A Few Good Reference Books
Posted 20 January 2007 - 06:33 AM
Samuel M. McGinnis
Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of California
Illustrated by Doris Alcorn
California Natural History Guides, 77 Freshwater_Fish_of_California.jpg 9.76KB 5 downloads
Posted 05 June 2007 - 08:51 PM
Both books are amazing, I recommend them to anyone, especially someone just getting started with native fish.
Posted 05 June 2007 - 09:57 PM
How can anybody actually like the Goldstein book and bash Page and Burr?! If I just need a reminder of the salient characters, Page and Burr (the Peterson's field guide) is what I reach for, 99% of the time. Yes, I have probably every state fish book in print, but I can drag Page and Burr through the mud and sand with me and not feel too bad.
I prepared the following critique of the Goldstein book for Copeia, but never got around to following up with it. Some potential buyers of this volume might be dissuaded, so I'll post it here, in its entirety.
AMERICAN AQUARIUM FISHES. Robert J. Goldstein. 2000. Available from Texas A&M Press, College Station. ISBN 0-89096-880-2. $90.00 USD.
The freshwater fish fauna of North America has historically been overlooked by aquarium fanciers, perhaps for more exotic-seeming fishes from distant locales. A concise guide to this fauna, with emphasis on species that are abundant, easy to maintain or that rival many tropical fishes in their coloration and behaviors would have the potential to introduce many to the diversity in their own backyards. In addition, many resource agencies are tasked with managing reintroduction programs, for which in many cases little is known about the life histories of the species involved. Recent successes by Conservation Fisheries, Inc. in restoration of endangered fish populations in Abrams and Citico Creeks, Tennessee, have led managers to reconsider alternative approaches to dealing with extirpated populations or augmentation programs. One of the strongest populations of the Federally Threatened snail darter, Percina tanasi, occupies the lower Holston River and is the result of a successful transplant by TVA. In such an environment, a compendium of recipies for captive propagation of native freshwater fishes should be heartily welcomed.
This is not that volume.
Rather, the author undertakes a sweeping attempt to cover most of the North American ichthyofauna north of Mexico. Several cyprinodonts and fundulids occurring solely in Mexico are included, but other interesting Mexican taxa are left out without comment.
The first two chapters provide a brief overview of fish diversity and distribution in North America and the geological setting in which they occur.
Chapters on collecting and transportation techniques, and collecting regulations and protected species are generally well written, with a few notable exceptions. It is interesting to note the statement (p.17) that "protected species tend to be few, limited in range, and too rare to be found by amateurs with simple collecting gear." The author then goes into detail about where many of these protected fishes occur and how they could be maintained and/or propagated in captivity. The list of state agencies would be much more useful if actual addresses or other contact information were given. The chapter on aquatic plants is well written, however the illustrations are of inconsistent quality, to the degree that identification based on the provided data would be difficult at best. A chapter on foods and feeding provides much useful information to the aquarist, although the statement that "there is no evidence that tubifex carry any major fish diseases" was falsified prior to publication; Tubifex are an intermediate host and primary vector of whirling disease (Wolf and Markiw 1984). The remainder of the text is composed of individual species accounts. Nearly all of these are riddled with errors, inconsistencies, speculation, and poor taste. The selection of taxa appears to be haphazard; the stated criteria for inclusion are not consistent with the contents. Goldstein (p.3) points out that he excludes taxa for being game fishes or too large, difficult to contain, feed, or breed; or (my italics) "simply uninteresting." This list of taxa that are excluded includes 13 families and approximately 28 species, many of which are much more suitable to aquaria than some of the taxa that he includes. Micropterus gets only a short generic account (which implies that some basses are threatened), but the largest fishes in North America (Acipenser and Atractosteus) are given full accounts. One of the most commonly kept catfish genus, Ameiurus, is dismissed as "grow(ing) fast, fade to gray brown before even 2 inches long, and eat other tank inhabitants at night; they should not be taken." Goldstein has apparently never kept members of the A. brunneus clade.
