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  Book Review: 

Blenidos Del Mediterraneo (Blennies of the Mediterranean

An exhaustive survey of Mediterranean Blennies, systematics, natural history and aquarium care (in Spanish).

Jose M.a Cid Ruiz

Printed in Spain by Anarpa S.L. Madrid 1993

ISBN 84-604-7973-0, hardcover, 214 pp.

Bob Fenner  

Thank goodness for the penchant some investigators possess for thoroughness, and clarity. Here we have a wonderfully complete treatise on the wild and captive biology of a group of marines of tremendous importance to aquarists, the blennies. Imagine having the conviction and resources to dedicate to an exhaustive study of such a group of aquatic animals. How would you go about it?

Mr. Jose Maria Cid personally put in hundreds of hours diving the perimeter of Spain's Mediterranean coast observing and collecting all known species of this large and diverse family. He took all the photographs above and below water, designed and performed extensive experiments on food and habitat preferences, breeding of many species; did an exhaustive bibliographic search for "pure" and applied (that's us who are into aquariums) interests. Talk about a passion for your field!

The only downside of this work for the reader, and it may be a small impediment to you, is that this book is only available in the original Castilian Spanish. Not too difficult to figure out if you have a passing facility with Mexican Spanish, or an avid interest in blennies and a handy Spanish lexicon.


In the introduction, Senor Cid Ruiz clearly states his interest in detailing the blennies of littoral Mediterranean Spanish waters; that they are of considerable interest in their own right, and of good use for marine aquariums. He offers this book as a quide to their study, aquarium breeding/rearing and captive care. The book is divided into two major sections: Natural history, and aquarium maintenance.

Part One: Biology and Natural Habitat treats such chapter one treats the principal anatomical characteristics of blennies (such as the adaptive functionality of their shape and locomotion and it's apparent usefulness to a demersal and often cave-dwelling existence). Other peculiarities of their biology covered include blenny propensity for making a home out of novel materials, territoriality (between other species and within their own).

Chapter two introduces us to the systematics of the group and offers a very useful diagrammatic presentation of where the blennies fit into modern classification. To the author's credit, more than one taxonomic schema is presented. The principal blennie genera and species covered are detailed in a delightful set of dichotomous keys accompanied by illustrations, where by asking and answering yes/no questions the reader may sort out at first perplexingly similar forms.

A physical and color description of each of the 17 species (in the genera, Lipophrys, Aidablennius, Blennius, Coryphoblennius, and Parablennius) follows, with a color image or two of each.

Chapter three is the dream of all reef keepers, a thorough discussion of the distribution, depth and type of biotope each of the species occupies. How does he know all this? He dove and collected extensively along the whole Mediterranean Spanish coast. Wouldn't this be great for all aquarium animals and algae?

Chapter four delves into collection and transportation of specimens. The author utilized some anesthetic (MS-222) at times and otherwise went mano a mano in hand gathering his blennies.

The second part of the book covers maintenance of these fishes in aquariums. There's the usual run down on the make up of seawater, density (a little higher in the Mediterranean at 36-38 ppt, about 1.026-1.028 at typical aquarium temperatures), hardness, pH, redox, temperature and more.

There is a nice rendition of "the greatest story ever told" in the way of nitrogen cycling; then onto filtration and filtering modes, lighting, alternative gear like denitrators.

Chapter six introduces us with the captive habitat itself; provision of "natural" and not caves, greenery, the co-use of invertebrates in their systems (once again all biotopic). The usual roundup of captive diseases; lymphocystis, vibriosis and other bacterial no-gooders, funguses, protozoans, a long list of worm and crustacean maladies afflicting these fishes, and of course how to identify and treat for each.

This is followed by a detailing of, eat your hearts out all you Breeder Award Program types, each species captive breeding, development and rearing behavior. Of course Mister Cid Ruiz discloses how he cultured their food (phyto, zoo-plankton, urchin roe). Utilizing plastic barrels (as in medical shots) for homes/breeding chambers is a stroke of genius, as he is able to keep his breeders' larvae gently aerated by passing a small stream of bubbles up and past them as they're attached to the barrels' walls. Results of various test diets and survivability are recorded as all good scientists do.

Lastly a glossary of terms and dual bibliographies (Biological & Aquariological) wrap this survey up.

Overall Opinion:

As far as works on species of interests to aquarists go, this book is a paragon of excellence. It is accurate, significant and meaningful... IF the investigator (you) are interested in blennies of the area, their biology, collection and keeping... And you have a grasp of linquistics hispaniola, or have ready access to someone who does.


You might do well to contact a leading institutional (i.e. College), or commercial book dealer and let them find you a copy. Serious inquiries may be directed to the author at:

Jose Maria Cid Ruiz

C/ Badajoz, 9 (Urb. Zulema)

Villalbila (28819, Madrid)



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