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Book Review:

The Captive Marine Aquarium, A Colorful Photographic Resource for the Aquarist


By: Wayne Shang


Ulyssian Publications, Taiwan 2004

ISBN 1-930580-69

224 pp., 9 X 10", $45.00 


by Bob Fenner  

             Here is a new book celebrating marine aquarium keeping, both fish only and reef on a grand scale that is sure to please reefers with its 200 plus photographs and first-person account of gear and livestock choices, as well as personal insights in care and equipment assembly. 

            Wayne Shang may well be familiar to you if you've been in the saltwater aquarium interest. His systems have been featured in Aquarium Frontiers and Mike Paletta's works, and he has been generous to speak at hobby gatherings regarding his extensive experience.  

            The Captive Marine Aquarium is not a treatise on all the ways and means of setting up and maintaining saltwater systems, but rather a personal odyssey of how Mr. Shang himself has determined his "path" of how to go about this. Replete with good diagrams, descriptions of sometimes imported components, the book is testimony to one man's dedication to excellence in providing an optimized environment for marine life. 

            And what environments! Showcased are Mr. Shang's two principal aquariums, a 300 gallon fish only system supporting some sixteen (16) marine angels (most that have been in his care for more than a handful of years) and a spectacular 700 gallon reef system. Supporting sumps and quarantine systems are also detailed and explained for their integral roles.  

Some Highlights: 

            On page 23 the author makes a bold, though not often heard statement re the many values of quarantine; that marine fish (sic) caught in the wild can be difficult to condition to feeding in captivity. For this reason as well as rest, hardening and warding off the introduction of infectious and parasitic diseases, he quarantines all new arrivals for at least three weeks.  

            His coverage on the use of two-part additives, Kalkwasser and Calcium reactors is excellent, giving the reader clear coverage of what these are, their utility and his use of all-three methods in his large, calcium and alkalinity hungry reef system (He doses some 8 gallons of Kalk nightly!).  

            The revealing of the practice of partial water changes, including switching water back and forth between the all-fish and reef systems is telling, as is the spot-on statement re the need to monitor Magnesium levels as a function of maintaining calcium and alkalinity in about right concentrations.  

Some Shortcomings: 

            This work includes a sprinkling of English usage and spelling mistakes, but its largest trouble comes in the way of omissions. There is neither a bibliography nor index… Given the brevity of the text, espousing of one set of standpoints, nicely understandable layout perhaps a bibliography and index were considered unnecessary, but as an author, publisher and consumer of these works these tools are of great utility. I encourage their development and inclusion in succeeding reissues of the title.  

Bonus DVD: 

            The Captive Marine Aquarium also includes an accompanying DVD movie… with chapters and music that might make for gorgeous screen saving, dinner/TV watching, as well as a record of Tridacna spawning.  


            Though the contents may be a bit much for beginning marine aquarists, almost all reef hobbyists will find The Captive Marine Aquarium useful and stimulating. Not much "new material" is presented, however, many good, salient points that determine saltwater keeping success are hammered down succinctly. I salute Mr. Shang for his excellence as an aquarist, record-keeper and earnest investigator in our interest, and thank him for sharing his success in this book.  

Available from: Pine Orchard, www.pineorchard.com, (http://pineorchard.com/shopping/product.asp?sku=8069X). 

Thanks to Chris Clevers, rep. for Hikari Sales USA and friend, for sending along Wayne's new book for review.


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