About this site

What is this site?

This is a website to allow clubs and individuals to buy and sell fish, reptiles, amphibians, food cultures, and other pet keeping supplies.

I'm trying to run auctions for my fish club, how do I get started?

Create a test auction here. Make sure to uncheck promote this auction, and set the end date for tomorrow.

If you create an online auction, you'll get a series of emails walking you through exactly what to do. Most people find running an online auction a lot easier than running an in-person one!

How much does it cost to use this site?

It's completely free. Yes, really.

(But if you are in need of a not-completely-incompetent Django developer and want to give me a job, I wouldn't say no...)

I bought some fish, but they were dead!

This site does not get involved in disputes

There are a couple things you can do here:

  1. You should contact the seller and see if they will make it right. This is a hobby and the vast majority of people are well-meaning and are not in it for the money.
  2. If this was bought as part of a club auction, contact the person running the auction and see if they are willing to help.
  3. You can leave negative feedback for the seller.
  4. Depending on the payment method you used, you may be able to do a chargeback.

Is there anything I can't buy/sell?

Please limit the lots you sell to fish, reptiles, amphibians, food cultures, and related pet keeping supplies.

You cannot buy or sell anything illegal. If you spot someone selling something illegal, please contact us (using the email address at the bottom of this page) and we'll remove the lot in question and ban the user if they continue to submit illegal items.

The only time this has happened, the user did not know the item they were selling was illegal. (Mike is kind of an idiot like that...)

Is there a good example auction?

Take a look at the TFCB annual auction that we ran on this site.

You can see the rules, here.

Note: in reality, people spend under a minute reading the rules, so these rules are waaay too long. If you actually read them all, you are the only one

Or you can do what everyone else does, and jump right to the lots that were sold.

How do I run an in person auction?

  1. Create an auction here and make sure to select Create in-person auction
  2. Once your auction has been created, you'll be taken to the rules page - make sure everything looks good.
  3. You're then ready to add users and lots, and start the auction!

Auction questions

Can I sell stuff without joining a club auction?

Yes: When you create a lot, there's an option to sell this lot independently. This site does not charge any fees for selling. However, remember that clubs bring a huge value to you as a seller:

  1. Clubs do a lot of advertising to help promote their auctions, and will usually bring in more bidders than you'd otherwise see.
  2. Club auction fees are a lot less than shipping costs! Most of the time, the club cut is around $3-4 per lot. You can't ship anything that cheap!
  3. Clubs deal with the paperwork, payments, and customer service. The value of this is huge, because these are a pain-in-the-ass, and by far the worst part of selling fish.
  4. Clubs deal in volume -- if you're selling directly to another person, they will likely only buy a single pair of fish. Club auctions sell to lots of people at once, and can move tens or hundreds of your fish.

Also remember that clubs provide knowledge and community. This hobby would not be what it is today without them!

How do I add a lot to a club auction?

  1. Create an account, or if you have already created an account, sign in
  2. Find the auction here and click on it
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page click the green button to join the auction.
  4. Create a new lot, and fill out the form. Make sure to select Yes, this lot is part of a club auction and choose the auction you just joined. If the auction doesn't show up in the list, you didn't do the steps above, or the auction's lot submission is not open

How do multi-location auctions work?

A club auction that has multiple locations to pick up and drop off lots greatly increases participation. You can read more about how these work here

What kind of stats do I get from my club auction?

Our club treasurer used to spend hours in Excel balancing the books. With this site, not only are invoices generated instantly, but now she can relax on the beach while enjoying a wide variety of fun statistics. Take a look at these stats from our auction for yourself

If you're a math nerd (sadly, a demographic whose venn diagram does not seem to overlap with fish keepers) and you have a suggestion for a stat you'd like to see, let me know. And don't forget to check out the Nifty Numbers section of the site!

How do I add people to my in person auction?

There's two ways to do this, you can use both in the same auction with no issues. The first way: pre-registration: 1. Have people sign up for an account on this site 2. Give people a link to your auction, then have them read the rules and click the green "Confirm pickup location" button at the bottom. They'll be added automatically with all their contact info The second way: manually add them 1. Go to any of your auction's pages, and click on the users tab 2. Click Add user, then manually fill out their contact info

Can multiple people help run an in-person auction?

