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Book Review - Malawi cichlids in their natural habitat
4th edition - Ad Konings (2007)
by Peter Hofman (trigger)

ISBN 978-1-932892-05-5 published by Cichlid Press.
Large edition (8" x 11") containing 424 pages and over 1750 photos.
Suggested retail price $69.00.

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The first thing that caught my eye when I opened this book was that it was dedicated to Stuart M. Grant, who recently passed away in Malawi. Stuart was the most important man in the Malawi cichlid export business. Not only was he important for the hobby, he was important to the country of Malawi. Most of the Malawi fish swimming in our tanks are either directly from him or are descendants of fish that have been exported by him. May he rest in peace next to the lake.

The other thing that is immediately obvious is the sheer number of photos in this book. Malawi cichlids in their natural habitat is formatted in a way so that every two pages of text is followed by two pages of color photos. The grouping of photos is either by geographical location or by genus. This makes it easy to find similar fish or find fish that live in the same habitat.

The author's intention of the book is to provide information on the natural behavior of Malawi cichlids. There are 843 species mentioned in the book, most of which are living at depths that are accessible to recreational divers. The book does not run deep into scientific meanings, which in turn makes it a great book for both beginners and pro's in the hobby.

New to the The 4th edition of Malawi cichlids in their natural habitat is information on the cichlids that live in the deeper parts of the lake. In the chapter titled "The Unknown Depths", the author details these species. Since the fish from the depths are not reachable with traditional diving gear, information is limited and sometimes only consists of pictures of prepared species. The data on many of these species are gathered from The Cichlid Diversity of Lake Malawi/Niassa by Joe Snoeks and Offshore Cichlids of Lake Malawi by George Turner.

Chapter one differs from other chapters is that it describes the Lake in general. It describes the different habitats and shows pictures showing the different habitats. You'll learn something about the deeper sediment rich rocky habitats, the shallow sandy habitats near the shorelines, the intermediate zone, where the rocky areas change into a sloping sand bed and others.

The following chapter describes the different swarms of cichlids - how different species are related to each other either by feeding habits or breeding habits. There is also interesting explanation on the Orange and Orange Blotched forms.

I enjoyed the short chapter on the taxonomy of cichlids. Since the 3rd edition, there have been changes in the determination of the genus Metriaclima and the genus Tropheops. These are included in the 4th edition.

Malawi cichlids in their natural habitat's main course, are the chapters which describe species by habitat. Feeding and breeding behavior are discussed and the influence of the habitat on those behaviors as well.

The cichlid hobby is ever changing, with new species being discovered and reclassified every year. Malawi cichlids in their natural habitat, Volume 4, is the most complete, informative and visually stunning book on Malawi cichlids available to date. It will be a valuable source of reference and information for all cichlid enthusiasts, whether a beginner, or a seasoned veteran.
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