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Book Review:

"Reef Invertebrates, An Essential Guide To Selection, Care and Compatibility"

by Anthony Calfo and Robert Fenner.

Published by: Reading Trees and Wet Web Media Publications

Retail: $42.95, U.S.

398 pgs., Soft-cover

By Don Carner       


By the time you read this, "Reef Invertebrates, An Essential Guide To Selection, Care and Compatibility" will have been available for awhile. The advance copy I graciously received has sat idle these many months while life imposed itself on my time. I stand here today, ready to remedy this by providing you with some insight on a delightful work, certain to become a valued addition to anyone's collection.

For those of you unfamiliar with Anthony's previous offerings, prepare yourself! Partnering with Robert Fenner, Anthony has produced a visual reference that goes beyond "coffee-table". It even exceeds the definition of a textbook. By interlacing facts and humor along with stunning here-to-fore unseen photographs, all the major inhabitants in a modern, home reef environment are presented to the curious, the initiated and to the advanced aquarist alike.

Bound in a heavy coated stock, this book is sure to survive the occasional splash and back-bending we so often inflict on books of this nature. I especially appreciate the pre-creasing of the front and rear covers. This allows for a more uniform opening and also allows the book to remain open to selected pages while reading. I don't know about you but I hate having to use old powerheads to hold my place open while referencing a particular page or article! Nice touch, gentlemen…The page glazing provides a quality satin gloss finish that resists excessive "glare" from reading lamps and Metal Halides alike!

Ok, enough of the introductory stuff…let's get into the book.

Following the tradition of basics first, the book commences to initiate the reader to the "why's" and "where-for's" of what makes for a true reef aquarium. Filtration is probably the most controversial of all saltwater topics and is presented right up front. Items such as live rock, live sand, Jaubert and NNR are covered in depth but in a way that allows the reader to grasp the concepts as well as the pros' and con's of each. I especially enjoyed the reference to "Uncle Al" in the live rock heros caption! Humor is an excellent vehicle to use when presenting complex subject matter. Bob and Anthony have utilized this tool extremely well throughout the book and it carries the reader easily from page to page.

The explanations provided are concise and to the point. Not too detailed as to bore but comprehensive enough to satisfy the most inquisitive. Captions on the photographs are very informative. While most photographs speak for themselves, I'd simply like to state that the images presented in this volume are fresh and spectacular. Each specimen presented is clear and large enough to see plenty of detail. One can certainly tell that much time and care was used selecting just the right pictures to use when compiling the book. Kudos to the editors and authors!

Each subsequent chapter deals specifically with the creatures and fishes encountered while pursuing a successful reef aquarium. Practical information abounds and many myths are explored and/or exploded. I especially respect the manner in which the trade is presented. Every company manufacturing an appliance for the industry touts itself as providing the ultimate in this and that. Realistic attitudes are given in the attempt to save the hobbyist much time and money. This is something I've been saying for many years. It doesn't have to be in a four-color carton and cost hundreds of dollars to work and viable alternatives are presented for reflection and consideration.

So, should you consider adding another book to your library? The best answer I can give is this: If you plan on investing in only one book this year, have an existing system you want to improve, haven't yet decided if reefing is for you or simply love the promise of interesting reading, BUY THIS BOOK!

What I'm excited about is the header on the front cover: "The Natural Marine Aquarium Series". Obviously, here's a promise of more to come from the collaborative talents of Mr.'s Calfo and Fenner.

NMARI review hey, Bobster... a very nice review of our NMARI was recently posted on Amazon. Just an FYI :) Ant- <Very nice indeed. Will add to WWM. Thanks, Bob> -- Comprehensive, Complete, Easy to Read, September 24, 2004 Reviewer: Robert Green (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews I'm new to coral reef keeping - and have been voraciously reading a dozen+ books on all aspects of reef husbandry. Calfo and Fenner's book on Reef Invertebrates is both a beautiful pictorial of reefs and invertebrates and is a very comprehensive guide to reef keeping water husbandry. I was surprised and amazed at the thorough and complete description of approaches to the essential aspects of reef husbandry. After an introductory section on water quality, additives, tank sizing there is the very best reference I've found on the potential goals and approaches to refugiums. This leads into a beautifully photographic essay on macro and micro algae - giving clear advice on balancing the choices of species. I was completely engrossed in this so clearly written treatise on tank water quality approaches that I was surprised that the first detailed discussion of "invertebrates" was the better part of a 1/3 into the book! The rest of the book is largely based on the various genera of invertebrates that you could consider having in your tank. Again, complete and comprehensive, and especially clear on what will leave your corals alone and what will feast on them, what eats what, water quality requirements by species, diet requirements by species, etc. For almost every family there is a picture. For every species pictured there is at least a small paragraph near the picture describing the husbandry required to have the invertebrate thrive...and often the better part of a chapter when there are a number of varieties of approaches or animals. This is the best reef book in my library.

Book question       8/26/14
Hi Anthony and Bob,
<Ahh; Antoine (unfortunately) quit our assemblage years ago>

I just finished reading "Reef Invertebrates: An Essential Guide to Selection, Care and Compatibility" and just loved it!! You reference several places in the book other editions to the series and I cannot seem
to find them? Do you have plans to continue the series? Trust me I will be the first in line to buy them.
<I wish we had done the other three, four volumes (one at least on Cnidarians, the others on reef fishes); but such works are not profitable due to costs, low volume, as published analog books. Instead I have been writing and selling the equivalents on Amazon as e-books and direct to print (CreateSpace) offerings. You can look up these by searching by my name (Robert Fenner)>
Finally thanks for all you do to further this wonderful hobby. I know myself that I would not have learned nearly as much if it weren't for your efforts to educate all of us.
Robby Phelps
<Certainly welcome. Thank you for your interest, prompting. Bob Fenner>

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