MACNA 2018 Speakers Presented on Diverse Topics

14 Sep, 2018

LiveAquaria's Kevin Kohen sharing a look at the "high roller" Dragonet, Synchiropus circularis, a true rarity in the aquarium trade.

LiveAquaria’s Kevin Kohen sharing a look at the “high roller” Dragonet, Synchiropus circularis, a true rarity in the aquarium trade.

MACNA, the Marine Aquarium Conference of North America, entered its 30th year in 2018 and was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event has grown almost every year, with 2018 marking the transition to MACNA being produced exclusively by the non-profit MASNA (Marine Aquarium Societies of North America). With many interesting changes and additions being made to MACNA this year, the speaker offerings were reshaped, and more informal “meet-ups” were added to the schedule to increase face-to-face interactions and highlight subgroups within the marine aquarium hobby and industry.

With education being one of the primary components of the conference, MASNA leadership sought to streamline this aspect of the conference. A three-track system was enacted, with speakers offering beginner, intermediate, and advanced-level topics, ranked in order to help attendees better plan their time and figure out which presentations would most likely suit their experience and interest level. In honor of the 30th anniversary, MACNA 2018 boasted a whopping 30 speakers on the lecture track.

With concurrent and overlapping speakers and a massive show floor, it has become truly impossible for any single person to experience it all. Thankfully, MACNA, in partnership with Bulk Reef Supply, will ultimately make many of the educational presentations available online. For now, enjoy a sneak peak at some of the talks that CORAL Senior Editor Matt Pedersen was able to attend.

Kevin Kohen

LiveAquaria’s Kevin Kohen was asked to give an entry-level talk on choosing fish for the marine aquarium. This certainly presented a challenge for a man known to revel in wrasses and the most arcane and “spendy” fishes available to aquarists. Kohen rose to the challenge, presenting highly-accessible fish species that are well-suited to marine aquarium keepers, and then offering the Vegas-themed “High Roller’s” version. It was a presentation that offered something for everyone.

The Pink-streaked Wrasse, Pseudocheilinops ataenia, is Kevin Kohen's pick for an affordable pygmy wrasse, better-mannered than the common Sixline Wrasse.

The Pink-Streaked Wrasse, Pseudocheilinops ataenia, is Kevin Kohen’s pick for an affordable pygmy wrasse, better-mannered than the common Sixline Wrasse.

Martin A. Moe, Jr.

Now 81 years of age, Moe came to MACNA 2018 to share what may be one of his crowning achievements: the successful culture of the troubled Caribbean Black Longspine Sea Urchin, Diadema antillarum. These urchins are a keystone herbivore that controls algal growth on coral reefs throughout the tropical western Atlantic. Moe spent years working in his Florida Keys–based lab troubleshooting this project, with the ultimate goal being propagation of sufficient numbers of urchins to repopulate the species, whose numbers were utterly decimated in a mass mortality event back in 1983. With the loss of 97-98% of the reproductive population, recovery has been slow, allowing algae to take hold on coral reefs, which hampered the recruitment and recovery of stony corals. Moe’s presentation represented a tell-all encapsulation of his work and success in advance of a culture manual to be published soon.

Aquarium great Martin A. Moe, Jr. opened with a bit of humor.

Aquarium great Martin A. Moe, Jr. opened with a bit of humor.

 

Moe presented a current look at his work to breed the troubled Longspine Sea Urchin, Diadema antillarum, a keystone herbivore in the Caribbean which has yet to recover from a population crash decades prior.

Moe presented a current look at his work to breed the troubled Longspine Sea Urchin, Diadema antillarum, a keystone herbivore in the Caribbean which has yet to recover from a population crash decades ago.

 

Martin Moe is working ever closer to a definitive protocol for successfully aquaculturing Diadema antillarum, and anticipates a culture manual to be published soon.

Martin Moe is getting closer to a definitive protocol for successfully aquaculturing Diadema antillarum, and he anticipates that a culture manual will be published soon.

Tal Sweet

Tal Sweet was asked to create a new program specifically for 2018’s MACNA. The result was an unparalleled look at the history of marine ornamental aquaculture. While a lot of this history might be known to experienced breeders, Sweet uncovered several new details and nuances of the history not known to the general public.

The Marine Breeding Initiative's Tal Sweet presented a truly comprehensive look at the history and progression of marine ornamental fish breeding.

The Marine Breeding Initiative’s Tal Sweet presented a truly comprehensive look at the history and progression of marine ornamental fish breeding.

Paula Carlson

Paula Branshaw Carlson is Director of Husbandry at The Dallas World Aquarium in Dallas, Texas. Carlson spoke on topics of education and outreach from the public aquarium viewpoint, sharing many stories of successful projects and suggesting there is still much work to be done! Her presentation centered heavily on examples of projects shared with her by public aquarium colleagues.

