How To Start An Aquarium Society(Part 1 of 4)

O.K. so fish don’t have clubs but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have one. The whole concept of an aquarium club is something that is near and dear to my heart. I started my aquarium society on new years eve 2003 and got so excited with ideas that one thing led to another and within a few days I had officially started the Northeast Philadelphia Aquarium Society.

At the time of me writing this, the club was a year and a half old. Me and my fellow fish enthusiast Bill Gehan have been working hard to try to build our club up to bring the most entertaining and educational experience that we could offer. In that time we went from having just a web site to having sponsors speakers door prizes and so much more. There were so many things that we were working on when I began to right this that looking into the future I am sure that I am going to be adding a paragraph that says UPDATE!

Before I start getting too far into the future Let me tell you about the beginning, I had a tropical fish tank when I was a kid, all I can really remember now is that we had electric blue crawfish and goldfish, looking back on the tank now I know now that the goldfish were Feeder fish that had escaped the clutches of the crawfish.

Fast forward to the year 2000. I was bored. I needed a hobby to take up some of the free time that I had, off to the pet store I went. There I found the ten gallon tank that seemed to remind me of my childhood.

So I got it. And or the first few years there it sat always filled with guppies or with some weird salamander that I only remember as being a water dog. That was followed by the fancier guppies and then the mollies and platys and the first of many betta. Next came a tank for the bedroom, needed something to look at while in bed, then a few more betta and then a small tank for the kitchen. You know how it goes aquariums are like potato chips, you can’t eat just one.

As my interest in tropical fish began to grow I found myself looking more and more towards the internet, what I found there was a treasure trove of information a lot of it coming from various aquarium clubs around the world, the thought of joining one of these clubs was starting to sound like a great idea. Look at all the things these clubs were offering, prizes raffles auctions of aquarium equipment. How could things go wrong? In a city the size of mine (Philadelphia) how could there not be an aquarium club near me? That’s when I hit a brick wall. Sure, Philadelphia had a few clubs and I was sure they were great but 2 problems came up, the first being location, At the time I was not driving, and many of these meetings were not really viable for me to get to from public transportation. The second was exclusivity there was a betta club, a reef club, a killi club and a few other small groups around but nothing in the broader sense of the hobby. Except for The Bucks County Aquarium Society. Which was great, I had no way to get there. I did eventually become a member there but that’s a whole other story.

A few months later while working on my website I had an idea, my web site was getting boring and needed to be re-done. Why not turn it into a fish related site so that people can get together and talk about fish. Within hours it became clear to me that I was creating my little aquarium club. And the rest was history.

The following guide is just that, a guide. I want to take you through the steps I went trough to create an aquarium society. I am still in the process of building mine. You will find as I have that you will always be building your club. You have to otherwise it will not grow, and prosper. By always keeping things fresh and exciting you will always find people to join you. When they do they will hopefully become life long friends.

What’s in a Name?
‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’ -William Shakespeare. And that’s a good point. What is in a name?

An aquarium society needs a name, without it what would you tell people you belong to? There are many things to think about when you are trying to name your club. Your location: When you live in say Philadelphia do you really want to name your club The Philadelphia Aquarium Society? That’s well and good as long as you are the only Aquarium club in Philadelphia but let’s face it you won’t be and the people who run the Northeast Philadelphia Aquarium Society (namely me) would not be too happy that a club has taken part of it’s name and may be confusing to people looking for The Northeast Philadelphia Aquarium Society. Try to be more specific when it comes to naming after your location. If you live in the southwest of your city then you may want to call it the “Southwest (My City) Aquarium Society”. It seems to me that when I look for aquarium societies to join the name usually tells me how far I am going to have to travel in that area to find the society, there are instances however when there is no location in the name of the society such as is in our next part…

The Fish Specific club:

You walk into the meeting of the local angelfish society and all you see is goldfish, Not that goldfish aren’t great but all you keep is angelfish, It would be really confusing for you wouldn’t it? So what would I recommend for naming your club? How about combining both, for example how about the Northwest Philadelphia Association of Fancy guppy breeders and keepers…A little long isn’t it? Well what are you to do now? You could shorten it to the nwpafgb&k but then people may just look at you and go HUH?! Plus either of those names would make for an awfully long website address and take up too much space on your flyers and such. Remember people like simplicity. In closing remember the old saying K.I.S. Keep it Simple. Anybody who remembers the old days of should remember that.

Part 2: The Set Up:
O.k. you have chosen a name for your new aquarium society. Now what do you do? Well, this could go in many directions you could start posting flyers all over the place, you could set up a web page; you could do about 100 different things. But take it easy and prepare a little bit more. Let me ask you this, do you visit or are you a member of an aquarium society? If not well then you should really visit a few meetings, the inner workings of the club are really great. Get to know some of the members and the people who run the club, especially the founders if they are available. They will be able give you the best advice on what to do.