PET PRODUCT NEWS: The Aquatic Experience, which
will be held Nov. 3 to 5 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center in Schaumburg, Ill.,
will certainly be considered one of many of your
chief accomplishments during your tenure as
WPA president. Tell us why you developed this
show and about the significance it now holds in
the pet industry.
DOUG POINDEXTER: Today, fish are the third most
popular pet by household in the United States,
which boasts the largest market of aquarist enthusiasts. Our goal with Aquatic Experience has
always been to provide a real opportunity to advance the aquatics industry. In achieving this, it’s
crucial that we do our best in continuing to educate not only consumers, but also pet business
owners about the aquatics industry so they can
ensure that they, as well as their employees, are
equipped to help customers become successful
hobbyists in the long run.
PPN: This year marks the fifth anniversary of the
event. How has the event grown and evolved
over the years?
POINDEXTER: The show had a 75 percent increase in
attendance over its first four years, with exhibitors showcasing the latest in aquatic trends and
products alongside local and national hobbyist
groups, livestock and equipment experts, and the
industry’s best and trend-setting manufacturers.
Every year, we continue to grow and exceed our
own expectations as well as the expectations of
the vendors, retailers and consumers; this year
will be no exception. Aquatic Experience has provided a real opportunity to advance the aquatics
industry, and Chicago has given our show the
opportunity to grow over the past four years.
We’re thrilled to be returning for the fifth time.
PPN: What’s new about this year’s show?
POINDEXTER: This year, we’ve created an opportunity for both business owners and consumers to get
a solid foundation in fish health concepts from
some of the most notable speakers in the country.
On Friday, Nov. 3, Aquatic Experience will host
a daylong Fish Health Management Course that
will enhance attendees’ knowledge about basic
principles of proper freshwater and marine fish
management in closed aquatic systems. Featured
speakers for the course are Timothy Miller-Mor-
gan, director of the Aquatic Animal Health Pro-
gram at Oregon State University; Greg Lewbart,
professor of Aquatic Animal Medicine at the NC
State College of Veterinary Medicine; Patrick
Donston, owner and operator of Absolutely Fish
in Clifton, N.J.; and fish biology specialist George
The educational programming at Aquatic Experience is intended to address both the retailer and the hobbyist. These seminars range from
addressing intermediate-level information to advanced issues. With this year’s Fish Health Management Course, we hope to teach people about
basic principles of freshwater and marine fish
management, and enhance hobbyists’ knowledge
of maintenance protocols, nutrition, chemotherapeutic approaches, anatomy and more.
PPN: What would you say the value of the Aquatic
Experience is for exhibitors, and is that value continuing to increase as the years go by?
POINDEXTER: It’s important that exhibitors get aquarists started on the right foot with quality products
and proper information that will help them enjoy their aquariums for years and years to come.
Through education, we strive to help people become—and stay—successful in fishkeeping. Exhibitors are extremely valuable as, every year,
they showcase new national trends that continue
to interest hobbyists. Offering unique products for
aquariums and their inhabitants inspires aquarists
to try something new from time to time, keeping it
fun and exciting for all.
PPN: It seems that much of what you do at the
show is geared toward kids—the upcoming
generation of fishkeepers. Tell us about the thinking behind this, and the potential role this event
can play in helping to ensure the future of the
POINDEXTER: We want to make sure Aquatic
Experience is inclusive of everyone, and that includes children. A few “family friendly” attractions this year include Sea Lion Splash, an exciting and one-of-a-kind traveling sea lion exhibit
offering guests of all ages an up-close experience
with sea lions; freshwater and saltwater tanks; a
Fish from Around the World display; and a Kids
Aquarium Contest. If we can get kids interested in caring for animals, learning empathy and
responsibility, we feel it gives them a great foundation for success as they mature into adults and
leaders in our communities.
Fishkeeping is certainly a niche industry. We
want to expose it to as many people as possible to
ensure it keeps growing. Why not start learning
while you’re young?
The Aquatic Effect
World Pet Association president Doug Poindexter reveals how the
Aquatic Experience has grown since it was launched five years ago
and what attendees can expect at this year’s show.
to Compete at Aquatic
The World Pet Association will host
several hobbyist competitions during the
The World Pet Association (WPA) will host the return of the American Cichlid Association Fish Competition, Aquascap- ing Live! Contest and 2nd International Shrimp Contest USA
during its fifth-annual Aquatic Experience—Chicago, which will
be held Nov. 3 to 5 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention
Center in Schaumburg, Ill.
The American Cichlid Association Fish Competition is composed of 25 classes in nearly all new and old world cichlid groups
with $40 cash awards given to first-place winners in each class,
plus a $500 grand prize and $100 Reserve Best of Show. All competitors receive free three-day admission to the Aquatic Experience
show floor. The competition is sponsored by Aqueon, CaribSea and
Dr Tim’s Aquatics.
Entries are open to the public online at aquaticexperience.org
with no limit on the number of entries. The deadline for online
registrations is Oct. 19.
The fourth-annual Aquascaping Live! Contest is sanctioned
and presented by the Aquatic Gardeners Association (AGA) and
sponsored by Fluval. Contestants compete in two categories,
small or large tank, for $3,900 dollars in prize money. Registration for individual small tank entries will be accepted until the
25 spaces are filled, and the large tank category is an AGA Team
Invitational, with eight final entries chosen from all submissions.
And finally, The 2nd International Shrimp Contest USA will
give shrimp breeders the opportunity to share their hobby with
the greater public and exhibit different freshwater dwarf shrimp
species and color morphs across 10 categories. Contestants compete for $1,000 in prize money and the top Shrimp King Award.
The competition is sponsored by Dennerle, JBJ Transworld Aquatic, ShrimpKing and the WPA. Registration must be completed via
the website, shrimpcontestusa.com, by the Oct. 16 deadline.