People and Places of the Triple Crown Convention

15 Aug, 2022

Rusty Wessel has what can only be described as a world-class, and nothing short of enviable, fish house, and he was kind enough to invite hordes of us into his watery home two nights in a row to take in the fishy sights. The inspirational nature of Rusty's fish house generates some deep conversations about the past, present, and future of our hobby.
Rusty Wessel has what can only be described as a world-class, and nothing short of enviable, fish house, and he was kind enough to invite hordes of us into his watery home two nights in a row to take in the fishy sights. The inspirational nature of Rusty’s fish house generates some deep conversations about the past, present, and future of our hobby.

After a longer-than-desirable pandemic hiatus, the American Cichlid Association (ACA) show is back, and with a plan to make up for lost time. To maximize the impact of their grand return to public events, this year’s attendees weren’t just treated to cichlids, but also to killifish, livebearers, rainbowfishes, and much more. This came in the form of the Aquatic Triple Crown, a joint event featuring representation from the three largest specialty national tropical fish organizations – the American Cichlid Association (ACA), the American Killifish Association (AKA), and the American Livebearer Association (ALA) – as well as the Rainbowfish group of the North American Australian New Guinea Fishes Association (NA ANGFA). Dang, that’s a lot of acronyms!

This melting pot of specialist groups made for a truly fantastic event complete with a huge turnout, loads of aquarium hobby celebrity speakers, massive fish auctions, and the incomparable hospitality of Rusty Wessel. It was an event to remember, and hopefully to be repeated! Here’s a quick look at the show floor and some memorable moments.

