Journals ~ Aquatic Gardeners Association (AGA) Convention 2010
The Aquatic Gardeners Association (AGA) holds a convention every two years for planted aquarium enthusiasts from around the world. This year the convention was held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from November 11th through the 14th. The convention is filled with speakers, sponsors, field trips, competition and friends. This year I had the privilege of being asked to present at the convention. For me, this was a personal achievement. I have always admired those who gave their time and effort to speak at the convention, and I was more than a little bit excited to share my knowledge with those who attended this year. The thrill of speaking and the amazing weather of South Florida in November would make for one great convention.
The 2010 AGA convention started on a Thursday evening. Many hobbyists gathered in the hospitality suite, eagerly signing in and jumping into a world populated by fellow planted aquarium hobbyists from around the world, excited to share experiences and learn from each other.
The Aquarium Design Group was one of the very generous sponsors of the event. The sign-in sheet was next to these amazing examples of ADA aquariums.
Going through some paperwork.
Florida Aquatic Nurseries
Friday morning, everyone packed into rental cars and the cars of volunteers from a local aquarium club. We headed west on I-595 to Florida Aquatic Nurseries, where we were all treated to a fantastic tour of their facilities followed by a flavorful Cuban lunch.
Stamps to the major buyers of Florida Aquatic Nurseries. Do you see your favorite local pet store in the bunch?
One of the many greenhouses.
We were broken into three groups and led through the nursery by employees. They took the time to tell us what they were working on as well as answer our questions.
On this grand of a scale, even duckweed can be pretty.
Anubias - rows and rows of it.
The pond plant section of the nursery was impressive and boasted some remarkable flowering.
Hemianthus Callitrichoides - lots of it!
It is best to not explain this.
One of the workers cleaning a submersed grow tank.
Stem plants are truly stunning to see in such a large quantity.
Lilaeopsis - fields of it!
Tissue Culture Workshop with Dr. Michael Kane
After the tour of Florida Aquatic Nurseries, we were fortunate to attend a workshop about plant tissue culture given by Dr. Michael Kane from the University of Florida. He presented many slides and a lot of information, followed by a hands-on experience that allowed everyone to attempt the process of preparing a tissue culture.
Drinda working with her culture.
Jennifer Dillon working on her tissue culture.
Aquarium Hobbyist Supply showing off their new T5HO kits. It's about time.
2010 Iron Aquascaper
The evening was filled with the very exciting (yet, stressful if you are a contestant) Iron Aquascaper competition. In this competition, two competitors are given one hour to successfully hardscape and plant an aquarium. This year Luis Navarro, a seasoned veteran, went up against Frank Wazeter of ADG. The competition was fierce as Jeff Senske commentated the affair.
The trays of plants available to the competitors.
Luis calming his mind before the clock was started.
Luis showing his credit card substrate leveling technique.
Luis chose a rock scape.
Frank chose a wood hardscape.
Frank showing his prowess with a pair of tweezers.
Luis showing us the finer details of his HC.
Head to head.
Putting the finishing touches on the layouts.
Luis filling the tank and checking his time.
Both competitors exhibited signs of the stress from creating and completing a planted aquarium in just one hour. From experience, I understood exactly how both of them were feeling. Before they knew it, they had run out of time. Then the layouts would be judged and a champion would be crowned.
There were 4 judges, myself included. A popular vote counted as the 5th vote.
Which layout do you like best?
Speakers and Presentations
The following day was filled with speakers. My presentation began at 9:00am. It was certainly early, but I was very excited to speak, so I quickly pushed through my "morning voice."
Here is a lineup of the speakers.
- Jason Baliban – Photography & Aquascaping Contest Preparation
- Claus Christensen – How to Make Plants Happy & Avoid Algae
- Michael Kane – The Secret Lives of Amphibious Plants
- Karen Randall – Modern Aquascaping Design
- Ghazanfar Ghori – Cryptocorynes
The night ended with a banquet and the announcement of the winners of the 2010 AGA Aquascaping Contest.
The following day was the auction. There are always some great deals and exciting plants in the auction, but I spent most of that morning reflecting on the great weekend and looking forward to the next time I would see my friends.
Preparing for the auction.
Every year that I attend the AGA convention, stronger bonds are formed between the attendees. It is a time to be surrounded by people who feel similarly about our amazing hobby. The speakers, field trips, and competitions are wonderful and always leave a lasting impression, but the time spent with new and old friends is what keeps me coming back. I leave the convention missing friends and looking forward to seeing them again.
I encourage everyone who loves our hobby to come and share your stories and passion with us at AGA. New people are quickly old friends.
With that, I said good bye and was off to find some alligators.
See everyone at the next convention!!
The alligator I found.
If you find this as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to Help me continue helping everyone.