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For beginning aquatic fancier looking to start out right with fish, Freshwater Aquariums by David Alderton is the ideal primer. A vertebrate that breathe primarily by means of gills and swim by means of fins is the author’s lead-in to the first chapter called “What are Fish?” Alderton builds the reader’s confidence by providing solid information about what fish are anatomically speaking, how they evolved, how they breathe, how they move, where they live, and how they behave.

The new fancier’s aquarium begins in chapter two with instructions on setting up the tank, including selecting the right size, figuring out how many fish, setting the tank, equipment, substrate, heating, lighting, filtrations, plants, water chemistry, assembly, and more.

Choosing the freshwater fishes that appeal to the reader is the subject of “Introducing the Categories of Fish,” which schools readers in seven categories: Cyprinids (e.g., goldfish, minnows, and barbs), Characins (e.g., tetras), Cichlids (e.g., oscars, angelfish, and discus), Anabantoids (gouramis, bettas/Siamese fighting fish, and paradise fish), Toothcarps (guppies, swordtails, platies, black mollies, and killifish), Catfish, and others (loaches and Chinese algae eaters). The purchasing, maintenance, and feeding of fish are described in considerable details, and the author gives a basic overview of breeding and keeping fish healthy as well. Resources, glossary, and index conclude the book.

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