Tank tops & tips
Five months after a debut at Matunga's Ruia College, a mammoth fish exhibition returns to the venue today, buoyed by its earlier success
After reading this, you may be justified in wondering why they call a group of fish a ‘school’ of fish. A ‘college’ of fish would be more apt. Just five months after the Ramnarain Ruia College in Matunga played host to an exhibition called, Aqua Life 2012, where 200 species of fish were displayed at the college premises from May 24 to May 28, fish are swimming to the fore again, at the well-known Matunga institution.
The second Aqua Life exhibition begins today at Ruia and like those cheesy advertising hoardings pushing products say this one promises to be ‘bigger and better’ than the last. Guaranteed to make you stare open-mouthed in wonder, a little like a goldfish, perhaps?
Say the organizers, Laukik Creations along with the Central Institute of Fisheries Education (CIFE), “We are going to display more than 500 rare and endangered species this time, up from the 200 we had last time. Large fishes like the Shark, Piranha, Scar, Catfish and Discus in huge tanks are, we are sure, going to capture maximum eyeballs. There are going to be 120 tanks.” Some of the fishes on display are going to be the Moustached Danio, Dwarf Anchor Catfish, Azure Blue Danio, Rainbow Algaeater, Turquoise Danio, Sparkling Torrent Fish, Striped Hill Trout, Leopard Loach, Exclaimed Barb and Jewel Killi Panchax.
The Aqua Life exhibition is returning, “we received an overwhelming response from the public in our five-day exhibition with over 35,000 visitors from May 24 to 28 in Mumbai. The sheer demand has made us do a re-visit the show,” say the organizers. Laukik Soman, who is based in Pune, had said about his first exhibition in the city, “In my first exhibition I wanted to inculcate a love and understanding of these creatures in people. Those who visit the exhibition must go back with a feeling that they need to have a fish in their home. Having a fish as a pet, transforms people’s lives in a certain way. With a pet, one becomes less focused on oneself, as you now have something else to care for. It can certainly change your life, in profound and very happy ways,” Soman had explained, speaking from experience, one could conclude as he has several fish in his home.
Even before Aqua Life came to Mumbai in May 2012, it had been held both in Pune and Nashik where it had a “tremendous” response in the organizer’s words. In Pune there were approximately 25,000 visitors and in Nashik 15,000 had came in to view the exhibition.
Last time, the fishes were brought in by fish lovers who collect fish as a hobby. Most of them were from Mumbai, and there were others who deal in fish commercially, like selling aquarium tanks and related accessories. This time, the experts say, “The fishes have been acquired from cities and towns in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, and the Konkan region of Maharashtra.” A dash of international flavour is part of this show. Some aqua life from Singapore and Bangkok is also going to be on display.
The exhibition will put up certain birth certificates of the fish on the display. Those in charge say they will disseminate information on, “Species of flora besides how to display tanks and even landscaped aquariums.” For those inspired by these floating coloured beings on display and fired up enough to keep a small tank at home, the exhibition would also provide information about instruments needed to be set up an aquarium and how to use them. “It would explain where to keep a fish tank as per Vastushastra, too,” said Soman, adding, “We will also have a huge display of 18 feet of exotic plants.”
The emphasis is on the big ‘E’ -- education with W S Lakra, director, CIFE saying, "we want to give knowledge about fishes and aqua culture.” From the experts statements it is evident that keeping fishes and maintaining a tank is about developing a sense of aqua culture. It is an acquired skill, which can be learned from books and better still, in real life, at exhibitions like these that focus on the complete package.
Soman signs off with a dash of gillosophy (a self-coined term for fish philosophy). He says, “Even doctors have agreed that stress can be reduced by 50 per cent by observing a fish tank for 15 minutes.” In a city where de-stressing is the mantra, add looking at fish as the latest way to zone out. If that’s too profound -- then simply tank up for a (f)intoxicating time.