Tuesday, August 4, 2009

1st Annual IMAC-West 2009!!

Pair of Choati Wrasse

This past weekend (July 31-August 2nd) marked the first West Coast International Marine Aquarium Conference aboard the historic Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. I apologize in advance, but this is going to be a lenghty and Photo filled post, but there was just too much going on to be brief. Past IMACs have been held in Chicago, so it was very nice to have such a great conference right here in Southern California. This event was a combination of 16 guest speakers, Manufacturers, Retail Shops, clubs and various other Non-profits, as well as a great variety of tank raised coral frags available at great prices, making it a truly comprehensive conference. There were also Raffles at the end of each day, with plenty of awesome Prizes, from RO Units to Salt to Vortech MP10 and a complete set of Controllable Hydor Koralias. Many Manufacturers were there unveiling some interesting new technologies, more on that later.

It turned out to be a great weekend in Long Beach, right across from the Aquarium of the Pacific. Excellent weather, lots of great corals, and plenty of informative knowledge. The few complaints I heard were over price of admission, however for this caliber of event, I felt it was justified. Many people have no problem paying $150 or more for tiny "electric bubblegum upside-down reverse watermelon" frags or whatever the current obsession is, but gawk at the price for a 3 day event with some of the finest speakers in our hobby, a great opportunity to truly grow and learn as an Aquarist. Add to that I believe tickets were lowered to $10 per day for anyone associated with a club, and it comes out to an Outstanding value, there's no excuse why any reefer should have missed this event!!! Especially those lucky enough to live in SoCal with all of our great clubs.

The Mystic Reef was very proud to be there alongside many other coral farmers from around the country, including Southern California and Colorado, selling and showing off tank raised livestock. We had a nice 28 gallon EcoSystem nano reef with a large rock of Green stars and Naked clowns next to our frag tank that was very popular. One thing in particular that sets this show apart from other "frag Swaps" or events was the strict requirement that all livestock sold had to be tank raised, which may come as a surprise to those going to other shows and seeing entire colonies for sale. All the frags that I looked at were very nice, and none appeared to be "fresh cut," which is always a good sign. One of the things we enjoy most about these types of events is trading with other farmers for some awesome new additions to our store!!

The Conference took up 3 floors in the Exhibition Hall of the Queen Mary, and it is a very unique atmosphere for this type of event. There were some very nice display tanks set up, including a beautiful display that was around 140 gallons by Quality Marine, filled with "rare" fishes including Choati and Tamarin wrasse, Chevron tang, a hybrid pygmy angel, as well as some very nice corals. Piscene Engergetics, Teco, Lumenarc Lighting, H2O Life, CPR, Ecosystem Aquarium, Reef Nutrition, Blue Life USA, Reef Hobbyist magazine, and Warner Marine were some of the vendors there that I can think of off the top of my head. All of them had plenty of information available and excellent displays.

Lumenarc was showing off some of the best reflectors in the industry, as well as some other innovative products like light movers, which is a great technology I feel more reefers should look into. It Makes each lamp more efficient by spreading out the light rather than having a stationary point source. The fit and finish, along with the performance of their reflectors are second to none.

Skimmer technology has definitely come along way in the past few years, and several manufactures were there showcasing new designs. Warner Marine had the highly anticipated K2 Cone skimmer, and for those of you have yet to see it, its a thing of beauty. Like all of Warner's products, the acrylic work is superb, the countersunk holes in the bubble plate of this beast are proof of a well thought out and designed product. Add to that its coupled with a Sicce pump, its easy to see why this is one of the better cone skimmers in the industry, I can't wait to get one running on a new display. As always, Jon had plenty of supplements available and an open ear for any questions about the use of his products.

CPR has long been a mainstay in the industry, manufacturing acrylic products like Overflow boxes, refugiums, and probably most famously their "Bak Pak Skimmer." Pretty much every aquarist has owned a "Bak-pak" at one point. They were showing off 2 new designs, The Aeroforce HOB and the Aztech Pyramid cone, a new twist on the cone skimmer. They were using Hydor Ario Pumps that really seemed to produce some very fine bubbles., and plenty of them! The new Hang-On-Back AeroForce looked amazing compared to the old Bak Pak, and their new pyramidal cone skimmer claims to give more volume than a traditional circular cone skimmer. Im eager to see reviews for these skimmers, which should be on the market in the next few months.

Another exciting new technology that was being shown off is a Twin-Arc Metal Halide bulb by ReefBrite. Essentially its 2 different lamps in one glass envelope that screws into any conventional Mogul socket. One lamp is 10k, the other is 20k. The lamp automatically alternates between the 2 every time the lamp is fired. Its designed so that during the day while most people are working the 10k lamp is on giving corals the energy they need for growth, and then before you get home you could have a timer swith the fixture off, then back on to the 20k, making the tank more appealing to the eye. Then the next morning it switches back to 10k and so on. I thought this was a very innovative product and would love to see how it performs over a reef tank and what type of growth rates it could achieve.

One of the main foci of the event was education, and with such a stellar lineup of great speakers, there was something for everyone to learn. The keynote speaker Simon Garratt of the UK, proved to be especially entertaining, and delivered an excellent presentation during the banquet relating his experiences on a wild reef to its correlation in a reef aquarium, such as why powder blue tangs school in nature, but not in our tanks. Other notable speakers included Joe Yaiullo, Bob Fenner, Richard Ross, Paul Whitby, Sanjay Joshi, and more. Its always great to hear what other aquarists have to say and how they address the same problems we do. Joe's 20,000 gallon tank comes to mind and how is able to create flow, filter, light, as well as deal with all of the problems that arise in a tank of that size.
Paul Whitby, Adam Mullins, Bob Fenner, & Mitch Carl, respectively
As this was the first one, there were some kinks to work out, but all in all things ran fairly smooth. We cannot wait until next year, and strongly ecourage everyone to mark the date on their calenders as this is an event you definitely do not want to miss. Here's to an even better one next year!! Here are some more photos from the event:
The Exhibition Hall During Set up Thursday, Looking towards The Mystic Reef Booth, The entire middle section was for the raffle itemsRare Latezonatus Clown from Australia on DisplaySanjay Joshi, Joe Yaiullo, and Jake Adams, Checking out some frags at The Mystic Reef BoothAn Interesting hybrid Flame/Rusty Angel on Display at the Quality Marine Booth

Chevron Tang
One of the SeaChem representatives stopping by to say Hi!Another interesting looking tunicate, appears to be a type of botryllidAdam Mullins of The Mystic Reef with Jim Adelberg and Harry Tung of Reef Hobbyist Magazine,
Another shot of the Aztech Pyramidal Cone Skimmer
Warner Marine Booth
Adam Mullins with Richard Ross and Matt Wandell of the Steinhart Aquarium
One of the Frags we traded for.