A water-level view from one of Rusty Wessel's swimming pool-sized koi ponds. 
A water-level view from one of Rusty Wessel’s swimming pool-sized koi ponds. 
Epic fish auctions occurred at Rusty's place along the edge of the main koi pond, generating thousands of dollars for funding the conservation efforts of the participating clubs.
Epic fish auctions occurred at Rusty’s place along the edge of the main koi pond, generating thousands of dollars for funding the conservation efforts of the participating clubs.
The impressive evenings auctions at Rusty’s heavily featured cichlids with some livebearers and rainbows peppered in for good measure.
Exhibitors grab drinks and congregate around Rusty’s still-massive secondary koi pond to discuss the week’s business endeavors over some fish and refreshments.
Loaded with iconic brands such as Sera and Repashy, andRepashy and overflowing with the best sponge filters the hobby has to offer in every size you could want, the Swiss Tropicals booth was perpetually busy.
Loaded with iconic brands such as Sera and Repashy and overflowing with the best sponge filters the hobby has to offer in every size you could want, the Swiss Tropicals booth was perpetually busy.  
Lily Ichthyology is a fantastic organization founded by a fish-driven college senior, Meliane Hwang, whose goal is to keep expanding her digital breeding database of endangered freshwater fishes in an effort to rescue and protect them. She sells fabulous enamel fish pins to fund her endeavors - we all bought them, and you should too!
Lily Ichthyology is a fantastic organization founded by a fish-driven college senior, Meliane Hwang, whose goal is to keep expanding her digital breeding database of endangered freshwater fishes in an effort to rescue and protect them. She sells fabulous enamel fish pins to fund her endeavors – we all bought them, and you should too!
Steve Lundblad, founder of The Wet Spot Tropical Fish in Portland, OR, hanging out in the vendor room talking with a hapless bystander about how much he hates hazy IPAs. Not kidding...
Steve Lundblad, founder of The Wet Spot Tropical Fish in Portland, OR, hanging out in the vendor room talking with a hapless bystander about how much he hates hazy IPAs. Not kidding…
No shortage of tanks here! The fish options ranged dramatically from characins to cories to bichirs. There certainly was something for everyone.
No shortage of tanks here! The fish options ranged dramatically from characins to cories to bichirs. There certainly was something for everyone.
The flashy Sera booth staffed by one of our favorite food reps, Theresea.
The flashy Sera booth staffed by one of our favorite food reps, Therese. 
Some folks looking to get Tangled Up in Cichlids, a beautiful display featuring, you guessed it, cichlids, as well as some lovely angels and some larger characins.
Some folks looking to get Tangled Up in Cichlids, a beautiful display featuring, you guessed it, cichlids, as well as some lovely angels and some larger characins. 
Need plants but want to get them to go? No problem, they're all labeled, bagged up, and ready to head home to your aquariums.
 Need plants but want to get them to go? No problem, they’re all labeled, bagged up, and ready to head home to your aquariums.
A wide range of size and color morph axolotls being offered by Luther's Lotls, all ridiculously irresistableirresistible of course.
A wide range of size and color morph axolotls being offered by Luther’s Lotls, all ridiculously irresistible of course.
Artwork from a small coalition of talented artists was prominently featured in the vendor room.
Artwork from a small coalition of talented artists was prominently featured in the vendor room.
Whether you're into photography, pencil drawings, or paintings, there was fish-inspired artwork available for all tastes.
Whether you’re into photography, pencil drawings, or paintings, there was fish-inspired artwork available for all tastes.
ACA, the primary organizer and host of the Triple Crown Convention, celebrating its 50th anniversary by signing up new members left and right.
ACA, the primary organizer and host of the Triple Crown Convention, celebrating its 50th anniversary by signing up new members left and right.
What's that? You need a pair of killifish? Killifish eggs? An AKA membership? All of the above? This booth had it all covered.
What’s that? You need a pair of killifish? Killifish eggs? An AKA membership? All of the above? This booth had it all covered.
ALA, another host of the Triple Crown Convention, busy selling merch and chatting everything livebearers with attendees.
ALA, another host of the Triple Crown Convention, busy selling merch and chatting everything livebearers with attendees.
New products, projects, and services are often unveiled at in-person events like The Triple Crown. Attendees could scan the QR code and head over to http://vivvy.com/ to learn more and sign up for early access invites.
New products, projects, and services are often unveiled at in-person events like The Triple Crown. Attendees could scan the QR code and head over to http://vivvy.com/ to learn more and sign up for early access invites.
If your fish tanks were in need of lush, healthy greenery, Dustin’s Fish Tanks was the booth to visit.
If your fish tanks were in need of lush, healthy greenery, Dustin’s Fish Tanks was the booth to visit.
This show was wall-to-wall fish 24/7, and the floor was always busy with everything from hobby veterans to folks setting up their first tanks.
This show was wall-to-wall fish 24/7, and the floor was always busy with everything from hobby veterans to folks setting up their first tanks.
The Fish Factory's Mike Schadle might have quite literally any and every fish book one could ever want. What a wealth of knowledge and he is nice too!
The Fish Factory’s Mike Schadle might have quite literally any and every fish book one could ever want. What a wealth of knowledge and he is nice too!
If you were looking for biotope-specific substrate and decor, this was the booth to visit.
If you were looking for biotope-specific substrate and decor, this was the booth to visit. 
There were rows and rows of aquariums filled with unique fish for sale reared by aquarists associated with the representative specialty fish groups.
There were rows and rows of aquariums filled with unique fish for sale reared by aquarists associated with the representative specialty fish groups. 
Jen Williams and Johnathon Butkus of Oase were busy nonstop informing attendees about their new tank and equipment offerings.
Jen Williams and Johnathon Butkus of Oase were busy nonstop informing attendees about their new tank and equipment offerings.
ZooMed had a sprawling booth loaded with all the goodies aquarists could want. 
ZooMed had a sprawling booth loaded with all the goodies aquarists could want. 
Ongoing competitions and awards were happening upstairs from the vendor floor, yielding many exciting recognitions reflected in the ribbons draped over tanks.
Ongoing competitions and awards were happening upstairs from the vendor floor, yielding many exciting recognitions reflected in the ribbons draped over tanks.
With an entire row-and-a-half dedicated to gorgeous killies (::drool::), it was no wonder they drew a lot of attention.
With an entire row-and-a-half dedicated to gorgeous killies (::drool::), it was no wonder they drew a lot of attention.

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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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