Welcome to Rec.Aquaria.*
Welcome to the rec.aquaria.* newsgroups!
Please read this entire document and whatever FAQs it may suggest
before your first posting. We hope this will help you get the most from
the newsgroups, and aid you in getting along with the people already here.
This document will tell you about:
There are several Usenet newsgroups collectively referred to as
an international forum for the discussion of almost everything related to
aquaria and keeping fish. If you are new to the aquarium hobby, you will
find them a valuable source of advice. If you are an advanced hobbyist but
new to the Usenet forum, we welcome your input and hope you will find some
interesting discussions and the new information that you need to keep current.
- the FAQs (answers to Frequently Asked Questions);
what they are, and where to find them.
- Other Web Sites?
- proper etiquette for posting to rec.aquaria.*
- common acronyms and other terms
- common questions (with answers) asked
about the rec.aquaria.* newsgroups.
If you have questions about Usenet, newsgroups, posting messages, the net in
general, general netiquette, writing standards, how to FTP, etc., the
answers can be found in the
This is the single most
important group for someone new to the net who wants to get acquainted with
Some of the important
files (all written by Mark Moraes) in
news.answers you should check out are:
Before posting for help, please read as much of the FAQs as you can.
Really! They will most likely tell you everything you want to know
about almost every beginner issue (if they don't answer your question,
WE want to know!).
Reading them should be your first order of business and is a
simple courtesy to the readers of these newsgroups who get tired of reading
the same questions from newcomers, over and over.
- Answers To Frequently Asked Questions about Usenet
- A Primer on How To Work With the Usenet Community
- Hints on writing style for Usenet
- What is Usenet?
The FAQs are available in three forms: World Wide Web, FTP, and monthly
Usenet postings. The best and easiest
way to read them is through
World Wide Web at the URL
Outside the U.S., you may get faster access through another
mirror site, which are listed at the URL
the FAQs are also posted on the aquaria groups, and news.answers on a
monthly basis. A bit of searching through articles with the
subject ``FAQ'' should bring up the latest copies. One word of caution: now
that the groups have been split, not all FAQs are posted to all newsgroups;
some may be only found on relevant groups.
If you do not have web access but do have ftp access, these text-only versions
can also be downloaded from the Usenet FAQ archive at
With the explosive growth of the web over the past few years,
there are so many sites coming and going that it's impossible to name
them here. One way to find them is to use your favorite search engine.
Another good "jumping off place" is Fish Link Central, at
The old Caltech index at
http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~aquaria/ is being phased out, but should remain for a time.
If the following instructions seem unclear, read the newsgroups for a few
weeks (called ``lurking'') and you'll get the hang of the way things work.
There are many readers of rec.aquaria.*,
some are old pros, some newcomers, but
all would appreciate it if you would follow a few simple requests when
posting. Remember, you're asking them for help so you should play by their
1) If you've looked around for the information requested, but come up with
contradictory information, no information, or don't understand the
information, please say so. This will show that you've been actively
seeking out the information yourself.
Also, PLEASE PLEASE do not buy a fish and THEN
ask the newsgroup
how you can properly
care for it. Ask questions FIRST and read as much as you can
BEFORE buying the
fish. Allow several days for people to get back to you.
Most stores will hold a fish for you if you ask. It
also does not hurt to introduce yourself, and come to know the owner or some
of the employees at your favorite store. They will be more willing to do
things for you if they know you are a loyal customer. It is poor husbandry
to buy a fish not knowing if you can keep it healthy.
2) Fill in the rest of the subject line with a brief description of the
problem or a couple of words that describe the concern of the post.
A descriptive subject line is more likely to get read and
responded to than a vague one
(``Goldfish has white spots'' is better than ``Help!!'').
3) When asking for help, please give a complete description of your tank
size, lighting, filtration, its inhabitants and their sizes**, how long
you've had it running, measures of water quality such as ammonia, pH,
temperature, etc. You can't expect much of an answer (or any at all!)
unless you include enough information. (i.e. not
``HI, My fish died! Why? Bye'')
**Fish sizes are measured from the tip of their head to the beginning of
their tail fin (where the tail meets the body).
4) Please do not use all capital letters. IT LOOKS LIKE YOU ARE SHOUTING!
5) Make sure your newsreader is limiting line length to a maximum of 75
characters (or columns) otherwise it will be difficult for others to read
your post! If you don't know how to do this, ask your network administrator.
