The Florida Marine Aquarium Society (FMAS)
The Florida Marine Aquarium Society’s mission is to help teach people to keep specimens alive for long periods of time in a closed environment and educate our future generations on the conservation and protection of our natural reefs. We aim to create an appreciation and awareness of our marine environment and share the experience of marine aquarium keeping while advancing the hobby for future generations.
The Florida Marine Aquarium Society (FMAS) was founded in 1955 by a group of SCUBA divers. They were a small group of hobbyists in love with saltwater fish and excited about the challenge of keeping them alive in the home aquarium. Since the club was located in South Florida, collecting Atlantic and Caribbean species in those days was simple. Divers and hobbyists got together to collect, trade and discuss their aquatic conquests. Over time, the hobby and the club membership grew.
Florida Marine Aquarium Society is the oldest and currently one of the largest marine aquarium societies in existence. Founding members include groundbreaking experts in the hobby such as Julian Sprung and Martin Moe. Through the years, Florida Marine Aquarium Society has developed into a large not-for-profit organization with an elected Board of Directors and a membership numbering well over 300.
A core belief of the club since its inception has always been community involvement and education. Throughout its history, the club has held functions in conjuction with various educational venues including the Miami Museum of Science, the International Game Fishing Hall of Fame and The New River Middle School Magnet for Marine Science. Today, the club has found its home at South Plantation High School, which is a magnet school specializing in Everglades restoration and environmental science.
The club encourages student participation and welcomes hobbyists of all ages at its meetings. The club also welcomes participation of local retailers and other members of the trade. By mixing professionals with hobbyists, members have a greater opportunity to learn and expand their interests.
During the regular school year, FMAS meets on the 4th Tuesday of every month at 7:15 p.m. These general meetings are free of charge and open to the public. General meetings consist of an educational portion plus a guest speaker on marine-related topics such as: conservation, safety, collecting fish, breeding, etc. By bringing in speakers on a variety of topics, Florida Marine Aquarium Society works hard to educate the hobbyists on all aspects of the science. From do-it-yourself seminars to full-blown lecture presentations, the club will even fly in speakers from out of state to inform the membership of something new.
The close of each meeting typically includes an auction of coral and fish that have been donated by the membership for fundraising purposes.
In addition to its monthly meetings, FMAS schedules club events throughout the year. These events not only give members an opportunity to learn more about their hobby, but also give everyone a chance to socialize and have some fun. “Bowling for Fish,” the Summer Picnic and the Holiday Pot-Luck Dinner are included in this retinue. Members get a chance to show off by participating in the bi-annual “tank hop” where club members travel by bus to tour other members’ home aquariums and learn about their systems. The club usually holds one meeting in the summer at the Miami Seaquarium, which includes a behind-the-scenes tour and a live-animal show as well.
In addition to recreational events, the club also sponsors an annual show/frag swap where local retailers and hobbyists have a chance to market their wares and trade for new additions. Attendance at the FMAS Marine Aquarium Show has often been well over 1000 people throughout the weekend.