Why Join An Aquarium Society?
Aquarium owners are unique, and not everyone gets our excitement over things like buying a new fish or piece of equipment, a recent spawn or our frustration at not being able to figure out why our plants won't grow, or why our protein skimmer isn't producing any gunk. Our aquariums give us great pleasure, (most of the time), but we constantly want to know more, be better at it, buy new toys and be around other fish geeks so we can talk about our tanks and share experiences. If you're new to the hobby, you probably have a lot of questions and want to talk to someone experienced who can guide you along the path to success. Local aquarium societies offer all of this and more, plus they're a great way to meet new people. Regardless of your "aquaristic" interests or experience level, there are countless ways you can benefit from – and contribute to – an aquarium society. And you'll have loads of fun along the way!
Like aquariums, aquarium clubs come in all shapes and sizes and they cater to virtually every interest or need. From general organizations that welcome all fish keepers to specialty groups that focus on specific aspects of the hobby such as reef keeping, killifish, dwarf cichlids or aquatic plants, there's a club for everyone. Within the membership you'll find a wide range of interests and experience levels, and there's always someone who can help you solve a problem, choose the right piece of equipment or help you get your favorite fish to spawn.
Benefits Of Joining An Aquarium Society:
Forums and other online venues are valuable tools as well, but you can't always be sure the information presented on them is accurate and you can't share information in real time. As a member of an aquarium society, you can sit down with fellow aquarists face-to-face and get first-hand information, you can visit their homes and see how they do things or have them over to check out your tanks. There's simply no substitute for that. Being in touch with other hobbyists in your community provides a golden opportunity to buy or trade rare and unusual fish, plants or corals you don't see in fish stores.
What Happens At A Typical Meeting?
Local aquarium societies typically meet once a month and meetings include a brief financial report, announcements about upcoming events, welcoming new members and other club business, before getting down to the fun stuff! The main feature is usually a guest speaker, and the presentation may be on a collecting trip to some exotic place, an in-depth discussion of a particular group of fish, a video tour of the speaker's jaw-dropping fish room, DIY and "How To" tips...the possibilities are endless! There's often a bowl show as well, where members compete for prizes with their best fish. There are different categories each month. Many clubs have a Breeder's Award Program (BAP) where points and awards are given for successfully breeding fish of varying difficulty levels. Then, of course, there's the evening auction, where fish – including BAP progeny – and supplies go to the highest bidder. The meeting usually wraps up with refreshments and an informal social gathering.
Another great part of belonging to an aquarium society is the different events they put on. Summer picnics, Christmas parties, collecting trips, swap meets, visits to public aquariums and zoos – which more often than not include a behind-the-scenes tour – fish shows (like a dog or cat show, but with fish) and tours of members' tanks, ponds or fish rooms are just some of the fun things clubs do over the course of a calendar year. And don't forget the annual auctions! For many clubs this is their main fundraiser, and for attendees it's a great opportunity to bid on fish and plants you don't see every day, disperse fish you've spawned, or score some amazing deals on livestock, aquariums and equipment! Belonging to an aquarium society can save you money, too! Many local retail shops offer discounts to club members in their area.
Most societies have a monthly newsletter and exchange with other clubs around the country or abroad. These publications are loaded with information on breeding, DIY tips, reviews of new products and other interesting topics. Many also have a Buy, Sell, Trade section where you can acquire or offer aquariums, equipment, fish and plants. There's usually a club library as well, from which members can check out books, magazines and DVD's.
Great for Kids, Too!
Finally, joining an aquarium society can be great for kids. Fish and other aquatic creatures are engaging to young people and aquariums are a great way to teach them about nature, science, the environment and conservation, along with the responsibility of caring for animals. Studies show that children who are more aware of the world around them tend to be more successful in life. Being around others who enjoy aquarium keeping will help pass that enthusiasm on to them and eventually to their kids.
Whether you've just acquired your first aquarium or you're a seasoned veteran, joining an aquarium society can add a whole new dimension to this fun and exciting hobby. Newcomers to fish keeping can gain valuable information and old-timers can share their hard-earned knowledge. In the end, everyone wins!