Up until the 1980s, the only way to obtain information on marine aquariumkeeping was to read books and aquarium magazines, hang out in aquarium stores and be a member of an aquarium society. That all changed in the 1980s with the advent of the Internet. At first only accessible via university computer users in Use Groups, the first online service providers, such as Compuserve, Prodigy and some upstart called America Online, came along. These services allowed for forums where one could discuss one’s passions, including all forms of petkeeping such as Compuserve’s FishNet, where I served as moderator for several years. Eventually, web page design and forum software became available, and the first online forums were born. Today there are countless forums dedicated to marine aquariumkeeping all over the world. It is safe to say that today the majority of hobbyists now get their information from online rather than print publications. This of course brings its own caveats, namely the quality of the information provided in forums can be suspect, and one must maintain a healthy skepticism.
It used to be that the only way to get live corals, zoanthids and mushroom anemones was to purchase them from retailers. Prices were high and selection was often limited. In Europe where soft corals were quite common in the 1980s, it was not uncommon for hobbyists to trade in surplus Xenia and mushroom anemones in to retail shops in exchange for credit. In the last 10 years we have seen the hobby progress to the point where local aquarium societies hold regular “frag swaps.” During frag swaps, aquarists bring their surplus corals and trade them for other corals, or raffle or auction them off. The ability to propagate so many of the animals that we have in our aquariums is a true testament to the dedication and abilities of hobbyists.