is the island
just under mainland Australia) and arrived at Sydney airport to be met by
Henry Buchegger who had offered to put me up for the 5 nights I was there.
I had organized with my boss to send some fish up with me and we picked up
my 2 boxes of fish and went back to Henry's place. Henry kindly gave me
the use of one of his large tanks in the house for my fish. We had dinner
and then beer consumption, followed by a walk out the back to his fish
room. When I'm at work (although my boss doesn't think I do any), one of
my jobs is water change etc. his discus room which has a bit over 100
tanks. I had seen some nice fish and I even thought I had some, but to be
honest I was a bit 'blown away' with what Henry had in there. Not only
were they very nice fish but they were enormous. It was nice of him to
provide a chair and a few cold beers to just sit and enjoy his fish room.
I could have stayed in there for a few more hours but we had a long day
ahead of us and had to get some sleep.
Wednesday, 25th. We woke early, well Henry did I had a small sleep in and
then we loaded the trailer with water storage tanks. We headed over to
Trevor's place and got some more storage tanks. Only had a brief glimpse
of some of his fish and unfortunately we had to be on our way. Drove to
the convention center to look over the facility. First impressions were
that it was way too big for the show but as the days progressed I was
pleasantly surprised with the outcome. We were shown the layout by Ann and
her trusty helper (sorry forgotten his name) and set about filling the
storage tanks so that our water would be ready for filling the tanks on
Thursday/Friday. Henry had to go to work so I spent most of the day there
getting to know Trevor and Peter, and then went back to Trevor's place.
Luckily Trevor had a side entrance to his fish room because there was no
way known to man I was walking out in his back yard with those two massive
dogs of his. Trevor's partner Madeline said they would only lick me to
death but being the chicken I am decided against it. He had some very nice
browns and snakeskins in his room and it was one of the more 'nicer' fish
rooms I have been into. By this I mean there was nice wood paneling around
his tanks and it wasn't stinking hot in there either. Unfortunately time
ran out and I didn't have as long in there as I would have hoped. Went
back to Henry's fish room and enjoyed the rest of the night with a few
cold beers and good company.
Thursday 26th, This was the day that absolutely wore me down. Arrived
early again to a hive of activity. Trucks and people were everywhere and I
got to meet a few more members of the club and we set about organizing the
tanks etc. Each entrant in the discus show was provided with a
24"x18"x18" tank with a light, heater, and filter. Its
amazing what unpacking 200 heaters, filters, reflectors , tanks, and
lights etc. does to the system over the hours, running on auto-pilot comes
to mind. (the reason it was 200 of everything was because there was
another stand there by the Aquarium fish producers association of
Australia and we set up their stands also). I didn't mind though because
those that were there wanted everything ready on time and their company
was good so I wasn't complaining. We went back and had to pick up Charlie,
another interstate visitor. I met Peter Ng also and we had a great dinner
provided by Henry's wife, Liz and his daughter Kathy. Spent the night
'talking fish' and then had a well earned rest.
Friday 27th, The eve of the show. Virtually all the work had been done on
the show tanks the day before so just had a few finishing touches such as
putting up the backing etc. on the tanks and setting up the ADA table.
Felt rather good seeing what we had accomplished. It was interesting
watching the other exhibitors madly running around trying to get their
stands set up in time. Left at lunchtime, picked up some new packing bags
and went home for lunch. Around 2pm headed into Henry's fish room to start
packing his fish for the show. There was three of us in there and the
process went quite well. I thought it would have taken longer but we were
happy with the outcome. Had a couple of beers while we waited for Peter Ng
to turn up with his fish. He needed oxygen for his bags and Henry had a
small cylinder which he used for Peter's fish also. Left for the
convention center around 4pm. Arrived and waited to see where the fish
were going to go. One major point had been over looked in our haste to get
the tanks set up, and that was which tanks were to hold the different
classes of fish. I am not permitted to write what was said by many,
however no one was too happy with the situation. Shaifellah Yeng (honored
guest of the ADA), Ronald Chan, and Ronnie Teo arrived around 6.30 pm and
we proceeded to organize the tanks into classes. The classes for the show
were blue diamond, red turquoise, pigeon blood, brown based, red spotted,
spotted snakeskin, snakeskin, open, and a grand champion. This was a long
process as obviously care was needed so as not to stress out the fish. It
was good to see one of the judges, Ronald Chan, getting stuck in and
helping people with their fish and fixing sponges etc. I had heard about
his albinos that he had at Aquarrama this year and he showed me some
photos of his fish over a couple of drinks on Saturday night. He was a
surprise package, I certainly didn't think he would have been as 'down to
earth' as he was, a very nice bloke.
