If you're tempted by the thought of starting an aquarium, keep in mind that you will be putting yourself in charge of beautiful, precious living creatures. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Age: For children, starting small and letting the hobby grow with them can develop into a lifelong passion and appreciation of nature. For adults, along with responsibility of keeping things alive is the opportunity for artistic expression, scientific investigation, understanding the mechanics of pumps and water chemistry and, if you choose, an expanded community of like-minded friends.
Responsible sources: When choosing fish, investigate how specimens are obtained, and try to do business with environmentally responsible sources. A couple of places longtime saltwater aquarist Mark King uses are Phishy Business (Phishybusiness.com) near Columbus, Ohio, and Aquatica Reef Supply (Aquaticareef.com) in Louisville. Both specialize in saltwater tanks.
Books: A book King suggests as a great reference and has found useful since his high school days, now out in a 2008 updated version, is The Conscientious Marine Aquarist: A Commonsense Handbook for Successful Saltwater Hobbyists by Robert Fenner, Matthew Wittenrich, and Scott Michael. (TFH Publications, $69.95.) Another book, now out of print but worth searching for at used book sources, is Natural Reef Aquariums: Simplified Approaches to Creating Living Saltwater Microcosms by John Tullock (TFH Publications).
Networking: Bryan Jones points out that the loss of local specialty shops in recent years has made it more difficult to find places where aquarium enthusiasts can be found. You can learn from investigating online discussion boards like Reef2reef.com and Reefcentral.net.
Local aquarist Charlie Keller, who recently reduced the size of his aquarium to accommodate a growing family, suggested the Kentucky Reef Society's site at Kyreef.com, even though there is no chapter in Lexington.