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CAOAC Meeting Minutes - Nov 7, 2023

Meeting Time: 7h30pm Venue: Zoom

Topics: Welcome; Introductions of Executive and Attendees Present at Beginning; 2024 CAOAC Convention Discussion; Designation of a Club CAOAC Representative; Inform Us of Your Executive Officers and Emails; Designation of a Club Fish Rescue Agent; Importance of the CAOAC Fish Rescue Programme; The Possibility of a Caoac Auction Independent of a Convention; Financial Update; CAOAC Membership Draw Initiative; Events, Happenings, News Updates - CAOAC Website/Facebook Page; Next General CAOAC Meeting: CAOAC CONVENTION 2024; Adjournment.

Item 1: Introductions
*The General Meeting was called to order and the Caoac Executives and attendees gave a brief background about their positions and interests in the hobby. This gave everyone a chance to know the Caoac officers better, but also served well to foster cross club communication and friendships. Caoac sees the introductions as a team building activity and that by knowing each other better we can pave the way to work better together on future progress vital to all member clubs.

Frank Aguirre, President, Caoac: Frank is a self described professional aquarist with a lifelong interest in the hobby. As president, Frank strives to promote the aquarium hobby broadly by supporting clubs, encouraging more clubs to join CAOAC and by highlighting why keeping tropical fish is actually beneficial to ecology.
Ernest Biktimirov, 1st Vice President, Caoac: Ernest grew up in Uzbekistan keeping fish from the age of 6 years old. He has been a member of the St Catharines & Area Aquarium Society for 20 years and living in the Niagara Region for the same amount of time. Ernest is excited to have the opportunity to encourage the aquarium hobby in Canada in his first year on the CAOAC Executive.

Ann Marie Towell, 2nd Vice President, Caoac: Ann Marie is from Calgary, Alberta and has been the 2nd Vice President of Caoac for approximately 10 years. She is also the Vice President of the Calgary Aquarium Society. Ann Marie heads up the CAOAC National Fish Rescue Programme.
Albert van Montfort, Treasurer, Caoac Albert has been the Treasurer of Caoac for approximately 10 years. He started in the role of Treasurer first at the Hamilton District Aquarium Society. Albert is currently also a member of the Durham Region Aquarium Society. Dave Holland, Recording Secretary, Caoac: Dave has been serving in the role of Recording Secretary for three years. Prior to this role, he was the CAOAC Representative Liaison Officer, and Editor for the PRAC Hi Fin Magazine. Dave started keeping tropical fish at 9 years of age, but took a couple decades off from the hobby. He is a member of the Peel Region Aquarium Club, St Catharines & Area Aquarium Society, Hamilton District Aquarium Society and Betta Breeders Canada. Dave also is the Creator of five online aquarium hobby groups.
Cindy Barrett, Corresponding Secretary, Caoac: Cindy started her adventure in fishkeeping as a teacher with tanks set up in the classroom for the children. The St Catharines & Area Aquarium Society assisted her with the tanks and she became involved with the Society and the hobby moreso. Cindy and her husband Phil Barrett now have a fishroom with 31 tanks. She has been the Corresponding Secretary for CAOAC for four years and acted as Ways and Means prior to that for Caoac. Cindy is also the current Vice President of the St. Catharines Club.
Michael Beat, Webmaster, Caoac: Michael is a member of the Peel Regional Aquarium Club (PRAC), the PRAC Secretary and has been the CAOAC Webmaster since February of 2023. He has gained experience in this area from many years of maintaining club websites, including sites for fish clubs & pigeon clubs. Michael maintains a personal fishroom and also very much enjoys breeding aquarium fish. He is in charge of the CAOAC Breeders Award Program.
Nancy Egelton, Past President, Caoac: Nancy has been keepingfish for more than 50 years. She currently maintains 50 tanks in her fishroom and is the founder and current president of the Trans Canada Guppy Group (TCGG). She is focusing attention on organising a world show for the TCGG, and is part of the CAOAC broader board as an advisor.
Dennis Bolaños Dennis is the current Treasurer of the “Société d’aquariophilie de Montréal (SAM)” and has been acting in this role since 2020. Dennis credits his brother-in-law for introducing him to the fishkeeping hobby which he first started in 2018.

