19 Reef Aquarium books every hobbyist should already own

Books | 9th December 2009 | Article by Curvball | View comments (6)

One of the most important items any reef aquarium hobbyist can spend money on is a good book. Yes it might be true that the internet offers just as much useful information that books do these days, but you have to admit, there is nothing like sitting down in your favourite chair with a nice cup of coffee (or drink of your choice) and flipping through well written printed material.

As the marine aquarium hobby has grown, so has the number of books dedicated to this niche. Today we’ve got books on coral propagation, fish, ID references and general information about this wonderful hobby. This post is an effort to list and highlight 19 books that offer hobbyists, both experienced and just starting, a wealth of reading material which they can sink their teeth into. All the books mentioned in this post have an Amazon affiliate link where you will be able to buy the book (and in turn support this site), however most of these books will already be in your library. And if not, be sure to add another invaluable bit of aquarium literature to your collection.

The Nano-Reef Handbook

The Nano-Reef Handbook
Currently this is the only book dedicated to the nanoreef hobby. Written by Chris Brightwell and released in March of 2006, some of the material is already dated, but will still make a great guide for anybody wishing to learn more about keeping nano reefs.

Any reef aquarium that contains less than 15 gallons of water is considered a nano-reef aquarium. These tiny ecosystems are almost as popular in the fishkeeping community as full-size marine aquarium setups, and with the proper information and tools, they can be set up and maintained by aquarists at any level of the hobby.
The wide range of topics covered in this guide include the importance of water quality and tips on maintaining stable water parameters; components of a nano-reef and how to choose the appropriate aquarium, lighting, and accessories for a tank; which fish and invertebrates are best for these types of tanks; and much, much more.
For a reef enthusiast looking for a new challenge or any up-and-coming fish hobbyist, nano-reef aquarium are a stunningly beautiful option. The Nano-Reef Handbook contains all the information necessary to get started.

The Reef Aquarium Volume 1,2,3

This is a collection of books currently consisting of 3 volumes written by Julian Sprung and Charles J. Delbeek. Hailed by many as modern reefkeeping bible, basically, no hobbyist should be without this set or at least have read through them. Despite being published back in 1994 and 1997, these books (vol. 1 and 2) are invaluable as most of the content is still relevant in the hobby today. Volume 3 is the most recent in the series and was published in 2005.

The Reef Aquarium: A Comprehensive Guide to the Identification and Care of Tropical Marine Invertebrates (Volume 1)

The Reef Aquarium: A Comprehensive Guide to the Identification and Care of Tropical Marine Invertebrates (Volume 1)

This book is the “bible” on the subject of Reef Aquarium keeping, covering the biology of coral reefs and relating it to the biological, chemical, and physical parameters considered when creating a reef aquarium. The book details how to successfully cultivate corals in captivity and also features the identification and care of numerous coral and giant clam species. Diseases and parasites, and methods for controlling algae are also featured. The book finishes with an exciting section of photographs demonstrating successful reef aquariums.

The Reef Aquarium, Vol. 2: A Comprehensive Guide to the Identification and Care of Tropical Marine Invertebrates

The Reef Aquarium, Vol. 2: A Comprehensive Guide to the Identification and Care of Tropical Marine Invertebrates

This second volume in the series features the anemones and soft corals associated with reefs, detailing their biology and husbandry requirements, and featuring numerous species descriptions, with the benefit of wonderful color photographs. Also featured is new information regarding parasites in reef aquariums, and captive culture of anemones and soft corals. The book finishes with another section featuring more stunning images of reef aquariums around the world.

The Reef Aquarium, Vol. 3: Science, Art, and Technology

The Reef Aquarium, Vol. 3: Science, Art, and Technology

The Reef Aquarium Volume Three: Science, Art, and Technology Reefkeeping science involves the interplay of biology, chemistry, and physics. However, a reef aquarium is not simply a product of scientific knowledge. The application of engineering and its product technology, makes it possible to duplicate the specific biological, chemical, and physical requirements of a coral reef in a relatively small volume of water. This third volume in The Reef Aquarium series, provides the most thorough description of the science behind the creation of a captive reef, and critically reviews and explains the different philosophical approaches to reef aquarium design. It also describes and illustrates the existing as well as emerging technology for building reef aquariums, to help guide the selection of equipment, its proper use, and installation. While science and technology afford the blank canvas and tools to build a suitable life support system, the plants, animals, and of course the aquarist provide the final ingredient that we call art. This art also involves the system design as it relates to the living space, the aesthetic appearance of the display, and its ease of maintenance, safety, and functionality. To this end, this book provides a wealth of information regarding aquascaping techniques, which combine art, biology, and physics; and invaluable information regarding plumbing, electrical, and other aspects of the aquarium design that combine art and engineering. Lastly, this book discusses the benefits and potential environmental impacts of the marine aquarium hobby, the challenges for its future, and possible new directions. The Reef Aquarium volume three is the essential manual for all reef aquarium hobbyists, professional aquarists, and coral reef researchers who study, create, and enjoy coral reef ecosystems in the confines of an aquarium.

