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          Aquarium Conferences and Trade Shows 
  By Adam Cesnales

In any profession, trade, or hobby, conferences and trade shows are the place to go to see and hear about the latest techniques and equipment as well as to network with peers. The aquarium hobby is no exception, and we are bringing you this special all marine issue of CA to coincide with this year's Marine Aquarium Conference of North America (MACNA) in Boston, MA. Many other conferences and trade shows are held all around the country and for all areas of interest.

After attending my first big aquarium conference, I could not imagine why more folks don’t attend. Cost and time are certainly big issues. For many of us, our hobby is already as expensive and time consuming as we (or our spouses!) can tolerate. However, when it comes to cost, I am a strong believer that nothing has saved me more money in this hobby than being well educated. The costs invested in books, club memberships, and of course, conferences have been recovered many times over in preventing the loss of animals and by knowing how to “do it right the first time.”

MACNA attracts well over 500 marine aquarists annually and boasts an amazing list of speakers. The vendor hall is always an amazing sight to see, with displays of marine livestock and all of the newest dry-goods. Speakers usually discuss husbandry information and techniques, the state of the hobby and the environment that our animals come from, cutting-edge information like breeding marine fish, public aquarium research and the newest developments. A lot of credit has to go to the organizers of each conference for providing attendees with such a great lineup of events, but the best part of any conference isn’t planned or scheduled, and that is the camaraderie!

When considering why more folks don’t attend aquarium conferences, I considered that perhaps some aquarists believe that only “fish super-geeks,” “coral snobs” and the like attend conferences. This truly is not the case. The chance to get to know, chat with, and learn from fellow everyday hobbyists truly is the very best part of any aquarium conference!  Even the “celebrities” of the hobby are easy going and pleasant to chat with. How often does the average aquarist get to ask Eric Borneman about his corals, or Scott Michael about his fish, or Bob Fenner about opening a fish store?  When it comes down to it, they are all fish geeks too, and love to hang around and chat like the rest of us.

Does this leave any doubt about the lengths that manufacturers will go to impress prospective re-sellers?  Please forgive the non-aquatic subject matter! 

Trade shows are an opportunity for manufacturers to display their products for a large number of industry professionals and for industry professionals to see the offerings of a large number of manufacturers. Although trade shows are really meant for industry professionals, the average hobbyist can gain entrance with a bit of planning and perhaps some help from someone who is a professional. Most casual aquarists aren’t aware of what is available to them beyond the walls of their local fish store. Heck, a lot of the time, the local fish store doesn’t know what’s available either!  Attending a trade show will really open your eyes to what is out there.

A fantastic display of new products at Interzoo. You should have seen the demonstration! Photo by Anthony Calfo

The Interzoo pet industry trade show is held every two years in Nurnberg, Germany and has become one of the largest pet industry trade shows in the world. I spent three full days at Interzoo trying to see all of the aquatic exhibits, and they were only about a third of the total pet product offerings!  Manufacturers from every corner of the globe exhibited equipment, food, supplies, and even livestock for just about every type of pet interest imaginable.

While traveling to Germany is a bit extreme, it is a great opportunity to mix business and pleasure. If flying to Europe is beyond your interest, never fear, there are several large trade shows right here at home.

In keeping with the “cutting-edge” spirit of aquarium conferences and trade shows, we are including two articles about Zeoliths and a new product line called ZEOvit. Zeoliths are minerals that selectively remove certain substances from water and exchange them for others. The ZEOvit system employs specially chosen Zeoliths to maintain ultra-low nutrient levels in reef aquaria. I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Alexander Girz, who authored one of the pieces. Care to guess where I had that opportunity?  At Interzoo of course!  Alexander was so convinced of the benefits of the system that he wished to bring more information about it to American aquarists, so we arranged for a translator and here it is!

We hope you enjoy this issue of CA, and as always, we welcome your feedback at or on our forum at

Adam Cesnales



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