Lise Durocher Lise is the current Vice President of the “Société d’aquariophilie de Montréal (SAM)”, and member of other clubs (Montreal Aquarium Society) where she enjoys organising events like auctions. While she enjoys fishkeeping, she especially enjoys meeting and interacting with other fish hobbyists who share her passion.
Colin Seeto Colin is a dedicated, active member of the GTA Club (Greater Toronto Area). He has been keeping fish for 50 years. His objective is to try to build up the GTA Club and is pleased to take part in the CAOAC meetings.
Louis Gauvin Louis started fishkeeping at age 14, and is now the current Webmaster on the Executive of the “Société d’aquariophilie de Montréal (SAM)”. He is forming a “Convention Committee'' and wishes to attend the 2024 Convention in order to learn more about all aspects of the Convention to better plan to host a Caoac Convention in the near future.

Jeff Mountjoy Jeff started in the hobby at age 14 with an Oscar and is the current president of the Barrie Region Aquarium Society of Simcoe (BRASS) as well as the CAOAC Representative for the 12 year old club. Jeff studied aquaculture in school and has been involved in the aquaculture and pet industry since 1988.
Mike Majer Mike is a past president of the Hamilton & Area Aquarium Society and current CAOAC Representative. He has been working for Big Al’s Pet Supercentre in Hamilton for 16 years. Mike is venturing into guest speaking on aquarium topics.
Jose Divino Jose is a member belonging to the Peel Regional Aquarium Club (PRAC). He operates an aquarium cleaning/service maintenance business with 300 clients per year and enjoys being a member of the aquarium society.
Annie Girard Annie is in her second year as Secretary for the “Sociétéd’aquariophilie de Montréal(SAM)”. After a break, she returned to the hobby in 2020. She particularly enjoys watching her fish, but more broadly is interested in anything to do with marine life and public aquariums. Annie enjoys the club events, the people and the interesting fish and plants that can be found at the auctions.
Derek Hebbes Derek is a member and the CAOAC representative for the Durham Region Aquarium Society (DRAS). He is also a member of the Trans Canada Guppy Group and Peel Regional Aquarium Club. Derek took an interest in fishkeeping as a toddler, and has been keeping fish for approximately 50 years. He managed a pet store for a time and enjoys the aquarium societies as well as their related events.

Item 2: 2024 CAOAC Convention Discussion 1. The CAOAC Executive has started to consider what a 2024 CAOAC Convention will look like. It is a large-scale annual event that requires some planning. The 2023 convention with the Canadian Aquatic Expo was successful given the high level of public interaction. 40,000 people were visiting the event daily. It was an excellent opportunity to promote that aquarium societies exist all over Canada that are not only for experts but are open to beginners. The Aquatic Expo was also a useful way to emerge from the pandemic with many clubs experiencing fluctuating memberships and only starting to organise their associations at the Club level. 2. The annual fund raising for CAOAC/RSAC itself was compromised, out of necessity to accommodate the umbrella conditions of the Expo. Dry goods were not allowed to be sold and there could not be the usual live action with fish or plants. While continuing with Expo remains an option for the future, it may need fine tuning, and it is undetermined if the Expo is a long term “good fit” for the Caoac convention every year. It should be stated that CAOAC has always had some presence at the Expo, but 2023 is the first year a Convention was featured there. 3. Past President, Nancy Egelton, reminds us that CAOAC cannot run conventions single handedly as it does not have the finances or manpower to do so without the help of a club or clubs. There is no rule about the time of year a Convention must be held (i.e., a convention does not have to be on the May 24th weekend as has been traditional over the years) 4. Frank Aguirre, president, recalled the “Société d’aquariophilie de Montréal (SAM)” Executive expressed serious interest in holding a Caoac Convention over the last year at various CAOAC meetings, and offered CAOAC’sfirm support for a convention in Montréal. 5. Louis Gauvin, Executive officer of SAM, informed the meeting that while Montréal was hoping to host the 2024 CAOAC Convention, the existing SAM Convention Committee, currently composed of five directors, does not feel 2024 is the right year to hold the Convention, given other obligations that key players in the Club have that year and given a need to learn much more about organising a convention. 6. Louis Gauvin, along with the other SAM Executives, expressed a strong interest in hosting the Convention in 2025 and offered to assist with the 2024 one. SAM echoed concerns about holding a joint venture with Pet Expo because the Club wishes to feature their super auction around the Convention and this would not be possible in a Pet Expo scenario. It is understood that CAOAC also needs to make some money, and SAM would be willing to incorporate those needs in some way (e.g. dry goods etc). 7. S.A.M. has more than a few key decision-makers who have organised events on the Board and the meeting was told that the fishkeeping hobby is alive and well in Montreal generally. It is expected there will be interest in such a convention from a public perspective. The City hosts at least 4 events per year that are directly related to fishkeeping (Coral/Saltwater Event in Sept, Aquariums, Corals & Reptiles Event in March, and the two SAM Super Auctions to name a few).

