Title: Asian Freshwater Fishes. The Pocketbook.. Volume 1

Author: Gerald Jennings        Publisher:  Calypso Publications, 2 Gatcombe Road London, N19 4PT United Kingdom      Phone/Fax: 011-44-171 2814948  Pages:217   Illustrations: over 500 B&W line drawings   ISBN: 0-90630-148-3; Published 1997    Price: Approx. $23.85,    8-1/2" x 6"   format, softbound

Described as a "pocketbook,'  Asian Freshwater Fishes' presents a precise yet abridged identification guide to in excess of 400 freshwater and estuarine fish species that are commonly encountered and commercially important species. The publication includes a series of practical indexes and identification reference systems to simplify identification of the species included in the text, Throughout Volume One, the Calypso® Database numbering system is used to permit the reader to cross reference between other books in a similar series, also published by Calypso, that deal with fishes from other regions of the world.

The pocketbook appears to have been targeted at anglers, ichthyologists, and hobbyists with more than a passing interest in the fishes found in this part of

the world. Any advanced hobbyist or collector visiting the regions covered in this volume with the sole intention of fishing these waters would find this book a worthwhile companion on the trip. Furthermore, the book, true to its name, is easily carried in a vest or a rucksack pocket, providing a wealth of information that would enable the collector to at least identify the family and genus of the fishes caught, if not the precise species, rapidly and with minimal confusion. The area of the world covered by this text and the companion book in the series, Asian Freshwater Fishes, Volume 2, is described as an Oriental zoogeographic area and encompasses India, South-eastern Asia, and the islands of Java, Sumatra, and Borneo. This is a region of the world from which many species of "ornamental" freshwater and brackish water fishes originate that find their way into the tanks we maintain in our homes.

This book, the first of two volumes, includes more than 400 of the most commonly encountered field species and, as such, is likely the most useful to an aquarist or collector since it covers approximately 90% of all the fishes encountered in this region. The second volume covers the remaining species, most of which are accepted as specialist fishes. These are species not normally encountered by collectors or fishermen, being exceedingly rare or originating from areas that are either very inaccessible or considered extremely dangerous to visit.

The first part of this pocketbook provides a synopsis of the Calypso Ichthyological Database, proposed and in use since 1978 and that, according to the authors, has been "designed to facilitate international identification of all recorded fish species throughout the world, using a unique six-digit 'Species Number' for each recorded species." Each species is provided with a three-digit origin number with a three-digit specific number such that a number beginning with a zero represents a marine species while a nine signifies a freshwater species. The second number in the first sequence indicates the approximate geographic area from which the species originates. Thus, a species with the designation 090 is an Indo-Pacific marine species while 990 denotes an Asian freshwater species.   The database has been integrated into a computer system.

Information presented in the pocketbook covers slightly in excess of 59 families of Asian freshwater and brackish water fishes. Each concise "thumbnail" sketch, covering in excess of 400 species, is accompanied by a line drawing of the species, providing the reader, with the English or common name and scientific name of the fish together with the "database number" and any known synonyms in recent use. As U.S. aquarists, we would most likely be confused at some of the "common" names, as they are not necessarily those accepted within our hobby. A good example of this is in the instance of a Botia, Botia horae, which we normally see in the hobby as being called the "Skunk Botia," because of the obvious stripe running across the back of this fish. This book, however, lists B. horae as the "Cream Botia," a common name that has never been used frequently within the trade. A "frequency" statement is incorporated within each sketch in an attempt to provide the reader with some feeling as to whether the fish described is rare or very common. The "Dorsal Array" of the fish being described is detailed, as this fin characteristic is often such a major distinguishing feature of many species, as well as any unique or distinguishing features or coloration the author considers of importance. A piece of information most hobbyists will consider valuable is the "Average Recorded Maximum Size" to which the fish grows in its natural environment.

A key section is that on "The Calypso Identification Guidance System," very clear and useful keys to the fishes described in the publication are provided where the fishes are classified by shape, head and mouth appearance, dorsal, caudal, pectoral appearance, and the characteristic of the lateral line and gillcovers. Additional points are also made about specific families, where the features of each family justify the author providing more, easy to-follow details of distinguishing value.

The pocketbook concludes with a brief listing of "Selected Bibliography," followed by an index by database number; scientific name, and common (or English) name of each individual species as appropriate. The publication, Asian Freshwater Fishes, sets out to provide a means of identifying fishes that a fisherman, hobbyist, or collector is likely to encounter within a specific geographic area. This book does this and lam certain

that visitors to this Oriental zoogeographical region could easily use this book to identify any fish they are liable to come across while collecting these waters, both freshwater and estuarine. As with other similar books from Calypso Publications, the use of several different type styles throughout

this volume coupled with a print size that can only be described as microscopic for the first section of each of the species descriptive segments, severely distorts the flow of the text and makes the information difficult to follow I would pose the question as to why the publishers chose to present half the data in 4-point characters and the remainder in 6 point.

  The author; Gerald Jennings, is no stranger to the subject matter of this pocketbook, having the reputation of being, at one time, the youngest member of the Federation of British Aquatic Societies ever to qualify as one of their judges, maintaining an interest in both marine and subtropical fishes for the last 25 years. Additionally, Gerald Jennings  researched toa great and detailed extent the fishes of the area covered in this publication.

  Without doubt, Asian Freshwater Fishes will provide the purchaser with a reference guide to enable identification of fishes found throughout the streams, marshlands, rivers, and lakes of the countries and islands covered. As a book for the freshwater fishkeeper, however, this would not be high on the list of books to have in the library since no information is provided on the care and maintenance required to keep any of the species alive in captivity. That is not the goal of the book, but  as a key to the identity of Asian freshwater fishes, this  book has considerable value. Whether the price of almost $25.00 is justifiable is another matter when one looks at the much more colourful and equally descriptive books available in the marketplace.

 Reproduced from “Freshwater & Marine Aquarium “


 (FAMA),Volume 21 Number 8, August 1998



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