No Aquarist Is an Island: 5 Reasons to Attend MACNA 2016

Thousands of salties attended the Saturday night banquet (this shot only shows part of the massive room)!

Thousands of salties attended the Saturday night banquet (this shot only shows part of the massive room)!

Caribbean Chris and I just got back from MACNA 2015, held last Friday through Sunday in Washington, DC, at the Marriott Wardman Park, and what a weekend it was! From the venue to the speaker lineup to the banquet and everything in between, we think this year’s MACNA (Marine Aquarium Conference of North America) really delivered on every level. Kudos to all who had a hand in coordinating and presenting this massive convention and making it appear so seamless (extra special shout out to WAMAS and MASNA)!

While we’ll soon be doing our usual MACNA wrap-up post with more specific details, today I’d like reach out to all the salties out there who either haven’t heard of MACNA or are aware of it but think it’s not for them. Here are 5 reasons you might want to consider attending next year’s event, to be held in San Diego, California:

1. You can learn from and meet major hobby pioneers and experts

Dr. Bruce Carlson, Sanjay Joshi, Kevin Kohen, Richard Ross, Walt Smith, Julian Sprung, Ret Talbot, and Dr. Charlie Veron are just a sampling of the marine aquarium industry pioneers, experts, and influencers who spoke at this year’s MACNA. Nowhere else will you have an opportunity to learn from—and possibly chat with—so many different experts under one roof.

2. You’ll fit right in!

You know that vaguely misfit-y feeling you get whenever you try to discuss fish and/or reefkeeping with your non-hobbyist friends and coworkers? (Sure, they nod their heads and pretend they’re interested, but what they’re really thinking is “Cuuuckoo!”) Well, you’re not going to experience that at MACNA. Wherever you turn, you’ll meet like-minded individuals who share the same interest and “speak the same language.” It’s like the fish and coral geek mother ship has descended upon the city and offloaded its passengers for a three-day visit!

3. You’ll see all the latest hobby technology and product lines

The exhibition hall hosts dozens of vendors displaying the very latest in hobby technology and product lines as well as selling fish, coral frags, and other goods. This sprawling exhibition is always a remarkable sight to behold, but be sure to wear a good pair of walking shoes, as it encompasses a lot of territory!

4. You’ll have an excuse to experience a different city

MACNA host cities are always fascinating cultural centers in their own right, so there’s no shortage of sights to see and things to do when you’re not taking in a fascinating presentation, touring the exhibition hall, or socializing with other salties.

5. You can finally put faces to names

Speaking of socializing, that’s arguably the greatest benefit of attending MACNA. You can finally put faces to all the hobbyists’ and experts’ names you see on social media and in various publications out there. CC and I always thoroughly enjoy stepping out of our digital anonymity and meeting many of our fellow salties face to face.

We hope to see you in San Diego next year, September 9 through 11, at MACNA 2016!

Photo credit: Saltwater Smarts

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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. Great list, Jeff. As far as # 5, it was great to meet you and Chris in person at MACNA 2015! How long is the drive from OH to San Diego?

    • Jeff Kurtz says:

      It was great meeting you too, Al! Next year, Chris and I will go back to flying. I believe it’s about a three-day drive from here to California. I don’t mind long drives, but CC is definitely no fan of them!

    • "Caribbean Chris" Aldrich says:

      Fantastic meeting you, Al. 8-10 hours is usually the max my sanity can handle in a car. This is actually the first MACNA we have driven to – all the others we’ve attended have been via flights – so it was nice for a change.

  2. Unfortunately, I had to sell my tickets to this years MACNA. I knew I’d be missing out on seeing old friends, making new, and catching the latest in tech upgrades. With that said… I’ve already purchased tickets for MACNA 2016 in San Diego.

    Take this advice from one of the oldest saltwater hobbyist/business men on planet earth (50 years in and counting), if you have never attended a MACNA convention get off your tail and buy your tickets NOW while the price is still $89 for full conference. You don’t have a clue what you are missing, what you will learn, and the great people you will meet.

  3. Paul Baldassano says:

    Chris, I wish there was an airport in my driveway so I could take a plane for a cup of coffee 3 blocks away. I don’t do 8 hour drives unless two Supermodels want to come along.

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