The Freshwater Aquarium discusses all aspects of freshwater fishkeeping. Tropical fish, aquatic plants, and their care. African cichlids, bettas, goldfish, oscars, koi, tetras and discus. Also discussion of fish tank setups, pond design, filters, heaters, gravel, lighting, and anything that applies to aquaria or ponds.

I wanted to review the The Freshwater Aquarium newsgroup because newsgroups in general are an immensely useful and popular way to share information on any given subject. I have been an active member of several aquarium related newsgroups but The Freshwater Aquarium is my most favorite.

The group is moderately sized with about 350 members at the time of this review and a has a few thousand posts in its archives. The Freshwater Aquarium (TFA) is still fairly new having just formed earlier this spring. Many of it’s members were active at the Usenet group rec.aquaria.freshwater.misc, but after competing with Trolls, decided to break off on their own to start their own forum. TFA contains all the useful information of the old group but lacks the annoying Trolls and unwanted advertisements.

Being a newsgroup it doesn’t have the organizational abilities that phpBB forums have, though some newsreaders may allow you to organize posts yourself. Subscribers should title their posts with informative and descriptive terms. Organization aside, the quality of the posts are of the highest caliber. The members are incredibly knowledgeable. Many members have been in the hobby for decades and have bared witness to a variety of changes ranging from equipment and husbandry to entirely new species. In my opinion the groups strongest attributes are their range of knowledge and their refusal to shy away from difficult questions. The Freshwater Aquarium members are both generalists and specialists and will take great interest in the topics you present. Members hail from a variety of backgrounds and many have experience with chemistry, biology, fish husbandry, genetics and other unique concentrations that often prove valuable to the hobby.

The impressive knowledge base shouldn’t deter new hobbyists however. The regulars here are welcoming and responsive to even the most entry level questions and one gets the sense that the forum is an opportunity for the most experienced members to “pass the torch”. Unlike some forums where scare tactics are used to weed out individuals who aren’t ready to dedicate their lives to fish keeping, this group offers encouragement to all subscribers from those who keep large rare species to the one-bowl Betta keeper.

Speaking of Bettas, I should mention that there are a few Betta enthusiasts who are regulars on this newsgroup and who are ready and willing to share their experience and expertise with you. Betta related questions seem to always get a quick and thorough reply but Bettas as a topic make up a very small percentage of posts. In general, I wouldn’t recommend this forum as a means of getting all your Betta questions answered but it is a great tool in the box for anyone with community tanks or an interest other species in addition to Bettas. TFA is a tremendous resource for questions about water quality, chemistry and equipment, which are topics that frequently affect Betta keepers directly.

In addition to the usual aquarium questions, The Freshwater Aquarium is the home to many backyard pond keepers. Pond keepers are not only welcome, their participation is encouraged. An impressive collection of pond topics has been established and continues to grow. So if you have a pond yourself or just dream of having one, this is a great newsgroup to peruse.

I encourage all our freshwater fish keepers to take a look at this newsgroup. The folks here take the time to learn your name and the witty banter adds to the camaraderie. Stop by and introduce yourself; ask a question or two or just start a conversation about your favorite species. I guarantee no matter how many years of experience you have, there is always something to learn at The Freshwater Aquarium.

Go to The Freshwater Aquarium homepage on Google Groups Beta: click the “Subscribe to this group” link near the top of the page, and select how you’d like to be emailed when new content is posted to the group. For Usenet groups, you can choose to receive an abridged email with a daily summary of posts or a digest with the full text of all posts made to the group. If you select the full digest, you’ll receive one digest for every 25 messages posted to the group. When you’re done, click the “Subscribe to this group” button to confirm your choice.

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