The tribe Romanichthyini (of which no species inhabit North America) merits a short paragraph (p. 286), but Acipenser medirostris is presented as "an Asian fish, (which) has been reported a few times from the Canadian Pacific south to central California." The citation referenced by Goldstein, Birstein 1993, actually notes that the Asian population should be recognized as a distinct and separate species, Acipenser mikadoi. There is a substantial population of Acipenser medirostris along the Pacific Coast of North America. Someone grasping a shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus) barehanded would likely receive substantial lacerations from the scutes that the author claims that it does not have at any age (p.54). The author claims that (p.53) Scaphyrhynchus "can be spawned in aquaria using fish over five years old and more than 16 inches long," then states that for the only available species (p.54) "spawning in aquaria so far is unknown."
Some taxa that Goldstein covers, like Cycleptus elongatus, Scartomyzon ariommus, or Moxostoma hubbsi are completely unsuitable for home aquaria, and are difficult to maintain even in specialized systems. The author suggests that a 30 gallon tank is sufficient for multiple Crystallaria asprella, and provides his spawning "recipie." I doubt he has ever tried to maintain this fish, and his description (p. 287) of the "recent DNA studies" of Simons (1991) suggests that did not read the paper (the elevation of Crystallaria was based entirely on a morphological data set) and knows little about systematics, as well. With this in mind, it is disconcerting that he claims that "the subspecies of Catostomus catostomus are probably not valid as well."
The comment (p. 259) that Myoxocephalus quadricornis (incorrectly labelled the shorthorn sculpin and which reaches a maximum size of ca. 25 cm) "is capable of outgrowing most aquaria, and will eat many of the other inhabitants" seems utterly ridiculous when one gives a large section to alligator gars, and treats Esox americanus (a voracious piscivore which reaches 30 cm) as a suitable aquarium fish.
Multiple species were elevated in this book, without any discussion or supporting evidence. Several species were ignored, and common names were changed on a substantial number of species.
Some taxa which were listed by USFWS as protected prior to 2000 are not so identified in the text (Pogonichthys macrolepidotus). Inclusion of critically rare and highly protected taxa like Speoplatyrhinus poulsoni and Trogloglanis pattersoni in a book on "aquarium fishes" borders on being criminally irresponsible. In divulging detailed information on some rare taxa, without stressing the conservation status of those fishes, Goldstein may have opened a can of worms that will be dealt with for some time by fisheries professionals. Interestingly enough, the author states that Percina rex has been spawned in captivity, but provides no details. What is this based on? Given that he has provided information for other T&E species, the absence of these data seem strangely shady. Perhaps most disconcerting is the inclusion of information on captive propagation of some critically rare and Federally protected fishes, with the implicit assumptions that a) Goldstein has personal knowledge or experience in keeping and breeding these fish, and b) that such species should be captured and maintained by the general public. We must strenuously disagree, and note the problems that have plagued even professional attempts to maintain some of these fishes in captivity. With the catch-all phrase "should they become available," the author seeks to distance himself from the illegal take of Federally listed taxa.
Goldstein seems to have gotten lazy, stating that several taxa "are likely to be protected." These are either protected, or not, there is no gray area, and failure not to follow up on the status of these fishes is inexcusable. Little attempt was made to check State protected lists. Under Cottus asperrimus, no mention is given that the State of California considers this an endangered species, and has since 1977!
The anecdotal information that is perfused through the book is in some cases misleading and occasionally flat-out wrong. In regards to Cottus tenuis, Goldstein suggests that "it is probably tolerant of lower dissolved oxygen concentrations than other sculpins." Presumably this is because of the habitat Goldstein suggests it inhabits; lakes and canals. In actuality, Cottus tenuis is strongly spring-inhabiting, and only occupies areas of the lake influenced by spring flow.
