About Us

Founder - Sabu Yamamoto exploring nature with his trusty sidekicks

Carolina Aquatic Expo (CAE) was founded by Sabu Yamamoto. A lifelong animal lover, Sabu always had an affinity for animals. As a child, his parents took him and his siblings to the North Carolina Zoo every summer, and Sabu always eagerly anticipated this trip as the school year came to a close. When he wasn’t able to get away, Sabu enjoyed exploring the woods behind his parents’ house and catching salamanders and crayfish in the creek that ran through the neighborhood.

Sabu’s fascination with animals has been one of the few constants throughout his life. After moving to Charlotte, he happened to meet current Charlotte Area Aquarists Society (CAAS) president, David Magee. What began as a chance meeting in a fish store blossomed into a close friendship. After becoming a member of CAAS, Sabu was exposed to dozens of new species of fish that he had never heard of. Quickly, the aquarium hobby became a large part of his life, and he began what is now an impressive fish collection.

Naturally, as Sabu’s fish collection grew, some of them began to breed and produce offspring. Even with the club as an outlet for young fish, he soon became overwhelmed with the number of babies that were being produced. It became apparent that he needed another outlet for his fish.

Having attended many fish events with friends from the aquarium hobby, Sabu decided that it was time that Charlotte had something of its own. Three years ago, while working together with CAAS, Sabu organized the Charlotte Area Aquarium Trade Show (CAATS). The show was a resounding success, and a plan was put in place to continue having shows in Charlotte twice a year. Of course, after the second show, last February, COVID-19 struck the United States, and all large events were cancelled indefinitely.

Now, as we approach the culmination of a year overshadowed by COVID-19, it is time to bring back aquarium trade shows. Sabu has put together a qualified team to create Carolina Aquatic Expo and bring safe and exciting trade shows to Charlotte, and other markets in the Carolinas! (and beyond?)

The Venue - The River Place Sound Stage

CAE 2021 will take place at The River Place in Fort Mill, SC.

8400 Regent Pkwy
Fort Mill, SC 29715

This venue was chosen for its open, 20,000+ square foot, floor plan. With high ceilings and a sprawling, open floor plan, The River Place is just a roof and some walls away from being an outdoor venue.

Just 10 minutes off of I-485 and I-77, CAE will be easily accessible for travelers from any destination! Our handicap accessible venue caters to guests from any background!


Carolina Aquatic Expo has partnered with Aloft Charlotte Ballantyne in order to provide luxury lodging to CAE attendees! 

Book now!

The Aloft Charlotte Ballantyne features modern urban-inspired loft rooms with the technology you need to stay in the know during your visit. They offer upscale amenities such as a heated indoor pool and 24 hour fitness center with Peloton bike. You will love mixing and mingling in the W XYZ lounge which offers specialty cocktails, a complimentary pool table, and open spaces suitable for social distancing including our backyard patio area.

Their LEED-certified hotel is also environmentally friendly with card-accessed efficient lighting in rooms and electric car charging stations. Their #1 in the Aloft brand service team will make you feel right at home. The Aloft Charlotte Ballantyne has your safety in mind and is committed to the sanitization standards of Marriott’s Commitment to Clean.


No event is complete without food! This fall’s food vendors are B Cook’s and Potbelly BBQ!

Bryan and his amazing team return to bring CAE some of their famous American cuisine!

Doug and Potbelly BBQ will be returning as well to bring some of the best barbecue in the Charlotte area to CAE!

Check out their websites and support local businesses!


Potbelly BBQ


As we enter the second year of the current pandemic, it is increasingly imperative to provide a safe and comfortable environment for our attendees. CAE will be employing several different measures to help mitigate the risks of spreading COVID.

  • Contactless temperature reading prior to entry
  • Masks recommended for vendors and attendees, whether vaccinated or not
  • Social distancing
    • All booths will be at least 6 feet apart
    • All walkways will be approximately 10-12 feet wide
  • Sanitizing stations
    • There will be hand sanitizer dispensers at the entrance
    • Individual hand sanitizers will be available
  • Periodic wiping down of surfaces
  • Reduced maximum venue capacity