We just hit the 2000 member mark and to celebrate I thought I would remember some of the great things we have done together as a group of the the last 4 years....
When we first started out, we were called the West Lothian Tropical Fish Exchange. The group was set up originally as a local group for buying and selling fish and equipment in and around the west lothian Area. I admit that when the group started, I had no idea what I was doing and only used the group to find new fish. Over time I started to share interesting articles and facts about keeping fish and began to engage more in conversations. I also tried to help people find things they were looking for.
The first every photo uploaded to our group was one of my own and it was of some Malawi Cichlids I was looking to swap. I had not long returned to fish keeping after a few years break. on returning to the hobby I was amazed at how much the internet had become a big part of the hobby. In the past I had never associated the internet with something like fish keeping and most of my knowledge came from other fishkeepers or shop owners. I found these Yellow Labidochromis Caeruleus (yellow Lab) on Gumtree and very quickly wanted more.
The name of the group was changed to Lothian Fishkeepers and I opened up accounts on Youtube, Twitter and Instagram using the same name. With the help of a member James Leason, our logo was created.
Over the next few months the group grew slowly and as more people joined, people started to offer more support for each other. I started to understand what people wanted from an online group so I began to spend more time trying to improve things all round. Now was well aware that there was already such a thing as an aquarist club and they had regular meeting, sales and events etc. I looked about and the closest club meeting to West Lothian was South Queensferry. I thought of holding a Table sale for everybody to come along and buy/sell anything related to fish keeping. having never organised an event like this, I set to work organising what would be the first of several table sales. I was overwhelmed at the response from members and even non-members. On the Day we seen about 200 fishkeepers come along and have a great time.
After the table sale, the group became a lot busier and with the positive comments and feedback from everybody that attended, this told me that Lothian Fishkeepers had become more than just another Facebook group. For me, this was a turning point. I decided to give 100% of my free time to promoting the group and providing a service to the members of all the online pages.
Now I knew that our members enjoyed meeting up for events, I wanted to try and offer something more specific and focus on a single area of our hobby.
On a personal level, I was enjoying a new found interest in aquascaping and that gave me the idea of an aquascaping event. I decided to contact George Farmer, who is the most popular pro aquascaper in the UK.
After several chats with George, he agreed to come up to Scotland and put on a show for us. This was a big challenge which took a LOT of planning but we pulled it off and George gave is a great evening of theory and practical advice. This was the first time George Farmer done a show in Scotland and also his first event for a Facebook group. A sign that Lothian Fishkeepers was beginning to really come together.
Over the following months, our group started to attract the attention of local shops and manufacturers. This was great as it allowed me to offer prize competitions to everybody. We were also lucky be offered products to test and trial in return for our feedback. This was a lot of fun. I have now built some very good relationships with companies who are always happy to offer products for give aways. To date we have had foods, Plants and even some co2 kits too. All this for our humble Facebook group.
freshwater Shrimp are another Facebook group and together we hosted the first Freshwater shrimp show in Scotland. This was a big success and attracted some visitors from further afield. The Table sale at that event was 18 tables strong and there was almost 300 people came along that day to make its our biggest event yet.
On the day We had two speakers, both delivering entertaining and factual presentations regarding the L-Number Plecos. The Catfish Study group were happy with the result of the day and have agreed to come back again next year.
Our group has gone from strength to strength and continues to grow and develop into a great place for all things aquatic. I for one have found it a big learning curve and can say that i have made some mistakes along the way. These things happen but I aim to learn from them to make the future of the group bright and something we can all look forward to.
off course, none of this would be possible if it were not for the support of each and every one of the members of Lothian Fishkeepers.
As a way of saying thank you, I will be running spot competitions with fantastic prizes over the next week. Will start tonight by offering a £50 voucher for www.co2art.co.uk for the best looking planted tank. So Please get sharing your photos and the winner will be picked by CO2 Art themselves and announced next week. The competition closes on Sunday evening.
Thank you each and every one of my members.
Bye for now.