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Ornamental Aquarium Fish of India

Title Ornamental Aquarium Fish of India
Author & (Publisher) K. L. Tekriwal & A. A. Rao (TFH Publications, 1999)
Price £19.95
Subject Matter As title
Edition 1st, English

I was very excited to receive this book as it is the first of its kind to focus on Indian fishes. The book is divided into three chapters: 1) India 2) Taxonomic Descriptions of Indian Fishes, and 3) Atlas of Ornamental Indian Fishes. The first chapter (pp. 8-13) is a brief over view of the Indian subcontinent and its environments. It also includes a brief section on the aquarium trade in India.

The second chapter (pp. 14-59) lists by order, family, and genus the Indian fishes most likely to be found in the aquarium trade. Thirteen catfish families are listed following Nelson (1984). Since one family, Olyridae, has since been included in the Bagridae the book actually only covers twelve families. Under each family a short paragraph introduces the general characteristics and habitats of the family. There is then a paragraph or two on the various genera in the family likely to find their way into the aquarium trade. Sadly, the book would have benefited greatly if this section was expanded. For many genera there is very little information provided. For example, "Batasio: This genus is endemic to Southeast Asia there are three species, all of which are found in the Indian region. These fish do not exceed 10cm in length." As you can see, the information is often very sparse.

The final chapter (pp. 60-135) consists of photographs of the fishes along with a system similar to that used by the Aqualog series (i.e. small symbols represent the fish's preffered temp., pH, lighting, feeding requirements, etc.). There are three photographs per page, so that would mean that well over 200 spp. are pictured. Forty two spp. of catfishes are pictured! All of the photos are in color and of live fishes. Included among these are many photographs of catfishes that have never been seen by the aquarium community.

The largest problem with this section of the book is that many of the species are incorrectly identified. For example, on page 98 there are pictures labelled Aorichthys aor and A. seenghala. The fish (it may even be the exact same fish) in both photos is A. seenghala. The third catfish on the page is labelled Batasio batasio, but the fish pictured is Batasio travancoria. Anyone using this book as their sole reference will likely misidentify their fish as often as not. I also tend to doubt some of the information given for various spp. throughout the book. For example, all of the Mystus spp. are listed as "Food Specialist" that require live or frozen foods. Many of the Mystus catfishes, such as M. vittatus, are listed as schooling fish and the aquarist is warned to "keep at least ten." This is simply not true of M. vittatus. M. vittatus is happy alone or in groups and will eat just about anything.

OK, so the book has some problems (and I did not even mention the editing mistakes). The information is sparse, many of the photographs are misidentified, and the care information provided is sometimes incorrect. However, if you have any interest in Indian fishes go buy this book today! There are many photographs of catfishes that you have never seen before and even sparse information is better than what the hobby knows about many of these catfishes (i.e. nothing). The book is well bound and rather attractive. The overall chapter design is easy to use and logical.

Despite some drawbacks, I would still strongly recommend this book since it is the only one of its kind available.

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