Saturday, October 13, 2018

Fish Club Auction: How to Bid Like a Boss

So you want to participate in your first fish club auction, buuut you’ve never been to one before and have no idea what you’re doing. Keep reading to find out how to bid like a boss and win big at your next auction.

While I may look confident in my videos, I’m actually a huge introvert and I definitely get nervous about participating in auctions. Just to let you know, I’m not a huge spender who’s constantly collecting new fish and supplies, especially since I only have room for 3 tanks in my house. But auctions can offer amazing deals or rare species you’ll never find online. And another huge advantage is that sellers bring fish and plants that have been living in my local water parameters and therefore have a better chance of thriving in my aquariums.

My problem is that auctions move at a very fast pace and I don’t want to accidentally do something wrong, make a big scene, and slow down the bidding process for everyone. Plus, uh, no one seems to notice me when I raise my hand. ğŸ˜ž

Fall auction for Colorado Aquarium Society

Now our huge bi-annual fall auction is coming up and I want to be able to win some stuff and not get lost among the larger-than-normal crowds. One of our fish club auctioneers gave us this piece of advice:
“The myth of the auction is that skillful bidding or special strategy will get you the deal of the century. It seems obvious but if you really want an item, you have to bid higher than everybody else’s bids. That’s the only strategy that gets you that item.
Okay, got it. So I started watching others more carefully during the mini-auctions we hold at the end of each fish club meeting, and then eventually gained enough confidence to start selling and buying myself. Here are some practices I follow:

People examining sale items before aquarium society auction
People crowded around the sale item table before the auction begins

1) Examine: Most fish clubs will let you examine the items before the auction or even online if they use an auction website. Definitely check out the items carefully because sometimes those red cherry shrimp for sale aren't very, uh, red.

2) Research: Once you’ve decided which items you’re interested in, pull out your smartphone and find out how much the items cost online including shipping. This will help you determine what your upper limit is. For example, I saw some alternanthera reineckii that cost $9-10 online, plus $5-8 for shipping. So I decided to set my upper limit at $15 because I really wanted it.

Alternanthera reineckii for sale at aquarium society auction
Look at that crazy red-pink color! Must have it...

3) Location: Try to score a seat near the middle front of the room so the auctioneer can easily see you. (Or at the very least, don't sit behind someone tall.)

4) First Comes First: When your item gets called, shoot up your hand (or bid card) as fast as you can, like a game show. You want to be the first person the auctioneer spots and calls on.

5) Don't Waffle: Don't keep dipping your hand down between bids. Keep your hand raised confidently until it surpasses your predetermined budget. Generally the bidding will slow down around the market value, so don’t give up.

6) Next in Line: Also, usually the auctioneer will focus on the first two bidders until one gives up, and then he or she will look for a third bidder to jump in. So if the auctioneer didn’t select you initially and bidding is slowing down, wave your hand high and vigorously. You can even stand up or say something to catch the auctioneer's attention because if he or she doesn’t notice you, the bidding will end without your input.

Fiddler crabs for sale at local aquarium society auction
Fiddler crabs for sale at the fall auction

Bonus Tip: Sit with an experienced fish club member and ask them to help you bid the first few times. It'll be good practice to shadow them until you're ready to fly solo.

If you check out the video above, I go through three real-world bidding situations and you can see why I was intimidated by auctions at first. But there’s a certain rhythm to every sale and eventually you get used to it. Since I took that footage, I’ve sold a Windelov java fern and ended up bonding with the woman who bought it. Plus I did get that alternanthera reineckii for $9 (which is significantly less than my $15 limit) and it’s growing beautifully in my planted betta tank!

Question of the Day

Do you have any tips for bidding at fish club auctions Comment below to share your experiences because I’d love to hear them. Also, if you'd like to learn more about how local fish clubs work and why you should join, check out my interview with the Colorado Aquarium Society president. Don’t forget to take time to enjoy your aquariums and I’ll see you next time!

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