Ronnie Teo had fish in quarantine up at Bay Tropical which had arrived in
Sydney around 2pm. Someone had gone to pick them up from the airport,
however they didn't arrive at the center until 9.30pm. They were in good
condition however we still had to class them. We finally finished there
around midnight and went home .
Saturday 28th, Show day. This was almost an anti-climax for me in the
sense that we had spent so much time there and worked hard to get it done
that it didn't seem that exciting. This didn't last long however once
people began turning up and soon the convention center started filling up.
The ADA table was always kept busy with people asking questions or buying
fish from the stand. Shaifellah Yeng had brought 60 of his books with him
and they were all sold by the end of the weekend. I purchased one which
has pride of place in my library.
The business side of things started around 10am with the judging. The
judges for our show were Bing Seto (USA), Ronald Chan (Hong Kong) and
Shane Willis (Australia). Without getting political here, it was a good
group of judges because they hadn't worked together before or even met so
we felt confident that those fish that won their classes deserved to do so
on their own merits.
I had taken up 8 fish for the show but didn't hold out much hope for them.
I took them up to support the club because I didn't realize that there
would have been that many fish entered into the show. I was surprised when
3 made it into the final of their classes. One of them came third in the
open class (blue ghost), which surprised me even more. Sorry for the self
indulgence but I couldn't help it.
When the judges stopped for lunch we went home and relaxed for the
afternoon at Henry's place. His wife Liz cooks up a fine meal so I enjoyed
going back there. We cleaned ourselves up and headed back to the show
because there was a dinner that night for the ADA members and the major
sponsors PIJAC. This was a fine affair and was enjoyed by all (maybe the
alcohol consumption added to this). We went back to the convention center
around 11pm to check on the fish and the security guard kindly let us in
once he realized who we were (we got friendly with him over the past 3
nights so he knew us well). Once all was checked we went home and slept
Sunday 29th, Final day. Woke early again and went out to the show. I
didn't have much time there as I had a plane to catch at 1pm. I had a
final look around and took some photos of the winning fish etc. and said
my good byes to those people I had met. I was sorry that I didn't meet
other people that I had spoken to over the internet, however when booking
my ticket I had been told the wrong dates for the show so I missed out on
I enjoyed my time in Sydney and met some wonderful people and look forward
to catching up with them more in the future. Henry, Liz, and Kathy
Buchegger were great people for putting me up for the time I was there as
too were Trevor and Madeline, the two Peters and Charlie for looking after
me. Thanks again for making it such an enjoyable time for me.
As this was the first show, I think the ADA has done itself proud. For a
small sized club when compared to those overseas a lot was accomplished
during this show. Obviously there were a few things that went wrong but
these will be fixed over time and the show will get better. The sponsors
did a great job and I'm sure with their support, hopefully more people
will enter their fish at the next show.
The quality of fish at the show was good, some even exceptional, and quite
a few of the overseas contingent were impressed with what was on offer. It
is no secret that in Australia we only get a majority of C and D grade
fish and our quality in the future would obviously improve if we were able
to source higher grades of fish. Hopefully the contacts made at this show
will form a foundation in which we are able to start getting A and B grade
fish into the country.
Of the classes judged, Australians took 7, including grand champion and
Ronnie Teo from Malaysia won the red spotted, and spotted snakeskin
classes. Henry Buchegger won three classes plus grand champion. See, I
told you his fish room was worth a visit.