Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Book Review

While waiting for my new aquarium to cycle, I read. And read and read and read. I ordered a stack of books from Amazon, read them, highlighted them, and made outlines. Some books were better than others. So why should others have to reinvent the wheel? Here's my 2 cents (add some salt), for what it's worth:

1. Coral
The Reef & Marine Aquarium Magazine
By far, this one gives the most expert advice for anyone with a reef aquarium.
2. Aquarium Fish International (AFI)
Although not as specific as Coral, AFI gives good information, although if you're not into freshwater stuff, you have to weed through it.

3. Tropical Fish Hobbyist
So-so. Some good articles on corals, clownfish, etc. Also some freshwater stuff. Not bad.

1. The Simple Guide to Marine Aquariums
Jeff Kurtz
This book is very easy to read and not too overwhelming in detail, which can ward off many beginners. It has lots of simple charts and tables, making it easier to retain information. However, it can be a bit oversimplified at times. All-in-all, this is a great addition to your library since it gives a little info on just about everything, from acrylic vs. glass to zooanthids.

2. Marine Chemistry
CR Brightwell
A bit more advanced but a must-have for the serious aquarists library. It goes through every possible element in saltwater and what the parameters should be. It's definitely more of a resource book than a sit-down-to-enjoy-on-a-Sunday-night-by-the-fire book.

3. Corals
A Quick Reference Guide
Julian Sprung
This one is a very simple picture guide of some basic corals. There are very simplified charts of how much lighting each coral requires, where to place it in the tank, what it eats, how aggressive the coral is, and hardiness. My biggest gripe about this book is that it's a bit oversimplified. I had a hard time finding specifics on coral I purchased.

4. Aquarium Corals
Selection, Husbandry, and Natural History
Eric Norneman
I was hoping this book would give me more specifics on coral husbandry. Unfortunately, it was more of a coral biology textbook. If you want to learn more about the taxonomy and zoology of corals, this is the book for you. However, this is not so much of a how-to book.

5. Ultimate Marine Aquariums
Saltwater Dream Systems and How They are Created
Michael Paletta
This book is extremely inspiring and very fun to flip through. I love picking a page and drooling all over it as I read about Terry Siegel's 486-gallon reef aquarium from Provincetown, MA. It gives all the equipment used, water chemistry, and challenges overcome. It's neat to see how innovative others are when it comes to pumps and equipment (a jacuzzi pump? plumbing that runs to a 100-gallon sump in the basement or tool-shed outside?). I've heard it's getting outdated so my only complaint is that they should publish a new edition!

6. The Conscientious Marine Aquariust
A Commonsense Handbook for Successful Saltwater Hobbyists
Robbert Fenner
Hands-down, this book is a must-have. It was recommended to me by several other hobbyists, and now that I own it, I can see why. It gives very detailed, yet easy-to-read advice on everything. I especially like how Fenner discusses the ecological impact of keeping a reef aquarium and things hobbyists should keep in mind to lower her environmental footprint.

7. The New Marine Aquarium
Step-by-step Setup & Stocking Guide
Michael Paletta
This book is very simple but I absolutely loved it. It made everything very concise and easy to read. Other books made me feel completely overwhelmed but this one outlined everything in a very basic manner. However, if you want something more in-depth, this one probably won't be able to stand alone.

8. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Saltwater Aquariums
Mark Martin and Ret Talbot
This was the first book I read, and I almost lost hope of ever being able to successfully start an aquarium. I was completely overwhelmed with information. It was very detailed and somewhat convoluted. Why discuss outdated filter systems if they're not recommended? I would have preferred, instead, focusing on the systems that are recommended. Not my favorite.

9. Saltwater Aquariums for Dummies
Gregory Skomal
Again, this book was inundated with too much detail, some of it flat-out wrong. The only saving grace were some very helpful charts about water chemistry and routine aquarium maintenance. There are better ones out there than this. Who wants to weed out misinformation? For instance, you NEVER just float the new fish from the pet store in the tank to acclimate them!

10. Your First Marine Aquarium
John Tullock
Skip it. It simply does not give enough information. There's a few sentences about a smorgasboard of everything but not enough to really learn anything. This will just cause confusion.

11. The Complete Book of the Marine Aquarium
Vincent Hargreaves
This book very nicely categorizes many vertebrates and invertebrates with lots of pictures, a bit like an encylopedia of fish, coral, and other marine species. I like it as a reference guide in my library. It tries to give more basic info on aquarium husbandry but these chapters are very paltry, and I would have preferred the author stick to the encyclopedia format.

12. Marine Reef Aquarium Handbook
Robert Goldstein
The chapters on corals and inverts are the best but the others on water chemistry, aquarium set-up, and maintenance do not read easily and fail to give enough information. There are better books out there if you want a coral encyclopedia. Not worth it.

Happy reading!

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