Book Review: North American Native Fishes for the Home Aquarium

published by Barron’s, 1998, 170 pages, 119 color photos
Review by Nancy Johnson

I ordered this book from a seller on eBay because I’m interested in fish of the Chesapeake Bay. We have a house on the Nanticoke River, which is a marshy area with lots of creeks. The only fish I’ve ever kept in an aquarium is the sheepshead minnow, the males of which have a flash of bright blue on their heads.

This is a very nice book, but being brief it doesn’t cover a large number of fishes. It does have a fair amount of information on the darters, sunfish and sticklebacks. The photos are very well done. I just wish the book had more of them!

One of "Native Fishes" strengths is the sections on keeping "Reasons to Keep Native Fishes," "Fish Taxonomy and Anatomy," "Status of Our Native Fishes," and "The Native Fish Aquarium." Also included are good instructions on the tools you need, and the methods to use to catch fish.

For someone who has never kept an aquarium before, this books gives a concise, yet fairly thorough description on how to set up and maintain an aquarium. It also covers diseases and treatments, although I was disappointed that it didn’t suggest salt and raised temps for ich. The book wraps up with a glossary, bibliographical references, an index and tables of abbreviations, equivalents and conversions. For a small book, it does cover a lot of territory.

In short, I would recommend this small, inexpensive book for your library. It’s a good book for younger readers as well, as the writing is very clear and easy to understand. It would be a particularly nice gift for someone who would like to catch and keep some native fishes, but who doesn’t have a lot of experience with aquarium keeping.

This article first appeared in PVAS’s Delta Tale, Vol 32, # 1