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Book Review.....Ornamental Aquarium Fish of India.

Posted By: Martin Thoene <martin.thoene@lakenheath.af.mil>
Date: Wednesday, 1 September 1999, at 10:56 p.m.

Dave Guest and I have both been waiting for this to arrive from Amazon UK. Finally got mine today, and as Dave seemed a bit reluctant to give it the full-monty review, as asked for by Steve Burton, I thought I'd do the honours. I'm sure Dave will give his views soon.I've just done a review of it for Amazon UK's page, so while I'm on a roll.............

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"Ornamental Aquarium Fishes of India" by Kishori Lal Tekriwal and Andrew Arunava Rao. Published by TFH copyright Kingdom Books. ISBN #185279117-9

144 pages, Hardcover.

The authors have done meticulous research over many years in order to bring this book to fruition. It covers a collection of Indian fishes covering 10 orders, 53 families, 119 genera, and 250 species. All are considered as suitable for aquarium keeping, and many will unlikely have been seen before by a lot of people.

All the photographs are clear, and of live specimins, making for better identification. The only downside being that some are not showing good colour because of being unsettled in the photo tank. To save space within the book a system of symbols is used to show aquarium care required for each species. This is similar to that used in the Axelrod encyclopedias.

The introduction gives a brief history of the ornamental fish industry and hobby in India, setting the perspective nicely. A chapter on India itself gives some insight into the geography, vegetation type regions, political zones, population distribution, etc.

There is a brief section on the Aquarium trade in India, explaining the dependance on natural live food availability, and explaining how many foreign fish species are farmed purely for the aquarium export trade.

This is followed by a Taxanomic description of the Native fish of the Indian Sub-continent, which so far includes 930 described species. Obviously the 250 depicted in the book form only a small proportion, but the authors wish to produce a follow-up book once they have researched the aquarium viability of further species.

The family descriptions is where this book starts to get really interesting because each family covered includes notes on how they fare in aquaria, some stuff about habitat, and local importance of the fish (i.e. used for food), plus there are odd anecdotal references about some species.

When one gets to the photo section you'll start to really take notice. There are a wealth of fish in here you'll not have seen before. In fact, few are what we recognise as "Common" aquarium fish. Each species is given a "Common " name (some of which are different from what we've seen previously), Latin name (which I suppose is the latest, because I see changes from what I'm used to in a few cases), it's maximum size, and it's range, which makes cross-matching species easy for the correct Biotope freaks amongst us.

WHAT ABOUT THE LOACHES? I hear you ask.........well there's 38 species of Loach or Loach-like fish, plus some other fish of that ilk on other pages. I think I could safely say that on viewing this book everyone's "WANT" list will increase in size! There are some gorgeous looking Loaches here. I've managed to positively ID my "Nemacheilus" species (2 of) as the Half-Banded Loach, Schistura savona, and the Victory Loach, Schistura scaturigina.

The Botia species (5) will interest, because 3 species, B. lohachata, B. birdi, and B.rostrata are all depicted by fish that most of us would look at and just say, "Yoyo".

A good book to increase Loach-lust, but also some neat Barbs, Labeo"Sharks", Snakeheads, Puffers, Spiney eels, Danios, baaaaad Catfish, and Gobies.

Highlights? For me, apart from the Loaches (pant), the extra possibilities this book offers in potential dither-fish. I love the Red-line Torpedo Fish, Puntius (denisoni) umangi, and the Blue Dotted Hill Trout, Barilius bakeri.

A good book that neatly fills a niche between Ichyologist and Hobbyist, probably appealing more to the Hobbyist who wants more than "Bread & Butter" fish in their tank.Percentage-wise, high in Loaches, but plenty more to interest.

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Martin.
 

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