It's often handy to have multiple people helping with sign up or recording bids. Fortunately, it's easy to get help:

  1. Go to any of your auction's pages, and click on the users tab
  2. Find the user, click their name, and check the Grant admin permissions to help run this auction checkbox
  3. The other user will then have access to anything you have in this auction: they can add users, create and edit lots, and view and export invoices.

Note that this is matched by the email address, so it it's not working, there's a pretty good chance that the user you're trying to add isn't using the email address you think they are. They can confirm what email they are using here: https://auction.fish/email/

How do I add a lot to an in-person auction I created?

Anyone with admin permissions to run the auction can add lots for any user:

  1. In the users tab, search for the users name
  2. Click Add lots

Can I add a video to my lots?

Yes! Upload your video to YouTube, then put the YouTube link the Reference link field when editing your lot. The video will automatically be embedded next to any images you have.

Can I change a bidder number after someone has added lots?

Yes. Any auction admin can change a bidder number when editing the user. Lots that have already been added will still use the old bidder number (needed in case labels have already been printed), but invoicing will still be accurate.


I can't bid!

Please read carefully -- the lot page will tell you exactly why you can't bid. See How do I bid?, above.

What's proxy bidding?

Proxy bidding is a simple way to avoid needing to place multiple bids on a lot during an auction.

It's simplest to explain with an example:

  1. John bids $2 on a bag of guppies
  2. Anne wants the guppies and knows they are worth $50, so she places a bid for $50. This is called a proxy bid
  3. The high bid is now $3 -- Anne's proxy bid beats John's bid
  4. John bids $10 on the guppies
  5. Anne's proxy bid again beats John's bid, and the new high bid is $11
  6. When the auction ends, Anne wins the guppies for $11
  7. John is despondent and decides to take down his guppy tanks and start keeping only CARES Goodeids instead.

Someone sniped my lot at the last second!

Auctions now have dynamic endings to help prevent this from happening. Any bids placed in the last 15 minutes will extend the lot's end time.

Bidding does have a hard cutoff 1 hour after the auction's end time.

Remember to place a proxy bid if you really want something, and read the article on how much items likely go for.

Can you have a countdown for how much time is left?

No. That would encourage people to snipe lots by telling them exactly when to click bid.

The closest thing to a countdown is a Bidding on this lot ends in less than a minute message that appears in the chat exactly a minute before bidding ends.

How do I record bids or mark the winners of lots for an in-person auction?

If you're running an online auciton, you don't need to do anything; users will bid and then the winners will be declared automatically. If you're running an in-person auction, you'll need to manually set the winner and winning price on each lot. Fortunately there's any easy tool for this:

  1. Go to any of your auction's pages, and click More, then on Set Lot Winners
  2. Fill out this form
  3. Repeat step 2 for all lots you want to sell


How do payments work for my club auction?

This site does not handle payments If we did, we'd need to charge a 30% fee, like other sites do.

That said, the site will generate invoices for your auction automatically. Here's an example of what that looks like.

You can easily export a list of these invoices to import into Paypal. Note that only people who owe you money are included in this; you'll need to send money to sellers separately. Most clubs mail a check for this to avoid Paypal fees.

You do not need to use this feature -- if you'd prefer to use cash, go right ahead.

While I have better things to do than rat you out to the IRS, you probably do need to charge sales tax in your auctions. This is true whether you use this site or not, don't shoot the messenger

Can I give members of my club a different split than non-members?

On the users tab, click the user's name, then check the club member checkbox. Make sure you also set up a club member split in the rules!

How do I "check out" a buyer from my in person auction before it ends?

  1. Go to any of your auction's pages, and click Users
  2. Search for your user's name, and click Invoice.
  3. Take payment (remember that this site does not directly handle money for you) and mark the invoice paid

The Invoices tab is a great way to handle this after the auction ends for all users -- you can even easily export all unpaid invoices to Paypal for billing.

A seller wants to leave my in-person auction early. How can I make sure their invoice is accurate?

