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By Bob Goemans
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Reef Invertebrates, An Essential Guide to Selection, Care and Compatibility

Authored by: Anthony Calfo & Robert Fenner

A book review by Bob Goemans

TITLE: Reef Invertebrates, An Essential Guide to Selection, Care and Compatibility

AUTHOR: Anthony Calfo & Robert Fenner

PUBLISHER: Reading Trees and Wet Web Media (2003)

ISBN 0-9672630-3-4

PAGES: 398

PRICE: $42.95 (Softcover)

For those that have read the Authors other fine works, i.e., "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and "A Fishwatcher's Guide to Saltwater Fishes of the World" by Bob Fenner, and the "Book of Coral Propagation: Reef Gardening for Aquarists" by Anthony Calfo, I'm sure you found them highly informative. Nevertheless, combine their writing and photography skills, add over 800 excellent quality photographs, and place it all in a well organized and well written work having up to date information and you have a classic that all marine aquarists will use as a reference source far into the future.

The work begins with a brief "Acknowledgments" section that pays tribute to all the individuals that contributed and made this fine book possible. Next, the "Foreword," written by Walt Smith, expounds on the development he has seen in the hobby over the past 30 years, and our responsibility as hobbyists. His closing words are well worth repeating - "We should never take lightly what nature has allowed us to share with others. This book will give you a better understanding of the coral reef environment, the responsibility we all share in its survival, and a profound respect for that which created it." Well said!

Following that, "Defining the Modern Aquarium" discusses the interest surrounding natural aquariums and some of its related aspects. Even though quite brief, one thing for sure, what is said comes from the heart.

Next, the "Introduction" section begins with a note that two more 'Care and Compatibility' books are in work, one that discusses reef fishes, and the other discussing reef corals. It goes on to spell out the Authors strategy and how the combining of their skills results in a work that should adequately meet or exceed the challenges faced by many aquarists.

The main portion of the book is divided into two areas. The first is dedicated to better understanding the various environmental aspects associated with maintaining an invertebrate system. The second applies to members of specific invertebrate families.

In the first area, "Living Filters" is the title of the first subject, of which has four subtopics - Live Rock; Live Sand; Refugiums: and, Plants and Algae for the Marine Aquarium.

Its first subtopic, 'Live Rock' is divided into two parts. The first discusses its benefits, the second its selection. Both are subdivided into many subjects, so many that all are not mentioned here or completely spelled out. The following sample will give you a good idea of just how complete this topic is discussed - Live Rock Aquarium Use Benefits (Nutrient Cycling); Continuous, Palatable, Nutritious (Food Production); Algae and Nuisance Organism Control (Nutrient Limitation); Seeding Non-living Substrates; An Adjunct to Alkalinity, Biominerals and More (Mediating Water Quality); What Better DĂ©cor? (Ornamentation and Aesthetics); About Live Rock Types; LR Origin; Cured to What Degree?; LR Composition; Reef Building Tips; LR Quality; LR Real Cost; Wild versus Cultured Live Rock; Curing Processes and Definitions; Curing and Holding; About Additives during the Curing Process; About Lighting during the Curing Process; Patience is a Virtue in Curing Live Rock; About Importing Pest Species with Live Rock; When is Live Rock Fully Cured?; Conservation Concerns; Is Live Rock Indispensable?; and, Examples of Desirable Life Forms on Live Rock. You could not want more information than what is said here about live rock!

The second subtopic is devoted to 'Live Sand' and is also subdivided into numerous subjects, and again not all are mentioned here - Evolution of Live Sand Applications; What is Live Sand; The Impact of Live Sand on Aquarium Water Quality; What Type of Live Sand is Best? Purchasing Live (Wet/Wild) versus Dry Sand; Note: A Word About Packaged "Live" and "Bio-active" Sand Products; Curing Live Sand; Maintaining Live Sand; and, Keeping up with Live Sand…Replenishment. Again, everything you wanted to know about live sand and more!

The third subtopic, 'Refugiums' is again discussed at length with numerous subjects - Size of Refugium; Refugium Functions; Refugium Types; Refugiums as Plankton Generators; Deep Sand Bed Refugia and Natural Nitrate Reduction; Mud-based Substrates in Refugia; Ornamental & Alternative Refugia; Lighting and Water Flow, etc! They don't miss a thing!

In the forth subtopic, 'Plants and Algae for the Marine Aquarium,' the subject matter is also filled with many subtitles and again only a few are mentioned here - Putting Algae in Your Aquarium?; A Summary of the Main Groups of Algae; Controlling Nuisance Algae; Marine Plants and Algae Species Overview (this last topic is so complete its worth the price of the book by itself!).

I've never seen such 'completeness' for the above-mentioned topics, and I'm only through about 25% of the book!

The next series of topics covered in this first area is: Selecting Reef Invertebrates; Reef Invertebrates Husbandry; Feeding Reef Invertebrates; and, Reproduction of Reef Invertebrates. Each topic is well covered. Again, just a few subtitles mentioned in each: Selecting Reef Invertebrates - Variation Within Species; Species Selection; About Fishes for the Reef Invertebrate Aquarium; About Filter-feeding Invertebrates; About Cold Water Invertebrates; About Captive Lifespans. Reef Invertebrates Husbandry - Tank Size and Shape; Near Seawater Conditions; Water Circulation; Aeration; Lighting; and, Monitoring Water Quality. Feeding Reef Invertebrates - An Overview of Feeders and Feeds; Delivering Foods; and, Develop A Feeding Routine. As for Reproduction of Reef Invertebrates - Know Your Livestock, which includes sponges, worms, snails, slugs, clams, shrimp, and sea squirts.

And if you think the preceding 120 pages were super-great, the next 220 pages takes many of the invertebrate families, i.e., sponges, worms (feathers, fans, bristles & flatworms), snails, nudibranchs, sea hares, bivalves, Tridacnid clams, octopus, squid, nautilus, cuttlefish, shrimp, lobsters, microfauna, cucumbers, urchins, seastars, tunicates, and sea squirts, and discusses their members in detail, with most accompanied with excellent color photographs!

The book closes with an Ethos: Serving Life and the Living; Bibliography/Resources; Glossary; Index; Photo and Illustration Credits; and, About the Authors.

In conclusion, Reef Invertebrates, An Essential Guide to Selection, Care and Compatibility is a well-written, extremely informative, beautifully illustrated publication. For those wanting to move into reef type systems or already there, this book deserves to be thoroughly read so the right choices can be made, then properly maintained. An unbeatable value for the price! Get a copy, you'll be happy you did!

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