8. SAM Executives also voiced concerns about language at their proposed 2025 Convention. Many of their 85 active members are unilingual francophone, but their concern also extends to the speakers who would be available. Historic experience where renowned speakers from the US present in English and an individual acts as an interpreter has been less than satisfactory, as half of the content is not expressed in the target language. They admit that they have not explored all of the modern technology used for interpretation. It was suggested that speakers from Belgium and/or France would be ideal from a speaker point of view. Nancy Egelton, former CAOAC president indicated that in her travels as an international guppy judge, the language is not always English, and she has had to adapt with the use of interpretation programmes. This is an area SAM welcomes some assistance in brainstorming solutions when the time comes. 9. The CAOAC Board decided to formally invite all clubs across Canada to host a convention in the form of an email and to hold the next General Meeting (Dec 11/23) to specifically talk about Conventions and which club or clubs may be interested in hosting a 2024 Convention given that Montreal wishes to wait one more year. This will be a general discussion of the Caoac Convention, its importance and the role of Caoac. Clubs are welcome to ask questions. If your club is considering a Convention, we wish to help with any planning as soon as possible. It seems early to discuss plans still in 2023, but the time will pass quickly. Item 3: Designation of a Club CAOAC Representative Caoac asks that you designate a CAOAC Representative at your club to act as a liaison officer between your Executive and the CAOAC officers. You can name the club president, but it is useful to name another individual in case the president is unavailable to attend meetings. Also, in the case of clubs with 30 or more paid, reported members, and the privilege of more votes, those clubs must have another individual present other than the president to take advantage of all votes. Recall: “No one person may cast more than one vote”, as according to CAOAC/RSAC Bylaws. *Note: The designation of a CAOAC Representative is required to participate in the CAOAC/RSAC membership draw. Item 4: Please Inform Us of Your Executive Officers and Emails Updating the list of Executives and emails at the aquarium societies nationwide is a constant job and many have introduced new people onto their boards. We wish to send important emails to the right people in your Club in a timely manner. Please submit the names and updated emails to us. If there are Board members that have retired from the role, that is also useful information for us to update files. Please submit this data to: Cindy Barrett Please also check the website to ensure information about your club is correct. We welcome corrections. Contact the website directly with corrections about your club details or Michael Beat, CAOAC Webmaster:

