Auction Rules

CAFE Member Benefits:

As stated above, CAFE members who are current with their dues will get an extra priority sticker and one free express bid per auction. They also receive $5 off when registering for the SWAP meet. This is a small way to thank our dues paying members who support our programs and allow the club to survive. If someone registers as a member at an auction, they receive these benefits immediately. We always welcome guests to all our events, and want to encourage out of town guests from other clubs to attend our events, so the seller split for members and non-members will remain identical at 70/30.

If you have any further questions or seek clarification of any of the above rules, please contact us and let us know.


  • Auction will be held at the Franklin County Fairgrounds - Ganyard Building, located at 5043 Northwest Parkway, Hilliard Ohio 43026.
  • Auction items may consist of Fish, Plants, Inverts & New and Gently Used Dry Goods. (Dry Goods are limited to 5 total items per person/family ).
  • No express bidding until the priority items are all auctioned. Once the priority items are all sold, we will open Express bids including (New and Rare). The buyer pays $3 to express it. The item will be auctioned as soon as possible. (Usually within a minute or two).
  • **No Native Ohio Aquatic species are allowed** These items, if not picked up, will be donated to anyone willing to take them.
  • All fish must be 1" or greater except for Nano fish. Nano fish can be 1/2"-3/4" or greater.
  • There is a 70/30 Seller/Club Split.
  • Registration for sellers and buyers begins at 9:30 AM.
  • The Auction starts at 11:00 AM.
  • CAFE is NOT responsible for any accidents.
  • CAFE is NOT responsible for any misrepresentation of fish.


  • The auction split is 70/30. The seller receives 70% of the selling price, CAFE gets the remaining 30%.
  • All fish must be 1" or greater except for Nano fish. Nano fish can be 1/2"-3/4" or greater.
  • There is a bag limit of 5 bags of fish/plants per species or colour variant (“Bag” limits pertain to dry goods as well. Please contact us if you have questions on bag limits)
  • For every 5 items, the seller gets one priority sticker for items to be sold first in the auction (priority stickers can be used on fish or auctioned dry goods). CAFE members current in their dues receive an additional priority sticker.
  • CAFE now offers a “Minimum Bid” option to attract more variety. Sellers can set a minimum bid for a non-refundable fee of $2/item at the time of registration. Items not meeting the minimum bid will be returned to the seller. The unsold item can then be re-entered without a minimum bid or taken home. Minimum bid items that fail to sell and are not claimed by the end of the auction become donations to CAFE.
  • CAFE reserves the right to refuse to sell any fish believed sick or deformed.
  • All items must be checked in by CAFE before being placed with the other ready-to-auction items. Any issues spotted during check-in will be addressed at that time.
  • Sellers will be mailed a check for the amount of their auction proceeds, generally within two to four weeks of the auction.

Proper Bagging Guidelines for Sellers:

  • Bags should contain approximately 1/3 water, 2/3 air.
  • All fish must be double-bagged. No exceptions!
  • All fish must be 1" or greater except for Nano fish. Nano fish can be 1/2"-3/4" or greater.
  • No twist ties or zip lock bags.
  • Large fish should be bucketed.
  • For emergencies, bags and rubber bands are available for $0.25/bag.
  • Improperly bagged fish must be rebagged. If the seller cannot be found (or would rather we do it for them), CAFE staff will rebag the item(s). A rebagging fee of $2/bag will be deducted from the proceeds of the seller.
  • Please keep in mind, some fish might be in these bags for up to 24 hours.

Labelling Guidelines for Sellers:

  • Fish must be labelled as to what scientific and/or common name they are known by. Good labelling typically fetches a better price.
  • The number of fish and sex (if known) must be labelled on the bag. Good labelling typically fetches a better price.
  • All items must be labelled with a three-letter seller code (e.g. your initials) and successive numbers (e.g. 1 through 15). Bags without proper seller code are considered donations to CAFE. Please do NOT label your bags/items with random numbers.
  • Placing seller's name and phone number, e-mail or website on each bag is required to help exchange information about the fish.
  • Labelling Hybrids and unknown fish: See the section titled “Special Rules for Selling Hybrids”

Late registration for sellers:

  • CAFE has always been very understanding of late registration. We understand that it is sometimes difficult to arrive on time, especially for out-of-town guests. We appreciate that the vast majority of local sellers register on time. Therefore, historically, the club has never felt the need to penalize sellers who register late. Their items will be placed on the tables and selected at random, just as everyone else. If the sale of priority items is complete or almost complete, the late registering seller may not receive priority stickers. This is at the discretion of the registration table. Again, thanks to everyone for making the effort to arrive on time so that there is no need to penalize late registrants.

