Complete Encyclopedia of the Freshwater Aquarium

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9781552975442: Complete Encyclopedia of the Freshwater Aquarium
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This 288 page, illustration-packed encyclopedia covers a wide range of the fish species information and technical hints needed to easily and successfully maintain a freshwater aquarium at home. Several books in one, it features hundreds of species and offers advice on the latest equipment, foods, remedies, water treatments, test kits, and aquarium management techniques.

The Complete Encyclopedia of the Freshwater Aquarium includes an A-Z listing of aquarium fish species, plus:

  • fish biology
  • fish in nature
  • fish conservation
  • commercial breeding
  • aquarium selection, set-up, maintenance, and troubleshooting
  • fish nutrition and feeding
  • fish breeding in the aquarium
  • fish health and diseases
  • aquarium plant species
  • planting and maintenance of aquarium plants
  • species of aquarium animals, such as frogs, snails, crayfish, and more

The book includes the latest information on koi and other coldwater species, one of today's fastest-growing aquarium sectors. Rounded out with a glossary and further reading, The Complete Encyclopedia of the Freshwater Aquarium is a beautiful, colorful and comprehensive guide suitable for both beginning as well as seasoned aquarium hobbyists.

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About the Author:

John Dawes is an internationally renowned expert on fish, aquaria, and outdoor fishkeeping, and is currently Secretary-General for Ornamental Fish International. More than 3000 of his articles have been published in consumer, trade and scientific publications worldwide, including Pet Product News, Freshwater and Marine Aquarium and Aquarium Fish magazine. He wrote or contributed to, among others, John Dawes Book of Water Gardens, The Water Gardening Handbook, Popular Freshwater Tropical Fish, Tropical Aquarium Fish, The Tropical Freshwater Aquarium and The Book of the Marine Aquarium.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:


Little could I have guessed when I took up aquarium keeping about 50 years ago, that I was choosing one of the most absorbing, interesting and colorful hobbies in the world. Equally, there was no way I could have known then that those initial, exciting, error-riddled steps would lead to a lifelong involvement that has taken me almost round the world.

Seeing Cardinal Tetras (Paracheirodon axelrodi) for the first time in a flooded Rio Negro forest; netting Mosquito Fish (Gambusia holbrooki) in swamps in Florida; collecting Ornate Paradise Fish (Maipulutta kretseri) for a captive breeding project in the jungles of Sri Lanka; observing Threadjaw Halfbeaks (Hemirhamphodon pogonognathus) in a tiny stream in Malaysia -- these, along with so many other experiences, have contributed to a fascination that continues to deepen with every passing day, fueling my enthusiasm to continue to search for knowledge about fish and aquatic plants. The more I have traveled, and the more people I have had the privilege of meeting, exchanging experiences with and learning from, the more I've come to appreciate that we all share the same "affliction" -- we are all crazy about fish!

My teachers have been many. Sará -- an Amazonian caboclo -- taught me how to "call" cardinals out of hiding; Dharmadasa taught me, likewise, how to call Rasbora vaterifloris in Sri Lanka; Yong taught me how to spot Snakehead fry among water plants in Malaysia; Marco showed me just how tough some species of molly, such as Poecilia vivipara, can be (they thrive in the often-polluted waters of Lago Rodrigo de Freitas in Rio de Janeiro). Countless other unselfish people -- including many hundreds of fellow aquarists -- have generously given me their time and shared their hard-earned knowledge with me over the years. So while the pages that follow may have come from my pen, the information they contain bears witness to innumerable invaluable contributions made by many. To each and every one of them, I extend my respectful and most sincere thanks.

What I have attempted to do is present an overall picture of the modern hobby, outlining some of the latest thinking in aquarium management techniques and philosophies, and presenting an extensive selection of fish and plants. I also hope to have highlighted the tremendous responsibility that all of us who keep fish need to shoulder.

The fish section -- the largest in the book -- is arranged in families. There are some families, though, that are represented in the hobby by only one or a few species, and these have been grouped together in the final section. Owing to the large number of species featured, allied to space and other limitations, it has not been possible to illustrate every single fish. Readers are therefore encouraged to consult the specialist literature cited in the Bibliography for further illustrations.

Within the families, species are listed in alphabetical order of scientific name. The common name for the species is given on the first line. Common names vary from country to country -- or even within a single country -- and, in some cases, one common name may be applied to more than one species, something that does not, or should not, apply to the scientific equivalents. Therefore, Dianema longibarbis precedes D. urostriata in this book, even though this means that their respective common names, Porthole Catfish and Flag-Tailed Catfish, do not appear in alphabetical order.

Although, at any one time, there is (or should be) only one valid scientific name for each species, complications can, and do, occur. For instance, opinions may differ between scientists, with some claiming that two or more species are sufficiently similar to each other to warrant their inclusion within a single species. Alternatively, a variable species may be deemed by some to consist of not just one but several very closely related species. Further, one authority may deem an individual species to belong to a particular genus while others disagree and assign it to another. Genera may be considered members of different families or subfamilies, and so on.

Intimately associated with taxonomy (the science of classifying living organisms into hierarchical groups, i.e. subspecies, species, genera, subfamilies, families, and so on), is the science of systematics, which attempts to classify organisms according to their "natural" relationships by taking into consideration matters relating to their evolutionary biology. The end result is that, while universal agreement may exist regarding the identity and therefore, the name, of numerous species, there are also areas of disagreement and debate. Even when, or if, a consensus is reached, it may take some time (years) before the latest, agreed, valid name becomes accepted. Consequently, a particular species may be listed under one scientific name by some authors and under a different one by others.

A good example of this complex and "fluid" situation exists with the beautiful and highly variable African Rift Lake cichlid commonly known as the Zebra Cichlid. Traditionally this species is listed as Pseudotropheus zebra. In 1997, it was renamed Metriaclima zebra, but this move has yet to receive universal acceptance. To complicate matters further, some authors regard this species as Maylandia zebra.

Where such situations exist, I have highlighted some of the issues concerned and have listed such species according to how convincing, or otherwise, the arguments for and against appear to be, or how widely accepted, or otherwise, the various names have become. As a result, some species in this book, such as the Dwarf Rasbora (Boraras maculata) are listed differently than they are in some other literature. In the case of the Harlequin, which is still regarded as Rasbora heteromorpha by many authors, the new name, Trigonostigma heteromorpha, erected in 1999, is also listed and acknowledged because, in the foreseeable future, the new name is likely to replace the old one.

The above examples help to illustrate that, far from being a static science, fish classification is dynamic and "changing." To some, i.e. those who like their science presented in neat little packages, this situation causes problems. To many others (and I include myself in this group), problems are challenges in disguise. To us, the dynanism, subjectiveness, openness and everevolving nature of the subject is one of its major attractions.

Fish classification, aquarium science, and every single aspect of our hobby and the industries that service it, will continue to evolve apace, and we need to grow and adapt accordingly. New areas of debate and controversy will continue to challenge us, and all need to be faced openly and honestly. Two issues that have been "bubbling" for some time, and that have been gradually gaining momentum to the point that they are making headlines worldwide, are biopiracy and genetically modified fish. Both are of obvious and direct relevance to the hobby, as well as to the ornamental aquatic industry, and both will, undoubtedly, play significant roles in years to come. They are an integral part of aquatics in the new millennium -- a millennium that will see us attain new levels of success in areas of activity that we don't even know exist yet. The ride will be exciting, though not always easy. Welcome aboard!

John Dawes
Sabinillas, Spain

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