6) Do not post pictures to the rec.aquaria.* groups. Graphics in
general take lots of bandwidth, and are in general disallowed in
"non-binaries" groups. If the picture is available on a web site,
instead include the URL where others can find it. There is a special
group created on the alt. heirarchy for fish pictures,
alt.binaries.aquaria. Depending on whether your ISP carries so-called
"binary newsgroups", it may or may not be accessible (if in doubt, ask
Responding to Posts
When responding to a post, most newsreaders will include the original
message with some sort of character prefixed on every line, usually a
greater-than symbol, ``>''. Please delete as much
unnecessary information from the original post as possible, while still
maintaining continuity of the conversation. This includes extraneous headers
and information from the previous post that is not relevant to the reply.
As you read posts in these newsgroups, you're likely to come across the
following terms, acronyms, and conventions commonly referred to as NETSPEAK:
- rec.aquaria, rec.aquaria.*
- Collectively refers to all groups in the rec.aquaria heirarchy.
- As far as I know
- AFM, MFM, TFH, FAMA
- Four popular aquaria magazines:
Aquarium Fish Magazine, Marine Fish Magazine,
Tropical Fish Hobbyist, and Freshwater and Marine Aquarium.
- AOL, CIS
- America Online, CompuServe Information Systems; two commercial Internet
- By The Way.
- cut, snip
- Means part of previous post has been removed.
- Do It Yourself, home made, a device or system that is built
by the hobbyist.
- FAQ, FAQs
- Frequently Asked Question[s].
- A message which is abusive (see below)
- For Sale.
- FTP, HTTP
- File Transfer Protocol, and HyperText Transfer Protocol,
two method of transferring files.
- FW, SW
- Freshwater, Saltwater
- For What It's Worth.
- For Your Information.
- HyperText Markup Language, used for creating web pages.
- IMHO, IMO, IMNSHO
- In My Humble Opinion, In My Opinion, In My Not-So-Humble Opinion, etc.
- Local Fish Store
- reading a newsgroup, over a period of time, to gain knowledge
from other people's questions and answers, without posting anything of
- MO, M/O
- Mail Order
- MOP[S], PW, TFP, WTA
- Four M/O businesses:
Mail Order Pet Shop, Pet Warehouse, That Fish Place, and Wet Thumb Aquatics.
- Net etiquette. The golden rule is: RTFF!
- A beginner. Often, but not always, used in a derogatory way.
Don't feel too bad if someone calls another a newbie.
- On The Other Hand.
- An unfortunate correlation between Plocestomus Catfish deaths and
mention of their name on the net has led to the use of
`pl*co' as a superstitious
habit. For our protection, the fish's full name has been deliberately
- message[s] on Usenet
- The rec.aquaria re-organization.
- Rolling On The Floor Laughing.
- RTFM, RTFF
- Read the ``fine'' Manual, or FAQ. Usually directed at
people who ask a question without first checking the obvious places to find
the answer. Substitute expletives beginning with F for ``fine'', if you like.
- Siamese Algae Eater (see the ALGAE FAQ).
- The initial message and all the following replies to it, a discussion.
- Thanks In Advance
- UGF, RUGF
- Undergravel Filter, Reverse Under Gravel Filter.
- WD, W/D
- Wet/Dry Filter
- Wanted To Buy.
- WWW, W3, web
- World Wide Web
- Your Mileage May Vary, basically just because something works well
in one situation, does not mean it will in another.
- Smileys :-) ;-) :-(
- (turn the page, monitor or your head to one side if you don't
see it at first). Smileys are used to denote emotions that might otherwise
not be understood from the text, e.g. explicitly
point out a statement is meant to be humorous.
The three shown here denote humor, a wink, and sadness,
Q: What's up with all these different groups?
A: Due to the sheer volume of postings on the original newsgroups, a
proposal was passed by Usenet readers in March of 1996 splitting
rec.aquaria into several sub-groups. The
official charter of the new groups
can be found in our FAQ ANNEX. Meanwhile, the old
group rec.aquaria has been phased out (effectively replaced by
rec.aquaria.misc), so you should not post to it.
Please avoid crossposting (posting to multiple newsgroups) whenever possible,
especially to the .misc groups.
