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By Bob Goemans
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Aquarium Keeping & Rescue, The Essential Saltwater Handbook & Log

Authored by: Carl DelFavero

A book review by Bob Goemans

TITLE: Aquarium Keeping & Rescue, The Essential Saltwater Handbook & Log

AUTHOR: Carl DelFavero

PUBLISHER: T.F.H. Publications/Microcosm Ltd. (2005)

ISBN 1-890087-49-1

PAGES: 112

PRICE: $19.95

No matter what your level of expertise, a good, non-technical how-to-do-it 'guide' has a place in your personal aquarium book library. And the author, Carl DelFavero, with over thirty years experience, provides just that with an uncomplicated well written text that is abundantly illustrated with color photographs, diagrams, charts, and drawings.

The beauty of this book is not in its color photos, but in the extensive data, which the author focuses upon in an elegant manner. Once I started looking through its pages, I knew that the hobbyist, whether into fish only or reef aquaria, must make room on their library shelf for this hands-on, informative work.

The work begins with 'Acknowledgements,' where the author thanks those who have contributed to his knowledgebase and those who directly contributed to this work. A table of 'Contents' and 'Introduction' follows. And I must say, the Introduction was a joy to read, as its subtitle, 'The Joys & Zen of Aquarium Maintenance' portrays his day, beginning with a morning cup of coffee in front of his aquarium while assessing its health and the condition of its inhabitants. From there, he progresses into the importance of not taking on-going maintenance too lightly, and the complaints he's heard from disillusioned aquarists who have let their maintenance lag. Of course, the more it lags, the greater the problems become, and the more costly and involved they become to correct. And that sets the stage for his work!

Chapter 1, 'What Is The Well-Kept Marine Aquarium?' has several subtopics, e.g., Mimicking the Sea; Specific Gravity or Salinity; Temperature; Ammonia; Nitrite; Nitrate; pH; Alkalinity or KH; Calcium; Phosphate; and, Other Factors. Their importance, units of measure and general goals is discussed.

Chapter 2, 'Water Testing, (Knowing & Tracking the Key Measures)' discusses subtopics such as Specific Gravity, pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Alkalinity, Calcium, and Phosphate, where each is accompanied with What is it, Why test for it, How to test for it, Proper Level, Record in Your Log, and How to Adjust. All are explained in greater detail, yet easy to understand terms.

Chapter 3, 'Daily Maintenance, (Just A Few Minutes A Day Is All It Takes)' discusses the basics of general maintenance, and stresses the importance of setting up routine aquarium procedures for things as simple as observing its inhabitants health, water quality, and the system's equipment.

Chapter 4, 'Weekly Maintenance, (Easy Steps To Keep Your System Sparking)' promotes setting a specific day every week to perform certain maintenance procedures, and also presents a list of suggested tools and equipment to make that task as simple as possible.

Chapter 5, 'Work Sessions, (Semimonthly, Monthly, & Semiyearly Maintenance)' goes into those necessary tasks that fall outside the simple weekly tasks. Everything from water changes, vacuuming, mixing and storing seawater, cleaning mechanical filters, and various equipment needs are set into different timeframes and explained in simple terms.

Chapter 6, 'Afflictions, (Disease In The Marine Aquarium)' discusses some of the very common maladies, such as the warning signs and treatments associated with common parasites, e.g., Amyloodimium and Cryptocaryon, and also some bacterial diseases. It also takes one through the process of setting up a quarantine tank.

Chapter 7, 'Maintenance Animals, (Biocontrols To Keep Pests & Plagues In Check)' presents a list of specific animals that will help control various unwanted situations such as Filamentous Algae; Encrusting or Benthic Algae; Diatoms; Cyanobacteria; Valonia (bubble algae); Bristleworms, and, Aiptasia Anemones. Quite informative!

Chapter 8, 'Resurrection, (Rescuing An Aquarium Gone Bad)' is all about just that, rescuing an aquarium that has gone south for one reason or another, and planning the counterattack that's necessary to right it. Short, but to the point!

Following Chapter 8, the work turns into a series of 'Logs & Charts.' Each of the following 'Logs' have three full pages dedicated to it, i.e., Aquarium Journal; Water Testing; and Livestock Tracking. Each has numerous columns with appropriate headings. A Medication Log follows and consists of one full page, also with numerous columns with appropriate headings. Full-page ready-made Charts follow for Specific Gravity; pH; Ammonia; Nitrite; Low-Range Nitrate; High-Range Nitrate; Alkalinity; Calcium; and Phosphate. Each having color-coded ranges, e.g., Too High; Target Range; Too Low; etc., as fitting for that parameter, and is spread through a graph having 52 columns so results can be tracked in graph-form over a full year. Very Nice!

The 'Troubleshooting Guide, (Common Problems And Their Solutions)' follows, and there are three subsections, the aquarium; the water; and, the fish. Each is color-coded and divided by related areas, such as appearance or equipment in the case of the aquarium subsection. The water subsection uses Appearance and/or Odor; and, Test Results, whereas the fish use Appearance; and, Behavior to separate the guide into more related areas. And each has columns titled: Observations; Possible Causes; and, Suggested Actions making it all quite comprehensive and informative.

The work closes with Photography & Illustration Credits, an Index, and About The Author.

In closing, there's no doubt that every would-be aquarist needs a good, easy to understand how-to-do-it book. Even those already in the hobby, from what I can see in my email over the past years, may also benefit by having a helpful maintenance reference source in their library. Furthermore, how many times have you read or heard it is a good idea to keep a record of the various happenings in your aquarium? Probably many times! And Carl's work, the Aquarium Keeping & Rescue, The Essential Saltwater Handbook & Log, fills those needs and more. It is well written, informative, and nicely illustrated, besides being extremely fair priced! In fact, this book deserves to be in every aquarium shop's bookrack as it provides a common sense approach for maintaining marine aquariums. TFH/Microcosm Ltd. has again presented the reader an unsurpassed value!

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