Item 5: Designation of a Club Fish Rescue Agent On the CAOAC/RSAC Membership Form we ask each club to designate a Fish Rescue Agent and provide their email. *This individual will not be responsible for taking custody of rescue fish whatsoever*. The fish rescue agent will assist a person who needs help rehoming rescue fish by offering perhaps the name of local fish stores that may accept rescues, or even find out if anyone in the Club is interested. There may be a list to give out of local internet sites or local Facebook groups where the fish can be readily rehomed. Your club may already be doing this informally. Caoac receives about three rescue requests per week across the nation (Source: Ann Marie Towell, CAOAC Fish Rescue), so we would just like to have a reference for an individual who may be looking for help in each area of the country. A recent example seen was a father trying to rehome his deceased son’s goldfish. 2nd Vice President of Caoac, Ann Marie Towell (C.A.S.) heads up the CAOAC Fish Rescue Program. Under no circumstances is money to be offered in any rescue. Again, the Fish Rescue Agent will not be responsible for adopting any fish personally. *Note: The designation of a Club Fish Rescue Agent is required to participate in the CAOAC/RSAC membership draw. Item 6: Importance of the CAOAC Fish Rescue Programme This programme is not only intended to help people who find themselves having to rehome fish for unexpected reasons, but it also provides a platform to educate all Club members and the public broadly. Unwanted fish or plants should never be released into the local waterways. They are not part of our local flora and fauna and present serious problems for the existing life in those waterways. They can become invasive. Invasive species actually negatively impact biodiversity by taking over native species of both aquatic plants and animals. Once these issues occur, significant effort and money is required to attempt to manage them. Generally, invasive species can harm the local economy, industry, and affect human health and community wellbeing. Activist groups who disagree with the tropical fishkeeping hobby will cite these issues. It’s important that CAOAC is proactive on this front and actively participates with partners to help curb any behaviour that may contribute to this serious problem. Responsible fishkeeping is a key goal of CAOAC and memberclubs. *It was decided to adopt a motion put forth by 1st vice president, Ernest Biktimirov, that CAOAC develop an article for the CAOAC website on the issues around invasive species, and what actions can be taken. It would be best if this article was written to focus on the general public, and not only seasoned fish keepers in aquarium clubs. The website may well be accessed by the general public interested in this topic. Frank Aguirre will begin to put some thoughts together as a framework for this article. Note: Nancy Egelton, former CAOAC President, also offered to turn over her fish rescue contacts in Central Canada to Frank Aguirre/Ann Marie Towell to help the programme transition with the new leadership change.

Item 7: The Possibility of a Caoac Auction Independent of a Convention As mentioned, the annual fundraising auction for CAOAC/RSAC itself was compromised, out of necessity to accommodate the umbrella conditions of the Expo in 2023. The notion of a CAOAC auction independent of a Convention is under discussion. Dave Holland, CAOAC Recording Secretary proposed the idea of joint ventures with smaller clubs like Peel Regional Aquarium Club (PRAC) who do not have the manpower to run an auction at this time. It was mentioned that the GTA Club may also be interested in this joint venture idea and the president of BRASS expressed some interest. Frank Aguirre discussed how the auction would benefit both parties, and in the case of CAOAC, help to compensate for revenue not earned at a 2023 CAOAC auction. This may be one or two auctions that CAOAC would hold as this is yet undetermined, but some clubs, like PRAC, are interested in exploring the idea further at this point. The auctions would not be held in conflict with existing auction dates. It would especially help smaller clubs because many people find out about the Clubs by way of the auctions, and actually decide to join. Louis Gauvin, S.A.M. Executive, suggested that CAOAC contact sponsors for such auctions to donate products to help boost auction revenues, a successful formula at SAM. Item 8: Financial Update ● Albert Van Montfort, CAOAC Treasurer, presented the current bank account balance. Albert reported that the Bank Statement for November was not yet received. Members were given an opportunity to ask any questions about thefinances. ● CAOAC ZOOM account is paid up until May 6/24 ● Wix website is paid up for a full year ● CAOAC Membership fees are being kept at half price for this year to help clubs recover from the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic Item 9: CAOAC Membership Draw Initiative All CAOAC clubs have the chance to win $150 this fall by participating in the draw organised by the Canadian Association of Aquarium Clubs CAOAC/RSAC. To Participate in the Draw, Your Club Must: • “Completely” fill out the CAOAC/RSAC Membership/Insurance Form • Pay membership fees and insurance fees (if applicable) • Designate a fish rescue agent and provide their email address • Designate a CAOAC/RSAC liaison officer and indicate their email address • Indicate the number of members who have paid their dues • All fees must be paid and the CAOAC membership form received by Dec 15/23 • If taking insurance through CAOAC, please include your postal code.