Sometimes you'll have someone who has bought and sold a bunch of stuff, and wants to leave before the auction has ended. To make sure their lots are fully paid for:

  1. Go to any of your auction's pages, and click Users
  2. Search for your user's name, and click Invoice. If the seller does not owe you money, you don't need to do anything right now.
  3. If the seller owes you money, take payment (remember that this site does not directly handle money for you)
  4. Under Adjust this invoice select discount, enter the total they paid, and enter "partial payment before auction ends" as the reason. Leave the invoice in the draft state
  5. Once the auction ends, export this invoice with all the rest and send out their checks

Technical details

Why did you build this site?

I was stuck at home during COVID lockdowns with lots of time on my hands, lots of fish, and no way to sell them.

My club hadn't been able to run an auction for 4 months and other folks I talked with were in the same position as I was: fish were breeding everywhere and I had no way to find homes for the fry.

At the same time during the pandemic, fish sales increased between 40 and 200% (depending on whose numbers you believe) and importers and breeders were suddenly unable to ship fish on commercial flights.

This site is an attempt to find good homes for good fish.

Who owns this site?

This site is owned by the Tropical Fish Club of Burlington.

It's completely open source and the Github repo is here

Who profits from it?

This site was never intended to make money -- it's about getting fish to people who want them and offering hobbyists the opportunity to interact with each other.

The ads on the site are minimal, and the Tropical Fish Club of Burlington keeps all ad profits. An update to this question: I got sick of looking at the ads, and pulled them, they weren't worth the $100/year we were making from them. This site is now completely free.

Who maintains this site? What technology is used?

I built and maintain this site (my email address is at the bottom of this page, in case you want to tell me how much you hate it). Everything is open source, and you can view the source code here

The back end is Django, MariaDB, Daphne, and Redis, and the front end is Jquery and Bootstrap, along with lots of good old fashioned HTML and CSS.

I want to help with the site!

You are welcome to contribute -- by far the best thing you can do is to tell others about the site!

Please also report any issues you find, and make any suggestions that you have.

Here are some examples of great feedback I've gotten from users that's helped make the site better:

  • I want to see images in the list of lots - resulted in the current tile view instead of the list view.
  • Managing payments is really hard - encouraged me to add the Paypal batch invoice export feature
  • I want to be able to search for "vals" or "vallisneria" - was the inspiration for allowing the OR keyword in searches
  • I want to be able to print a list of which lots are being dropped off and picked up at each location brought about in the lot list CSV file available to the auction creator on the rules page.

If you're tech-savvy, you are welcome to create a pull request for a new feature or a bug fix!

How many users can I have in my club auction?

This site is load-tested regularly, and supports around 20 requests per second without issue. In practice, this means that 100-200 users can all simultaneously bid, browse lots, etc., without experiencing any slowdowns. The site does start to slow down when more people than that are using it, but for most fish club auctions, this is more than enough.

If you anticipate that you'll need to have more users than this, please reach out and let's discuss it further.

How do recommended lots work?

As you browse the site, the categories you view and bid on are recorded.

Your interest in each category is then calculated (bids are worth 10x what a view is. There's a bit of randomness involved, too, just to keep things interesting). Finally, lots you haven't viewed are shown to you.

Of course, this only happens if you sort the lot list by recommended, or are viewing a single lot. If you're viewing a lot from an auction, only other lots from that auction will be shown.

We never sell data on your interests or do anything with them other than give you recommended lots and make this cool chart.

How exactly do dynamic endings work?

Bids placed in the last 15 minutes before bidding ends will extend the end time.

  • The end time is set to 15 minutes after the bid is placed. This (in theory) gives you enough time to check your email, see that you've been outbid, and up your bid
  • Certain actions will not extend the end time:
    • Increasing your proxy bid
    • Using buy now (because bidding ends immediately, duh!)
    • Placing a bid on a lot that no one else has bid on
  • Lots that are part of an auction have a hard cutoff time of 1 hour after the auction ends - the end time won't be extended past this time!

My auction doesn't show up in the list! Why?

Only auctions that are starting in the next 90 days, and have This is a fish club auction and Promote this auction checked are shown by default. You'll always see auctions you've joined or created. All newly created auctions start as non-promoted, even if you copied your last auction, so you have a chance to set up the rules and locations before making them public.

Still got questions? Email me: (Sign in to see email)
Website copyright 2020-2024 Tropical Fish Club of Burlington