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Books Reviewed - Recommended General Titles 3


BOOKS OF GENERAL INTEREST - part III

23. TAKASHI AMANO "AQUARIUM PLANT PARADISE" by TFH Publications. Another great book for aquatic plant lovers. Unlike the other three books of Takashi Amano this one has fewer photos but more details on how to decorate your tank, take care of your plants, diagrams and useful information that will help you to create your own "plant paradise". Of course you will also find some spectacular photos of Amano's tanks (which can also be seen in the other books of Amano). The quality of the printed pictures is exceptional due to a special technique used by TFH. If you are the kind of hobbyist who wants some guidelines and information to create his own aqua garden, this book is for you. If you just want to see pictures of planted aquariums then I would recommend the other books of Amano. 

24. GERARD BASSLEER "COLORGUIDE OF TROPICAL FISH DISEASES" by BASSLEER Biofish Edns (1997, 276 pages, HC). Another great book about fish health. After reading the other books on this list, I thought that this one would not offer me any additional information. Wrong I was, because this book offers a new approach on this subject and it is definitely the best approach for the average hobbyist. It is far more comprehensive and offers all the information in a clever pictorial way (which is exactly what most of us need). The diseases are described next to photos showing diseased fish. There is a separate chapter on medications with doses (with correct information - a bit limited for my taste, but remember, I am very experienced on this field). Finally a very useful section where the different genera / species are listed with photos and the most common diseases the fish keeper may experience while keeping them. It may not contain the wealth of information found in other books (this is not to say that it is "limited") in this list but it has photos which is a great plus. Drawback ? Yes, there is one, but has to do with my special fish. There are no Rift Lake African cichlids classified in the last section. Conclusion : Recommended.

25."HYDRA - ITALIAN REVIEW OF AQUARIOPHILIA" by SESTO CONTINENTE S.R.L.(published 10 times / year, approx. 100 pages, Italian). The May 2001 issue, devoted to African Rift Lake cichlids was handed over to MCH during the 13th Belgian Cichlid Show by Giorgio Melandri who is a hobbyist himself apart from being the person responsible for this publication. An excellent publication in all. I don't speak Italian at all, however I was still able to appreciate the excellent quality and the tons of information included in this publication. The printing is first class, the photos are reproduced with accuracy and you can enjoy them in almost every page. A true gem, too bad it is only printed in Italian. Supposed to cover one subject per issue, it is classified as "essential" to those speaking the language.

26. ULRICH GLASER "AQUALOG PHOTO COLLECTION 1 - AFRICAN CATFISHES" by Verlag A.C.S. GmbH (98 pages, paperback). This Aqualog book also offers a CD showing all the African catfishes you are going to see it its pages. The layout is in the usual (for Atlases) format (8 photos per page) and the information given comes in the form of symbols which cover the basic needs of the fish (water chemistry, food needs, temperature, tank decoration, swimming level and lighting conditions) while the final size as well as the stage of the fish in the photo - juvenile / adult / male / female is mentioned (where known). Thanks to the update stickers which regularly become available from the publisher this volume will never become outdated. As a book it is handy and very useful when you want to identify your fish or know the basics about it. We would all like to know more about these fishes but this volume is not here to serve this purpose. Instead it is here to help you locate the fish you have (or intend to buy), tell you the very basics about it and also allows you to take a look at other catfishes from compatible habitats. The quality of the pictures (as with all AquaLog books) is exceptional. Recommended for all those who love African catfishes (and many African cichlid keepers have Synodontis species in their tanks). 

27. ULRICH GLASER &WOLFGANG GLASER "LORICARIIDAE - ALL L-NUMBERS" by Verlag A.C.S. GmbH (1995, 108 pages, paperback). This Aqualog book is a "must" for everybody interested in catfishes. Has all the L-numbers until 1995 (L-202) while thanks to the update stickers which regularly become available from the publisher this volume will never become outdated. Actually, the last stickers I added recently showed L-268. The photos are very clear and serve the identification purposes very well. In many cases a species is cross referred to other L-numbers and in some cases you have the chance to see the juvenile and the adult species (very helpful if they differ significantly). A highly recommended book.

28. RICHARD A. ROSS "AQUALOG SPECIAL - FRESHWATER STINGRAYS FROM SOUTH AMERICA" by Aqualog Verlag GmbH (66 pages, HC). This is another Aqualog book for hobbyists interested in very special fishes. I would say "all you ever wanted to know about freshwater stingrays" but I don't know if this is true. All I know is that, after reading this particular book, I knew what to take care about, what to watch for if I was to buy one and which are the best conditions to keep it. As always, the book contains enough photos to satisfy the experienced aquarists although I guess there are more specialized books for those who already keep freshwater stingrays. Recommended as an introductory volume.

