Cichlids from Guinea Distribution, habitats and aquarium needs, combined with travel experiences and other Guinean fishes
Author: MCW Keijman
Price: In the UK at £32
Where to purchase: cefishessentials.com (be quick)
Biotope fans will need to be fast to grab one of the few remaining copies of Michel Keijman’s outstanding self-published work on Guinean cichlids. Eagle-eyed readers may have already clocked the name — Michel is a relatively new PFK contributor who specialises in West African fishes, and especially cichlids. He’s also something of a West African veteran, and the brains behind WAC Collecting Tours, which organises collecting expeditions to the west of the continent.
For your money you get 112 pages of A4 (plus covers) set in a landscape orientation, which photographically lends itself perfectly to the elongated shapes of many of the fish featured. The copy is supported by colour photos throughout, a mixture of in-situ and aquaria. Fans of fish artwork will be delighted to spot a handful of illustrations from Japanese fish artist Mitsuhiro Iwamoto.
There’s some rewarding preamble before you get to the ‘meat’ of the content, with the book opening on a classic foreword and then some contextual information and imagery of the Guinea region. Then there’s a short section mentioning other fishes from the area (catfish, killifish, mormyrids and such) with limited information regarding sizes and distribution — consider it an ‘at a glance’ guide to sympatric species, but no less interesting for it.
Then it’s into the cichlids, and what a delightfully immersive experience that is.
Twenty different species are discussed in depth over several pages each, with writing in a similar vein to the ‘species showcase’ sections of Practical Fishkeeping. Michel offers a little background story to each before diving in to descriptions of morphology, sexual differences, biotopes and habitat, aquarium care, and breeding.
Each profile is then supported by a comprehensive map showing the exact range of distribution. The biotope descriptions in particular are golden for the aquarium keeper, especially where they are complimented with a photo of the actual site where a fish lives.
Michel draws attention to the dearth of information on fish from Guinea, and offers up a concise guide to the care of many species that the cichlid fan will want to try to keep. Drawn from personal experiences (he breeds a lot of what he collects), he plugs many gaps in our knowledge with first-hand accounts, and not rehashed information from elsewhere.
What shines throughout is a passion for the fish Michel writes about. Unlike some stale and overly scientific literature, Michel leaks out an abundance of anecdotes and personal observations, many of which the real-world aquarist will be able to apply practically. This writing style also means that the work is accessible even for those who are relatively new to the hobby. If your fishkeeping lexicon is still quite fledgling, there’s nothing to threaten you here.
The book isn’t without its flaws, as is the nature of self-published works, but these will only really annoy the pedant. A typo here, a space missing there, perhaps the occasional scientific name that isn’t italicised — these are nitpicks
+ Aquarium book lovers will adore it, despite its tiny faults. Biotope fans and cichlid aficionados will definitely want to browse through a copy and assimilate some of that comprehensive care and habitat information. I suspect that Michel may have to do a larger print run of his forthcoming second volume: Cichlids from Cameroon.
- The odd typo.