Aquatic Experience 2019 Adds New Features
Jacinthe Moreau, president of World Pet Association—the organizer of Aquatic Experience—explains how this year’s event will top last year’s splashy success.
There is no shortage of aquatic inspiration at the show, like last year’s wall display from the Florida Tropical Fish Farms Association.
Pet Product News: Aquatic Experience, which will be held October 12-13 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, N.J., offers a great balance of value for both trade professionals and hobbyists—and families simply on a unique outing. What’s the key to making sure there is value for all sides?
Jacinthe Moreau: When trying to impact such a wide audience, the key to finding balance is to provide a platform where each group may experience the show in their own unique way. Hobbyists and families come to the show to see the competitions, entertainment and new industry trends. Retailers come to attend retail-specific education and to interact with key manufacturers. Exhibitors see tremendous value in showcasing their products to a variety of audiences, and to build brand recognition within the aquatic community but also initiate newcomers to the fish aquarium world. There is undoubtedly a crossover among all of these groups, as anyone with a passion for aquatics will be interested in several of the features at Aquatic Experience.
PPN: What will be some of the highlights of this year’s Aquatic Experience? Has WPA added anything or changed anything for this year’s show?
Moreau: Attendees should be excited to see returning favorites like the Fish from Around the World displays, the Aquascaping Live! Competition, the 4th International Shrimp Contest USA, and the ever-popular Kid’s Aquarium Contest. We are excited to continue to add to these popular features with the new Betta Competition at Aquatic Experience. The Betta Breeders United Competition—an International Betta Congress (IBC)-sanctioned competition—will highlight one of the most popular fish in the aquatic world. Like our other competitions, the Betta Competition will not only provide an opportunity for enthusiasts to compete, but will also provide educational opportunities for attendees—in this case, the opportunity to see and learn more about these beautiful fish. It’s sure to be an exciting addition to our event.
We are also excited to announce that education during Aquatic Experience show days will be free for all attendees this year! This change reflects our goals to educate and support the aquatic industry, and gives an opportunity for each attendee to grow their knowledge without breaking the bank. With well-known speakers discussing a wide variety of relevant topics, there will be plenty of seminars to choose from, whether you are a hobbyist, a retailer, or an expert within the trade.
PPN: As recently as a few years back, there were still concerns about how the aquatics trade was faring after the last recession. What is the state of this segment of the pet industry today?
Moreau: I think that it is safe to say that every segment of the pet industry faces challenges in today’s environment. While there is no question that the aquatic business has shifted in several ways, the last few years have seen a resurgence in the hobby throughout the U.S. This has been boosted through the growth of large aquatic events around the country, and the influence of social media personalities that target aquatic audiences. The aquatic community is ever-changing, and it is great to see new faces that are able to make a significant difference to the hobby.
PPN: What trends are driving hobbyists’ interest in aquatics? And, how do events like Aquatic Experience help nurture the growth of the hobby?
Moreau: Planted aquaria, freshwater shrimp and sustainable fishkeeping are all trends that continue to gain popularity in the hobby.
We are also seeing a much larger focus on smart devices, allowing aquarium automation from phones/tablets. These devices encompass lighting, water pumps, powerheads, monitors/controllers and more. These new technologies have made aquarium keeping easier than ever before.
Aquatic Experience and similar events provide a chance to expose new and exciting aquatic trends to audiences throughout the country. Not only do attendees have the opportunity to see and experience these trends firsthand, but they also have the chance to interact with and learn from others who are passionate about aquatic life—whether it be other hobbyists, industry experts or aquatic social media personalities.
PPN: What trends might we expect to see at this year’s event?
Moreau: The Aquascaping Live! Contest and the 4th International Shrimp USA contest are perfect places to see why planted aquariums and shrimp tanks have become so popular.
There is no doubt that Aquatic Experience attendees will see a variety of technologies among exhibitors at the show. A small list of technological products includes the Bluetooth Fluval 3.0 LED fixtures, Hydor’s Wi-Fi controllable wavemaker pumps, Neptune Systems controllers and the Tetra My Aquarium app that targets the beginner/intermediate aquatic hobbyist.
PPN: Tell us a little bit about this year’s educational offerings. Are the educational seminars geared toward hobbyists or trade professionals, or both?
Moreau: The educational opportunities at Aquatic Experience continue to be a key focus of the event. We design our program around education that is specific to retailers and education that is specific to the hobbyist and consumer.
Retail education will take place all day on Saturday, Oct.12, and will address topics that may help retailers take their business to the next level. We are also bringing back our full-day Fish Health Management Course that will take place on Friday, Oct. 11, before Aquatic Experience opens. This course is perfect for any retail store owner and retail staff member that would like to learn best practices for fish keeping in retail stores. This course is science heavy and will provide in-depth information about nutrition, diseases and disease treatment.
Hobby/consumer education will take place on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12-13, and will discuss key trends in the aquatic hobby. These educational sessions will cover topics such as planted aquariums, freshwater shrimp, marine aquariums, biotopes and more. This is a great chance to interact with industry professionals that spend their lives in a world filled with fish.
PPN: The move from Chicago to New Jersey last year was a boon for many attendees and exhibitors, particularly those on the East Coast. Why did WPA make that move, and will the show continue to be held in New Jersey? What does the future hold for Aquatic Experience?
Moreau: One of the earliest ideas of Aquatic Experience was to promote the aquatic industry throughout the entire country with a show that could have multiple locations. The move to New Jersey was meant to support this idea by spreading our influence from the Midwest to the Northeast. It is very exciting for us to bring Aquatic Experience to a new audience, and to help create a passion for this industry that has such a hold on our lives. Since the event is designed to grow the industry with education and bring new enthusiasts to this fun hobby, our team is constantly evaluating where that can best be accomplished, so more to come on this!