Journals ~ AquaFest 2009

AquaFest 2009

This year, AquaFest was held in Laurel, Maryland. AquaFest is a collaboration between PVAS, GWAPA, and CCA. This was my first time attending AquaFest and I was also going to be speaking at the event.

Immediately after arriving and registering, we visitied the multiple vendor rooms offering everything from handmade fish hides, to plants, to live fish. The blend of the multiple clubs created a great opportunity to learn a lot of new approaches as well as meet a lot of new people. After a couple hours of catching up with old and new friends, an adult beverage or two, it was time to get some rest for Saturday.

After some breakfast it was time to really get busy. I was going to be giving a talk on photography in the A.M. and then I was one of two chosen to compete in the Iron Aquascaper in the P.M. The photography presentation began at 10:30AM after a very fun presentation by Ken Davis.

My presentation focused mostly on complete aquarium shots (geared towards planted aquarists) but many of the fish only keepers were really interested in topics that I covered. There were some really great questions and that is what makes presenting the most fun!

After some lunch it was time to prepare for the Iron Aquascaper. The guys from GWAPA did a great job of preparing for this event. They had wood soaking for weeks before the event and had plants in order. After about an hour or two of separating plants and deciding on which hardscape material to offer the competitors, we were ready to begin.

The Iron Aquascape competition is a stressful one hour gauntlet that requires two competitors to turn a bare aquarium into a completed planted aquarium. To achieve this, each competitor needs to create a hardscape with materials offered, choose plants, plant the aquarium and fill it; ALL IN ONE HOUR!! I have done one other Iron Aquascaper before and it is the fastest hour imaginable. One is forced to look at the materials and then choose an approach and get to work. There really isn't much time to change your mind so good or bad you have to push forward.

During the competition Kris from GWAPA gave a presentation on layout and composition. He did a great job of filling in the gaps and explaining what we were doing. This approach really brought great value to a lot of the folks in the audience that were not used to seeing a planted aquarium set up. After the hour, a panel of judges worked together to decide the winner of the event. It is always a stressful couple minutes listening to your peers critique your work. Even with all the stress it is always worth it in the end! It was a lot of fun to go up against Jeff Ucciardo. He is an accomplished aquascaper, fierce competitor, and a really great guy!

Sunday was the auction. It was frenzy of auctioning and buying! We stayed for about and hour and it was time to head back home.

Special Thanks too Kris, Jen and the rest of the folks from GWAPA for having me speak and putting together such a great Iron Aquascaper. Special thanks to Ben Belton, John Dinh, and Ghazanfar Ghori for judging the Iron Aquascaper. I can't say enough about GWAPA, PVAS, and CCA for working together to bring some really great people together for a great event.

I am already looking forward to the next time I get to see everyone!!


AquaFest 2009


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AquaFest 2009ADG's rimless tank prototypes. We used these in the Iron Aquascaper. They were a little rough, as they were prototypes, but very nice non-the-less.


AquaFest 2009The fish room was quite impressive. Each fish was judged and awarded ribbons.


AquaFest 2009


AquaFest 2009Jeff relaxing.


AquaFest 2009Tacos!! Is that Efren??


AquaFest 2009Nano at the GWAPA table.


AquaFest 2009Nano at the GWAPA table.


AquaFest 2009Jen


AquaFest 2009Getting ready for the Iron Aquascaper.


AquaFest 2009GWAPA had a great setup for the Iron Aquascaper. Two screens on the right and left allowed viewers a closer view of the competitors. On the center screen Kris explained aquascaping concepts and tied it into what were were doing.


AquaFest 2009Jeff getting ready.


AquaFest 2009Me getting started.


AquaFest 2009Hardscape


AquaFest 2009Filling Jeff's layout.


AquaFest 2009Jeff taking a last look.


AquaFest 2009Geting ready to finish with my partner Cristy.


AquaFest 2009My finished layout.


AquaFest 2009Jeff's finished layout.


AquaFest 2009One layout was raffled and the other was auctioned.


AquaFest 2009



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