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September 2010 AFI Editor's Note

Kingdom of Freshwater Fish

By Clay Jackson |

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Many marine aquarists know that most of the desirable reef fish, corals and other invertebrates they keep (or hope to keep) come from the “Coral Triangle” (the area encompassing the Philippines, Indonesia, New Guinea, the Solomons, the northern Great Barrier Reef and Fiji). More than 3,000 marine fish species inhabit this area, as do more than three quarters of the world’s coral species. 

As the “Coral Triangle” is to marine diversity, South America’s Amazon Basin is to freshwater fish diversity. The United States has slightly less than 800 native freshwater fish species, while the Amazon Basin has more than 3,000 species and counting. Many of these fish are familiar to freshwater fishkeepers; some examples are cories — with more than 100 species in the hobby, a few of which you can read about in Mike Hellweg’s article “Some Lesser-Known Cories” — and marbled hatchetfish, which you can read about in David Lass’ article “Marbled Hatchetfish.”

Aquarium Fish International writer and photographer Oliver Lucanus recently sent me a copy of his new book The Amazon: Below Water, which is a photographic culmination of an 18-year-long love affair with South America but especially the Amazon. Lucanus’ words and photos really bring to life the plant, animal and cultural wonders of one of the world’s most-cherished and threatened regions of biodiversity.

When Lucanus first contacted me about his book, he let me know that it was not your ordinary fish book. And many large-format books on the Amazon have preceded Lucanus’ effort — but his is unique, in that it gives the page-turner a view from beneath the water’s surface: from a fish’s perspective. In The Amazon: Below Water, the reader is offered well-penned words and many beautiful color and black-and-white images, affording the reader and fish enthusiast the opportunity to “see” beneath the water’s surface and spy on discus, arowanas, angelfish, catfishes, stingrays, piranhas and tetras (in all, 142 fish species are pictured). You almost feel like a fish yourself. If you’d like to order a copy of The Amazon: Below Water, go to to place your order.

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September 2010 AFI Editor's Note

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