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Books Reviewed - Recommended General Titles 4


BOOKS OF GENERAL INTEREST - part IV

33. RICHARD F. STRATTON "THE GUIDE TO OWNING CENTRAL AMERICAN CICHLIDS" by TFH (2001, 66 pages, SC). This is a book with many and useful information about the species it describes. Fish are classified in chapters according to their adult size, which is very helpful to the beginner that has a tank and wants to learn what kind of fish he can put in. However, I noticed that for some of the fishes it reports wrong sizes while the scientific names used are not up to date which makes the classification not very reliable. In each of the chapters there is a general information section and then each species is described on its own. One must keep in mind that this book has just 64 pages so it wouldn’t be possible to describe all central American cichlids. You will also find articles about breeding, aquariums in which these fish live and some general information on the correct care for them. As a conclusion I would say that although you will get a pretty good picture of what those cichlids look and behave like, you will not be ready to keep Central America cichlids in your tank unless you get some info from other sources.

 

34. DONALD CONKEL "CICHLIDS OF NORTH AND CENTRAL AMERICA" by TFH (1997, 68 pages, HC). This book has a lot of good quality pictures – its strong point - and useful information about the species it describes, although in some points the information is incorrect. For example the P. managuensis is reported to reach a maximum size of 25 cm, which is approximately half its true final size (our two year old female is already larger than that) while another species, P.motaguensis, which is much smaller, is reported to have a maximum size 1cm bigger. It has some good articles too, which will help the reader to understand a bit more about the fishes he keeps. All in all, I believe that you should buy this book to learn something more about the fish you already have or plan to get but not to decide which fish to put in your aquarium.

35. RICHARD F. STRATTON "INTRODUCING CICHLIDS" by TFH (68 pages, HC). A nice little book which can serve as an introduction to the wonderful world of cichlids but not more than that. It has some information for the beginner, enough species to choose from (or at least get an idea as to which kind of cichlids you want in your tank) but this is as far as any book can go in 60 pages of text and photos. The author is known for his knowledge on cichlids but despite that, this book can only serve the needs of the beginner. The information given in this book is accurate and the photos are of good quality but I would definitely go for a larger book or cichlid atlas unless all I wanted was a glance at the cichlid world. Recommended for beginners. 

36. MARK PHILLIP SMITH "LAKE VICTORIA BASIN CICHLIDS - A COMPLETE PET OWNER'S MANUAL" by Barron's (1996, 98 pages, paperback). Another book on Victoria cichlids, which managed to surprise me nicely. Despite its small size this book is packed with information and is indeed a jewel for all fans of these remarkable cichlids. The information is adequate to successfully keep and breed them, there is a nice selection of species at the end of the book with information for each one of them while in the general section there is enough information about the aquarium, health, breeding and even artificial hatching of the eggs. I regard this book as the exception rather than the rule since it manages to cover the Victoria cichlid world in an acceptable way despite its small size. Highly recommended.  

37. MARY E. SWEENEY "THE CICHLID" by Howell Book House (1999, 130 pages, Hard cover). I must confess that I respect this author as a fish lover and I expected quite more from this book. The section which covers the general issues (tank selection and setup, health, water parameters etc.) is indeed a very good one and shows a person who has probably gone through this path himself (herself in this case). However, the section that discusses cichlid species for your tank is not adequate. Firstly it covers very few species. Many interesting and widely kept cichlid species are not even mentioned. Second, some of the information is not accurate and this has to do with fish adult sizes. A nice example is the Parachromis managuensis (Jaguar cichlid), also shown on the cover of the book, which is reported to be smaller than Aequidens rivulatus (Green terror) or Astronotus ocellatus (Oscar). This has been a common comment for many books dealing with cichlids (almost all of them) and is indeed strange since the correct information is readily available in the internet. As a general comment, this book is recommended as an entry level book on cichlids. Later, when you have made your mind as to which type of cichlid tank you want to have you can opt for a book specific for them  

38. DAVID E. BORUCHOWITZ "DWARF CICHLIDS - KEEPING & BREEDING THEM IN CAPTIVITY" by TFH (66 pages, HC). This is a good book, with a lot of good quality pictures which give the buyer an overall view of dwarf cichlids. It is divided in chapters each one describing a genus with pictures showing some species of the genus – very practical and easy to use.  it also has many articles about aquascaping, diseases, feeding, breeding, equipment, filtration and many more. This book is a very good book and everyone that has (or plans to get) dwarf cichlids must have it. I would like to note the use of photos in the disease section – a feature really welcomed. Highly recommended.

