Feb 13, 2014

A Guide to Aquarium Fishes and Plants

by Arne Schiotz
illustrations by Preben Dahlstrom

Another antique illustrated guide to fishes. Like most of the other books, this has some practical basics on care and maintenance, as well as numerous colored plates illustrating many popular species. But this book has a lot of other features that I found appealing. It is very scientific yet simple and straightforward enough in describing things like how the gills function or the life cycle of disease organisms. What really makes it stand out are the dated yet stylish diagrams and drawings that illustrate these points. There are also illustrations on the growth of fish scales, the use of body patterns and countershading to distrupt the eye, how the lateral line picks up signals from the environment, the relationship of different groups of fishes in an evolutionary family tree and so on. Nice little illustrations also show the various micro-organisms that serve as live foods, pests such as snails, hydra, planarians and fish lice that can infest the tank and an assortment of aquarium plants. These are described in family groups in their own chapter, and also more detailed pictures and descriptions are provided along with the species pages as follows.

The main feature of the book is the numerous pages on individual species of fishes with very nice illustrations accompanying them for identification. There is a brief description for each outlining its origins, natural habitat, feeding and temperature requirements, known ease or difficulty in breeding, and sometimes notes on particular needs or behaviors. About every other page also included aquatic plants in the illustrations, with little notes on them as well. It made a lovely natural backdrop for the fishes depicted, most attractive. Overall I enjoyed viewing the artwork of many colorful and interesting kinds of fish, and also had fun holding this book open alongside Aquarium Fishes in Color to compare how the two artists depicted the same species. Whereas many of the aquarium books I've read are translated from German authors, this one happens to have a Danish author.

Rating: 4/5     223 pages, 1969

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