Peterson Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of North America North of Mexico by Lawrence M. Page and Brooks M. Burr

Could a field guide be of any use to an aquarist? What information, if any, could these texts offer to us. And what place might it have in our library? These are questions I asked myself when researching books on North American native fish. I wasn’t sure the answer so I figured I’d take a risk and find out. In the end I am glade I did, let me tell you why.

With certain fish, finding information on them can be quite hard. Being limited to internet forums and original content videos. With those sources inherently being inaccurate hearsay. At that point we must look to unconventional means. Case in point the Peterson Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of North America North of Mexico. What we have is a field guide giving physical and habitat descriptions to the majority of freshwater fishes in North America. These field guides are intended to help locate and identify specific fish species. It was not intended to be a resource for fish keeping hobbyist like ourselves. But they actually inadvertently do supply us with key information that we can use to properly house and keep these fish.

The books layout is done quite well. It starts off with a brief introduction with information on how to use the guide. Next are plates listing each species of fish along with a brief description and accompanying drawing with examples of sexual dimorphism where applicable. Following the plates are the species accounts where the author goes into detail reporting the Identification, range, habitat, and maps for each species. 909 species of fish are described (up from 768 listed in the first edition) with 19 of them marine invaders commonly found in fresh water. Another interesting inclusion are examples of fish that are invasive to North America, fish that are not native that pose harm to the environment.

Knowing what types of environments these fish inhabit will help us to properly setup the correct aquarium to house these fish. The range and map reports let us know what temperatures to keep the fish housed at. The habitat, and size descriptions will give us some insight on what fish we might be able to house together. And the species identification will make sure that we have the correctly identified species to begin with.

In my honest opinion this book is quite invaluable to the native fish keeping enthusiast. It goes over information you wouldn’t find in a dedicated hobbyists book. I would highly recommend this book be added to your library, if not just for the enjoyable ‘eye candy’ the beginning plates offer and interesting range maps that are included.

Title: Peterson Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of North America North of Mexico second edition
Author: Lawrence M. Page and Brooks M. Burr
Length: 663 pages
Publisher: hmh books
ISBN-10: 9780547242064 
ISBN-13: 978-0547242064 

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