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Never Kill Coral Again: Curiosities From MACNA 2017

Amidst the excitement of discovering new things at MACNA, there are many vendors and products that don’t get noticed or talked about.  Well known brands and those with a promise of revealing something new usually get all the attention. I found a curious product during my meandering down one of the aisles.

Smooth-On is a company that makes kits for the do-it-yourself sculptor. Their primary work involves making sculptures, prosthetics, and ornamentation for television and movie sets. Using rubbers, foams, inserts and epoxy, the possibilities to create something unique is endless.

So what were they doing at MACNA?

Their booth showed a variety of applications for aquarium use. An amazing underwater sand waterfall caught my eye first. Made with epoxy putty, the effect was quite nice. Using molds and colors, it is possible to make an entire reef complete with live rock replica and corals. This would be useful for a fish only aquarium at the doctor’s office or law offices where maintenance and upkeep is largely dependent on the servicing company and usually on a set schedule. Corals need more care, specific light, proper parameters and nutrition, their needs may not always be met in an office tank.

Smooth-On’s website shows brightly colored examples, sometimes neon in color which made me wince. However there is no doubt a market for it, as we can see from the selection of aquarium decorations in local fish stores. Bright colors are probably best for your child’s tank at home or a public display in an airport. More natural coral colors would be my choice if I were using this product for my tank.

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I didn’t get a chance to touch the displays they had at MACNA but I would imagine that sculpted anemones like the picture above would be squishy. Stiff anemones would not be very realistic. I like how the one anemone has white tips, you can really get creative with this.

Smooth-on is a niche product as far as I can tell. While the use for it may not be suited to those of us that have natural reefs at home, it none the less has some educational uses for children. I can appreciate that a parent could help their child understand sea animals by narrating about the oceans as they make a sculptor together for Nemo’s tank.

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