Back to Nature Guide to L-Catfishes (Ingo Seidel, English translation by Mary Bailey)
First edition – 2008
Catfish have enjoyed a huge increase in popularity during the last 20 years. Only cichlids command similar levels of dedication and both catfishes and cichlids have a devoted and loyal following. Many new books have been written to cater to this growing audience and while some take a wide but shallow approach, the catfish family is large and varied enough to allow for more specialist titles.
One such book is L-Catfishes by Ingo Seidel. Part of the Back to Nature series published by Swedish company – Fohrman Aquaristik AB. The L stands for Loricariidae, the largest family of catfish.
A compact hardback book with over 200 glossy pages, this book is small enough to take to the store on catfish buying trips yet large enough to allow for up to five full colour photographs on each page.
The first half of the book consists of general information that those wanting to keep L-catfishes need to know. Buying L-catfishes, aquarium maintenance, disease prevention, feeding and breeding are all covered in a comprehensive, interesting and understandable way.
The second section consists of a pen picture of some 390 species of catfishes. Each genus (arranged in alphabetical order) is given its own chapter with information applicable to the genus given first before the individual species are dealt with.
Beautiful colour photographs are used to illustrate each species and often multiple photographs are used to show the various varieties within species. Many of these fish are as yet undescribed and have been given a code number (the so-called L number) and where appropriate this is listed also.
The information is supplied using symbols which are explained clearly enough and are easy to understand. Each species is given a difficulty level (on a scale from 1-5) as well as maximum total length, minimum tank size, dietary needs, water parameters etc.
All in all this is a cracking little book for the intermediate hobbyist and the author’s expertise and enthusiasm for his chosen subject come over loud and clear.
There are a couple of issues though, one minor and one not so minor. The first is that the translation into English (by the estimable Mary Bailey) is occasionally a little awkward. Phrasing such as “Breeding can be essayed using a pair or group” and words like “Bell animalcules” and “aufwuchs” will have most folk reaching for the dictionary.
The second issue is rather more serious however and concerns the design of the book. Each page is printed on top of a faded photograph (a watermark really). This has the unfortunate effect of making several passages very difficult to read and spoils what is in all other respects a highly enjoyable read.
Because of this last annoyance it loses a star but it is still highly recommended and is worthy of 4 stars.
Available from Amazon