My Book Report
For my book report I chose the Southeast Asia
Tropical Fish Guide, with "over 1,000 photographs of
marine fishes taken in their natural habitat".
Rudie and Helmut went on some excellent diving
adventures in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia,
Singapore, Thailand and the Andaman Sea.
They took pictures of fishes; lots of pictures of
lots of fishes... Helmut came back home to Germany and put them
in a photo book with Tetra-Press.
This recent Guide is an attempt to be both a
pet-fish and diver identification source. Having tried to do both
myself; I can testify, "it's not easy". The effort
to combine the two in purpose reminds me of bikes and motorcycles
that are intended for both on/off road use. Too many compromises
and function and enjoyment are compromised.
What little text there is touches only barely on
issues of aquarium importance; and it's written in a funky,
hard-to-follow Deutschland non-transliterated language;
Gerlish/Engman? Where are the editorial and translation credits?
Perhaps there's none so no one will be credited/blamed?
HD knows better than what's presented here; he
has a few other good "aquarists texts" to his credit,
including the 1984 Armoured Knights of the
Sea and the senior authoring of Baensch's Marine Atlas, Volume 1.
I can't believe this is a Tetra(Press) effort
either. There are many (hundreds) of mis-spelling, syntax,
grammatical and other editorial faults. To top it off, there are
no references or citations? What is this unfinished...?
The butterflyfishes, family Chaetodontidae (p. 174)
are described as "being... comprised of 10 genera and about
120 species". Then in the same paragraph the genus
Chaetodon(sic)tidae is identified with 114 species,
Heniochus with eight and the remaining genera? This
doesn't add up!
As grandmothers everywhere are wont to say,
"If you don't have something nice to say (or write),
don't write at all".
Okay grandma. There are many great images in this
book, including habitat pix, juvenile/adult pictures of some
common and obscure species, (including all batfish species) & useful insights into what
other people on the planet use for common names. I really like
the German's choices for the two yellow butterflyfishes;
calling Forcipiger flavissimus the long-nose butterfly and
F. longirostris the very-long-nose
There are several worthwhile natural history and
collection notes as well. An example is encouraging that some
(the larger) clownfishes collected off their symbiotic anemones
(no, they're not cyanided) be left to repopulate the
Take A Sad Song...:
What would I do to improve this book? Much, but it
wouldn't take that much effort. It's a crying shame that
someone who knows and cares about the subject and speaks and reads English didn't review/edit
this book. Ninety nine point nine percent plus of the work is
done; with just a little conscientious re-writing this book's
usefulness and commercial success would be increased ten
Kuiter and Debelius are shown with their underwater
cameras, but how about some notes on underwater photography? As
stated in the Introduction, "The main purpose of this book
is to learn about fishes and encourage those with a camera to
keep at the greatest challenge... photographing fishes."
Come on, you guys; follow through.
Some books are made to be
read, others to be used; unfortunately
this one falls short of either possibility.
I do encourage serious biotopic marine aquarists
and more-than-casual divers to these areas to peruse this book.
The authors have made a remarkable start at a pictorial catalog
of fishes in Southeast Asia; I concur with their estimates that
there are more than 3,000 species of reef fishes alone in the
region. There are many ranges to be extended and new species of
fishes to be described by the intrepid diver/discoverer... and
better books to be written about them.