- A general discussion group for topics not covered by the other
groups, and topics that are appropriate to more than one group (rather
than crossposting). Post here if the topic doesn't fit neatly into the usual
freshwater/marine division (notably brackish aquaria), but does not
have a large enough following to warrant a separate newsgroup at this
time. Post here if the topic is of broad interest to many types of
aquarists. Also appropriate are such things as pointers to more
specific newsgroups, ftp and web sites, and other ``meta-issues.'' If
you don't know where to post it, it probably belongs here.
- Topics specific to freshwater aquaria which do not fit into one of
the more specialized newsgroups, as well as topics which fit into
multiple specific freshwater newsgroups.
- Topics specific to marine aquaria which do not fit into one of the
more specialized newsgroups, as well as topics which fit into multiple
specific marine newsgroups.
- Allows ads to be found easily without burying or being buried in
general discussion. Ads related to aquaria and aquarium products and
inhabitants by private individuals and businesses.
- While the organisms and special techniques vary, both freshwater
and marine aquaria face a similar set of fundamental problems and
often rely on similar devices in their solution. Discussion about the
technology of aquarium keeping, including homebuilt gadgets as well as
commercial devices. Discussions of the technical details of such
devices belong here, though the rationale for their use may be just as
appropriate in another newsgroup.
- All topics related to both old- and new-world cichlids.
- All topics related to goldfish and their kin.
- Another specialized group, home to any and all discussion about freshwater
plants. Topics may span the entire range of beginner to expert. Samples:
``My goldfish keeps destroying my plants,'' ``How do you grow
- The fundamental division of the marine hobby is into reef and
non-reef aquarists. This group provides a home for reef specialists
while allowing non-reef aquarists to avoid the large number of reef
Q: What about alt.aquaria and sci.aquaria?
A: alt.aquaria is a historical remnant from the original newsgroup
creation wars of 1989.
story behind this is now a fascinating net.legend.
We recommend that you not post to alt.aquaria
as the rec.aquaria.* groups are in place.
Nonetheless, the group continues to receive traffic more than two
years after the revision.
Sci.aquaria's unofficial purpose is for more serious `scientific'
discussion. Now that the new rec.aquaria.* groups are in place, there
is no need to crosspost to sci.aquaria. This group receives very
Q: Are there any other related groups? Mailing Lists? Chat Lines?
A: None of these other groups are supported by this documentation or any of
its FAQs or archives, but they do have related themes:
There are also some E-mailing lists. Here are some we know about:
- rec.ponds -- keeping outdoor ponds (usually with Koi and goldfish)
- alt.aquaria.killies -- keeping Killifishes.
- alt.aquaria.oscars -- keeping Oscars. Group created mid-1998 by
Mark Stone of Oscar
Study Page fame.
- alt.binaries.aquaria -- pictures, may not be carried by many servers.
List Name Server Address What to Send as Message Body
Discus-L firstname.lastname@example.org SUBSCRIBE Discus-L
BETTAS email@example.com SUBSCRIBE BETTAS Your Name
Cichlids firstname.lastname@example.org, subscribe cichlid Your Name
Dwarf Cichlids email@example.com subscribe Your Name
Aquatic Plants firstname.lastname@example.org subscribe aquatic-plants
Goldfish email@example.com subscribe goldfish
Killies firstname.lastname@example.org subscribe killies
For instance, to subscribe to the Aquatic Plants list, send e-mail to
email@example.com with the line "subscribe aquatic-plants"
as the message body.
Finally, there are interactive ``chat'' services, such as
Fishroom, a classy virtual meeting place resembling the
ultimate fish nerd's dream house.
Fishroom was set up by Kevin Carpenter, and is accessible 24 hours a day.
Specialized groups now have meeting times when you might be able to talk
to some experts.
telnet kplace.monrou.com 1025
and follow the directions. It is important to telnet to port 1025, or else you
will get a normal boring unix prompt. Further help is available
on the WWW,
or via anonymous ftp from
Q: Can I post Non-commercial Advertisements?
A: Yes! There is a newsgroup just for you:
rec.aquaria.marketplace, which is open to both commercial and
private advertisements. Here are some guidelines:
- Do not crosspost to the other newsgroups!
- Since many are suspicious of people
selling things on the net, be sure to include why the items are for sale,
especially if a profit motive may be suspected.
- If selling locally, include your location in the subject line
(``US-NY-Buffalo'', for instance). This will help your intended buyer find
you amongst all the posts.