The author presents much information in a manner which suggests that he has personally bred almost every native North American fish in captivity. His cookbook responses to keeping fishes in general ("provide live food," "provide sand and gravel for security," "breed with spawning mops," "use at least five individuals", etc.) might be useful if they could be backed up with references, even if they were from the popular periodicals so prevalent in the hobby.
On a positive note, the book is graced with a central folio of 119 beautiful color plates, including the wonderful underwater photographs of Bill Roston and Gerry Sneegas, along with high-quality photos of freshly preserved specimens taken by Fritz Rohde, Brooks Burr, Noel Burkhead and others. An additional series of 235 black and white photos by the same photographers are scattered throughout the text and generally add to the book.
This effort had so much potential, and the existing effort has fallen so short of a worthy goal. The referenced information in this book may serve as a valuable resource for hobbyists and professionals alike, but the decision as to whether it is worth the high list price should be left up to the consumer.
Posted 06 June 2007 - 10:08 AM
Posted 06 June 2007 - 11:06 AM
How can anybody actually like the Goldstein book and If I just need a reminder of the salient characters, Page and Burr (the Peterson's field guide) is what I reach for, 99% of the time. Yes, I have probably every state fish book in print, but I can drag Page and Burr through the mud and sand with me and not feel too bad.
The book was cheap $5, I enjoyed thumbing through it. I was reading some pages, and I still feel it was worth the small price, and as a "Native Newbie" I found it quite helpful.
How to know, IMO, is a great book that should help me ID fish more accurately. If you can find these books cheap enough, I recommend them.
And how did I "bash Page and Burr?! "
Posted 06 June 2007 - 11:46 AM
And how did I "bash Page and Burr?! "
Sorry, you didn't. Posts 8-11 and 16 in this thread did, and prompted my response.
Posted 06 June 2007 - 05:43 PM
Sorry, you didn't. Posts 8-11 and 16 in this thread did, and prompted my response.
I'm not sure I read anywhere a "Bashing" of Page and Burr in preference for Goldstein..Some observations on short comings in the previous editions of Page and Burr does not equate "Bashing" it...
I'll speak for my self here but I would never think of using Goldstein's book as a ID source or really for much beyond a simple aquarium fish reference..It is not designed to be a field reference and I would hope no one would think it as such.
Posted 06 June 2007 - 08:45 PM
Posted 06 June 2007 - 09:56 PM
I can't think of a more difficult book to produce than a fishes identification guide that covers the continent. Fish ID can be frustrating at times and it's easy to take it out on a book instead of looking in the mirror. I've even taken my frustrations out on books for taxon changes (talk about hitting rock bottom in the complaints department).
Page and Burr / Peterson's Field guide is a true "field guide" in that you can as Dave said "drag Page and Burr through the mud and sand with me and not feel too bad"
This is a book that will cost you less than $15 and will provide a positive ID on most fishes (IMO). I'll admit that it might not be able to ID every nondescript notropis but even many state books can give you the same grief.
And to reply to your comments Fritz; My mind tends to wander and I've thought about how much study and effort must go into a single fish description. I'm sure I would require at least 1000 hours per fish and would be riddled with inaccuracies regardless of time spent. I don't envy those who spend years on a publication for armchair quarterbacks like me A great thanks to those who do.
Posted 06 June 2007 - 10:35 PM
You might want to switch lower Holston to lower French Broad. Conversely you could use the Hiwassee River population in the example, since that translocation was successful from the onset. The translocation (I guess I think of it is that rather than a transplantation since they were plucked straight from the Little T not bred and then released) into the lower Holston really wasn't very successful, actually thought a failure for almost 10 years. In fact the case that a reproducing population does not exist in the Holston is pretty strong. For several years now annual sampling struggles to collect more than a handful of darters, typically large individuals. As I'm sure you know, the lower Holston is quite unfriendly to fish; however, the fun quirks of larval snail darters drifting, coupled with peaking hydroelectric dam, stronger flow, and better water quality did lead to snail darters colonizing the lower French Broad River, which became what is likely the largest population (in numbers, not within stream distribution) of snail darters.
