Most helpful customer reviews
74 of 74 people found the following review helpful.
Add my voice to the chorus -- a great book!
I really enjoyed this book, and it has provided lots of good advice as I've set up a family aquarium. I dabbled a bit as a teenager, with varying success (some tries my aquarium lasted a year, other times I definitely got new tank syndrome and they all died). Now that I'm a bit older, I wanted to set up an aquarium for my son's 4-year old birthday that we could all enjoy, and I wanted to make sure I did it right.
This book is written in a very accessible manner, as if the author is in your living room giving a friendly chat about his experience in the hobby. It is the ideal length, and the neatest thing about it is, as the author says, he provides what he views is the minimal ESSENTIAL info to enable you to set up a successful first, and doesn't present the range of viewpoints, or more information that might just confuse a beginner. He rightly notes that a successful beginner will be interested in finding more detailed information if his initial experience is positive.
The three best things about this book in my opinion:
-- the information on water changes. I had mistakenly believed in earlier efforts that water changes were BAD, and should be kept at a minimum. The author is a water change fanatic, comparing a water change for an aquarium to opening the windows in an overcroweded room with poor air circulation (not to mention sanitation!), and he is right. I have not lost any fish yet, and I credit that to water changes, and ...
-- cycling; the next best thing about the book. An easy-to-understand step-by-step guide to the mystical concept of cycling. In addition to explaining this for beginners, the author stresses the need to start stocking the tank with fish slowly. You will have success if you follow this advice.
-- stocking schemes. Though on one hand being limited to a recommended stocking scheme is well ... limiting, it relieves you of the burden of extensive research to try to come up with fish that are hardy and won't eat each other. He provides about 10 different options, so there is considerable choice, and you can tweak a bit if you want, with minimal research.
So buy this book with confidence. You have a large base of satisfied readers guiding you in this choice. And kudos to the author, Mr. Boruchowitz, for making such a lasting and successful contribution to the hobby he loves!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful.
Excellent starter guide with several omissions
By D. Cottle
Bought this book to help planning and set-up of a planted aquarium, along with a few other books having greater depth on fish and plants. The author obviously knows his stuff and explains it well for the beginner freshwater aquarist.
To keep it simple, the book intentionally leaves out any description of aquarium water chemistry, i.e., water pH, hardness and alkalinity, on the pretext that if the beginner follows the practices described for water management, he won't have to worry about the chemistry. The author supports this by citing esoteric scientific definitions of these properties, in terms of "hydronium ions" and "divalent cations", to persuade non-technical readers to accept his advice to avoid the subject. But you don't have to be a chemist to understand the pH scale when it's explained in plain English, or understand water hardness. I, for one, would like to know recommended limits of these parameters in a healthy aquarium.
"Aquaculture" of freshwater aquariums, with CO2 injection into the water to support plant growth, is growing in popularity. Use of CO2 is acknowledged in the book, but without elaboration as to pros and cons - including effects on water chemistry (pH, dissolved oxygen) - and livestock.
Finally, the discussion of aquarium lighting is out-of-date, insofar as there is no mention of newer (and economical) LED lighting.
The book has a good index.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful.
See all 88 customer reviews...
Great for beginners
By Amazon Customer
This is a great book to add to your collection.
My only experience prior to this book was over 14 years ago when I had a10 gallon living at home during on a student desk. I swore I'd never get another one but recently I got fish fever.
I, like most "thinks I'm experienced," bought most of my equipment prior to the purchase of this book. My current setup is 60 gallon with Magnum canister filter with two heaters. If this so far doesn't make sense, buy this book.
There was a lot in this book that I wish I knew then. I never dechlorinated the water and I over crowded my little tank. As a result, I got bored with my aquarium. I was also required by my parents to out my aquarium with a water hose outside.
The reason I shared my life experience is to show a point. Everything I did was wrong. This book will explain why I was wrong and explain what is right. He is very pro water changes and anti chemistry for new aquarist both of which was foreign to me then. You're not a chemist, so don't try to pretend to be one by buying all of those supplements to fix the water; most of which can be resolved by water changes.
I rated four stars due to the book feels like it is missing a little bit of more information. It is a beginner's guide and he works hard to keep it as such. There is a part where he mentions about tap water is fine for PH levels but if it is higher or lower than it should be, I would be at a loss how to fix because no information is provided. It suggests to take to a store to be tested but what should one do after since we are not chemists and shouldn't use most enhancements.
I recommend the book. I feel much smarter and ready to tackle the more confusing areas. I enjoy now being able to go online or open a book and understand it when it talks about different levels to test. You will need a test kit also. API makes a good one. Good luck!