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My First Angelfish Book

filed under: Miscellaneous Pisces

Back in the 80's, we did not have the internet, and all we knew about keeping fish come primarily from two sources - from experience (mostly our own inexperience and sometimes other people's), and from books.

Being a kid in the 80's meant that every adult who has ever kept an aquarium in one point of their lives became the experts in the field. The problem was that everyone, including different petshop owners, had their own, often conflicting ideas on how to properly keep fish -there is really no single authority that a kid can go to.

In the summer of 1980 something happened that will eventually change my perception of fish keeping and how I see angelfish.

On that unspecified summer day of 1980's, little did I know what I would come by. Like many summer days, I strapped on to my bike and pedaled away without a specific destination, without an agenda in mind.

Other than the toys and gift shops, and the pet shops, another popular destination for young kids growing up in the 80's was the book store. On that day, I decided to ride my white, pearl colored bicycle to the book store .

As I browsed through some of the books, one particular book caught my attention. The title of the book was "Freshwater Angelfishes" by Dr Hubert R. Axelrod and it had a picture of a large, beautiful angelfish on a blue background on the hard cover.

The book itself was not that big, it is smaller than most other "fish books" in the store and the price was very affordable even for a kid. That very same day I bought that book with some of the money I had saved from the previous school year. And it was one of the best so much so bucks I had ever spent.

My first angelfish book

This book is not the typical aquarium book with some pictures, illustrations, and a list of things to do and not to do (although it does have lots of pictures). Most importantly, unlike most fish books at the time, this is not an over-priced instruction booklet on how to raise angelfish.

In fact, in today's standards, this book has very basic advice on taking care of the said fish. But back then, the advices given were all new to me and more than enough to lead me to the right direction regarding taking care of tropical fish.

What this book really offered is not just advices on care, feeding, or even breeding - this book goes beyond that. This book is about pages and pages of adventure and a presentation of new appreciation for angelfish.

There is something deeply satisfying in reading about the expeditions of the author, him going deep into the amazon jungle in search for a species of wild angelfish, interacting with the the locals, and experiencing all the mishaps that come with navigating through the wilderness of the South American jungles.

Other than the adventure, this book is also filled with colored and full page photographs of the different angelfish strains. It also contains the occasional tip on how to actually care for Angelfish. This book quickly became one of my most prized possessions, despite me having no angelfish at the time (and quite sometime after).

This book actually introduced me to the world of angelfish. There is something contagious in reading someone's (Dr Axelrod's) passion for a certain species that he would undertake an expedition just to find that one special fish. You just can't help but want to keep one!

Before this book, I used to keep Mollies, barbs, and swordtails. Before I had bought this book, I never considered keeping angelfish. Reading this book was probably the catalyst to my passion for Angelfish and other American Cichlids as well.

A few months after buying this book, I had purchased the other small, pocket sized book by the same author, which is all about discus. But that adventure is for another time.