About Us


Established in 1948, the San Diego Tropical Fish Society (SDTFS) has been the flagship of freshwater fishkeepers in the Golden State’s Greater San Diego region. SDTFS is the oldest fishkeeping organization west of the Mississippi River, and the third oldest fishkeeping organization still in existence in all of the United States. The San Diego Tropical Fish Society is also the second oldest continuously running aquarium society in the United States, just behind the Bay State’s Boston Aquarium Society. (The Boston Aquarium Society was founded in 1916, whereas the Empire State’s Brooklyn Aquarium Society was first created in 1911, disbanded around World War II, then reformed in the 1950s.)


SDTFS, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, draws like-minded hobbyists by sharing information about all things related to freshwater flora & fauna to further the stewardship of aquatic life. Thanks to SDTFS, San Diegan fishkeepers meet at Balboa Park on the second Sunday of each month. A regular monthly meeting’s agenda consists of a guest speaker presentation, a small fishkeeping-themed auction (to serve as a nonprofit fundraiser covering the costs of SDTFS mission, vision, purpose, goals, and activities), a mini refreshment mixer wherein fishkeepers can converse and network, followed by a raffle of fishkeeping prizes. April and November, meanwhile, are the two months wherein SDTFS hosts the larger auctions that can each run more than three hours in length.


SDTFS likewise hosts various community activities and events throughout the calendar year. At least twice a year, members can partake of group field trips to visit local fish stores of the Greater San Diego Region, OC, and Los Angeles County. In the springtime, SDTFS also hosts an Anza-Borrego tour to see both desert pupfish and desert flowers. Other favorite activities and events include the annual grunion runs, the swimming with the La Jolla leopard sharks tour, the behind-the-scenes tours of the Birch Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, as well as the home tour of local fishkeepers’ houses to see their fish rooms and tank setups.


Perhaps one pinnacle of the SDTFS calendar year is the San Diego Tropical Fish Society Annual Show, which is held every first weekend of November. During this delightfully informative three-day event, the public is invited to view more than 75 fish tanks created by SDTFS members. Similarly, the SDTFS Annual Show features fish showcased by sister clubs of SDTFS — namely, in alphabetical order, the Greater San Diego Betta Chapter (GSDBC), the San Diego Guppy Association (SDGA), the San Diego Killifish Group (SDKG), the San Diego Livebearers Association (SDLA), and the San Diego Marine Aquarists (SDMA). Other invitees to the SDTFS Annual Show include the Southern California Water Garden Society, the Koi Club of San Diego, plus various local fish stores (LFS) and other related exhibitors.


To be a full-fledged member of the San Diego Tropical Fish Society, please click to sign up here — or navigate to the About Us tab above and find the drop-down menu to access the Membership page. Annual dues are categorized into individual (either adult or junior) as well as family memberships.


The San Diego Tropical Fish Society is a very welcoming, enthusiastic group of members. Join us at our next meeting, and grow with us in fishkeeping fellowship. We welcome you.