Belgium – Hasselt, 2001
The Belgian aquarium club DE ZILVERHAAI were proclaiming the world’s greatest aquarium and terrarium exhibition for the third time in 20 years. Because I had participated in the past, and didn’t want to miss this mammoth and incomparable exhibition, I spoke with Rolf Hagen Jr. about it, and he was very interested. And so the participants included not only all the aquarium and terrarium societies of Belgium, the Flemish Minister of Culture, the province of Limburg, and the Flemish Prime Minister, Mr Patrick Dewael, in person, but also Aquapress and Rolf C. Hagen with Nutrafin.
Aqua-Xpo had previously honoured me on their website by presenting a biotope containing Hemigrammus bleheri, the brilliant rummy-nose tetra. Jos Jansen, whom I have known for more than 20 years, had contacted me the previous year – “Heiko, you really must come.” – to which I had replied, “Only if you set up the aquaria the way I want them.” And he had promised to do so. The main problem was how to support aquaria weighing up to 20 tonnes safely at viewing level! But De Zilverhaai & co. came up with an answer: the tanks would be constructed from panels of marine plywood, screwed together, with the front glass glued in place. The stands were constructed from 248,000 beer crates from the local brewery – still containing a total of 2,976,000 bottles as it was too expensive to empty the crates! The whole construct was panelled, and subsequently recycled.
For 7 days (and nights) more than 300 aquaria and terraria, including my 23 biotope aquaria, were set up in the 16,000 m2 Grensland Hall in the lovely town of Hasselt. The result was incredible: about 30,000 visitors from all over Europe in the space of 4 days, plus no less than 3 TV channels presenting “The Greatest Show on Earth” on the Saturday evening!
Nutrafin presented my biotopes (which I set up myself), earning the thanks of the Prime Minister himself, while I received a diploma. The exhibits were: South America: a section of Lago Nhamundá with 60 red discus (collected by me), including youngsters, swimming majestically in a 3 metre (4,000 l) tank; Santarém at high water (3,000 l); Rio Negro cardinal tetra biotope; Rio Nanay angelfish biotope; rocky habitat in the Rio Xingu, home of loricariid catfishes; the Rio Guaporé; the most plant-rich river in the world; and the Rio Napo; Central America: Rio de la Pasion (3,000 l); Africa: Malebo Pool (3,000 l); the Ubangi (3,000l); Cape Agulhas; Cape Province; Asia: Assam; Bihar; Hunan; the Chao Phraya; and seven from Australasia.
“Aquatic habitats of the world are threatened and vanished, hundreds of fish species have become extinct
in nature. Every single day man´s distruction of mainly freshwaters continuous.”
This was a large display Heiko has created with some of the aquatic habitat destructions taking place
1. Aquarium: Rio Xingú and Tapajós – Brazil
2. Aquarium: Lago Nhamundá – Brazil
3. Aquarium: Lake Ifanten – Indonesia
4. Aquarium: Lake Kali Biru – Indonesia
5. Aquarium: Cape Agulhas – South Africa
6. Aquarium: South Africa
7. Aquarium: Central America
8. Aquarium: Ubangi – Zaïre
9. Aquarium: Bihar – India
10. Aquarium: Chao Phraya – Thailand
11. Aquarium: Sentani Lake – Indonesia
12. Aquarium: Ayamaru Lake – Irian Jaya, Indonesia
13. Aquarium: Rio Guaporé – Brazil
14. Aquarium: Rio Nanay – Ecuador
15. Aquarium: Rio Napo – Columbia
16. Aquarium: Rio Negro – Brazil
17. Aquarium: Santarém – Brazil
To read description of the following biotopes:
The Nutrafin biotope displays were such a success that other people in other countries wanted to copy them, and sure enough, Act II was to follow at the Zierfische & Aquarium (Ornamental Fish & Aquarium) 2001 in Duisburg. But more of that next time.