So you’re new to the marine tank hobby and you seek an online community with knowledgeable members who can answer your ever-growing number of questions.
Let me tell you, participating in a saltwater aquarium forum with people who share your passion can be extremely rewarding.
There, you could share the progress of your reef tank or see other people’s experiences which can greatly improve your learning process (aside from reading blogs like mine).
Anyway, let’s get started.
Here’s a list of, what I think are, the best saltwater aquarium forums for beginners in the hobby:
- Reef2Reef Saltwater and Reef Aquarium Forum
- HumbleFish Forum
- Nano-Reef Aquarium Community
- Ultimate Reef
- Reef Central Online Community
Reef2Reef Saltwater and Reef Aquarium Forum
Reef2Reef is the most active online forum for saltwater aquarium enthusiasts and is one of the best places for a beginner who seeks interaction with passionate hobbyists.
The Reef2Reef community has a wealth of knowledge and a ton of day-to-day visitors that could offer help or advice.
Moreover, some of Reef2Reef’s members have been in the reef-keeping hobby for multiple decades (looking at you, Paul Baldassano). This forum is more focused on looking after reef tanks and their peculiarities such as choosing the right lighting for your corals, for example.
However, people with Fish-Only setups who have just started out are more than welcome to join in the discussions. You could ask a question about pretty much any beginner marine fish, for example, as long as it’s not asked already.
In fact, you could discuss any topic related to saltwater aquariums and you’ll find someone with extensive experience to chime in.
And the best part is that you won’t need to spend hours familiarizing yourself with the layout of the forum to do it.
Unlike many other forums, the message boards in Reef2Reef are organized into well-defined categories which serve a clear purpose.
This allows you to easily navigate them and find what you’re looking for without wasting any time.
Author’s note: Though this online community is very friendly towards beginners in the hobby, doing some research before posting a question is encouraged.
Anyway, the website itself has a neat look to it, and there are daily polls to keep you entertained when you’re not discussing reef tanks.
All in all, if you don’t like having multiple accounts on different forums and want to choose just one – go with Reef2Reef.com.
The HumbleFish forum is not as large as any of the others listed here, but it is very active and I’m including it for a particular reason.
See, this online community is owned by Bobby Miller, who’s more popular by his nickname – HumbleFish.
Bobby is very knowledgeable about common nasty diseases that plague the average saltwater aquarium. For example, the common issues that result in tiny white spots appearing on your fish, but not only.
Moreover, the threads on Reef2Reef about Marine Ich treatments and treating Marine Velvet are just a few examples where HumbleFish is a respected contributor. Anyway, the HumbleFish Forum is one of the best online communities where you could ask questions about sick marine fish.
Bobby and other reef-keeping veterans are pretty active in there and you’ll likely have your query answered in no time.
Another great thing about this forum are its monthly photo contests.
You can participate in them by simply submitting a picture you’ve posted in one of the forum’s threads.
This gives you a chance of winning a gift card or another equally enticing prize.
And since winners aren’t eligible for another prize for six months, there’s a high chance you’ll eventually snatch one.
Nano-Reef Aquarium Community
The Nano-Reef forum is obviously centered around looking after and keeping nano reef tanks.
The community there has been going strong ever since the forum was created and, same as with Reef2Reef, is full of experienced hobbyists.
Evergreen topics such as what saltwater fish would fit in a nano tank and the reef-safe algae eaters that remain small are frequently discussed on the Nano-Reef forum. Note that you don’t need to pursue a reef tank to participate – everyone with a nano saltwater aquarium is welcome, even if it’s a bare-bottom one.
Just keep things nano-related and you’ll fit right in.
Ultimate Reef is an online forum that’s fairly active, but its user base is not as large as the other, more established reefing communities.
Nevertheless, there’s a good amount of information to be found on this website.
It’s also the most popular marine aquarium forum in the UK, which can definitely come in handy for overseas aquarists.
In addition to being the largest reef forum in the UK, Ultimate Reef is also the longest running one, so there are plenty of people with experience that could answer the question of a beginner.
The only thing I don’t like about this forum is its layout.
The way the message boards are organized isn’t user friendly and many beginners might have difficulties finding what they need.
Regardless, having an Ultimate Reef account is a good way to diversify the audience of your questions and to get an extra opinion on things.
Reef Central Online Community
Reef Central is what you would call the original mainstream forum for reef keeping.
Back in the day, it was the most popular online community and everyone interested in the hobby would hang out there.
However, years later, it’s become very inactive and much of the information there is considered outdated.
For this reason, I’m only including it as an honorable mention.
Some people say that the questionable moderating policies of Reef Central lead to its downfall.
Whatever the reason may have been, it’s true that most of the knowledgeable people it used to gather have moved to other, more user-friendly, saltwater aquarium forums.
My personal opinion on online forums
Though forums can be a great place to gather some extra knowledge for your journey to a successful saltwater tank, I’d say there are some caveats to the whole idea.
I would advise you to watch out for the hivemind syndrome.
That’s a made-up term that symbolizes the tendency of community members to agree with each other without critical thinking.
Simply put, if you ask a question online and the first two people who reply in your thread are on the same opinion then it is very likely that the following inputs will match that opinion.
Unfortunately for you, what they’re saying may not necessarily be the truth, or even what is generally agreed upon in the hobby.
Why this happens is a whole separate topic but what’s important is how it affects you.
Sometimes you’ll be fortunate enough to stumble upon a very experienced forum user.
However, at other times, someone who just appears credible but has no actual experience or knowledge on the subject may chime in.
Basically, what you want to do as a beginner in the saltwater aquarium hobby is to always do your own research and fact-check what is said in these forums, if possible.