Set up:

Q. Where is the contest held?
A. At AMERICA’S FAMILY PET EXPO! April 26, 27, 28, 2019. OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Q. What time do we set up the aquariums?
A. Thursday, April 25th 12:00pm until 7:30pm & Friday, April 26th 7:30am until 9:30am

Q. Where should we park?
A. On set-up and teardown days you may unload adjacent to the Anaheim Building #16, where the contest will take place. On Friday April 26th vehicles parked near building must be moved to parking lot by 9:30am. Enter fairgrounds through Gates 3 off Fairview or 4 off Arlington, then enter through Campground Gate near Green Gate.

Q. How much is admission on set up dates?
A. There is no charge for admission on set-up days/hours. Each contestant will receive a wristband good for FREE admission to AMERICA’S FAMILY PET EXPO on all three days with a paying adult. You may purchase admission passes online.

Q. What should we bring along for set up?
A. For set up you will need your aquarium design accessories and of course, your fish! It is also great to bring supplies such as tape, scissors and markers/crayons for last minute touch-ups. Your aquarium and donated aquarium supplies will be ready for you when you arrive. It would be great to bring a wagon to transport your supplies into and out of the building for set up and tear down. Also, if you have a one step stool – that would be good to reach into the tank. It would be best to bring your fish bagged or in a bucket to carry the fish to and from the show.

Q. I’m a parent, what do I need to do when I get there?
A. Your most important responsibility is to enjoy watching your child experience new pet ownership and responsibility! Aquarium keeping professionals will be on hand to answer questions and assist your child. The professional team will assist with filling the aquarium with water, preparing the environment with appropriate chemicals, installing the filtration system and heaters. It is our priority to make this a positive experience for your child!

Q. What if my child’s entire classroom wants to participate?
A. The experience offered through WPA’s Kid’s Aquarium Contest is great for children! We would be honored to assist your child’s teacher and classmates to participate in this year’s exciting event. Contact Pet Expo via email or phone 800-999-7295.


Q. Is it OK if we use toys as tank decorations?
A. Yes. Always test your toys/decorations in water to be sure they don’t float. As an example, Legos are a very popular decorating tool for the kids but they require weight to keep them in place. (P.S. The judges don’t like floating toys in the aquarium). To glue them to something heavy to weigh them down, use “Aquarium Safe” Silicone Sealant which is safe to use around fish. The “Aquarium Safe” silicone sealant takes about 48 hours to cure.

Q. If you use rocks do we have to do anything special with them?
A. Yes. Whether it is from the backyard or purchased at a pet store, there are a few steps you need to take before placing rocks in your fish habitat:

    • Wash all your rocks in a solution of bleach and water and use a scrub brush to remove all dirt and other unwanted material. Be sure to rinse the rocks until you no longer smell the bleach. (One cup of bleach in five gallons of water will do the trick.)

  • Check for calcium by simply pouring vinegar over the rocks and see if it foams. If it does, your rocks have calcium – Don’t use them.

Q. The gravel we purchased says PREWASHED. Should we wash it again?
A. Yes. Although most store bought gravel and sand are labeled as PREWASHED, we recommend you take the time to wash the gravel thoroughly with fresh water to eliminate clouding in the aquarium.

Q. Are there any items we SHOULD NOT put in the tank?
A. Yes, metal objects. Do not use metal toys or decorations in your design. Metals can actually kill the fish. Do not use any type of glue inside the aquarium. Do not use any type of furniture polish or glue removers inside the tank. Remember also that the tank background is attached to the outside of the aquarium and does not need to be waterproof.

Q. Do you suggest a good way to plan for the contest?
A. Yes, taking the time to plan for the contest is a great way to stretch your child’s creativity and develop responsibility. Build a diagram of the design, take a field trip to your local pet store and discovering ideas online, are all great ways to get your child invested in the contest.

Q. Do you have any fun theme suggestions?
A. This contest is an ideal opportunity for your child to let his/her imagination soar! The aquarium design should reflect your child’s personality, hobbies and dreams. Ask them the question, “What would you like to live in if you were a fish?” Perhaps an enchanted forest, outer space, a dark cave, a farmyard, a fire station… their imagination is the limit!

Q. How would you explain the “Natural” Category?
A. The name says it all! Any aquarium in this category should mimic nature. Examples include a natural lake bottom, stream or river. Although we encourage natural objects, plants, rocks, driftwood, etc., we have had contestants add pollution to make an inventive statement.

Q. How would you explain the “Creative” Category?
A. Aquariums in this category are a stretch of your child’s imagination. A creative aquarium can include dinosaurs, holiday snowmen, mirrors or even city sky lights. Handmade decorations and or anything store bought as a decorator set such as a movie set or themed.

Q. What kind of fish should we choose?
A. The best way to make a confident decision is to talk to a fish expert at your local pet store. They will guide you in selecting appropriate species to create a friendly fish neighborhood in your new habitat.


Q. How are the age groups separated?

Group I – ages 5, 6, 7 & 8
Group II – ages 9, 10, 11 & 12
Group III – ages 13, 14, 15 & 16

Q. How do the judges distribute awards?
A. Judges award a Rosette Ribbon to first, second and third place winners , for each age group within each the Natural and Creative Categories. Aquariums within the Natural and Creative categories combined will be awarded the Sponsor’s Choice Award – first, second and third.  All children will be honored with a participation ribbon and the rewards of responsible pet ownership.

Pick up:

Q. What should we bring along for aquarium pick-up?
A. On Sunday, April 28th between 6:00pm – 7:00pm you may remove your aquarium. When you arrive, there will be several professionals onsite to assist you. We suggest removing the fish and a portion or all of the water from the aquarium before transporting the habitat home. Bring a pitcher or large cup. The water in the aquarium will already be prepared with the appropriate chemicals so it is ideal to keep the water by bringing a clean container that you can transport the water in. A large bucket works the best. The tanks are cumbersome and heavy so a children’s wagon is an IDEAL way to transport the aquarium and supplies to your vehicle. We also suggest bringing a container for your fish. This may include a tight sealed plastic container or plastic bag with a closure.

Q. We already have several fish habitats in our home; do you have a suggestion if we want to donate our aquarium?
A. Yes. There are several rewarding options for you. Some of our aquatic friends have donated their works of art to their school classroom, retirement homes and even area hospitals. If you need assistance finding a great home for your aquarium, don’t hesitate to contact us.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Reject

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.