My simplified version....said fish comes from river A, put into river B, river B is nasty, YOY decide to go up river C at fork and do well.
...on another note...ive seen more Blue ridge sculpin in two days then I care to see for quite a while...
oh and thanks for the great job of justifying part of my thesis!
Posted 07 June 2007 - 08:34 AM
Are you ready to sign a whole bunch of books this weekend, Fritz? I bet most of the people there will have a copy of your book with them. Mine will be with me
I'm blushing. Thank you for the nice comments re the Rohde et al book and my photos in Goldstein's book. As some of your appreciate, it ain't easy doing this.
Posted 07 June 2007 - 11:34 AM
...In fact the case that a reproducing population does not exist in the Holston is pretty strong. For several years now annual sampling struggles to collect more than a handful of darters, typically large individuals.
Thanks for the info. The only time I've sampled the mainstem Holston was in 2000 with a USFWS/TVA/UT crew. The snail darter that Joe T. illustrated for the Alabama book came from that effort. I conservatively saw >50 P. tanasi in 2h of backpack shocking, with multiple size classes (and that was just me, Kuhajda, and Powers - other groups got a lot more stuff). Things must have changed...
My guess is you're going to see lots more caeruleomentum, too. I think the MBSS record was somewhere up around 3500 for a 75m reach?! Have you started taking good photos of stuff you're getting? That's something we should have been doing from the start... might be worth building up a small photo tank.
Posted 22 June 2007 - 11:53 AM
Posted 05 April 2008 - 11:33 AM
Bonner et. al. - Freshwater Fishes of Texas
A good new field guide, the authors took great pains to photograph live or freshly fixed specimens throughout, making ID easier, lots of good maps, but would have been a MUCH better book had they taken the time to also include some line drawings and keys to species.
Hubb's Annotated Checklist with Keys
Now that the Bonner et al. Book is out I mainly use this one just for the keys, as the other book is an excellent field guide, but they either forgot to put in keys or were targeting the general public more:
Douglas' Freshwater Fishes of Louisiana
Excellent reference, the most complete field guide+keys for east TX:
Hoese and Moore, Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico
Very useful for those on or near the coast, as most of the TX coast is low salinity and there are a large number of "marine" species found in freshwater in that area (Try to ID juv. ladyfish, flounders, or drums with any of the above and you'll just be more confused), this was my bible during my days on the coast:
Murdy - Saltwater fishes of Texas
Murdy's Key is much better for those oddball marine species who end up in FW or very low salinity, but it is only a key, not a field guide, I keep the two books together whenever I an close to the coast:
Miller et. al.'s Freshwater Fishes of Mexico
For those in the Big Bend area, or who occasionally venture south of the border:
And then there are also Fishes of Oklahoma and Arkansas, I've heard good things, but have never used them myself:
It's a big a** state, so you need a long list of books to cover it all Just thought I'd throw this collection out there for those in my neck o' the woods
Posted 23 April 2009 - 07:33 AM
Hope this helps.
Posted 26 May 2009 - 10:07 AM
Just ordered Freshwater Fishes of South Carolina. Anyone got a copy yet?
Posted 03 June 2009 - 03:29 PM
Fishes of Georgia is the work of Brett Albanese, Museum of Natural History Director Byron Freeman and Carrie Straight, a research professional with the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology. Behind the lists, photographs and distribution maps are thousands of hours spent studying records, sampling streams and inspecting fish preserved in jars.
Results include a Fishes of Georgia Atlas database that features more than 159,000 fish records from 19,028 collections, and an easy-to-use Web site that documents the state’s deep lineup of freshwater fish. A 1997 publication reported 219 native freshwater fishes for Georgia. Through the atlas project, that total now stands at 265, placing Georgia among the top three U.S. states for freshwater fish diversity.
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