Initial Impressions of MASNA’s First-Ever Aquatic Expo

08 Apr, 2022

The display of captive-bred fish at Biota Aquariums was a big attention grabber at the Aquatic Expo.

Just under a week ago, aquarists came together at the first-ever Marine Aquarium Societies of North America (MASNA) Aquatic Expo, held in Atlanta, Georgia on April 2nd and 3rd, 2022. For some in attendance, it was the first aquatic event they had ever experienced, For others, it may have been the first time that old friends have seen each other, face to face, in years.

Aquatic Expo was the first time for many to be face-to-face in years!

Initial reports from the Aquatic Expo were positive. Most scheduled vendors were able to attend, and there was plenty of extra space as well as an expansive area for seating and eating. For those arriving from out of town, the hotel and venue were extremely convenient. A quick ride on the free ATL SkyTrain was all one needed to get from the airport (or to return for your flight home). The area around the venue was quiet and clean, and overall felt very safe. The only downside was very limited access to dining in the immediate vicinity of the venue; Uber or Lyft were essential, but also affordable, to get to restaurants and other attractions outside of the expo.

The event was also a first-of-its-kind for MASNA, openly inviting the freshwater aquarium hobby and trade to be part of the gathering. When asked, some attendees who were freshwater-oriented were admittedly disappointed in the freshwater footprint, primarily driven by there being only two vendors selling freshwater livestock. However, if one dug a little deeper, many of the companies on hand cater to both freshwater and marine aquarists and showcased products for both (Sera, Aqueon, Elos, Probidio, and many more…). Both the Atlanta Reef Club (ARC) and Atlanta Area Aquarium Association (AAAA or the “Quad A” as some called it) were there, inviting local aquarists to join their ranks. Furthermore, there were presentations of interest to freshwater aquarists as well. For attendees who were only coming purely to purchase freshwater livestock, one might argue that they missed out on much of what was available to them. Conversely, this also speaks to an opportunity for future, similar events, if you’re a company that specializes in freshwater livestock.

Coral vendors were consistently busy. At least one described much of their time as being “swamped”.

MASNA conservatively puts attendance at 1425 ticketed days. This is particularly noteworthy as this is actually a higher attendance number than the 2011 MACNA held in Des Moines, Iowa! It is also the first MASNA in-person event since MACNA 2019, and went ahead under retreating but ever-present concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Family attendance was good, too, with 234 ticketed days for kids. Children in arms or strollers were not counted, and overall the actual number of attendees was higher than any of these official numbers.

With representatives of both CORAL and AMAZONAS Magazines on hand, we are happy to report that Saturday was truly a blur; we never stopped talking to attendees from opening to close. Having been our first in-person event in years, we were delighted to reconnect with you, our readers, as well as to meet many who were learning about CORAL or AMAZONAS for the first time.

While attendance was lower on Sunday, we still ran out of our last complimentary issue of CORAL by noon! Sunday’s more relaxed atmosphere allowed some time to take photos at the event, which we will share in the coming days! Keep watching for more…

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About the author

Matt Pedersen

Matt Pedersen is a Sr. Editor and Associate Publisher with Reef To Rainforest Media, LLC & CORAL Magazines, and is a Sr. Editor and Publishing Partner with Aquatic Media Press, LLC & AMAZONAS Magazine. Matt has kept aquariums for 38 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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