Paula Carlson, here highlighting an essay by Chris Andrews, Head of US Sealife Marine Programs and Engagement, proposing current public aquarium community institutional goals for change and improvement.

Paula Carlson, here highlighting an essay by Chris Andrews, Head of U.S. Sealife Marine Programs and Engagment, proposing current public aquarium community institutional goals for change and improvement.

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is the founder of Captive Aquatic Ecosystems, a professional aquarium maintenance company out of metropolitan Houston, Texas. Johnson gave a no-nonsense, no-secrets look at his experiences and business, sharing numerous tips and tricks of the trade along the way. You needn’t have any interest in starting up an aquarium maintenance business to get a bevy of useful information out of Johnson’s talk; here are a few that stood out.

Ben Johnson, founder of Captive Aquatic Ecosystems, shared many "tricks of the aquarium maintenance trade", including the use of wet-skimming as a water-removal option for water changes. Note the sequential color shift between buckets; can you guess which bucket was first, and which was last?

Ben Johnson, founder of Captive Aquatic Ecosystems, shared many “tricks of the aquarium maintenance trade,” including the use of wet-skimming as a water-removal option for water changes. Note the sequential color shift between buckets; can you guess which bucket was first, and which was last?

 

"Chamfer your PVC pipes!" declared Johnson, illustrating the small details that differentiate the work of amateurs and professionals.

“Chamfer your PVC pipes!” declared Johnson, illustrating the small details that differentiate the work of amateurs and professionals.

 

While Johnson largely avoids the use of "inserts," faux coral reefs often seen in commercial marine aquarium installations, certain applications benefit from high end prefabricated decor, such as this freshwater-oriented background from AquaDecor.

While Johnson largely avoids the use of “inserts,” faux coral reefs often seen in commercial marine aquarium installations, certain applications benefit from high-end prefabricated decor, such as this freshwater-oriented background from AquaDecor.

 

Chris Buerner

Chris Buener, owner and president of Los Angeles–based Quality Marine, returned to the MACNA spotlight to offer a revealing look at the aquarium trade, ultimately calling for  “greater trade responsibility, science-based resource management, and sensible industry regulation.”

Quality Marine's Chris Buerner highlighted many of the 3rd-party pressures that the aquarium hobby and trade are up against.

Quality Marine’s Chris Buerner highlighted many of the third-party pressures that the aquarium hobby and trade are up against.

 

Buerner's jaw dropping depiction of coral mariculture in Indonesia, which he described as multiple football fields for just this one single location.

Buerner’s jaw-dropping depiction of coral mariculture in Indonesia, which he described as multiple football fields for just this single location.

 

Dr. Andrew Rhyne

Andy Rhyne spearheads numerous aquarium trade and aquaculture initiatives, working out of Roger Williams University as an associate professor. Rhyne took the spotlight to discuss the recent reevaluation (debunking) of what was once thought to be a promising cyanide detection mechanism that could have been applied to fishes in the marine aquarium trade. With a firm basis in science and data, Rhyne presented this story to the MACNA audience.

MACNA 2018's speaker halls were nothing less than spacious, with seating capacity for several hundred attendees if needed. Here, Dr. Rhyne shares a recurring theme among several presentations this year - "Data and transparency are critical for the long term sustainability and survival of the aquarium trade."

MACNA 2018’s speaker halls were nothing less than spacious, with seating capacity for several hundred attendees if needed. Here, Dr. Rhyne shares a recurring theme among several presentations this year: “Data and transparency are critical for the long-term sustainability and survival of the aquarium trade.”

 

One look at this supply chain graphic reveals how difficult it may actually be to achieve a desired level of transparency in the aquarium trade.

One look at this supply chain graphic reveals how difficult it may actually be to achieve a desired level of transparency in the aquarium trade.

 

Dr. Rhyne invokes the Sagan standard when cyanide test results don't match up with his understanding of aquarium fish collection "on the ground".

Dr. Rhyne invokes the Sagan standard when cyanide test results don’t match up with his understanding of aquarium fish collection “on the ground.”

 

Which speakers did you catch? Who were your favorites? What surprising things did you take away from this year’s MACNA? Tell us in the comments!

MACNA is more than a trade show, that’s for sure. Almostevery time people attend a talk, they take away something new, something that changes their perspective as an aquarist. So don’t forget, MACNA 2019 will be held in Orlando, Florida, and will surely boast a strong team of new and veteran aquarium thought-leaders.

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About the author

Matt Pedersen
Matt Pedersen

Matt Pedersen is a Sr. Editor and Associate Publisher with Reef To Rainforest Media, LLC, including AMAZONAS & CORAL Magazines. Matt has kept aquariums for 36 years, has worked in most facets of the aquarium trade, is an active aquarist and fish breeder (both marine and freshwater), and was recognized with the 2009 MASNA Award as the MASNA Aquarist of the Year.

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