24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Impressive Picture book; useless otherwise,
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This review is from: Dr. Axelrod's Atlas of Freshwater Aquarium Fishes (Hardcover)NOTE: This review applies ot the 10th edition. Due to the cost, I have not been able to justify taking a chance on the new (11th) edition.
This book has changed a lot since the first edition. Mostly, it has removed information and added pictures. LOTS of pictures. It is more of a coffee-table book than any kind of aquarium guide. But even the pictures are of uneven quality. I was shocked that the only picture included for a couple of fairly common fish were of dead, poorly-preserved specimens. Yikes!
The authors' stated purpose for this book is "This book was created with the express purpose of making the identification of fishes easier for hobbyists, aquarists, and scientists alike."
Well, if that was the goal, it fails miserably. The book is organized based on geographic area where the fish originates. Think about it. If you saw a fish and wanted to know what it was, would you somehow instinctively know which continent it came from? Of course not. You might want to identify it based on its colors or shape or whatever. The book does not function as an identification guide.
Although most info has been removed, there is some very terse info below each picture as small text and icons. The text lists info such as pH, ideal water temperature (in Centigrade), maximum adult length (in cm), and minimum tank size (in litres). Although it does not tell you what these mean, any intermediate or higher fishhkeeper should be able to figure it out.
The icons are not particularly clear unless you already know the fish. For example, the icon for egg-scatterer versus livebearer is only obvious if you know what the fish is to begin with. More importantly, I can find nowhere in the book where it actually tells what the icons mean. This is very sloppy.
The index is also horrendous, failing to include a number of entries, and including numerous false entries. For example, the first page entry listed for Scleropages jardini sends you to a page that does not contain pictures of jardini, and in fact is a section for a different continent.
Even the quality of the pictures is uneven. For some fish, the coverage is extensive, with a lot of pictures showing different color strains, breeding colors, and so on. Yet for other fish, the coverage is incomplete. For example, there are three pictures of Silver Arrowana, and all three show just-hatched arrowanas. Why not show an adult? The fish changes as it gets older. Also, there are only four pictures of Astronatus (Oscars), showing only 4 color patterns. It's absolutely shocking to me that the abino and tiger albino forms are not shown. They've been in the trade for well over a decade before this edition was published.
My last complaint is that they have been adding pages by adding them as decimal additions. For example, they added 16 pages of pictures of Swordtails (16 pages!) after page 432, and numbered them as pages 432.01, 432.02, etc. The reason for this, of course, is that it means less work adjusting the index, etc., and 16 pages in one place from a publishing standpoint is easier, because it means not changing the rest of the plates. But from a reader's standpoint, it is sloppy and unforgivable, considering the price of the book.
To summarize, this book contains an incredible array of pictures. On the plus side, it has pictures of many fish you'll find nowhere else. It is massive and impressive. The pages are slick and glossy and the physical production standards are high. On the down side, it is badly in need of extensive, high-quality, detailed editing to correct the numerous glaring errors and omissions.
Frankly, this is overall a hugely disappointing effort and I simply can't recommend plunking down such a high price for this edition.