Month: April 2014

Simon and Schuster\’s

The very last fish book off my shelf. It\’s a field guide. On fish and other aquatic life (plants, amphibia, reptiles and invertebrates) you might keep in an aquarium. For a book of its age, the photographs are really excellent and the care/biology information in the introduction seems pretty solid. Although I blinked at an image caption that stated: The ideal aquarium is a reconstruction of a self-sufficient natural habitat, in which plants and animals rely on one another for nourishment. When such a state of balance is reached, there is no need to change the water or feed the animals. I was baffled by this. I don\’t think you can every get to that point. Maybe you can have the enclosed ecosystem balanced well enough to go long periods without a water change, and for the animals to support the plants- but surely the fishes and other aquatic life must still be fed? Unless it\’s an outdoor pond, I suppose. Someone please do correct me if I\’m wrong. The photo showed an indoor aquarium. I\’m pretty sure it still needs input of food. 
Well, it was another book I more or less browsed through. Enjoyed the gorgeous photos. The book was brief enough on listing numerous closely-related freshwater species (only one platy, a few barbs, two kinds of small catfish as samples) that the saltwater section was almost equal in length, and the pages on invertebrates, amphibians and other living things (like hydra, water fleas, mollusks- not all critters you\’d want in your aquarium I\’m thinking) rounded it out nicely. I never saw turtles, newts, frogs or the axolotl featured in an aquarium book before.
Rating: 3/5    337 pages, 1976

by Donna M. Jackson

For the first time in months (been doing the Dare) I allowed myself to browse a little bit in the library. Walked through the kids\’ section so I picked up a few J non-fiction books. This one is about how forensic science is used to solve crimes against wildlife. It\’s doubly difficult to prove things because of course the animals can\’t tell you anything themselves. Careful matches must be made between samples and specimens to prove exactly what species a piece of evidence came from, in particular. One individual case of a famous bull elk in Yellowstone Park that was illegally shot is followed throughout the book as a example. While of course the book is not as detailed as I would like, it was fascinating regardless. I learned something in particular about deer taxonomy- there are only five species of deer in America- whitetail, mule deer, elk, moose and caribou. I paused when I read that in the book- what about blacktail deer, what about key deer in Florida? So I made a quick search of wikipedia and learned that blacktail deer are a subspecies of mule deer, whereas key deer are a subspecies of whitetail. Hah. Also interested to learn that while bald eagles are completely protected by law- no one can kill them, trade sell or otherwise use their body parts- Native Americans are allowed to use eagle feathers in their sacred ceremonies. So when eagles are found dead of natural causes (or killed by people and not needed as evidence) their feathers and other parts are sent by the National Eagle Repository in Colorado to Native Americans throughout the country (who must apply to receive them). One Navajo medicine man is quoted stating that the eagle feather he uses in healing rituals had been handed down by his grandfather from prior generations- that particular feather is a couple of hundred years old. I am impressed at how sacred they hold the single object. 
Well, a good book. Older kids would learn a lot from this one.
Rating: 4/5    47 pages, 2000
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by Susan Richards

Finished this book a few days ago but had no time to write. It wasn\’t what I thought at first; I assumed from the cover image and prevalence of equines in the few photos inside that this was another book about horses. After a few pages in I flipped to the front to read the flyleaf text and even more telling, the card catalog subject listings (or whatever that\’s called) on the publication data page- it said authors, biography; nothing about horses. So. There are horses, they are not the spotlight. Instead the book is about how the author experienced the success of her first published book, Chosen by a Horse. How she went on book tour and grew from being frightened at facing an audience of readers (or empty chairs) to feeling confident and even relaxed. How she met up with friends and family not seen in years and had some closure, renewed some relationships, learned some stories of her own past that helped with the healing process. Horses, friends, loving books, meeting readers, travelling around the country, dealing with a few age issues plus anxiety, meeting a man again. In the end it is a story of joy. I liked this book. It\’s a feel-good story, but one that is also painfully honest. Not all roses (do you even want roses?) Very real.

Rating: 3/5      278 pages, 2008

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Lis Carey\’s Library
curledup.com

Well, I have finished the Dare. It was easier than ever because I was simply too busy to visit the library much. So it felt like I didn\’t really do a dare because there was little effort involved, or will power- when I had (rare) spare time to read, I just reached for one of the many books on my shelves. I did try to read all the fish books in my house- made good progress with that. Total owned books read were 14- two of those e-books. One abandoned book. Two put up for swapping afterwards, the rest I liked enough to keep in my collection. But I really read 19 books during the first four months (not counting bedtime stories for kids); one was a re-read needed to inform myself about how to care for the worms, and 4 were library books I had borrowed just before the dare began, from holds I\’d been waiting for. Overall I feel like my participation was rather halfhearted, sorry for that. Good books, though!

by Dr. William T. Innes

This decades-old book was considered something of an authoritative text in its time. I found it interesting, informative and quaint altogether. It is an encyclopedia of fishes, the first eighty pages being a general introduction to fish biology plus instructions on their care, feeding and management like usual. A lot of the basics are still the same, but some of the info was astonishing. For example, the book is so old apparently aquarium lighting was not a standard feature, there is a careful explanation of how to find the right site for the fish tank that will get the proper amount of sunlight through a window, with an added note that \”for those who do not mind the use of electricity\” a suspended light can be constructed by mounting bulb sockets on a strip of wood, and that the bulbs can be below the surface as long as water does not reach the socket! What a recipe for disaster. There was no dechlorinator available, instead frequent reminders throughout the book to always use water that has stood for a day or two, some fishes requiring \”very old water\”. I wondered at the quality of care as a lot of the photographs showed fish that had obviously frayed and deteriorating fin edges, yet they were lauded as being excellent specimens. You can bet that most of the species in the book were quite hardy to withstand the relatively primitive care they received back then.

Also the quality of the pictures was something else. I can only imagine the difficulties to be had in photographing fishes in the early days- some of the photos in this book were taken in the 1920\’s. Most were black-and-white, which gives quite a different look at the fish. I found that it made me pay more attention to the overall shape, proportions and fin structures of the fishes. Some were nearly unrecognizable to me because even though the description praised their colors, I could not quite picture it over the monochromatic image supplied. Afterwards went to the computer looking many of them up for a better visual. The names also threw me off- very few had common names, all listed by their scientific names. I did appreciate that a pronunciation guide was provided so I actually know how to say the latin names now, and that the meaning of the names also given.

I met a lot more interesting fishes in this book, not really featured (or didn\’t attract my notice) in more current volumes. This fish the author nicknamed the \”surplus destroyer\” (the book is sprinkled with humor like this, I enjoyed that). Chriopeops goodei is a pretty little fish I never met before, and it\’s native– comes from habitat in Texas. I like killifishes, although I can\’t keep them (yet) because they need soft water- and the aphanius genus has cute fishes. The pike killifish has a delightfully vicious appearance! Then there\’s the snakeheads, channa species, but they\’re very aggressive too. I\’ve discovered that overall, I find visually appealing or interesting fishes that have a long body shape like the cichlids, loaches and killifishes, or those with triangular profile like the scalare (freshwater angelfishes) and archerfish. I am now daydreaming of someday having a paludarium with toxotes jaculator (the second half of this fish name means \”hurler\” as it strikes insects down from leaves above the surface with a jet of water from its mouth!)

My edition is a later reprint that has fewer color photos (a lot of the photos are remarked upon in the text as being in color, but they\’re not) and the second cover image shown here. But I liked the stylish embossed cover found online better, so that\’s the featured image of this post. I acquired this book through a swap site.

Rating: 4/5     463 pages, 1966

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All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it

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