We’ve all heard this before: The “Aquarium Urban Myth.” You know, the guy that spotted a Protomelas taeniolatus “Namalenje Island” at Petco, mismarked as a “Misc. African Cichlid” for $13.00, or the the guy who scored the Synodontis angelicus ''White Spot’' at the LFS for $10, mislabeled “Synodontis lucipinnis"- or something like that.
Stuff like that keeps the hobby moving, talking, and inspired us in strange ways. Much like the elusive winning lottery ticket bought at the local liquor store, such tales have motivated countless hobbyists over the years to keep looking, keep digging in the LFS and pet shops around the world, looking for that elusive, as yet-un-named rarity that is staring us right in the face.
You know how it feels to score something like that, too, right? After your discovery, you compose yourself, then nonchalantly ask the LFS employee to grab it from the tank and bag it up for you, all the while pretending to stifle a yawn, while inside, all that your thinking is “Please don’t let my buddies from the local club show up right now!” You know that they’ll be the first to say, “WOW! How much are you paying for that Paretroplus menarambo? That’s like a $50 fish. You didn’t get it from the ‘All cichlids $7’ tank, did you? That must have been a mistake!”
No, no no!
You rush home with your new found acquisition, all the while praying that you’re not being followed by the LFS employee, who suddenly realized his/her mistake! You even vary the route home, just in case there is someone tailing you! Yeah, you’ve watched all of the Bourne movies..You race online, and confirm what you already knew: That was a SCORE!
A mixture of guilt and contentment, right?
We’ve all had this guilty pleasure before; this moral quandary: The exhilaration, dashed with a tinge of guilt at having “beaten the system.” Of course, you rationalize that it’s better that the fish end up in the hands of the person best suited for its care: YOU!
As both a hobbyist and a business owner having been on both sides of the fence before. On one hand, you "should know better" if you're in this game- it's your livelihood. On the other hand, we're only human. Mistakes happen, especially at shows or during sales, when there is lots of chaos and people and distraction. You could have put something back in the wrong place, right next to the less expensive, almost look-alike (when the rare coral is not under optimum conditions) species, or simply not caught it when you were shuffling stuff, unpacking a shipment...whatever. Or maybe, you simply couldn't ID the “boring” cichlid anyways...Human error.
Now, there are just a few "hobbyists" who live for this kind of stuff. Want to "burn" the LFS to "get back at them for spending all that money over the years"...or to "teach them" some kind of "business lesson." Whatever. They're probably the same kind of guys that hope someone calls in a bomb threat to their work, so they get the day off. Yeah. Few and far in between, mercifully...but out there, nonetheless.
A lot of fish geeks score cool stuff because they simply see something no one else can see in an otherwise "ordinary" animal. They have a "gut feeling" or hunch about something, and it turns out to be correct beyond their wildest dreams. Nothing really wrong there. Sometimes an ugly duckling simply turns out to be a swan. No more quandary there.
On the other hand, as a hobbyist, do you have a moral obligation to tell the LFS person they screwed up when you KNOW they mislabeled that incredibly rare specimen, or when the new guy nets the wrong one in a crowded tank? I've actually had the good fortune to have had people point out stuff like that to me before...usually happens on day 3 of a conference, when you're sleep deprived, hungry, and thinking about catching your afternoon flight home. And it's appreciated, believe me.
On the other hand, it sometimes happens when a coral or fish just doesn't show well, and is misclassified or otherwise gives a nondescript appearance that would throw just about ANYONE off. So, you played a hunch and it turned out to be right. Or maybe, just maybe, you like dull fish...or your significant other felt sorry for it and you bought it to appease him/her, especially after that incident last week, when the calcium reactor overflowed onto the new hardwood floor...Perhaps no one at the LFS would have believed you anyways, because they paid $2 for that unnamed wild Betta species, and probably gave their jobber or employee a hard time about throwing in some "box filler" like that.
Sigh...so, that's the way that "scores" happen. Good, bad, right or wrong...they happen. And some hobbyists win...Perhaps even the LFS feels they got the best part of the deal, because they finally got rid of that grey fish or coral that always looks closed up- good riddance, in their opinion. Kharma, or just a confluence of random stuff?
So, time for confessions. Who has had such a score? What did you score? And how did things work out?
Pics and stories encouraged!
Take it from here¦
And as always...