As usual MACNA meant so many corals and friends and equipment but so little time. Due to family commitments I was only able to spend Saturday in DC at MACNA, but it was a well-spent 8 hours. As usual, the best part was catching up with old friends like Bob Stark of ESV, who has a new additive on the horizon, Joy Meadows of Reefbrite who is always bringing out new lighting configurations, Doug Thompson of Deltec, Dirk, who needs no introduction, Kevin from LiveAquaria, as well as Julian, Joe Yaillo, Mr. Koji the king of rare fish, and of course my twin brother Sanjay, all of whom I’ve known for many years. As I said in the past, if for no other reason everyone should go to events like this, not only to learn about the new equipment and new methodologies, but also to develop friendships that will last a life time. If I had only just gotten to see my friends the trip would have been worth it.
In addition to chatting, I also visited as many of the vendors as I could to see what is new and what may be coming soon. In this regard I was not disappointed. Worldwide Corals, A Reef Creation, Cherry Corals, Jason Fox and Unique Corals all outdid themselves in bringing the newest and most colorful coral frags imaginable to the show. What they had was amazing. But they were just the tip of the iceberg, no pun intended, in terms of frags being available as relative newcomers ReefGen, King of Corals and Joe Knows Reefs also all brought enough amazing corals that everyone would be happy to stock their tanks with. What was interesting in that as I walked around the exhibits I was amazed to see how few coral colonies were being sold relative to just a few short years ago.
It is clear that the focus has shifted dramatically from stocking our tanks with big colonies to now adding frags and letting them fill in over time, which due to the success we now have, is definitely the way to go. Further evidence of how things have shifted was clear in the Australian aquacultured frags that Eye Catching Corals showed for the first time. Since to date mariculturing corals is not allowed in Australia, bringing in these aquacultured frags will be a boon to the hobby considering how expensive some of the Australian colonies are. Also since they are frags, they like the other frags should do better over time in our tanks once they have become acclimated. It was good to see Jim being so forward thinking in bringing these in for us to see.
But captive raised coral frags were just part of the equation, last year it was Triton and the Maxspect gyre that were the new technologies at the show. They were both still present with Triton showing how understanding precisely what is in our water and making the environment of our tanks incredibly stable is another way of adding to the success we can achieve. Maxspect continued to expand the gyre line and demonstrated the biggest gyre to date, which can move a vast amount of water in even our largest tanks. They also showed the new Icecap connector to allow the gyre to be controlled by the Apex controller. This interconnectivity between devices and controllers will continue to grow over the next few years and will allow us not only better monitoring of the conditions in our tanks, but also the ability to manipulate conditions when we are not present.
In this regard the Mindstream booth was one of the busiest at the show. The gentlemen at the booth did a great job of answering our countless questions as best they could and needless to say this is the kind of monitoring that many of us have been looking forward to for quite some time. If this device lives up to what we have been reading and what I saw at the booth it will dramatically increase our knowledge of what is going on in our tanks in real time.
And while it is not here yet, and unfortunately they did not reach their goal in their kickstarter funding program, I am confident that when they do bring out their monitor, it will be one of the few must have devices that we will all want to have. Unfortunately they do not have a timetable for when they expect the monitors to come out now, but hopefully within the next few weeks we will have a better idea of their new timetable.
However, new and improved testing of our water was still being pushed by a couple of other vendors there. Newcomer ITS showed their Smart Exact iDip water testing system using a smart photometer and a smartphone app. Their system will eventually test for phosphate, nitrate, ammonia, calcium, alkalinity and potentially metals at a more precise level than most of the test kits we are now using. They have been using their technology in a wide variety of applications for some time, but only now are they starting to develop their testing for the marine aquarium market. They have a lot of potential if they can develop their technology to measure the above mentioned compounds and others at the low levels we typically see in our tanks.
Fortunately, a company that has been in the aquarium business for some time, Elos, and which many consider to be one of the premier aquarium companies in Europe will soon be revealing the next jump in their marine water testing methodology. They are bringing out a photometer that will attach to your smartphone and with the accompanying app it will read the precise level that their test shows. What this means is that we will no longer have to hold a tube of colored water against a chart and try to guess what the level is, the level will pop up right on our phone’s screen. Since I already consider Elos to have the best test kits out there, this will make it even easier for people like me to easily see what a test reads.
In addition to this, Nick of Elos also brought to attention one of the things I feel is often overlooked when we set up a reef tank: the tank itself. I know like most of us I tend to focus on what is in the tank and really have not paid much attention to how the actual tank, stand and hood look. However it has been brought to my attention that I should consider the overall impression that the entire tank provides, not just how nice the corals look. In this regard, the Elos tank ensemble clearly shows how a well designed and constructed tank and stand can add to the beauty of a room. These tanks are now constructed of a new high-resolution German glass that is virtually distortion free.
They rest on a stand that comes in a myriad of finishes, which look so much better than typical painted pine stand that I am using that my tank looks laughable in comparison. Lastly, these tanks now come with a patented overflow system that makes them completely silent and able to handle significantly more flow that just about any overflow system I have seen. I hope to replace one of the current tanks in my family room with one of these because they not only will be the nicest piece of furniture in my house, but owing to how well it is designed and how quiet it is I hope to also be able to enjoy a greater silence of my tank as well as greater energy efficiency.
While all of this technology was nice there were also some relatively low tech things that will help the hobby as well. Julian Sprung from Two Little Fishes showed off a new feeding pouch that will allow our fish to pick at the food in a manner more similar to how they feed in the wild. Hopefully this may help in getting some of the more finicky eaters to feed. In a similar vein Fritz showed off some new natural treatments for Ick and bacterial infections that are potentially reef safe and LRS and PE showed off more new foods to keep our charges fat and healthy.
And Julian from Cairns Marine showed how Cairns is working to harvest fish and invertebrates from the Great Barrier Reef in a sustainable manner. Also from the pictures and videos he showed we have only scratched the surface in terms of what we may be getting from there in the future. That is worrisome to me, as I don’t have room for a bigger tank. I know there was a lot of other new things that I missed and I apologize to the vendors I missed for not being able to mention their new products [but team Reef Builders is on it].
Sadly due to time constraints I did not get to go to any of the talks like I usually do, but from the people I spoke with who attended them they were as usual a wealth of useful information. I know how hard the speakers work and how much time they put into putting their talks together so that was disappointing for me not to be able to catch any of them. Also for everyone who stopped me and introduced themselves, thanks, it is always great to put a name with a face since a lot of us email one another.
As everyone who was there can attest MACNA really is the one show every year that is worth making the extra effort to attend. It will be interesting next year when it is in San Diego as hopefully that will result in a lot of the vendors from the West Coast who can’t travel to the east being able to attend. I look forward to seeing a lot of new faces from vendors whom I have only dealt with on the phone or via the net, which will help to keep it fresh, as well as my many friends from the west. I look forward to seeing many of you there and chatting and possibly sharing a cold one. I can’t believe there have now been
26 27 of these.