By Bob Goemans
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Reef Fishes, Volume V: Wrasses & Parrotfishes

Authored by: Scott Michael

A book review by Bob Goemans

TITLE: Reef Fishes Vol. V - Wrasses & Parrotfishes, The Complete Illustrated Guide To Their Identification, Behaviors, And Captive Care

AUTHOR: Scott W. Michael

PUBLISHER: T.F.H. Publications/Microcosm Ltd. (2009)

ISBN 1-890087-44-0

PAGES: 400

PRICE: $69.95 (Hardcover)

The book series titled ‘Reef Fishes’ originally began as a four book series in 1999, but has now apparently expanded to a set of nine books. And with this edition quickly following Vol. IV, which was dedicated to Damselfishes and Anemonefishes, could be, hopefully, we will not be waiting another ten years for the series to conclude! Maybe the folks at Microcosm will become tired of hearing my voice when it comes to the ‘next’ volume and hurry the remaining issues along.

As the title of Volume V indicates, this edition contains the species in the Wrasse and Parrotfish families. Both have hobbyist species of interest, however, those in the Wrasse family are quite diverse and comprise the third largest family of fishes in the world, having 68 genera containing approximately 470 species! In fact, only gobies and sea basses are larger. Since Parrotfishes are closely related to the wrasse family, in fact some authors consider them a subfamily of the wrasse family Labridae, both have been grouped together in this edition. And even though not an overly popular aquarium fish, Parrotfishes contain 10 genera having approximately 90 species, with some of interest described herein for your enlightenment.

Overall, there are probably few marine aquarists that have never kept one of the numerous species described this well written and illustrated book, and that’s why its content can help aquarists make good decisions as to what species to select in these families, and how to properly maintain it.

The work begins with a Preface that presents an up to date look at what each volume has or will contain. It does not include Book 9, but that one will simply be a Reef Fishes Encyclopedia containing all previously published data in this enormous series. It’s followed by a brief Acknowledgement written by Scott and paying tribute to those who have helped him write and publish this immense work. It’s followed by a 15 page section titled The Fishes, which includes a full-page sketch of Generalized Bony Fish Anatomy and a map showing the Major Coral Reefs of the World. These pages enlighten the reader as to the meaning, importance or value of various general subjects/terms that will be used throughout the book.

Following that, Scott gets into the main theme for the Wrasse portion of the work with a general discussion on those that makeup the Labridae Family. Its 314 pages begins with an introduction to the wrasse family and contains various and highly informative discussions on their Swimming Behavior, Food Habits and Feeding Behavior, Antipredation Strategies, Reproduction, and Captive Care. Interwoven into this discussion are charts titled ‘Some wrasses known to associate with sea anemones in the wild,’ and ‘Caution: Be Wary of these wrasses.’ Another wonderful chart in this location is titled ‘Wrasse Compatibility’ that lists 31 genera and their compatibility with stony corals, soft corals, clams, snails, tubeworms, shrimp, crabs, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, serpent stars, sea stars, small fish, and even denotes which are parasite pickers! Could be worth the price of the book by itself!

From there, various species in the genera Anampses (Tamarin Wrasses), Bodianus (Hogfishes), Cheilinus (Maori Wrasses), Choerodon (Tuskfishes), Cirrhilabrus (Fairy Wrasses), Clepticus (Creole Wrasses), Coris (Coris Wrasses), Cymolutes (Razorfishes), Diproctacanthus (Wandering Cleaner), Epibulus (Slingjaw Wrasses), Gomphosus (Bird Wrasses), Halichoeres (Halichoeres Wrasses), Hemigymnus (Thicklip Wrasses), Hologymnosus (Ring Wrasses), Iniistius (Razorfishes), Labrichthys (Tubelip Wrasses), Labroides (Cleaner Wrasses), Labropsis (Tubelip Wrasses), Larabicus (Red Sea Cleaner Wrasses), Macropharyngodon (Leopard Wrasses), Novaculichthys (Razorfishes), Oxycheilinus (Maori Wrasses), Paracheilinus (Flasher Wrasses), Pseudocheilinus (Lined Wrasses), Pseudodax (Chiseltooth Wrasses), Pseudojuloides (Pencil Wrasses), Pteragogus (Ribbon Wrasses), Thalassoma (Banana Wrasses), Wetmorella (Possum Wrasses), and Xyrichtys (Razorfishes) are described. And throughout this massive expanse of information there are subtitles dedicated specific genera overall Biology and Captive Care, besides their individual species containing information directly related to their common names, maximum length, distribution, biology, temperature, and more specific captive care needs! All in all, a very complete work on this family, not only to the species known to hobbyists, but those not too well known, and with plenty of caveats on both desirable and undesirable species.

The next 28 pages are dedicated to Parrotfishes, the Family Scaridae. It opens with a 15 page discussion that includes various subtopics, e.g., Classification and Biology, Food Habits, Feeding Behavior, Antipredation Strategies, Sexuality and Social Systems, Spawning Behavior and Scarid Larvae, Bio-erosion, Life Span, and completes with some thoughts on Captive Care needs and thoughts. From there, various species in the genera Bolbometopon, Calatomus, Cetoscarus, Chlorurus, Cryptotomus, Hipposcarus, Leptoscarus, Nicholsina, Scarus, and Sparisoma are detailed.

The book completes with Bibliography, Wrasse Reference, Glossary, Index, Photography Credits, and, About The Author. And with well over 700 beautiful photographs, T.F.H. Publications and Microcosm Ltd. has again supplied the reader a high quality beautifully illustrated publication. An absolute necessity for your library! In fact, you don’t want to be without any of these fantastic books!

And if you’re wondering what’s going to be in Volume VI, its Blennies and Dragonets. Maybe I should call Microcosm (again)!

Bob Goemans

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