The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium

This series of books is very similar to the previous set mentioned, but this time written with a European perspective thanks to Svein A. and Alf Jacob Nilsen Fossa.

The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium, Volume 1, Volumes 2 & 3

The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium, Volume 1, Volumes 2 & 3

The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium, Volume 4 (v. 4)

The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium, Volume 4

This fourth volume of the encyclopedia of the Modern Coral Reef Aquarium covers important invertebrate groups: Mollusks, such as snails, slugs and bivalves, commonly found in the trade are discussed in detail. Like in previous volumes of this book series, also more obscure and rare members of the phylum are covered to the extent that this can be of value to the marine aquarist. Echinoderms (or spiny skinned animals) are shown in spectacular photos and the biology and aquarium care of the many interesting brittle stars, starfishes, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins are described in detail. This book also discusses the interesting group of sea squirts, or tunicates. These organisms, which are very insufficiently covered in most aquarium books, are dealt with in detailed accuracy and illustrated with over 700 magnificent color photos. As an introduction to the book, Dr. Bruce Carlson (former director of the Waikiki Aquarium/Hawaii) has written a fascinating chapter on “The Future of Coral Reef Aquarium”.

Reef Secrets: Starting Right, Selecting Fishes & Invertebrates, Advanced Biotope Techniques

Reef Secrets: Starting Right, Selecting Fishes & Invertebrates, Advanced Biotope Techniques

This book outlines the components for creating a successful coral reef aquarium patterned after any of the many ocean zones in nature, and contains a complete fish and invertrebrate selection and stocking guide. 224 pages with 500+ full-color photographs throughout.

The Conscientious Marine Aquarist: A Commonsense Handbook for Successful Saltwater Hobbyists

The Conscientious Marine Aquarist: A Commonsense Handbook for Successful Saltwater Hobbyists

A bestseller since it first published in 1998, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist is one of the best-respected, time-tested, hands-on marine aquarium books ever published.

Now completely updated from cover to cover with brand new text, a fresh design, and updated photography, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist is the essential book for all new, intermediate, and serious marine aquarium keepers_in a must-have new edition. This indispensable guide spotlights scientific research performed by leading authorities that deals with various aspects of biology, ecology, systematics, and conservation. This wealth of information couples with captive-care techniques of nationally recognized aquarists and fascinating, never-before-seen photos.

For hands-on marine aquarists of any experience level who seek a comprehensive and up-to-date resource that helps ensure success in the hobby, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist is the best book available.

Corals of the World, Vol. 1, 2, 3

Corals of the World: Vol 1,2,3
This is the holy grail of coral identification. You have no excuse for not owning this collection of amazing books.

Corals: A Quick Reference Guide (Oceanographic Series)

Corals: A Quick Reference Guide (Oceanographic Series)

A comprehensive field guide for aquarists, divers and naturalists, with detailed full color photographs of hundreds of species, encompassing the majority of coral genera one is likely to encounter on reefs around the world, This book defines corals and distinguishes them form similar hydrozoans, zoanthids, and corallimorpharia. The corals are described and compared to similar looking species, and their range and the correct pronunciation of the Latin name is given.
In addition, for aquarists who grow corals in reef aquariums, information is provided in quick reference charts concerning each coral’s requirements for light, water movement, and food, hardiness in captivity, aggressiveness toward other corals, and proper positioning in the aquarium.

Aquarium Corals : Selection, Husbandry, and Natural History

Aquarium Corals : Selection, Husbandry, and Natural History

Designed to help new and experienced aquarists to select the most appropriate corals for their systems and to provide guidance in keeping them healthy for the long term, this all-new book is pa Beautiful, bizarre, and among nature’s most colorful creations, living corals are now being successfully kept and grown in a rapidly growing number of home reef aquariums. Designed to help new and experienced aquarists to select the most appropriate corals for their systems and to provide guidance in keeping them healthy for the long term, this all-new book is packed with the advice of a seasoned coral keeper. More than 700 world-class photographs and text reviewed by leading coral biologists and reef aquarists guide the reader through the selection and husbandry of hundreds of species. Included are: soft corals, corallimorpharians (mushroom corals), gorgonians, zoanthids, large-polyp stony corals, and small-polyp stony corals all illustrated with hundreds of brilliant new identifying photographs.

Book of Coral Propagation, Volume 1 Edition 2: Reef Gardening for Aquarists


Book of Coral Propagation, Volume 1 Edition 2: Reef Gardening for Aquarists

Personally I think this book is one for any nano reef hobbyists – why? Well, nearly every single coral we keep in our little tanks will easily outgrow the confines of it’s glass box. Armed with the knowledge of fragging etc, we can simply prune our corals and preserve the look of our nano reefs.

