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THE MEETING OF A "FISH GOD"; By Eric Bodrock

IanFullerEric_small.jpg(21981 bytes)My season of touring fish events traditionally ends each year in late November with the Ohio Cichlid Association's annual Cichlid Extravaganza, which features both Cichlids and Catfish.  The Extravaganza, thanks to the great team of organizers, proves to be an outstanding event that seems to grow in size and popularity year after year.  The highlight for me on the 2003 trip was to finally meet in person the "Cory God" of the UK , Ian Fuller. 

I had first heard of Ian years ago through talk amongst hobbyist and in writings.  He is well known as one of the top Cory breeders in the world.  I remember years ago, shortly after I discovered the world of computers and emailing, sending off an email to Ian asking him about a problem I was having with some Cory fry.  After exchanging emails for several weeks I asked if it would be okay if I were to call him via telephone, he replied with his number and a good time to call.  We spent about forty minutes talking about Corys and our other experiences in fish keeping.  At that time, Ian had never been to the United States and I thought that I would probably never have a chance to meet him in person; I was excited that I had the opportunity to talk to him.  Since that conversation, Ian has traveled to fish events in the United States four times to give a presentation on Corydoras.  I was not able to attend his first three visits, but as luck would have it, Ian was scheduled as a speaker at the 2003 OCA Extravaganza!

I arrived early afternoon on the first day of the event and checked into my room and unpacked.  Shortly afterwards I was on my way to the registration area to pick up my show information pack and ID tag.  On the way, a friend stopped me to exchange greetings.  As we talked for a few minutes, several more people gathered to the side of me.  As I turned to move on, I glanced to my side to see who had approached and much to my surprise, there stood Ian Fuller!  Ian's hand was already extended as another friend introduced him to me.  For a couple of seconds I felt a bit of an idiot that I didn't realize that Ian had been standing next to me for a few moments.  That feeling quickly passed as we shook hands and began talking.  The rest of that day quickly became a non-stop rush of enthusiasm, everywhere you turned you were met with a "Hey how ya doin" and a handshake.  I lost track of Ian as the crowds of fish people moved about. 

Around eleven o'clock that night, after several scheduled speakers finished, about thirty people gathered with Ian to talk Corys.  We all participated in an open discussion as Ian presented an unscheduled slide show featuring Corys.  What an excellent time, viewing photos of Corys (many new and rare species), talking catfish and drinking beer way past the midnight hour.  I went to my room about four in the morning to get some sleep as a group of hardcore hobbyist continued to party on!

Ian gave his scheduled Corydoras program late the next morning; the talk was excellent!  Afterwards, Dale Davison, Eric Cappy, Scott Voelker, Ian and myself went out for a bite to eat.  Good food, cold drinks and the exchange of stories resulted in an enjoyable lunch.

Back at the hotel, a group of us gathered around Ian and his lap top computer as he gave us a preview of a new Corydoras book he is working on.  As he scrolled page after page, he added comments and answered questions and we all exchanged opinions; much of what lead to laughs amongst us!  I must add, that the book is going to be a "must have" for anyone interested in Corydoras.  By the end of that afternoon, I was jokingly calling Ian "Dad", as I felt he was passing along information and knowledge that I would need to know as I grew in the world of Corydoras.

The second day finished late again as a large gathering of people met at the OCA's hospitality room for food, drinks and good times.  I was only able to hang with the crowd till about three in the morning when I headed to my room for the night.  "Dad" was still going strong, adding that the beer in the United States is rather weak. (I know I'll never bet against him in a beer-drinking contest!)

Sunday morning everyone was rushing about finishing last minute deals on fish that folks were selling from their rooms and getting ready for the huge auction.  Ian said his good-byes to all as he was off to the airport by early afternoon.  Scott Voelker, who I drove to the event with, and I left mid-afternoon as the auction continued on.  The excitement of the event continued as Scott and I relived the weekend's events on the drive home.

I received an email from Ian a couple of days later when he arrived home safe and sound from his travels.  Getting that email was probably the highlight of the entire event for me, as the subject line reads "Hi Son"!

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