We just want to take a moment to draw a line in the sand; there are frag swaps, and then there are professional marine aquarium conferences. Any given weekend there are countless reef club functions and frag swaps around the country, and these events form the backbone of the great marine and reef aquarium community that we enjoy especially here in the United States.
Frag swaps and reef club meetings are vital to the progression of our hobby, and these fun gatherings can range anywhere from flea markets for corals and second-hand reef gear, to fairly decent but amateur mini-conferences with a gathering of a few of your favorite reef keeping friends. On the other end of the spectrum, there are big annual professional marine aquarium conferences like MACNA, ReefStock, Aquatic Experience and ReefAPalooza which only happen a few times a year, and only a few places around the country.
With ReefAPalooza about to enjoy its inaugural event in a new region of the country, in New York, just under a month away, we wanted to remind our readers why an event like this is worth driving to, and never to be compared to the important yet much smaller reef club meetings and frag swaps. Annual, professional marine aquarium events attract the best of the aquarium hobby; the best people, the best corals, the best ideas and new information, the best products, and lots of great fun after hours.
#1 The best people – If an event as large as ReefAPalooza is well promoted and you are thinking about going, chances are that lots of great commited reefers will also be in attendance. Large reef aquarium events tend to draw the best reefers in a region, sometimes from around the country and even the world.
Sure it’s great to see all your friends once a month at the local reef club meetings and frag swaps but large aquarium events are a place to see and meet people on an annual basis that you simple won’t encounter in your local club meetings. Professional marine aquarium events attract the best people in this hobby so meeting them, and reconnecting on a yearly basis is one of the coolest and most memorable reasons to attend a large marine aquarium event.
#2 The best Coral – Let’s get real, the most fascinating part of this hobby is all the different and colorful types of corals we all love to grow, collect and share with each other. If you think wild coral reefs are diverse, then you don’t even know or realize that large marine aquarium events are a temporary spike in regional coral biodiversity that rivals even the most exotic reefs of the coral triangle.
Nowhere else in the world, in nature or in aquariums, can you see so many different exotic coral species, strains, colors and even grafted specimens in a single place than at the best and largest marine aquarium conferences. The modern marine aquarium hobby is so mature, so well developed, that no matter what kind of coral you are into, large reef events are always guaranteed to have the best selection of zoanthids, chalice corals, soft corals, LPS and SPS corals than any fish store you’ve ever been to.
#3 Cool new gear and raffle prizes – The aquarium manufacturers of the world save the unveiling of their latest and best new gear for the larger marine aquarium events, which tend to attract the thought leaders and aquarium reporters. Being über gearheads here are Reef Builders, this is one of the very important reasons that we go to large reef shows, to scoop out all the latest new product announcements.
Fancy pumps, shiny lights and lots of great aquarium equipment is always on display at the ReefAPaloozas of the country. In addition to the showing off brand new and yet to be released aquarium products, many dealers use large aquarium events to offer screaming deals direct to end users such as yourselves. And of course, if you’re the gambling type one of the biggest draws for any reef aquarium event is inevitably the large and exciting raffles. Aquarium manufacturers really support the hobby and the events by donating hundreds of thousands of dollars of reef gear to aquarium events every year and the announcements of the winning raffle tickets always generates the biggest crowds at reef aquarium shows.
#4 Great speakers – Large aquarium conferences attract the best people, including the best speakers and authors from our community at large. Every year most reef aquarium events pull talent from the most active and respected movers and shakers in our hobby, and some of these are featured in proper featured presentations that only conferences can really afford to organize.
#5 After hours fun – Even if they are not speaking at a particular conference, you can still expect to see regular speakers just hanging around the show, gathering for lunch or drinks either at happy hour, or after hours. Only at the largest aquarium conferences can you expect to see and experience heated aquarium conversations and debates about the four topics listed above.
Whether it’s the latest trends or hottest products or the most exciting new corals, communing with fellow reefers just outside the regular event functions is always the best and most memorable part of every large professional marine aquarium conference. If you’re driving or if you’re local, you’ll definitely want to book a room at the event hotel because reefers have been known to shut down a bar or two, and in some cases re-open it against the better judgment of the adults in charge.
Summertime is not known for annual marine aquarium conferences but we are personally and professionally very much looking forward to attending the first ever ReefAPalooza in New York in a few weeks. We’ll be scoping the newest products, tracking down the corals and catching up with all of our friends, and we hope to see you there so we can make new reefing friends too.