The Book of Coral Propagation is the most comprehensive work on the care, display and cultivation of reef corals at every level of interest. Beginners receive thorough guidance, expert aquarists learn new tricks, and all folks are inspired to contribute with enjoyment to the conservation, keeping, and culture of magnificent reef creatures in educational home aquaria and commercial systems alike. Topics include a thorough and easy to understand explanation of system designs, inspiring displays, no-nonsense setting up, easy water chemistry, feeding, species selection, health and wellness… and finally how to successfully prune and propagate your thriving coral garden! Anthony Calfo’s lifetime efforts practicing and mentoring on this subject are legendary. Written in his famously entertaining if not humorous style, this book has been revised to have the most current and comprehensive information among any reference today for reef aquarium hobbyists. The superb photography, heavy photo paper and sewn-case hardcover binding of this reference make it a collectible as well as definitive work.

A PocketExpert Guide to Reef Aquarium Fishes: 500+ Essential-to-Know Species

A PocketExpert Guide to Reef Aquarium Fishes: 500+ Essential-to-Know Species

Brilliant photography by the world’s best underwater photographers and leading international aquarists highlights detailed profiles of more than 500 species of reef aquarium fishes in this new title in the Microcosm/T.F.H. Professional Series.
Organized by family for easy reference, each profile includes all essential care, feeding, and husbandry advice. The species profiles include all available reef aquarium choices, with scores of seldom seen, rare, and recently discovered species.
Written by the world’s most-read, most-respected expert on marine fishes for the home aquarium, PocketExpert(tm) Guide to Reef Aquarium Fishes is a must-read for any fish enthusiast.

Dr Burgess’s Atlas of Marine Aquarium Fishes

Dr Burgess’s Atlas of Marine Aquarium Fishes

784 pages, hardcover. By Dr. Warren E. Burgess, Dr. Herbert R. Axelrod, Raymond E. Hunziker III. This book is a beautiful and immensely colorful work that satisfies the long-existing need for a comprehensive identification guide to marine fishes. This 3rd edition, a truly beautiful and immensely colorful book, satisfies the long-existing need for a comprehensive identification guide to marine fishes. This book shows in full color not only the popular aquarium fishes but also the oddballs and weirdos, the large seaquarium-type fishes, both warmwater and coldwater fishes, as well as both foreign and domestic fishes. In short, this book has it all and has it in a format that will provide maximum utility to its reader. The fishes are grouped family by family in phylogenetic order–sharks and rays first, puffers and boxfishes last.The photos were taken predominantly by world-class fish photographers. Most photos are eight-to-the-page, but some of the most beautiful marine fishes are represented in full-page, full-color splendor.Not only does this book supply photos provided with up-to-date scientific names, but almost all of the captions indicate the family, range, size, and optimum aquarium conditions as well. Also included in this book are family-by-family write ups on the aquarium care of these fishes.

What reef aquarium related books do you own? Which one’s would you recommend? Let us know your thoughts below in the comments section.

About the author:

Curvball is the editor and founder of nanoreefblog.com. Having kept aquariums on and off since the age 8 years old, this now 32 year old hobbyist is well versed in various types of aquariums. His passion is SPS corals and the challenges of maintaining them in relatively small amounts of water. His professional background as a designer and writer combined with his love for this hobby makes nanoreefblog.com the perfect extension of his passions.

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6 Responses on 19 Reef Aquarium books every hobbyist should already own

  1. Lewis says:

    Really interesting post. I'll visit more often.

  2. [...] Do you belong to a reef club?  Which online forums do you use (what’s your username). What books do you read/recommend for reef knowledge? I belong to Ultimate Reef and Nano Reef forums as the user ‘gruffy’ but I rarely ever post.  As for books, it would be Eric Borneman’s book on Coral Husbandary, Scott Michael’s book on Reef Aquarium Fish and the 3 volumes of the Reef Aquarium by Delbeek and Sprung. (Ed note: Please see this post on reef aquarium books for more info). [...]

  3. Great variety of books on the subject of nanoreefs. I was an aquarium hobbyist in my younger days and have recently started researching again because my little girl has been bugging me to help her start a 15 gallon tank. Thanks for the info. Looks like I've got quite a few books to keep me busy.

  4. [...] If you’re interested in other books for your collection, be sure to have a look at this post, 19 Reef Aquarium books every hobbyist should already own [...]

  5. Dan says:

    I would bump this to 20 books instead of 19 and make the last book Marine Chemistry by Brightwell.

  6. Albert Thiel says:

    And now also Nano-Reef Aquariums (2013) A comprehensive guide for the Nano Reef Hobbyist

    (posted by the author of the book)

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