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Book Review - Celebrating Cichlids from Lakes Malawi and Tanganyika
by Justin Clark

Alas, a new book with a new format has been released from Cichlid Press. Celebrating Cichlids from Lakes Malawi and Tanganyika is unlike any cichlid book published by Cichlid Press or any other publisher for that matter. It is a large coffee-table book with a fancy jacket and large pictures. It also carries a hefty list price of $84.50. Is it worth it? Lets open up the book and see!

The first thing that grabs your attention is the jacket; its black and has a ménage of popular cichlid photos. Since I own a large library of books that includes previously released titles from Cichlid Press and the esteemed author (Ad Konings), I expected to see many reprints of already published pictures, this was not the case with the cover. We are off to a good start!

The physical size of this book is what you would expect in a coffee-table book. 11.75 x 11" with 176 pages and a weight that lets you know that it is printed on quality paper. Removing the jacket shows the blue hardcover with the title embossed in silver. So far so good!

Vertebrate Organism Fish Marine biology Close-up

Before I could even get to the copyright page, Im hit with of the largest published picture of a cichlid I have seen to date. Im not talking about the size of the fish here; Im talking about the size of the picture itself. If I had to use two words to describe the quality of the shot, I would say simply stunning. As I turned the pages, I was delighted to see the quality of this shot is typical for the book. Most of the 400+ color photographs, all taken in the rift lakes themselves, have not been published before. I could not stop myself from feverishly flipping the pages of this book so that my eyes could feast on the pictures. Yes, the captions are interesting to read, but the pictures are so stunning that you wont read this book till you pick it up for the second time. Celebrating Cichlids from Lakes Malawi and Tanganyika makes you forget Ad Konings the author and recognize Ad Konings the photographer.

As you spend some time with this book, you will note that even though its not your typical identification or cichlid bible book. This is a coffee-table style book. To the readers benefit, the author doesnt make the mistake of trying to be both. Not to say that the book has nothing noteworthy to read, it still offers interesting facts on the lake and its inhabitants. Of course, the focus is on cichlids, but I wouldnt help being drawn into tidbits on other aquatic in habitants, like the Lake Malawi eel on page 13.

The book is basically split in half, with Lake Malawi residing in the first half and Lake Tanganyika in the second half. The transition from one lake to the next is almost seamless. The only divider separating the two is the introduction to Lake Tanganyika on page 91. I have to admit that I didnt even notice the separation the first time I went through the book, I was madly flipping pages in no particular order.

Underwater Fluid Fish Fin Marine biology

There is no conclusion to this book, as there shouldnt be. Instead, we are left with is 6 pages of plate notes. The plate notes represent each page of the book as a color thumbnail photograph and includes the species, gender and location of each fish on that particular page. This is a nice touch and is served much better here than as captions in the body of the book.

Does this book deserve the $84.50 price tag? That all depends. If you are a rift lake fanatic who still does not have your first cichlid book, you may want to include this one in your order. I would not recommend it as your first and only cichlid book. However, if you want to add an exciting and beautiful book on cichlids to your collection, Celebrating Cichlids from Lakes Malawi and Tanganyika is a must have. In addition, its the only cichlid book that would be better served removed from your bookshelf and placed where your guests will enjoy it.
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