By Bob Goemans
Site Supported in Part by:
Aquarium Systems (Instant Ocean) 

Reef Fishes, Volume III: Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes

Authored by: Scott W. Michael

A book review by Bob Goemans

TITLE: Reef Fishes Volume III: Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes

AUTHOR: Scott W. Michael

PUBLISHER: T.F.H. Publications/Microcosm Ltd. (2004)


PAGES: 344

PRICE: $44.95 (Hardcover)

Were you surprised and happy to see Marine Fishes Volume II, now known as "Basslets, Dottybacks & Hawkfishes," after waiting for three years? Would you believe that Marine Fishes Volume III, now called "Angelfishes & Butterflyfishes", has become available only a few 'months' later? Thank goodness we aquarists didn't have to wait another three years! And I'm sure the folks at Microcosm will be happy not to hear my voice every few months asking when the next edition will be available.

It now becomes apparent that what was originally planned to be a four book series, will now be expanded to six books, with the sixth titled Reef Fishes Atlas, which will provide a full photographic index to all covered species. And, as noted in my review of Volume II, this series expansion is due to Scott's tenacity for accuracy and completeness, as there always seemed to be one more thing that just had to be added. Therefore it became necessary to reduce the number of completed families per edition to prevent unreasonable delays between publications.

As the title of Volume III indicates, this edition contains the Angelfishes (Pomacanthidae) and Butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae) families. It also contains an additional 10 other fish families, i.e., Remoras (Echeneidae), Jacks (Carangidae), Snappers (Lutjanidae), Fusiliers (Caesionidae), Grunts (Haemulidae), Spinecheeks (Nemipteridae), Drums (Sciaenidae), Goatfishes (Mullidae), Sweepers (Pempheridae), and Monos (Monodactylidae).

Volume III begins with a "Preface" that presents an up to date look at what each volume has and/or will contain. It's followed by a brief "Acknowledgements" written by Scott and paying tribute to those who have helped him write and publish this immense work including his wife Janine Cairns-Michael, herself a widely published underwater photographer, and the Microcosm staff. Prior to the in-depth coverage of each family of fishes, there's a 10 page section titled "The Fishes." It enlightens the reader as to the meaning, importance or value of various general subjects/terms used throughout the book such as Scientific Name, Common Name, Range, Biology, Captive Care, Aquarium Size, Temperature, Aquarium Suitability Index, and Remarks. It also includes a full-page sketch of 'Generalized Bony Fish Anatomy' and a two-page color map of the 'Major Coral Reefs of the World.'

Following that, the Family Echeneidae (Remoras) is the first of 12 families discussed at length and contains sections devoted to their Biology; Reproduction; and, Captive Care. It covers 2 genera and contains 5 color photos. Next, the Family Carangidae (Jacks, Scads, and Pompanos) is discussed and has sections devoted to Classification and Biology; Foods and Feeding; Hunting Strategies; Reproduction; and, Captive Care. It covers 4 genera and contains 11 color photos. The Family Lutjanidae (Snappers) is next and has sections devoted to Biology; and, Captive Care. It covers 5 genera and is accompanied by 35 color photos. Following that, what use to be a sub-family of Lutjanidae, has now been elevated to its own family status - Caesionidae (Fusiliers). It contains photos of 2 of its 4 known genera, and is accompanied by 14 color photos. The Family Haemulidae (Sweetlips and Grunts) follows, and is divided into two areas, one pertaining to 'Sweetlips' and the other to 'Grunts.' Each has sections devoted to Biology; and, Captive Care. Two genera are discussed in each and overall, contains 40 color photos. The next family discussed is Nemipteridae (Whiptails and Spinecheeks). It has sections devoted to Classification and Biology; and, Captive Care and covers 2 genera containing 28 color photos. The Family Nemipteridae (Drums and Croakers) follows, and also includes sections devoted to Classification and Biology; and, Captive Care and covers 3 genera containing 10 color photos. The next Family, Mullidae (Goatfishes) also has sections devoted to Classification and Biology; and Captive Care and covers 4 genera and contains 53 color photos. The small Family Pempheridae (Sweepers) are next, and it also has sections devoted to Biology; and Captive Care, and discusses 2 genera and is accompanied by 11 color photos. Another very small family, Monodactylidae (Monos) follows. It discusses Captive Care, covers one genus and contains 4 color photos.

Okay, you and I have been waiting for the following two families to be discussed and shown at length!

The Family Chaetodontidae (Butterflyfishes) begins with sections devoted to Classification and Biology; Food Habits and Feeding Behavior; Social Organization; Reproduction; Captive Care; Foods and Feeding; Compatibility; Parasites and Disease; Selecting a Healthy Individual; and, Butterflyfishes in the Reef Aquarium. It also contains 2 Tables depicting "Chaetodontid Food Habits and Aquarium Suitability" and "Deepwater Butterflyfishes." It goes on to describe 11 genera, including "Bannerfishes," and is accompanied by 174 color photos! Wow, nothing better than I know of!

The other long awaited Family, Pomacanthidae (Angelfishes), is 'grouped' into various genera with each containing topics such as Captive Care and/or Biology. However, the genus Centropyge has a wide array of subjects, i.e., Biology; Food Habits and Feeding Behavior; Pygmy Angel Models, Surgeonfish Mimics; Coloration and Sexual Dichromatism; Sexuality and Reproductive Behavior; Captive Care; Aggression and Compatibility; Selection and Health; and, Pygmy Angelfishes in a Reef Tank. There's also various tables and subjects of special interest such as "Angelfish Diseases, Parasites, and Other Health Problems" and "Getting Along: Keeping large Angelfishes Together." There are 8 genera discussed with 277 color photos, many of them showing juvenile stages, rare species, and/or morphs. You could not ask for more!

The book completes with Photography Credits, Bibliography, Index, and, About The Author.

And if your wondering what's going to be in Volume IV, its Damselfish, Wrasses, Parrotfishes, Convict Blenny, Sand Divers, Sand Perches, Triplefins, Weed Blennies, Tube & Pike Blennies, Blennies, Clingfishes, and Dragonets. Maybe I should call Microcosm and find out when Volume IV is due!

T.F.H. Publications and Microcosm Ltd. has again supplied the reader a high quality beautifully illustrated publication that is well written and informative. You don't want to be without any of these fantastic books! And in my opinion, this is without doubt one of the all-time best series of books I've seen in the past 50 years that I've been in the hobby. And that's saying a lot!

More Reviews
Site Supported in Part by:
Boyd Enterprises