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By Bob Goemans
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Giant Clams in the Sea and the Aquarium

Authored by: James W. Fatherree

A book review by Bob Goemans

TITLE: Giant Clams in the Sea and the Aquarium

AUTHOR: James W. Fatherree

PUBLISHER: Liquid Medium Publications (2006)

ISBN 0-9786194-0-4

PAGES: 227

PRICE: $39.95

There's no doubt few in the reef aquarium hobby that haven't been stunned by the beautiful color-combinations found in the mantles of various crocea and maxima Tridacna clams! And there' also probably few aquarists, or to be aquarists, that were or will be drawn into the reef hobby because of these colorful organisms, as they just had to have a slice of the ocean to house their own exquisite specimens! Unfortunately, there's been far too few aquarium books dedicated to these 'Clams.' One of the previous excellent works on these animals, 'Giant Clams' by Daniel Knop, originally printed in 1996, is in fact, no longer in print. We hobbyists, therefore, are now extremely fortunate to have another well written, up-to-date dedicated work that is profusely illustrated with approximately 300 high quality color photographs, numerous sketches and drawings, available for our edification. And whether your interested in their taxonomy, biology, ecology, or their captive care requirements, including diseases and predators, you'll find that here along with other helpful and interesting data.

The work contains a Foreword, Introduction, six chapters, Glossary, References, and an Index; with all printed on very high quality paper and bound with a colorful high quality hard cover.

The work begins with a 'Foreword' written by Charles Delbeek describing some of his experiences with Tridacnid clams and his relationship with Gerald Heslinga in the 80's and early 90's and the clams that he has at the Waikiki Aquarium, which are now about 25 to 30 years old and still doing well. There's also a photo of two 'very' large T. gigas at the Waikiki Aquarium accompanying the Foreword. Impressive!

The 'Introduction' follows, and is more or less a family taxonomy lesson, as its necessary to set the groundwork so as to be able to discuss the individual species. Two genera, 'Tridacna and Hippopus' in the family Tridacnidae are briefly noted, as are their species, T. crocea; T. maxima; T. derasa; T. squamosa; T. gigas; T. tevoroa; T. rosewateri; H. hippopus; and, H. porcellanus. Size and other factors such as their nutritional needs are also briefly discussed, as is what's forthcoming in some of the chapters. In my opinion, an excellent 'introduction,' as it sets the stage for the forthcoming, more detailed information.

And there's no better place to begin than in Chapter 1, 'Tridacnid Biology Basics.' This chapter is broken down into seven subsections: Tridacnid Shells; Tridacnid Soft Parts; How Tridacnids Work in General; The Tridacnid Life Cycle; Tridacnid Growth Rates; Tridacnid Mantle Coloration; and, Some Tridacnid Trivia, such as why these clams move, do they make pearls (yes they do!), their close cousins, their ability to be left high and dry for long periods, their little eyes, and why they jerk and squirt. Need I say more! Well maybe, because I found it extremely beneficial to review all these aspects and get an updated view on the subject matter before going further.

Chapter 2, 'Tridacnid Nutrition,' is somewhat technical, yet needs to be if one is to understand this important aspect. Nevertheless, anyone that wants to keep these beautiful clams will greatly appreciate the author's effort to explain these technical aspects in an easily understood fashion. Zooxanthellae and Autotrophy is discussed in-depth, and Particulate Foods along with Absorbing Nutrients and "Farming" Zooxanthellae are subsections of immense interest.

There's no doubt, at least in my opinion, that Chapter 3, 'The Tridacnid Species,' will be the first for most readers to look through when they first pick up the book, as it contains the most beautiful color photographs of the various species I've ever seen! There are subsections and photos devoted to each species, e.g., Tridacna Crocea; Tridacna maxima; Tridacna squamosa; Tridacna derasa; Tridacna gigas; Tridacna mbalavuana/tevoroa; Tridacna rosewateri; Hippopus hippopus; Hippopus porcellanus, along with other subsections devoted to ID Dilemmas; Hybrid/Inbred Tridacnids; and, Status Specifics. Gosh, what a wealth of information and beautiful photos!

Chapter 4, 'Collecting, Farming, and Shipping Tridacnids,' broadens the readers knowledge base as to what's currently occurring in the wild, as it has subsections devoted to Collection by Divers; Farming Tridacnids; and, On to the Retailer. All of which give the reader the wider picture of the marketplace where these beauties are concerned, and quite possibly, will open some hobbyist eyes as to the processes involved.

The husbandry/captive care surrounding these beauties begins in Chapter 5, 'The Acquisition and Care of Tridacnids.' The author takes the reader through the A - Z approach of caring for these animals by beginning with a subsection devoted to "(In)Compatibilities," which include the no-nos as to what they can be kept with, such as fishes or other invertebrates, along with some 'Maybe' choices. Other subsections include Water Quality (salinity, temperature, calcium, pH and alkalinity, phosphorus, and ammonia, nitrate, and nitrate are only some issues discussed); Current; Lighting; Choosing and Shopping (on-line and off-line); Acclimation and Adaptation; Placement; and, Feeding. Enlightening to say the least!

Chapter 6, 'Tridacnid Troubles,' is a continuation of the husbandry/captive care began in the previous chapter, however, is fully devoted to the maladies that may affect these beauties. Comprehensive would be an understatement as one can see by reading the following titles of its subsections: Bleaching; Bacterial Troubles; Protozoans, Too; Overgrowing Algae; Boring Stuff; Worrisome Worms; Nasty Cnidarians; Snails that Kill; Uninvited Crustaceans; Gas-Bubble Disease; Disappearing Ligaments; and Spawning Events.

The book closes with a Glossary, an in-depth Reference, and Index.

For those in the marine hobby, there are many books to choose from. Some are broad ranging and written more for the novice. Then there are those devoted to those wanting more scientific data. Some are short on facts and heavy on pretty pictures. Others are simply boring and lack the combination of easy to understand facts and the needed associated photography. Rarely does a book come our way that fits into a portion of the marine hobby that interests a large segment of its hobbyists and at the same time, does so in such an enlightening manner and is also pure joy to read! Giant Clams in the Sea and the Aquarium is an outstanding reference source and a 'must' for your library. As for its availability, this review is being written only one week after the first shipment of books arrived in the US, nevertheless, I understand that by the time you read this review, it should be available at better aquarium shops and also from Amazon.com, which will ship world-wide. And please note, there is a sample PDF file of the book on www.liquid-medium.com so you can see some of what the work has to offer. Again, a must for your personal library!

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