 

39. GEORGE W. BARLOW "THE CICHLID FISHES" by Perseus Publishing, 2000, 340 pages, Hard cover. When Richard F. Stratton, author of many books on cichlids, stated in an article in FAMA that the most knowledgeable person on cichlids he knows of is George Barlow he just said what becomes obvious to the reader of this book. Not easily read, no colorful pictures on every page (there are many pictures although a great deal of them are in black and white) and a lot of text. Instead of telling you what this book has to offer you I will tell you that, if you are really interested in cichlids, buy this book and read it carefully. It may take you some time but after that your beloved fish will look different to you. I have read almost every book available on cichlids and still I found many things that were not referred to or thoroughly explained in those books. Highly recommended for every serious cichlid lover. 

40. ROBERT J. GOLDSTEIN "CICHLIDS OF THE WORLD" by TFH, 1988, 388 pages, Hardcover. A very good book of general interest. In fact you can find a lot of useful - and mostly accurate information - although you can't possibly expect to find everything there is on cichlids in just 388 pages. The classification of the cichlids is not in accordance with the current trends but rather old (the book was published in 1988 as you can see). Thus, Parachromis managuensis is not even listed as Nandopsis managuensis but by the even older name of Cichlasoma managuense while all the haps of Lake Malawi are classified as "Haplochromis", e.g. Haplochromis livingstoni. However, a clear picture can be formed for each species although information about keeping them in captivity is not adequate - sometimes not offered at all. In short, a book for the cichlid enthusiast looking to expand his general knowledge about them (taxonomy, group characteristics, feeding habbits etc) but not for someone who wishes to know more about keeping them in captivity. The book has plenty of pictures and may serve as an identification guide, too.  

 

41. HERBERT A. AXELROD "BREEDING AQUARIUM FISHES - A COMPLETE INTRODUCTION" by TFH, 1995, 130 pp, SC. For those owning book #8 there is no reason to go for this one which has less of everything: size, photos and text. However, this book can serve its purpose as a starting book especially since it refers to many species. The subject is a very interesting issue however this book covers it sufficiently for a start only - not in depth. The fish enthusiast who plans to breed his fish will have to get a book for the specific species he keeps. 

42. DAVID SANDS "THE INTERPET GUIDE TO CENTRAL AMERICAN CICHLIDS" by SALAMANDER BOOK, 1986, 80 pp, Hard cover. Review Pending 

43. GINA SANDFORD & RICHARD CROW "THE INTERPET MANUAL OF TANK BUSTERS" by SALAMANDER BOOK, 1991, 164 pp, Hard cover. A truly unique book in the sense that it describes some fishes which are rarely encountered in other books due to their final size and the tank size required which make them suitable for public aquariums only. Although some "common" fish are also included (like Astronotus ocellatus, Parachromis dovii, Parachromis managuensis, Fossorochromis rostratus and the various Arowana species) those are in the low size end. Fish names like Arapaima gigas (Piracuru in the local language), Polyodon spathula, Lepisosteus osseus and Electrophorus electricus may mean nothing to most of us but they are really interesting fish once they get an appropriate tank. For those few who own such a tank this book will help them to decide what to fill them with. For the rest of us it is just an opportunity to spend some hours browsing and dreaming of thousands of liters.

44. DIETER UNTERGASSER "HANDBOOK OF FISH DISEASES" by TFH PUBLICATIONS, 1989, 164 pp. Hard cover (large format). An excellent book on fish diseases, identification of the responsible pathogen, recommended treatment and route of administration. Clearly - and cleverly - divided in sections, relatively easy to understand and easy to follow its advice. One of the advantages of this particular book is the careful information on every active ingredient which includes the source, the activity spectrum and many ways of using it (whenever possible of course).


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