Books Reviewed - Recommended Malawi Titles II

Here is a list of some books (and not only) that I acquired recently.

10. AD KONINGS "BACK TO NATURE MALAWI CICHLIDS" by CICHLID PRESS Publications. A relatively small book which covers the basics on Malawi cichlids. The photographs are nice but the information contained is inadequate even for the late beginner stage. Clearly it can't be your reference book. It combines (unfortunately in brief) some parts from Konings' other books (listed in this section) but I would rather buy the other titles (namely # 1, 5 and 11). After reading both # 10 and #11 in this list I was left with the impression that this particular book is a downscale and relatively expensive version of the next book, which tells much more on the same fields. Not really recommended, unless you are after a general Malawi guide.

11. AD KONINGS "MALAWI CICHLIDS IN THEIR NATURAL HABITAT" by CICHLID PRESS Publications. This is the full version of Book # 10. Lots of photos and a wealth of information this book is also a downscale version of Book # 1. It is much cheaper than the Atlas and contains many photos. My recommendation is (referring to Ad Konings' books) to buy this book along with #5 and later, once you are familiar with Malawi Cichlids make a Christmas present to yourself and get Book # 1. This particular book will tell you many things about the natural habitat of Malawi cichlids which will give you a very good idea of what to expect in your tank, how to set it up, what the particular species you intent to keep should be fed and much more. Unfortunately, this book doesn't contain any information on the behavior of these cichlids in captivity which is usually a different story. To give an example, all Melanochromis species (including the "killers" auratus and chipokae) are referred to as "occasionally territorial" which, in captivity, is as far from the truth as it can be. Highly recommended if you want to know how these fish live in their Natural Habitat. Of limited use (as described earlier) if you need to get information on how to keep them successfully.

12. "CICHLIDAE LIVE" Tape #1, 2 and 3 by CICHLID PRESS If your plans include  a trip to Lake Malawi there is absolutely no reason to buy these video tapes. However, if you are a fan of Malawi cichlids there is a lot to learn from these videotapes. Being an experienced diver, Ad Konings offers this experience in this set of videotapes and gives a lot of information on their natural behavior, environmental and dietary needs. If you are interested to know why your Aulonocara or Cyrtocara moorii behaves the way it does, these tapes will tell you.

13. ERWIN SCHRAML "AFRICAN CICHLIDS I - MALAWI MBUNA" by AQUALOG. Published in 1998, this outstanding hardcover book contains 1.400 photos of mbuna cichlids. What's more it includes both the male and the female, something very important since these fish show a clear dischromatism, which makes identification very difficult. Almost every known species is included. Elementary information for the fish keeper (in the form of symbols) is also there. The major advantage of Aqualog books is that they are regularly updated with special sheets, so your reference book is never outdated. I am sure most of us are sick and tired of observing our precious books get outdated so this is a welcomed innovation.

14. HERBERT R. AXELROD & WARREN E. BURGESS "AFRICAN CICHLIDS OF LAKES MALAWI AND TANGANYIKA" by TFH Editions. A small format, hardcover book which must be one of the oldest books on Africans. First published in 1973 (when Africans were not known to the hobbyists) it has been regularly updated so this last edition (13th Edition, 1993) has something for all of us. There are enough photos to satisfy the African cichlid enthusiast and the text is enough although not well balanced. Thus, there is a wealth of information on breeding these cichlids, while there is very little information on diseases (and even less on medications). It is only recommended if you do not have an Atlas with African cichlids and a relevant textbook. On the other hand, it should be noted that such an Atlas and a good textbook will cost you much more than this book.

15. ANDREAS SPREINAT "LAKE MALAWI CICHLIDS FROM TANZANIA" by VERDUIJN CICHLIDS. A book meant for the Malawi Cichlid lovers. It contains many photos of the cichlids found in the waters of Lake Malawi in the Tanzania side. Many morphs of known species are included, accompanied by an interesting informative text. Of special interest are the references to the native biotope where these species live.

16. CICHLIDAE A magazine published by the Associazione Italiana Cichlidofili (AIC). Although this magazine is usually published in Italian, some special editions are also published in English. I was lucky to be sent their December 1999 issue, dedicated to the cichlid enthusiast Jean Claude Nourissat. This magazine is a revelation. Superb text, good quality photos and a comprehensive text which fully covers the subject. I really wish this magazine was available in English on a regular basis, something AIC is currently exploring.

17.GEORGE F. TURNER "OFFSHORE CICHLIDS OF LAKE MALAWI" by CICHLID PRESS. This book represents an effort to classify and describe the offshore cichlids of Lake Malawi. The Author spent 3 years in the lake and came back with many useful data. The book is not aimed at the average fish keeper since there is very little to offer him. I believe that this book is aimed at the professionals and the advanced keeper who want to know more about the species he keeps. There are some photos of species in this book but leaves too much to be desired. The majority are black and white photos while, even the ones in color, don't give much info to the viewer. The book doesn't claim to be another atlas or a beginner's handbook and it definitely isn't. One of the great advantages of this book is that it gives the reader a very comprehensive list of the characteristics the taxonomists take into account when faced with a new species. It could be very helpful when you are trying to identify your own cichlids.