DRAW DEADLINE: Membership and insurance fees (if applicable) must be paid and the fully completed membership form received no later than December 15, 2023, without exception. You can pay by electronic transfer or cheque. 1. Email to pay by electronic transfer: 2. You can make a payment to CAOAC/RSAC by cheque. Make your cheque payable to “CANADIAN ASSOCIATION OF AQUARIUM CLUBS” and mail it to the following address: Albert van Montfort, Treasurer – CAOAC/RSAC, 606 Stonebridge Lane, Pickering, Ontario, L1W383 Note 1: To comply with bank policy, please do not use abbreviations (CAOAC/RSAC) when entering beneficiary information on the “Pay to the order of” line of the cheque. Note 2: You may pay by cheque post-dated January 1, 2024, but CAOAC/RSAC must receive it no later than December 15, 2023. Note 3: Incomplete forms are not eligible for the draw. Draw Details The Contest runs from November 1, 2023 to December 15, 2023 (the “Contest Period”). Only one (1) entry per aquarium society. Prize/Winner Selection and Prize Allocation: One (1) prize will be awarded to the winner, consisting of $150 dollars. Winner Selection Process: At a CAOAC/RSAC (Zoom) meeting on or about January 12, 2024 (the “Drawing Date”), one aquarium society will be selected by a random drawing conducted by CAOAC officers, from among all eligible entries received during the period of the competition. The draw will be carried out using the website, “Wheel of Names”, a type of customizable randomization roulette wheel ( The odds of being selected as a potential winner depend on the number of eligible entrants. The selected participant will be informed by email within three (3) days following the draw date. The winner will be announced at this meeting, and also on the CAOAC/RSAC website ( All CAOAC/RSAC aquarium societies will receive an email announcing the winner. Everyone is welcome to this meeting on January 12, 2024.

Note: Byparticipating in the competition, each aquarium societyagrees to complywith the draw rules. CAOAC/RSAC assumes no responsibility for lost, late, unintelligible or illegible, incomplete or misdirected entries, responses or confirmations, or for any failure of computers, online systems, software, telephones, or technical malfunctions, including, but not limited to, failures which may affect the transmission or non-transmission of an entry. The participant also agrees to comply with the decisions of CAOAC/RSAC, which will be final and binding in all respects. CAOAC/RSAC reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any participant who does not follow the draw rules.

Questions about the Draw?

Albert van Montfort, Treasurer, RSAC/CAOAC: David Holland, Recording Secretary, RSAC/CAOAC:

Try your luck and enter the draw to win this fabulous prize! Even if all clubs enter on time with complete forms, your odds of winning are still 1 in 20!

Item 10: Events, Happenings, News Updates - CAOAC Website/Facebook Page

CAOAC encourages all clubs to submit events like auctions, the holding of elections, election results, new venues for club meetings, birthdays, anniversaries, awards and even obituaries to us to publish on the website and the Facebook page. While we try to scan the groups across the nation to keep up with events which are occurring, it is a difficult task and we apologise in advance if an event is missed or if information posted is not perfect. CAOAC posts these announcements in good faith to help. We wish to avoid any misunderstanding and to remind clubs to submit any and all announcements that are important to the Club. We are happy to post these events and work together as a larger fish family, but the ultimate onus is on the Clubs to submit this information. Events may be submitted to directly, the Facebook page or

Item 11: Next General CAOAC Meeting: CAOAC CONVENTION 2024 MONDAY DECEMBER 11/23 AT 7H30 PM (EST - TORONTO)

Clubs will be contacted with the Agenda for this meeting and a Zoom link will follow as the date of the meeting approaches.

Item 12: Adjournment

Frank Aguirre, President, adjourned the meeting at 9h38pm (EST - TORONTO)

Attendees: Frank Aguirre (President Caoac, PRAC); Ernest Biktimirov (First Vice President Caoac, SCAAS); Cindy Barrett (Corresponding Secretary, Caoac; SCAAS); Dave Holland (Recording Secretary, Caoac; PRAC); Albert van Montfort (Treasurer, Caoac; DRAS); Ann Marie Towell (2nd vice-president, Caoac; CAS); Phil Barratt (SCAAS Caoac Rep);; Derek Hebbes (DRAS Caoac Rep); Mike Majer (HDAS Caoac Rep); Jeff Mountjoy (BRASS member); Benoit Bériault (BRASS); Nancy Egelton (Past CAOAC President; TCGG); Dennis Bolaños (Treasurer, SAM); Annie Girard (Secretary, SAM); Louis Gauvin (Webmaster, SAM); Lise Durocher (Vice President SAM); Colin Seeto (GTA Aquarium Club Member); Jose Divino (PRAC member).

Apologies: Michael Beat (Webmaster, Caoac; PRAC); Lisa Boorman (CAOAC Facebook Page Manager, CKAS); unrepresented clubs


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