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Freshwater Fishes of Suriname, The

Title Freshwater Fishes of Suriname, The
Author & (Publisher) Mol, Jan H. A. (Brill, 2012)
Price £52.00
Subject Matter All freshwater fishes of the country
Edition 1st, English

Article © Heok Hee Ng, uploaded November 07, 2012.

Suriname may be the smallest country in South America, but its freshwater fish fauna is probably the best studied. Some of the first South American freshwater fishes to be collected and described came from Suriname. Although the species diversity of freshwater fishes in Surinamese rivers may pale in comparison to the Amazon River, an impressive number of species (487), many familiar to aquarists, can still be found there.

Despite what we know of the freshwater fishes of Suriname, a comprehensive field guide has not been published until the advent of this offering, part of a larger multi-volume work on the fauna of Suriname. At nearly 900 pages, the book hardly constitutes bedtime reading. For the serious aquarist, however, these are 900 pages well worth perusing over, chock full of interesting information and amply illustrated with color photographs.

As with many field guides, the opening chapters comprise of introductory material that in this case is of great relevance to fishkeepers. The fourth chapter (simply titled “Ecology”) is of particular interest, as the fresh- and brackish water habitats of Suriname are described in detail. The (already high) value of this information in inspiring aquarists to replicate biotopes is further enhanced by the numerous color photographs (both above- and under water). Another chapter in the introductory section (Chapter 9: Fish Colors) is also well worth reading. Though brief, it describes and illustrates color variation in fishes. Although this information is not directly relevant to aquarium husbandry, it covers an interesting aspect of fish biology and is highly recommended reading.

The bulk of the text is devoted to the species accounts, which are treated family by family, with a dichotomous key to the species preceding the accounts in each family. There is plenty of information useful to aquarists in each account under headings such as “habitat”, "position in the water column", "diet" and "reproduction". Almost all of the illustrations of the fishes comprise of color photographs; these are not merely those of long dead, preserved fishes, but of live or freshly dead individuals in an overwhelming majority of cases.

Although the relatively high price of this book may put some people off, I cannot recommend purchasing a copy highly enough. What is there not to like about this book? It's full of useful information for aquarists and amply illustrated with color photographs (I would buy the book for the photos alone). If the price of the book is holding you back, it is consoling to know that the softcover version of the book is considerably cheaper.

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