18.OLE SEEHAUSEN "LAKE VICTORIA ROCK CICHLIDS" by VERDUIJN CICHLIDS. This is one of the rare books dealing with Lake Victoria cichlids. Although it contains enough taxonomy data to make you a professional taxonomist, the book is also a must for everybody who keeps (or intends to keep) cichlids from this lake. There is much information, even aquarium set up and notes and many good quality photos. The species are well described and it makes it easy for the hobbyist and the professional alike, to distinguish them. This is extremely important since these cichlids are very colorful but seem almost "identical". A really impressive book. In fact I think that this is the only book one would ever need for Victorian cichlids.

19. M.P.SMITH "LAKE MALAWI CICHLIDS - A COMPLETE PET OWNER'S MANUAL" by BARRON'S EDITIONS, 97 pages, published in 2000. A really small book with the essentials on keeping the African Cichlids of Lake Malawi. There are good photos of some species (those most often kept) and the basics on how to keep them. As we all know it is impossible to give all the information needed in just 97 pages. However, the book is a good start but it should be used as that. Which means that after the beginning, the hobbyist will definitely need a more advanced book for issues like water parameters, diseases, breeding etc. 

20. ERWIN SCHRAML "AQUALOG SPECIAL - FRESHWATER CORAL FISH - Malawi" by Verlag A.C.S. GmbH (1998, 52 pages, HC). This Aqualog book also offers a poster showing some of the most common Malawi Cichlids along with the main core volume. The information included in the book is accurate but will not satisfy the experienced fishkeeper while the (good quality) pictures are not enough to give this book a "fish identification" role. It is also rather expensive concerning the very few (large format) pages it contains. Who is this book for ? I can't really tell. If we assume this is the only book you will ever get, it is clearly insufficient. There are many better books for you (listed here). If you intend to buy it as a second or third book, or even a "fish identification" book for your Malawi cichlids, then you can also find some other (far better) options in the books reviewed here. Why did I buy it then ? Because it was the only book on Malawi cichlids which I didn't have. Perhaps this is a book for people like me ! Definitely not recommended unless you already own all the other books !! 

21. AD KONINGS (Editor) "THE CICHLIDS YEARBOOK - VOLUME 5" by Cichlid Press (1995, 100 pages, HC). A true gem, this book is not addressed to the beginner who will be frustrated to see that there is no info about the species he likes. It is just what its name implies and it is a very good source of additional information for the cichlid enthusiast. Many species (or genera) are covered to a great extend in each of the volumes - information not likely to find anywhere else. There are also some first class articles from well renowned authors. In this volume Martin Geerts' article "Malawi Cichlids : A different perspective" sheds new light on the taxonomy of those species. Of special interest is the classification of the Aulonocara genus: does it belong to the "mbuna" group or not?

22. AD KONINGS (Editor) "THE CICHLIDS YEARBOOK - VOLUME 6" by Cichlid Press (1996, 100 pages, HC). This yearbook shares the same characteristics of this series (see entry above). Two very interesting articles in this volume: Stuart Grant's article "A review of the current exporting operations from the African Rift Lakes" (with information and photos from his operation in the Lake) and Martin Geerts article "The age of cichlid fishes" - would a Pterosaurus eat a cichlid ?.

 23. AD KONINGS "MALAWI CICHLIDS IN THEIR NATURAL HABITAT" by CICHLID PRESS Publications. Malawi cichlids in their natural habitat, 3rd edition from Ad Konings is an excellent book to learn more about your beloved Malawi cichlids. It's intended for both the beginner as the more advanced cichlid enthusiast. The latest version of the book is bigger, better documented than it's predecessors (1400 pics, most of them made in the lake) and it has up-to-date nomenclature. (at least for a few years to come). Owners of the 1990 1st edition will be better off with buying the newest book, but the people who have the 1995 second edition (see book # 10 at the top of this page) don't need to rush to purchase it. All biotopes with their cichlids are described very well and every attentive hobbyist should be able to extract all the right info on how to keep the right cichlids in an adequately decorated tank. For example, you can discover the reason for the notorious aggression of the Protomelas taeniolatus 'Namalenje Island' or 'Red Empress'. In the lake they have food territories (algae fields) that are fiercely defended against concurrent cichlids. Some pictures on the other hand make you realize that no tank is large enough to let these magnificent fish feel really at home. The impressive nests of sand dwelling cichlids would never fit in a normal aquarium. Even in a 5000L a Fossorochromis rostratus won't be able to make a 2.5m nest like he does in the lake. All in all a very complete reference book to learn the real background on the cichlids you keep, but at the same time it's a bit disappointing with a lack of clear basic information how Malawi cichlids should be kept to prevent or limit aggression and let these beauties thrive.

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