It is advisable to limit the distribution of your post when
the item is only of interest to a local area (for instance, a glass tank).
This is done through your newsreader while composing your message.
Finally, after the item sells, you should delete (or cancel, as many
newsreaders call it) your original posting. Again, this is done through
Q4: Can I post Commercial Advertisements?
A: If you are an aquarium-related business, as of the March 1996
re-organization, you may post to rec.aquaria.marketplace without
guilt. Beware, though, that non-advertisement posts from companies
and their representatives may be subject to scrutiny by wary
rec.aquaria.* readers. General guidelines for acceptable advertising on
usenet can be found in the ADVERTISEMENT FAQ posted to
Here are some tips for keeping a friendly
commercial presence on the rec.aquaria newsgroups:
- Do not
post or cross-post your advertisement to any of the rec.aquaria.* groups
except for rec.aquaria.marketplace.
Retailers who are active participants of rec.aquaria.* can include a reference
to their business in their message signature (or better yet, a
reference to a WWW page). People can contact you or your web page
directly if interested in your business. Netters generally do not get
angry about this sort of advertisement.
- If you respond to a post with a recommendation for your business, make
sure to be clear that you are associated with that business (otherwise
you are likely to get a bad reputation when your connection is
discovered). It also goes without saying that your response should be
relevant to the original post. :-)
- E-mail advertising is never acceptable unless explicitly requested.
If a reader didn't specifically ask for your advertisement, do not
Q: Why did no one answer my questions?
A: This question is usually answered by
``YOU DIDN'T READ THE FAQ!''
The FAQs are a collection of documents
that members of these newsgroups have written to
answer questions that beginners ask ad nauseum. Before
posting, please read the relevant
FAQs to be sure what you wish to know has not been
dealt with before. Despite the world-wide nature of rec.aquaria.*,
there are in
fact only a few dozen members who answer the vast majority of
They get tired of answering the same questions over and over, and more
often than not will simply ignore questions that could have been answered
by reading the FAQ.
won't get a reply if you haven't waited long enough; many people do not read
rec.aquaria.* daily, and it can take a few days for the article to propagate
to some hosts.
Another common cause of the unanswered post is a non-descriptive subject line
or vague message content.
With hundreds of messages posted daily to rec.aquaria.*, it is easy to ignore
``irrelevant'' subject lines such as ``Subject: My Fish''. Likewise,
it is also important to convey all the necessary information in the body
of your message. See the section above on Posting to rec.aquaria.* for hints
on improving your technique.
Finally, the reason may be that nobody really feels confident enough to answer your question,
and everybody is hoping someone else will answer. If you mention that nobody answered
a previous post, you may get a lot of answers. They may not be helpful, but you will get them!
Q5: Why did I get flamed?
You may get flamed if you supply an ignorant answer to someone's
question, or just general ``bad advice''. Bad questions usually are ignored,
but bad answers are often flamed.
You might also get flamed when discussing controversial issues.
Threads on rec.aquaria.* are open uncensored conversations between adults (and
sub-adults of all ages) and so occasionally smart-ass replies and jabs are
made. These are not strictly discouraged and to throw flames DOES NOT
immediately cause one to be labeled a social pariah, but flames should be
on-topic and delivered with a sense of humor. Neither is swearing totally
unacceptable on the net but the use of swear words will quickly remove any
semblance of humor from your flames. This may result in seriously hurt
feelings, and so swearing is to be strongly discouraged. Also, a few smileys
(where appropriate) can go a long way to save people's feelings.
We hope that this introductory FAQ will improve your understanding of the
rec.aquaria community, and make your interaction with other netters fun
and productive. A great deal of time and thought has been devoted to making
quality answers to the Frequently Asked Questions available at all times.
A hurried post to the newsgroups might not yield an answer for days (if
at all), but if you read the FAQs you may have an answer in minutes.
Please give it a try!
[The FAQ Team can be reached by e-mail, but since we've been getting so many
irrelevant requests for help with individual problems, the address will no
longer be posted here.]
Return to Main Map
The FAQs owe their existence to the contributors of the net, and as
such it belongs to the readers of rec.aquaria and alt.aquaria.
Articles with attributions are copyrighted by their original authors.
Copies of the FAQs can be made freely, as long as it is distributed at no
charge, and the disclaimers and the copyright notice are included.