Baensch Aquarium Atlas Volume 1 (Hans A. Baensch, Rudiger Riehl, Hans A. Smith, Eberh Schulze)
Sixth edition – 1997
At almost 1000 pages, Baensch Aquarium Atlas Volume 1 is a real heavyweight and is clearly aimed at those who are serious about their fish. Comprehensive sections on tank maintenance, equipment, water chemistry, fish anatomy, feeding, diseases and others, ensure that all the major areas of the hobby are covered in some depth. There is even a large, beautifully illustrated chapter on aquarium plants that would put many dedicated plant books to shame.
The real meat of this book is the section with some 660 colour photographs of fish. Accompanying each photograph is valuable information including sexual differences, social behaviour, breeding information and environmental needs. The quality of the photographs is first-rate and at just two to a page they are large enough to see even small details clearly. The layout is first class with the descriptive text on opposite sides to the relevant photograph. Where appropriate, both sexes are shown and some species have entries for different varieties and sub-types.
Almost all of the fish species commonly available to the aquarist are listed with the less well-known fish, and more recent imports reserved for later volumes. Killifish are well represented with 64 species whilst the relative lack of rainbowfishes reflects their popularity at the time of publication.
The book is well indexed with the more popular common names, scientific names and synonyms having their own listing.
I occasionally disagreed with some of the species information, Gymnocorymbus ternetzi for instance, is listed as peaceful and suitable for any community tank which is at odds with my experience of these fish as aggressive fin nippers. Also the photograph claimed to be of Crossocheilus siamensis is probably one of the Epalzeorhynchus species. The march of science means the technology and accessories section is now badly out of date. However the underlying principles remain sound and the information contained here is still a valuable resource. These are minor points however, and hardly detract from the overall value of this splendid book. If you can only have one book on fish-keeping, buy this one. 4 stars.