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  • Writer's pictureStewart Kessel

Blog: Trip to Aqua Telford 2021

Updated: Feb 19, 2022

Road trip to visit Aqua 2021 aquatic trade show

Road Trip Aqua 2021 at Telford UK

It was an early start to travel up to Telford from Kent, but worth it to miss the worse of the traffic. This show was the first time in nearly 18 months to talk face-to-face with many manufacturers and suppliers, so I was very keen to attend. It was a chance to catch up with friends from the industry and see what exciting new things would be coming to market in the coming year that may interest customers.

As always, the event was exceptionally well organised, perhaps even more critical in the times that we currently face. The traffic was kind, and I arrived just after the show officially opened – then a quick check-in, followed by a welcome coffee break before I started to circulate the show.

Although some more prominent manufacturers were absent, many others were eager to demonstrate and discuss their product portfolios. And as shown by the number of entries to the Aqua 2021 New Product Award showcase, they had plenty of exciting new offerings. These included aquariums and cabinets, numerous alternative dried foods, additional plant sources, water treatments, aquatic filters, and fish medications, to name just a few.

I was particularly impressed by Oase, who was very active in expanding its aquatic range. Additions included the new ScaperLine Aquarium range, specifically targeted at those that love the rimless aquascape style. The low iron glass with 45-degree bevelled corners makes for exceptional build quality and are some unique features that make for a great design. The Highline product line now includes the Highline room divider aquarium range. A simple idea, but one that I believe will be very popular. The new freshwater CrystalSkim aquarium skimmer will be a valuable addition for aquascapes, and its compact design and reasonable price will again make it a popular choice. A view shared by the Aqua 2021 New Product Award judges. But the new product announcements didn't end there, and other new products included BioStyle hang-on filters, Organix and Dynamix aquarium and pond foods and the AquariumActiv range of aquarium treatments.

Aquatics Now (AN) showcased the wide range of products they distribute on behalf of numerous companies, including the well-known Seneye system. One new product from ITC Reefculture was Reef Delete. This device indeed was an innovative product and a worthy winner of an Aqua 2021 New Product Award. I would describe this as a UV-light emitting pen designed to selectively eliminate reef pests such as Aiptasia, Mojano anemones and flatworms, all with a simple button press. I am not a reef keeper, but I can appreciate the simplicity and usefulness of this product and dare to wonder if it has any freshwater applications – cyanobacteria, maybe?

EHEIM were demonstrating their EHEIM Digital e-range, which now includes a heater thermostat, automatic feeder, as well as the previously launched lighting and external canister filters. The auto feeder builds on their original basic model, but it is now fully controllable and programmable via your phone, tablet, PC or Mac, thanks to the WiFi connectivity.

Prodibio was happy to explain their expanded range, including new larger package sizes for some of their more popular products. The glass vial packaging for which they are well known still has many advantages, including shelf life, but the large bottle packaging for some products is very welcome. Also, there was the new pond range featuring clarifiers, natural bacteria sludge, and algae Control and filter start solutions. The fully scaped blackwater aquarium scaped by Pavol Kul'anda on their stand amply demonstrated their freshwater aquascaping soil, nutrient, and biological products.

FishScience flake and pellet foods are a firm favourite with my aquarium fish. The insect-meal based products offer an excellent nutritional source for your fish. It is hard to believe that there are more products to come with their already extensive range. However, FishScience is well known for formulating and optimising foods for specific fish species or specific situations, using the practicable knowledge of expert hobbyists to hone the products before release. It is always a pleasure to talk with Dr David Pool about their product portfolio and learn about new developments in the pipeline.

It was helpful to see first-hand the extensive range of aquariums and cabinets sold by AquaOne, from budget to higher-end set-ups. This offering included their new OakStyle Yorkshire collection of aquariums with lighter oak-coloured cabinets. It was also an excellent opportunity to see their range of equipment and aquarium décor and ornaments.

Aquadip were keen to talk about their recently launched, new premium range of Professional Aquarium Care Products. The product range included water conditioners, plant food, liquid CO2, test kits and more. It will be interesting to establish what benefits these may have over other similar products. Still, a wider choice of brands to choose from is always welcome, and greater competition will hopefully drive innovation in these products.

Cloverleaf achieved two Aqua 2021 New Product Awards. Firstly, with their Pro-Tect Advanced dosing system for ponds. Secondly with Absolute Wormer+, a worming food for freshwater aquarium fish. This product is part of the new comprehensive range of Absolute food and treatment products - including feeds suitable for cichlids, small fish, stingrays, betta fish, and large catfish. The Absolute package also includes a unique free diagnosis training programme for the trade, with pictorial examples for a comprehensive microscopic analysis and targeted treatments.

The team from NTLabs were on hand to discuss their wide range of water treatment, medicine, test kit and food products, servicing the koi, pond, tropical and marine markets. Their freshwater Aquarium Lab test kit for NH3, NO2, NO3, pH, GH and KH is still my recommended water parameters test kit for beginners and experienced fish keepers. The combination of these tests is all that is required when cycling a new fish aquarium and monitoring the longer-term health of your aquarium.

Tropica was eager to discuss their aquatic plant range, together with their range of aquarium tools, plant fertilisers, soils, etc. And it was nice to see first-hand on their exhibition stand the Oase Styleline 85 scaped prior to the show by George Farmer. This display had grown-in since the original video showing the scaping process. I am a particular fan of the 1-2-Grow plant tissue culture range, which continues to expand with additional plant species.

The visit would not have been complete without catching up with OATA, the aquatic industry trade association, of whom we are proud members. Their efforts working with its members, government agencies (representatives who were also available at the show), and government legislative bodies are imperative to support our industry. As an industry and hobby, we face many challenges, not only commercial but also in areas such as the environment, conservation, and sustainability. OATA is the voice of its members and hence the hobby, and without their help, we could see unwarranted restrictions placed upon us and, in some cases, based on one-sided debates and poorly thought-out assumptions. More on this perhaps another time!

So, then it was time for a quick break to refresh and reflect on the day before embarking on the journey home.

Overall, a long day, well spent learning from others at the show and gathering information that will help us better advise and make recommendations to our customers.

Takeaways from the show – well, the welcomeness of normality to meet in person again, and the excitement that the industry continues to be buoyant with new products to offer both the novice and experienced fish keeper.

Author: Stewart Kessel CChem, MRSC

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