The Aquatic Plant Social

(Unedited version)
Originally appeared in the May 2006 issue of
Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine

You have your tank settled in and several plants are growing. In fact they've grown so well you don't know what to do with them. Or maybe you don't have any plants but are thinking about it. You'd really like to get more first hand information before you dive in. Or maybe you have a tank set up but can't find plants. Or maybe you just would like to join together with other planted tank enthusiasts for a fun evening of pizza and socializing.

There are many ways you can find to socialize with other planted tank enthusiasts. It's just a matter of knowing where to look.

Planted aquarium clubs are starting to spring up everywhere. There are also many general aquarium organizations across the United States and countries all over the world. To find them check with local pet shops, search the Internet, or most easily, check the back of this magazine. TFH has many great aquarium organizations listed in this and other issues.

If you can't find a local group what else can you do? You could always form your own club. A great place to start finding people is one you've already gone to, your local aquarium or pet store. While you're there picking up your equipment, plants, and fish you'll be sure to see other people picking up their aquarium supplies also. Chatting with other customers can be a good way to find other hobbyists interested in a trading plants and getting together. You can also make a nice notice, either on a computer or use your artistic skills to create your own. You can make color copies at home or your local office supply store. Be sure to include a phone number or email address so prospective members can get a hold of you.

Another great way to meet other planted tank enthusiasts and aquarium hobbyists in general is the Internet. Even if you don't have a computer of your own there are often computers at libraries and schools. With many free web based email programs it's easy to set up your own email to join mailing lists or register at aquarium forums.

One of the best places to start your Internet journey is Tropical Fish Hobbyists official forum, Tropical Resources. Tropical Resources, is one of the friendliest forums on the web. Several TFH authors post on their boards and the replies are incredibly fast. The boards cover all topics from the aquarium hobby including several just for aquarium plants. They also have regular live interviews with TFH authors followed by a question and answer period so you can ask those burning questions you've had since reading the latest articles.

A long time respected and active mailing list is the Aquatic Plants Mailing List. To subscribe go to There are a lot of discussions on this list about the high tech end of the hobby and many knowledgeable hobbyists subscribe.

So now you have the social aspect of the computerized world of planted aquariums, but you still need an outlet for all those extra plants you're growing. The good news is you can trade or sell your extra plants and fish on line too. You might be surprised to know how many plants and fish go through the postal service.

Trading with other hobbyists is a great way to make new friends and find plants that are hard to acquire. You'll also end up with plants that have been grown in an aquarium and are much more likely to adapt very quickly to your tank without the leaf loss that may occur in emergent grown plants.

You can even sell your plants on line at several auction sites. Different sites have different rules. Some are for selling anything and several specialize in pets in general or just aquarium items. If you're not already familiar with buying and selling plants or fish on line it's a good idea to buy a few things before you start selling.

Be sure if you intend to sell your plants that you describe them fully, including the scientific name, if there may be snails in the plants, and the conditions you've grown them in. Make sure you are familiar with how to properly ship your plants and have the supplies you need on hand before you start your auction. It's also a good idea to check with your local shipping service before hand to make sure there will be no problems when it comes time to mail your plants to your winning bidder. You won't be able to quit your day job selling your aquarium plants on line but it is a fun way to distribute your extra plants.

One of the most fulfilling ways you can share your planted tank hobby is with children. You can share your plants, fish and knowledge with your own or other local kids. At a time when science is under pressure and kids want to spend their time playing video games instead of catching frogs, I don't think there are many better ways to show children at least this small part of nature, and perhaps spark some interest in the biological sciences with them.

If you have children see if they'd like their own tank. A small tank isn't too expensive and you can even sometimes find them at garage sales or thrift stores. This is also a great way to get more tanks in the house that the spouse will have trouble arguing with. You can tell them it's for the child's education.

You can also see if their friends have aquariums at home. If they do talk to them about it and encourage them to seek good references for their inhabitants and aquarium practices. Many kids would also love to get more plants or fish and sometimes the lure of free inhabitants will be just the thing to encourage their parent to get them an aquarium.

Another great way to involve kids in aquariums is at your local schools. Many teachers have aquariums and would love to get free plants and fish. Some schools even have empty tanks or maybe you have a tank you aren't using. You can often set up tanks for schools in the office or media center. Books and magazines on aquariums are also appreciated. You can leave them by the aquariums to encourage the kids to read up on the new school inhabitants.

I go to one of our local schools once a week and help the kids with water changes and trimming plants. We started with an empty 55 gallon aquarium with a stand that they had on hand. Fortunately it didn't leak. It even had one florescent light strip. They bought some gravel and a second light that holds 2 bulbs. I brought in plants and fish. We're in our second year with that tank. We've also started setting up a 15 gallon tank which they already had complete with a stand. There are even a couple more tanks that have been found that we may set up later.

In addition to working with the kids at the school I was lucky enough to get a great deal on some new tanks for myself. This gave me more aquariums than I really have room for. Even a fish room can eventually get full. I decided to give some of the extras I ended up with to the teachers and kids at the school so we have about a dozen more tanks set up now both in the class rooms and in the children's homes.

Working with the children at the school is very rewarding. I'm known as the fish lady around the school. And many of the teachers and staff know me. It's a great way to become involved in local schools and encourage the next generation of hobbyists.

Joining or forming local clubs, becoming involved in a mailing list or forum, and donating time and supplies to local schools are some of the great ways you can make your aquarium plant hobby a more social and rewarding past time.

Questions or Comments?

If you have questions or Comments about this column, join the Natural Aquariums Forum and post them here.

Welcome to the Jungle | Into The Forest | The Creepy Crawlies | A Clearing in the Thicket | Algae Eaters for the Planted Aquarium
North American Natives | Why things go wrong Pt 1 | Why things go wrong Pt 2 (Algae) | Algae Eating Shrimp | Lo-Tech Tanks
Welcome to the Fish Room | The Stemmed Plants | Mosses | A Livebearer Biotope | Planted Tank Social | The Genus Hygrophila | Cyanobacteria
Easy Plants | What I Did Last Summer | Decorations in the Planted Tank | Botany-An Introduction to Plant Biology | Botany-Anatomy of a plant
Botany-How Plants Work | Easy Rosettes | Going High-Tech | Floating Plants | Dealing with Success | Bringing the Outside In | Vallisneria
Hair Algae | Flowering Aquarium Plants Part 1 | Flowering Aquarium Plants Part 2 | Liverworts in the Aquarium | Elements of Design
Planted Aquarium Maintenance | More Mosses | Invaders | Ferns in the Aquarium | Setting up a Planted Aquarium
Seaweeds of the Pacific Northwest | Proserpinaca | Hardware for the Planted Aquarium | Rotala | Neocaridina Shrimp | Lo-tech Tank Tips

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