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Aquarium and Natural History Books

Tim Harrison

5 Nov 2011
I found this book today in a secondhand book shop. I instantly remembered it from my childhood as one of the books that I had out on permanent loan from the local library...that is I just kept renewing it.

It was published in 1970, and like it says on the front cover "With a special colour section on Aquatic Plants". I remember being excited and somewhat frustrated in equal measure by this section. On one hand it was great to see plants I only previously read about in full colour. But on the other it was way too short and the plants weren't exactly presented very well.

Anyway, I'm really pleased I found it and got the opportunity to add it too my collection, especially since it also has several very informative paragraphs on "Aquascaping"; which I'm guessing wasn't a word you heard too much way back then...😉


Seems pot scapes are nothing new Karl @Zeus. 😛

Check out the algae on the plants in the large righthand frame 😱


Some fine internodal etiolation, bottom left...😎


'Rockwork may be very pleasantly incorporated...' 😀

IMG_1420 by Tim Harrison, on Flickr
Fantastic selection of old books, thanks for sharing John :thumbup:
Dr Herbert Axelrod in particular, was a hero of mine. I often read about his fish hunting expeditions; many read like boys own adventure type stories 🙂
Just taken delivery of this weighty tome, 780 pages of sheer joy. Always wanted a copy. Growing up Dr Axelrod was a hero of mine.
It's in great nick considering it's 36 years old and has travelled all the way from the States in a brown paper bag 🙄


Imagine my surprise when I opened it up and found this...


Signed by the legend himself 🙂


This one is from the 80’s too @Tim Harrison and has been a great reference book. It would also double up as a decent murder weapon at 994 pages 😂 Think the use of ‘Mini-Atlas’ was meant ironically.

Nice one on getting a signed copy - most welcome bonus I would imagine 😎
I’ve got at least a dozen copies of this book, in various versions. Was planning on selling a few at the carboot this weekend. I’ve been picking up every (cheap) copy I’ve seen since ‘04.

I adored these books as a kid, they were my view into the world of tropical fish and my reference when putting in orders for “oddballs”. Need to check my parents loft, I must have 12 different (but the same) copies. Imagine my pain buying these to see that year to year there was a few switches and maybe, a few new fish 😅
Hi Tim,
Yeah Dr. Axelrod was my hero as well. I used to read his books on the racks in the pet shops when I was a kid because I couldn't afford to buy them, haha.
A shame what happened to him though. He was hiding out in South America and cannot return to USA because he was charged with federal tax evasion, which is a crime 100X more serious than Grand Theft, Auto. Really bizarre...

Similar tail to me. I had his books out of the library on permanent loan. I was always gutted when someone else put in a request for them and I wasn't able to renew them 😱

Yeah, he was a complex character, a self made man and very probably a polymath. I've read about his checkered history. He was finally extradited to the US and spent 18 months in the clink for tax evasion. The US treasury discovered he'd funnelling $millions in to Swiss bank accounts over a 20 year period.

He was also a gifted musician and had a Stradivarius collection worth $millions which he donated to the Smithsonian. But even that wasn't without controversy. There were accusations he'd invented backstories to improve the provenance and vastly inflate the price. Which led to accusations that he'd also vastly inflated the value of TFH publications.

Apparently, he could also be thoroughly unpleasant to deal with and very often ruthless, at least by some accounts. But that wouldn't have mattered to me even if I'd known at the time, he was simply doing what I grew up dreaming about; having epic adventures exploring the Amazon basin hunting for tropical fish. He had a massive influence on me, it's one of the reasons I became an ecologist, specialising in wetlands 🙂
In retrospect I thought this might be a good place for members to post images of their favourite aquatic hobby books. So I've changed the tile of the thread accordingly in the hope it might spark discussion 😉

I'm a hopeless collector of books in general but have just started to collect those written by Dr Axelrod. I received another this morning, Aquarium Fishes of the World 1998.
It also has a pretty good plant section. The introduction makes reference to Takashi Amano and shows one of his scapes...


Humble, but this is my book shelf.


I'm very fussy about aquarium books so I think they have to be "very good", or different to be kept. I have some more behind them, and there is a box I need to sort through in my parents loft.
Nice collection and they all look in great condition. My copy of Nature Aquarium Complete Works is a bit worse for wear it's been looked through so many times.
I'd love to get hold of books 1 and 2 of nature aquarium worlds.

I need to go back through all of my books, really. The Living Aquarium I've had since around 13/14 years of age, bought from Oxfam and that got me started with Vallis and Java Fern. Before this, I was neons, gravel and sticks..! I keep hold of it for sentimental reasons, but it's not bad. Walstad's book is an invaluable resource, but it's far too science for me - I could live without that book, I think.

Amano's I've read through a lot, but I am hugely erratic with tanks he's created, either I adore or I do not like. They're big books too, so I mean I get them off the shelf when I have space! Labyrinth fish is just well written, but I wouldn't go out searching for it unless curious. Aqualogs are okay, they serve a purpose. Culturing Live Foods is indispensable, but actually this time of year I don't really reference it. Ornamental Fishes of India, this is a pretty darn good book - when scoping out inhabitants for specialist tanks of the past. Aquarium Plants, is probably one of my favourites; very useful.

I just realised that shelf goes least read to most read!
These are the books I currently have. I have been trying to get a copy of Christel Kasselmann's Aquarium Plants.

Aquarium Gardens have copies, I got mine from there and it’s also signed - which may or may not float y boat.