When an aquarist discovers a new species of fish they’ve never heard of, and fall in love with it generally our first inclination is to find out as much information possible on the species. So where do we go? What do we look at? And what are we looking for. The internet is probably most peoples fist thought. We can log right on and search pictures of potentially correctly identified fish. We may also search forums and read peoples hearsay on how to properly care for the fish. And we might go to youtube and watch a users ‘species spotlight’ on how they setup and kept the species for 2 months before shooting their video. Now this all sounds like quite solid information, information that will get you started and will have you prepared for most anything that comes along with keeping these awesome new fish. But wait is there another, superior, way of gathering the essential knowledge we need to keep these fish properly and safety insuring us the fishes longevity? How about books? There are countless books available out there offering solid, accountable information on many fish families, genera, and even specific species. But can we always be sure a books going to teach us what it claims it going to? Lets find out.
Lets first relist the title of the book: Killifish : A complete Pet Owner’s Guide. I’ve underlined a key phrase we might want to keep in mind as we traverse this book review. Now lets go over in some detail what this book offers. Unfortunately, like many books of this kind, a major part of the beginning of this book is devoted to teaching basic fish keeping methods. Basically a introduction into fish keeping for the novice. Now I could totally understand devoting sections in a book to basic fish husbandry and aquarium setups if the books is entirely written for the novice aquarist i.e. someone just starting out in the hobby. I don’t believe they are necessary in a book that’s is focusing on a specific genera of fish. With that said, within this book there are a few small entry’s that do go over killifish specific teachings for example: there is one page that lists some common killifish and suggests some compatible commonly seen fish to be housed together with them. There are a couple paragraphs that go over some killifish’s temperature needs as well as about a page worth of writing talking about water parameters for some killifish. There is a ‘larger’ section (7 pages) that talks about breeding killifish. The section is relativity thorough, it briefly goes over the different types of spawning habits of killifish as well as giving information on how to store and raise the fish along with preventing genetic abnormalities. I believe this last bit of information would be a required addition to a book that’s devoted to one type of fish. As we know not all fish breed and are raised the same, it’s not general information. And now for the worst of it all. The last portion of the book that is devoted to ‘popular killifish species’. This takes up an entire 15 pages. As it’s titled it goes over popular killifish in the hobby. It lists a few sections titled by genus and a few by general description and with in each listing it might list (each section seems to vary information given) distribution, feeding, water, breeding,special remarks, and a few others. The book does not list specific species of fish with information solely for that fish. It generalizes for each genus.
I initially bought this book looking for information on killifish from North America, specifically fish from the Fundulus genus. While also interested in killies from the Aphanius genus. You’d be safe to assume I was quite disappointed when I received this book. I understand the author ultimately created a book that is extremely generalized and at best is an introduction to this family of fish. With an intent to let someone have a quick read gaining some very basic knowledge (the kind of knowledge you could easily and safely acquire from the internet) helping them at the genesis of their killifish venture.
Is this a complete owners manual for Killifish? No it is not. Maybe a better title could have been Killifish: A very brief overview of the most common killifish seen in the hobby. I have no issue with books made for the entry level aquarist, the novice fish keeper. In fact I feel those types of books are great to introduce people to the hobby. I started myself picking up a beginner guide to fish keeping at pet smart so many years ago and then upgraded to a beginners guide to cichlids. Its a great place to start. What does roast my dangle is misleading information. “A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual” “Answers to all your questions about raising killifish: varieties, feeding, maintaining a healthy aquarium, and more”. While there is valuable information to be found in this book, a complete owners manual it is not.
Title: Killifish: A complete Pet Owner's Manual
Author: Steffen Hellner
Length: 72 pages