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Book Review:

Volume 3 The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium

(Marine Invertebrates besides Cnidarians (V.2), and Echinoderms (V.4)

By Svein A. Fossa & Alf Jacob Nilsen

Edited by Dieter Brockmann and Werner Schmettkamp

Original title: "Korallrevsakvariet"

Translated by U. Erich Friese

ISBN 3-928819-19-28-3

Approximate retail $80.00

Hundreds of images, 448pp.

Birgit Schmettkamp Verlag, Bornheim, Germany

Publication date: First Edition, 2000

Bob Fenner  

Here we have the third installment in Fossa and Nilsen's fabulous "Modern Coral Reef Aquarist" series in English. Already the standard reference for marine hobbyists around the world, volumes one dealt with reef aquarium science and technology in the broad stroke, volume two, the stinging-celled animals (cnidarians). Volume three continues with an in-depth review of all marine invertebrate phyla with the exception of the mollusks and the spiny-skinned animals making up the phylum Echinodermata. These latter groups and the tunicates and vertebrates will be covered in a successive volume (MCRA #4).

This book is for advanced marine hobbyists who have otherwise gone hungry and curious in examining their systems more closely to find many strange, unknown non-vertebrate animals. Such questions as"What is that"? and further "Is it dangerous", "Of utility"… and beyond, "How do they make their lives, reproduce, locomote…"? will find answers, finally, here.

As in previous volumes there are extensive compatibility, captive survival and husbandry notes for many organisms, groups. A favorite feature of the Modern Coral Reef Aquarium books for me are these many "fact sheets" provided as examples, with images, and pertinent practical information.

And it has not been lost on the publisher and authors that the most popular part of recent magazines is a "my aquarium set-up" section. Here they have provided some seventy two pages of the best reef systems they've come across in travels about the planet. Much useful data here to compare your arrangement, gear and livestock planning against.

By the Numbers/Chapters:

The book starts at the beginning of the interest, offering a brief history of the hobby as well as the planet and its aquatic denizens… then proceeds phylogenetically with coverage of the single-celled animals in Chapter Two.

A very important group, making up the most biomass of most world's reefs, the Sponges, Phylum Porifera are covered in Chapter 3. The fourth chapter is a huge conglomeration of many phyla that are simply labeled "worms" in our hobby. The casual understanding/labeling of so many worm-like animals as "bristle" types or no, will soon be dispelled.

Chapter five is a polyglot of discussion of evolution and fossil invertebrates, the weird Water Bears (phylum Tardigrada), Sea Spiders (the class Pycnogonida of the Arthropoda), Moss Animals (phylum Bryozoa) and Lamp Shells (phylum Brachiopoda), all groups present in many marine aquaria, though infrequently identified as what they are.

The most complete coverage of the Crustaceans as they relate to captive ornamental use comprises chapter six. Even I was surprised at the number of "reef safe" crabs, lobsters, and shrimps presented here.

The book finishes up chapter-wise with the "selected aquaria" examples mentioned above, a useful Geological Time chart, reprinting of a list of commensals of Pontoniin shrimp, References section and, thank goodness, a complete Index.


Is the marine, even general aquarium hobby ready for such in-depth scientific treatments as this tome on marine invertebrates? All serious marine aquarists should avail themselves of such tools as the MCRA series. I plan on keeping this and the successive volume next to my Invertebrate Zoology reference works by Robert Barnes and Ralph Buchsbaum.

A thank-you to the Editors:

A thanks to BSV (Birgit and Werner Schmettkamp, and Herr Dieter Brockmann) for their efforts in aquarium literature publishing (they also produce das Aquarium Magazine), and for providing me with a review copy of Volume 3 MCRA at this year (2000) Interzoo in Nuremburg, Germany. Am greatly looking forward to the remaining two scheduled installments in the series, the Molluscs and Echinoderms, Sea Squirts and Fishes for Reef Aquariums, v.4.

Sources of the Modern Coral Reef Aquarium Books:

Dealers may contact the two U.S. distributers of BSV's fine volumes:

CPR Aquatic, Inc. cpr@cprusa.com (707) 826-9636 in California

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