If you are ever looking for a good source of aquarium knowledge and experience, the best place to look is your local aquarium club. Most of these clubs are located online, but serve a specific metropolitan area. For example, Texas (my home state) is host to several major aquarium websites like the Marine Aquarium and Reef Society of Houston (www.marshreef.com), the Dallas-Forth Worth Marine Aquarium Society (www.dfwmas.com), and the Marine Aquarists Association of South Texas (www.maast.org) to name a few. This same layout can be found across the United States.
The benefits to joining such a club are tremendous. The standout benefit to participating in one of these forum-based clubs is the vast amount of knowledge that is continuously at your fingertips. Most people learn by doing. Thus, aquarium experience is the most powerful type of knowledge one can gain. Experienced aquarists will gladly post new projects, results to new experiments, or critiques of a more inexperienced aquarists fish keeping techniques.
Another huge benefit is the clubs often promote captive breeding and aquaculture of fish and corals by allowing members buy and sell propagated corals and tank raised fish. In addition, one can purchase used equipment when others upgrade their setups or breakdown their tanks. These sales make the hobby more affordable to those who can’t afford to purchase brand new aquarium equipment or full-sized coral colonies from a local fish store.
Friendships are another great thing that can come about by joining these clubs. Clubs are always hosting an assortment of events and other “get-togethers”. The more events you attend, the more familiar faces will become and friendships will develop. And these friendships can help you in many ways. In my experience, many people will give free coral frags or discounts on items he/she has for sale to their friends. Additionally, these friendships can lead to help when moving a tank or if you need to move all of your livestock out of your tank in an emergency.
Online Aquarium clubs are an exceptional source for aquarium knowledge, friendships, livestock/drygoods, and a lifetime of lasting memories. These clubs provide a tremendous resource to aquarists abroad and will help even the most experienced of folks. To find a club in your area, go to the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America (www.masna.com) and do a search. Additionally, Reef Central (www.reefcentral.com) has several forums dedicated to saltwater aquarium clubs abroad.