MACNA 2016 will be held in beautiful and sunny seaside San Diego California, bringing this monumental event to the West Coast for the first time in over a decade, and only the second time ever. We went down to San Diego to see for ourselves what the local reef aquarium community is like, and especially how the local fish stores measure up to the expectations of reef aquarium hobbyists.
You can tell a lot about the general reef aquarium ‘scene’ by the shape of their fish stores. So if San Diego’s LFS are any indication of the health and vibrance of marine aquariums in the San Diego area, then we can expect a truly great MACNA from the San Diego Marine Aquarium Foundation
next year this weekend.
Over a long weekend we had the chance to visit five different fish stores in the greater San Diego area and every one we went to had a lot going for it. We know that there’s lots more great fish and coral aquarium businesses in the area, but when doing our background intelligence gathering on which LFS to visit, we narrowed it down to which businesses have a show reef aquarium on display to help illustrate their reef aquarium skills.
We had a lot of fun with our crawl of San Diego area Local Fish Stores. Here is our mini review of five San Diego LFS who demonstrate to us that San Diego is indeed a fertile place for next year’s big Marine Aquarium Conference of North America.
Aquatic Warehouse is truly an LFS for the beginner to the diehard hobbyist. This is one of the best fully rounded aquarium stores we’ve seen in a really long time. Aquatic Warehouse has everything from freshwater to saltwater, fish, corals and plants.
For the specialists we even spotted some live jellyfish for sale, and not just moon jellies mind you. They even had brackish water Utricularia plants for sale! Now that’s catering to the truly niche hobbyist. Better yet, Aquatic Warehouse had nearly all the best aquarium products you could hope for them to have in stock. The fully furnished plumbing section and assembly table was also truly impressive from a DIY aquarists point of view.
Aqua SD is a name that is well known among coral collectors across the country. We knew that Aqua SD made and grew a lot of coral frags, but nothing could have prepared us for the frag factory we visited in San Diego.
Without exaggeration, Aqua SD probably had somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 frags, and probably around 300 colonies for sale at the time that we visited. There was the whole gamut of coral frags offered for sale, everything from chalice corals to acan lords, Darwin Micromussas to Balanophyllia and everything in between. We also spied a really neat live brine shrimp dispenser which is always a good sign that this reef store caters to people who are really into their reef tanks.
Encinitas Tropical Fish is right up there in terms of being a fully fledged marine aquarium destination. The LFS is packed full of tanks, with somewhere around a dozen display-ish aquariums right near the front counter representing reefs, corals for sale, freshwater fish, saltwater fish and live plants.
The fish systems are truly unique with their angled glass on the top and bottom rows which gives onlookers a fresh look at fishes for sale. Just when we were satisfied that Encinitas Tropical Fish was ‘post-worthy’ to be included in this review of San Diego LFS, we turned the corner and found a whole room full of corals for sale.
Shipwreck Cove dovetails most closely with what we would call ‘trendy reefing’ that includes rare marine fish, named coral strains and fancy-pants reef gear like you might only read about in Reef Builders. Two gem tangs in the display tanks of Shipwreck cove greeted us as we perused the large diversity of corals on offer.
If you’re into collector and limited edition corals from the big signature coral houses, Shipwreck Cove is totally playing ball with exotic fuzzy sticks from Reef Raft, Jason Fox, World Wide Corals and more. We also really appreciated the casual atmosphere of this smaller fish store which seems like a great place where reef aquarium buddies can meet up for coffee on a Saturday and chew the cud about their reef tanks.
Aquatica Custom Aquariums is a different kind of LFS, definitely vying to appeal more to the upscale customer. The dark ‘fishroom’ is the perfect setting to display some truly beautiful livestock they have for sale.
The show tank at Aquatica is one of the best of any LFS in the area and the coral presentation is outstanding, we were tempted to buy a few corals while we visited. Better yet, imagine our surprise when we walked in and saw the same exact individual of the one of a kind Ogilbyina salvati dottyback that we wrote about sitting pretty in one of their tanks.