January 2012 – National Zoo Tour

Sunday, February 5th, 2012 at 4:16 pm

GWAPA’s first meeting of the new year began with a tour of the Amazonia Exhibit at the National Zoo. Our guide, Ed Smith, gave the group a little history before a fascinating and detailed tour.  

Unlike other zoo exhibits which focus on “iconic animals” like polar bears or pandas, the Amazonia exhibit, which opened in 1992, features an ecosystem. Mike Robinson, director of the zoo during the 1980s, wanted to “get across the idea of biodiversity,” Ed told us.


The Amazonia exhibit is a forest with dizzying variety of plant and animal species native to the Amazon. There are trees, bushes, vines, and epiphytes.  There are monkeys, frogs, insects, dozens of species of birds, fish, and a two-toed sloth. Animals move freely about the exhibit. Many of the fish have been there for more than 20 years.


In addition to the tour through Amazonia, GWAPA members were treated to a peek “behind the scenes” at the room where all the aquarium filtration equipment is kept.


Ed was happy to answer the many questions that came his way, and it was evident that what he was able to share with us during our visit was only a small part of his wealth of knowledge.


Following the tour, members convened at Sam’s house. After following his tank journal on the forum for the past few months, members were excited to see Sam’s 57 gallon rimless tank and hear him speak about it. Almost the entire tank was a DIY project. Sam built the cabinet, made the LED lights, and even ran a hot and cold water supply up through the floor from the basement to make top offs and water changes easier. The intensity of the lights can be tweaked with a simple turn of the dial. Sam said that this was his first “serious” attempt at a planted tank, which many of us found hard to believe when we saw his breathtaking aquascape!  For those who have not seen it, Sam’s tank journal can be found at http://www.gwapa.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=43&t=4703


As far as club business, GWAPA President Jen Williams gave us a head’s up about what to expect in the coming year. The board is committed to doing a better job keeping the website up to date and planning events. Members were reminded to renew their memberships. Voting to determine the style for this year’s aquascaping contest has begun. The poll will close one week before the February meeting, and the aquascaping style that wins will be the topic for that meeting. Members can vote at http://www.gwapa.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4973


Kris Weinhold reminded the club of the “one bag” rule: please do not bring more than one bag of any given species to our monthly mini-auctions. Also, invasive species that appear on the Federal Noxious Weeds list, such as Hygrophila polysperma, will not be allowed in GWAPA auctions. The Federal Noxious Weeds list can be found at http://plants.usda.gov/java/noxious?rptType=Federal  Members are encouraged to be aware of the laws concerning invasive species.


The full meeting schedule for 2012 will be posted soon. GWAPA can look forward to another joint meeting with the Aquarium Club of Lancaster County, Jason Baliban speaking on the topic of planted tank photography, a DIY workshop, and more. In addition to our regular monthly meetings, the club plans a photo walking tour, and a field trip to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.


The board is looking for volunteers for Outreach/Social media,  Group Buy, and Plant Talk Committees.


The meeting concluded with our usual mini-auction.



-jrh  2-5-12