As keeping North American Native fish in the home aquaria becomes more and more popular people are looking for places to find information on the different species one might be interested in. Books are a great place to make inquires. Though most books on native fish are based on general overviews of the different species one might encounter. It can be hard to find texts devoted to one specific type of fish. This is the situation I found myself in when I wanted to learn more about Darters (fish mainly in the genera of Etheostoma and Percina). Upon researching I found the perfect book to gain the knowledge I was looking for. Or was it?
The Handbook of Darters by Dr. Lawrence M. Page sounds like it would be the perfect book to answer all the questions I had about keeping these awesome little fish. Unfortunately for me that was not the case. As a fish keeping hobbyist my main interest is keeping these fish in the home aquaria. What this book focuses on is each species description, range, and natural history (basically brief habitat description). Where as that is a great starting off point to learn about these fish in their natural habitat it doesn’t encompass everything that translates that information into keeping them in an aquarium.
What this book does offer in spades is extensive information on darter fish that range from North to Central America. The descriptions of each species is quite comprehensive including extremely detailed physical accounts. Along with accurate range locations and reference to the photo and map locations within the book. There are also a few additional chapters including ecology which has information on habitat, reproduction, diet, hybridization and others. Also morphological evolution and zoogeography.
So what does this all amount to? A book focused on identifying darter fish. This book allows you to properly identify species of darters that you might collect in the field. An invaluable tool for an ichthyologist or someone studying these amazing little fish. Is it for your average fish keeping hobbyist? Probably not. But if you have strong interest in these specific fish and enjoy reading any and all information out there on them I would say give it a read. One additional draw back is that this book is no longer published and finding one at a reasonable price might take some time.
Title: Handbook of Darters Author: Dr. Lawrence M. Page Length: 271 pages Publisher: TFH Publications http://tfhpublications.com/ ISBN-10: 087666804X ISBN-13: 978-0876668047