(second reviewer) Book Description: Fresh-water stingrays in their natural habitat are feared much more than the piranhas, because of the dangerous poisonous spines they carry along the tail. Nevertheless, all over the world an increasing numbers of enthusiastic aquarists get trapped by the fascination these unique creatures display. The author (Dr Richard Ross, a scientist at the Santa Barbara Zoo in America), has been involved for many years in keeping these venomous beauties in the zoo’s display tank, and finally reports all the knowledge he’s gained while involved in it. All aspects of ray keeping (including breeding) are reviewed in detail: the needed tank size, aquascaping and technical supply, as well as correct water parameters, feeding … everything up to breeding. Special care is devoted to the handling of possible illnesses (Do consider a large percentage of those fishes are wild-caught and, furthermore, awfully expensive!). The specific needs of both the main ray groups, as well as their own peculiarities, are discussed. A lot of top class pics are an invaluable addition to this book, which is, all in all, a must for anyone interested in just learning more about these fishes or planning to keep stingray(s) in a tank.

28b Freshwater Stingrays: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual. Book Description: A sort of "pocket book" filled with full-color photos, a lot of info, and easy-to-read tables and charts. The title of this book says it all. Freshwater stingrays are captivating, but need more care and attention than most other freshwater fishes, and DO need specialized care. It discusses many precautions such as the use of heaters, which is just one of the technical issues reviewed, water chemistry, diet, disease(s), everything else up to the need to watch out for their stings, and finally ending with a review of breeding tips and info. All in all, a good informative collection in a small package. Special care is used in informing the future "ray keeper" about the fact that many stingrays are small (however, beware...in reality many of them will grow up to 3 feet in disc size!!!) enough for home aquariums, but hobbyists whould know very well what they’re going to "handle" (aka: they have to know how to protect themselves against stingray venom). A special chapter, Understanding Your Stingray, has been a priceless help to a rookie ray keeper (myself) who was well used to guess the behavioral habits of Malawian cichlids, but not very experienced on fishes coming from a completely different environment (I must add that remembering my Amazon trip, and reviewing my personal notes of the trip has helped me a bit, too).

CONCLUSION: These two books (28 and 28b) have been, for many months, two of my favorite readings while studying and fancying about my very first ray. I strongly suggest both of them to anyone interested in FW Stingrays at any possible level. You’ll have an excellent "value for money" with both of them, believe me!!!

29. HOLGER WINDELOV "TROPICA AQUARIUM PLANTS" by Tropica Aquarium Plants, Denmark (1998, 92 pages, Paperback). This is the guide published by Tropica about its plants. Of course, there is enough information about those plants (with nice pictures and detailed drawings) and useful information about keeping a planted aquarium. A very beautiful book (in terms of appearance), elegant with lots of information for the hobbyist. Unfortunately, whole parts (like plant diseases and malnutrition effects) are totally missing. Otherwise, this book would be a first class choice. Nevertheless, it should be in the hands of all hobbyists with a planted tank while even the rest will benefit from it. Recommended as a reference guide, however the hobbyist intending to keep a planted tank should be warned that he will definitely need to invest in more books.

30. DAVID SANDS "THE HANDBOOK OF THE RED TAILED CATFISH - THE EMPEROR OF THE AMAZON" August 1998. Everything you need to know about the Red Tailed Catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus) is included in this fascinating work. Not only general (and often useless) information about the fish but precise and very accurate information on how it should be kept in captivity. The first thing everybody should get is the final size of it. A final size of over 1 meter is easily reached while the tremendous growth rate will ask for more and more space. The recommendations in this work make sense and will definitely give your fish the perfect environment. If you think of keeping this beautiful catfish this book is definitely for you. Highly recommended.

 

31. DAVID SANDS "BACK TO NATURE GUIDE TO CATFISHES" by Fohrman Aquaristik AB, 1997, 130 pp, HC. The Author doesn't need to be introduced as he is one of the most knowledgeable people when it comes to catfishes. The recent aquisition of two Scobiancistrus aureatus catfishes revealed to me that my knowledge on catfishes is quite limited, so I needed to start somewhere. This is a very good book for the beginner - you can take the word of a beginner for it. There are many species described (with photos) in this book, plus an introduction which tells you the basics. Of course, when a book refers to more than 100 species in 130 pages, it is only natural that there is far more to be learned. So now, I am looking for my next book on the matter. Once I lay my hands on one I will be able to comment on the value of this one. 

32. Akwa Forum (in Polish) - www.malawi.org.pl When the Editor, Mrs. Marzenna Kielan sent me a copy of the first issue, I sent her the following reply, which best described my impression : “I just received your magazine "Akwa Forum" and I was really impressed by the quality of the printing, the clarity of the photos and - of course - by the panel of distinguished authors. I just wish it was in English - I am sure that I would spend many hours on it. In one word : Congratulations !!”. Bear in mind that this very first issue presented articles by Ad Konings, Ron Coleman and Takashi Amano among others. The printing quality is what you would expect to find in a first class book. The photos are superb and the variety of articles would satisfy any serious hobbyist. It is really astonishing to see what some people can do ! Along with the “Hydra” magazine, the best fishy editions around. If I could only read Polish.


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