DC MACNA Doesn’t Disappoint!

Reef display in the Maxspect booth

Reef display in the Maxspect booth

Looking back over the weekend Caribbean Chris and I just spent at MACNA 2015 in Washington, DC, it’s dizzying trying to recollect all that we saw and learned and all the wonderful people we met. For us, there’s just something energizing about MACNA. We always leave the event with our batteries recharged and all sorts of creative ideas for enhancing our content and offerings here at Saltwater Smarts.

First off, we’d like to extend salty kudos to the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America (MASNA) and the Washington, DC Area Marine Aquarist Society (WAMAS) for organizing MACNA 2015 and keeping it humming along so smoothly throughout. I can only imagine the level of effort and aggravation it takes to pull together such a massive event. I don’t know what the actual attendance number turned out to be, but the Saturday-night banquet alone drew some 2,300 people!

Thousands of salties attended the Saturday night banquet

Thousands of salties attended the Saturday night banquet

One of the many elements that set MACNA apart from other industry events is the powerful educational component. This year, 25 prominent speakers from around the world—many of whom are renowned within our hobby—presented on a diverse array of topics. Among them were Dr. Bruce Carlson, Sanjay Joshi, Kevin Kohen, Richard Ross, Walt Smith, Julian Sprung, Ret Talbot, and Dr. Charlie Veron.

Tony Nahacky, legendary fish collector, discussed various "reef safe" techniques collectors use

Tony Nahacky, legendary fish collector, discussed various “reef safe” techniques collectors use

I thoroughly enjoyed Tony Nahacky’s presentation, titled “A Day in the Life of a Fish Collector,” which revealed through video the various techniques collectors use (or have used) to harvest fish for the marine aquarium trade without harming their reef habitat. With so much emphasis being placed on destructive collection practices these days, it was refreshing to see real pros at work using sustainable techniques.

Of course, Kevin Kohen’s MACNA presentations—this time on “Unusual Fishes for Smaller Reef Aquaria”—are always must-sees as far as Chris and I are concerned. We also appreciated Julian Sprung’s talk on the dangers of palytoxin (“Palytoxin: Are You Experienced?”) as well as Richard Ross’s “The Difference between Home and Public Aquaria.” And that’s just scratching the surface! This year’s varied presenters offered something for every hobbyist, every focus, and every experience level.

Saturday’s banquet was also a huge success—not to mention delicious!—with emcee Richard Ross setting the perfect tone and keynote speaker Dr. Bruce Carlson offering a captivating retrospective on his long and distinguished career (“Some Adventures, Discoveries, and Mishaps in the Career of an Aquarist”). Also at the banquet, MASNA Student Scholarships were awarded to Elizabeth Marchio (Graduate) and Tim Lyons (Undergraduate), and the 2015 MASNA Aquarist of the Year award was presented to Professor Terry Siegel.

Pyramid butterflyfish in the AquaIllumination booth

Pyramid butterflyfish in the AquaIllumination booth

As always, it was wonderful meeting or renewing our acquaintance with so many people—pros and hobbyists alike—who share our passion for the marine aquarium hobby and took the time to chat with us, including Kevin Kohen of LiveAquaria.com, Josh Saul and Randy Donowitz of Reefs.com, Than Thein of Tidal Gardens and Advanced Reef Aquarium, Matt Pedersen of CORAL, Nathan Levine and the rest of the crew at FishBit, Michael Chang of RapidLED, Gary Parr and Christine Williams of Reef Threads, Mark Levenson of Melevsreef.com, Ian of Sealife Central, Al Ulrich of saltwateraquariumblog.com, Ryan Michaels of Riley’s Reef, and many, many others.

Next year, let’s add your name to that list! We hope to see you in San Diego for MACNA 2016!

View more images from the event on our Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/1ie5DZk

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About Jeff Kurtz

Jeff Kurtz is the Co-founder/Editor of Saltwater Smarts, former Senior Consulting Editor for Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine, and the aquarist formerly known as “The Salt Creep.” He has been an aquarium hobbyist for over 30 years and is an avid scuba diver.


  1. Jeff, a minor correction. The tank in the 1st picture was in the Maxspect booth, not Coral Vue. Coral Vue is the N. American distributor for Maxspect and had the booth one over.

    Also, http://www.reefescape.net a DC area company did the aquarium design, installation, provided livestock maintained the tank for 3 days and removal at the end of the show… not a single animal was lost during the event.

    • "Caribbean Chris" Aldrich says:

      Hi Phil – Mea culpa. I captioned the photo incorrectly during the layout phase. Thanks for the heads up – I’ve made the change.

      Also, great to hear of your success at the show. The aquarium looked fantastic!

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