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By Bob Goemans
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The Captive Marine Aquarium

Authored by: Wayne Shang

A book review by Bob Goemans

TITLE: The Captive Marine Aquarium

AUTHOR: Wayne Shang

PUBLISHER: Ulyssian Publications (2004)

ISBN:1-930580-69-X

PAGES: 224

PRICE: $45.00 (Hardcover)

This has to be the best by far and a welcome addition to the growing body of literature about marine aquarium keeping that I have ever seen. And since this is the 68th book review that I've accomplished over the past two decades, that's saying a lot! I've seen many books on "how to" keep aquariums, but never one that simply say's "how I did it." And then ties that to over 200 excellent color photographs of the various animals, processes and growth stages that the author's aquariums have experienced.

The work begins with a 'Foreword' written by Dr. Timothy Hovanec that discusses the author's dedication to establishing his pristine and beautiful aquariums. He notes that after seeing them in person, they rivaled anything seen while diving in places like Fiji, Bonaire, the Philippines, and Grand Cayman. Following that, there's a short 'Preface' written by Daniel Knop. He notes that the success seen throughout this work depicts how the author does things and pictures the development of his aquariums over a long period of time. And that others can also have the same success if they apply the same philosophy. A very brief 'Acknowledgement' follows where the author thanks various people for their help in making his work possible.

The author then discusses his past history and interest in the hobby in the following 'Introduction' section. He notes as a child living at his uncle's beach house his interest in the ocean grew into a lifelong addiction. In fact, it reminded me of my past, as it also began while quite young over fifty years ago and has gone a somewhat similar route. And I'm quite sure once you read it, you'll understand the author's passion for his beloved hobby because you probably also have the same enthusiasm.

The next 60 pages are dedicated to the authors two show systems, a 300 gallon fish only system and a 700 gallon reef system. Each is shown with diagrammatic equipment sketches and numerous color photographs depicting everything from the actual aquariums in his living room along with various stages throughout their long history. The 'Marine Fish Aquarium' section includes a list of his fish and the years each has been with him. It also includes discussion and photos on its water chemistry, filtration, his quarantine tank, and their feeding and diet. The 'Reef Aquarium' section includes discussion and photos on filtration, lighting, protein skimmer, water circulation, water chemistry along with individual pages dedicated to water temperature, pH, alkalinity, calcium, magnesium, strontium, water changes, and others discussing two-part solutions, Kalkwasser and calcium reactors. Accompanying the reef system section are photos of his past 300 gallon reef system and 180 gallon coral propagation tank. Stunning, would be an understatement.

Following these two breathtaking segments, the next 37 pages contain two sections titled 'Tridacna Clams' and 'Spawning Behaviors in Captive Systems.' They mostly contain extraordinary color clam photographs of those in the author's reef system, including actual photos of them spawning. And I should add that the author notes he likes to keep many Tridacna clams in his reef systems because their filtering capability appears to help keep his nitrates low.

The following 54 pages depict the author's different species of stony corals and their growth in sections titled 'Reef-Building Stony Corals' and 'Growth Sequence.' The reader is taken through a series of excellent photos with many having their individual care attributes noted, along with some yearly photos showing their growth rates as far back as 1995.

The next 27 page segment, titled 'Reef Fishes' is another mostly pictorial section similar to the previous two, but dedicated to the various fishes the author has maintained in his reef aquariums. A short two page segment titled 'Marine Fish Breeding' follows and the author notes that in South Asia 16 species of marine fish are currently bring raised, including the Blue-lined Angelfish Chaetodontoplus septentrionalis and the Maculosus Angelfish Pomacanthus maculosus.

The next section is titled 'Coral Propagation' and devotes 20 pages to a series of photos showing both closed system propagation techniques and actual propagation methods being used in the wild. A 'Photographic Details' page and 'About the Author' page follows.

In closing, The Captive Marine Aquarium has to be considered a 'unique' publication as it goes where others have failed to go, i.e., simply discussing the author's actual accomplishments and providing accurate photographic documentation. This alone sets it apart from the many aquarium books that strive to tell its readers the right and wrong ways to maintain or care for their closed systems.

It is a work that is well written, informative, and beautifully illustrated. Without question an elegant and informative addition to your aquarium library. I'm sure you will find it broadening your horizon when it comes to what is feasible with closed systems. And I should note, that if you order the Special Introductory Edition, it will include a free 70 minute DVD that contains various movies of the author's aquariums and Tridacna clams breeding in them. Fascinating, and must admit that I could have just sat in front of my monitor and watched the movie of the author's reef aquarium for hours instead of finishing this review! For further information visit www.underseadiscovery.net or phone 510.441.1688, or fax 510.441.1633.

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