Special Rules for Selling Hybrids:

  • Hybrids are permitted to be sold, but they must be clearly labelled as such.
  • Well-known hybrids which are established in the hobby just need to be identified with their trade name (for example OB peacock, Dragonblood peacock, common swordtails and platies).
  • Nonstandard crosses need to be labelled “HYBRID” or “POSSIBLE HYBRID”. (Example: Malawi or Victorian cichlids with an unknown father.) Unfortunately, all clubs are now facing a problem where hybrid fish are sold as a pure breed when they are clearly not. Fish will be checked during check-in and throughout the day. A fish that is clearly a hybrid and is not labelled as such will be relabeled as “HYBRID” and considered a club donation.
  • It is also acceptable to enter a fish as “Unknown Malawi Cichlid” or “Unknown rift lake cichlid” when the seller does not know what it is. This is preferred to the seller guessing the identity of a fish. Mislabeled fish will be relabeled and considered a club donation.

Special Rules for Dry Goods:

  • Due to lack of interest in the “Buy It Now” area, it has been discontinued. Therefore, only items on the permitted list will be allowed to be brought to the auction.
  • Sellers are allowed to submit five dry goods to the auction. Note, this means five dry goods in total. These five items must be from the permitted list. If you have a question about an item which does not appear on either the permitted list or restricted list, please email CAFE. Contact information is at https://www.columbusfishclub.org/
  • All mechanical/electric items must be tested by the seller and be functional. For example, it is no longer permitted to submit a heater, filter or light as “untested”.
  • Grab bags: Sellers are encouraged to combine small items into grab bags. To encourage this practice, sellers will be allowed to combine nonperishable and Non bulky non permitted items with permitted items in a grab bag an enter it into the auction. In other words, rocks, substrate, food, chemicals, and test kits can not be added to a grab bag in the live auction. Permitted Example: a seller brings in a box containing:
    • working and clean canister filter (permitted)
    • four aquarium thermometers (not normally allowed)
    • ten airstones, (not normally allowed)
    • some airline tubing (not normally allowed)
    • This box will be allowed to be entered as a grab bag into the live auction, and the box will be sold as one lot.

Items permitted into the live auction (Limit 5 total items per seller. Also, items must be in working, good condition):

  • Aquariums (Must be clean, No cracks or chips)
  • Aquarium Stands
  • Driftwood (Must be in good condition)
  • Working Heaters and Lights
  • Electronic Water Test Instruments
  • Hang on the Back, Canister or Unused Sponge Filters
  • CO2 Tanks, Diffusors, Regulators, etc.
  • Canopies
  • Water pumps
  • Air pumps and Blowers
  • Commercially made Ceramic/pottery caves (pleco caves, apisto huts, etc)
  • Powerheads
  • Commercially made speciality aquarium electronics and mechanical devices (example: Korallin denitrators, Eheim surface skimmers)
  • Live food cultures
  • Books
  • Gravel cleaners/pythons
  • Oxygen tanks and accessories
  • Alder cones, Almond leaves, and other tannin producers
  • Poret foam
  • Working pH meters, TDS meters and other electronic testing equipment.
  • Commercial Egg Tumblers

Donated Dry Goods:

Occasionally the club receives brand-new merchandise from sponsors. These items will be allowed into the live auction at CAFE’s discretion. This may cause items on the restricted list to enter the auction. Cans of food and chemicals donated directly from the manufacturer will be unopened and not expired, so there is no worry about quality. Items donated by hobbyists to CAFE will generally need to meet the criteria listed above.


  • Buyers must register at the  Registration Table with a valid driver’s license or State Of Ohio Valid ID.
  • Cash, check, and now credit cards are accepted with proper ID. CAFE reserves the right to refuse check payments from people blacklisted by other clubs for bounced checks.
  • Buyers can request immediate auctioning of an item for an “express bid” fee of $3 paid to CAFE. Please keep in mind; paying for priority bidding does not guarantee you will be the high bidder.

Rebagging station and buyer disputes:

There will be a rebagging station at the event. CAFE makes every effort to check fish during check in, but it is difficult due to the fast pace of check-in. We want all fish to arrive home safely. If you purchase a fish which needs rebagging, please bring it to the rebagging station, and it will be rebagged for free. If you purchase a fish which is mislabeled, diseased, or damaged, please bring this to the attention of a CAFE official immediately (before the auction ends) so we can remedy it then. Once the auction ends, it is very difficult for the club to help you, so please inspect all fish and dry goods purchased.

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