After a late night of travel, everyone was a little bit wary waking up to go the the conference on Friday. However, the display waiting for us on the main floor quickly dispelled any tired dispositions. The room spanned a football field, filled entirely with amazing aquarium products, niche celebrities, and beautiful tanks. The companies really wanted to wow the attendees, and they spared no expense. Right in the second I walked up to, there were about 20 captive bred angel fish, each of which could have have easily sold for $4000. There were coral frag stands, hundreds of clown fish(sometimes in a single tank), coral apparel, tanks with water running down the exterior, and a giant Chemipure balloon overlooking the whole hall. Some of our members even had their photo taken with the stars of Tanked, pretty much the only fish tank celebs to ever go mainstream. The whole thing blew me out of the water to be sure.
Speakers and events
Besides the spectacle being put on on in the main floor, there were also more informative discussions going on in the adjacent rooms. There were well known speakers in the aquarium community(including a local friend of the club, Julian Sprung) as well as meet ups and workshops for particular interests. I personally attended a presentation on the history of marine fish breeding, which was interesting, and although not practically applicable, it did provide an overview of names and companies to keep an eye on. Most members didn't take advantage of these events, and decided to spend more time on the floor, but having the opportunity was very nice.
There were also students and researchers presenting research about topics related to the aquarium hobby, and it was very rewarding to talk to them about their study. One of them was even a UMAC alum, shout out to Mike Connelly).