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A collection of many of the short reviews submitted by you, the readers!
The Bichir Handbook has been reviewed in aquarist magazines and even the prestigious Journal of Fish Biology.
See what popular fish YouTubers have to say about the book, from Rachel O'Leary to bichir breeders themselves.
A 'coffee and books' walkthrough of The Bichir Handbook by co-author of The 101 Best Freshwater Nano Species, conservationist, and popular YouTuber Rachel O'Leary. The book is also viewed alongside Ivan Mikolji's Fishes of the Orinoco in the Wild which I had also designed.
Blake's Aquatics, has created a great video care guide for Polypterus senegalus using The Bichir Handbook as reference!
Undecided on buying The Bichir Handbook?
SEE INSIDE! Here's a helpful review by distinguished breeder Jiseok Jung. If you don't speak Korean, this review works as a nice visual walkthrough of some of the internal pages.
Vlogger Bryan La gives his thoughts and opinions on his new copy of The Bichir Handbook, and what it means to him.
Prehistoric items in an elegant presentation
It is not uncommon to find pike of the genus Polypterus in well-stocked specialist aquarium stores. The fossil-like fish, also called "Bichir" in English, are very impressive in many ways. In addition to their history, which is a little over 70 million years old, they are particularly noticeable as young animals, as their external gills make them resemble aquatic salamander larvae at this stage. The final size also makes you sit up and take notice, because some species, such as Polypterus congicus, can be a meter long and are then particularly impressive.
In addition, bichir do not only breathe through their gills, they also take in atmospheric oxygen through their lungs and can therefore easily inhabit low-oxygen waters - one of the characteristics that have made them such successful fish, and one of the reasons that bichir are little changed in the course of evolution.
While the internet provides a wide variety of sources, there is little or no information on bichir in the literature. Most of them are also out of date, imprecise and, in the rarest of cases, complete. Joshua Pickett, a young graphic designer and passionate aquarist from England, wanted to change that. At the end of 2020 he published “The Bichir Handbook”, an English-language book that he self-published that clears up outdated information and provides information about the Polypteridae. With contributions from biologists, paleontologists, ecologists, veterinarians and fishermen, its 138 pages represent comprehensive work presenting all existing species of this partly ancient family of fish.
In order to provide extensive background knowledge, the author goes into the history and origin of the bichir after the preface and then, in a pleasantly entertaining way, throws himself into the topics of relationship, anatomy and physiology as well as reproduction. Knowing this in the back of your mind, you get to the largest section of the book that introduces species by species. In addition to numerous graphics (how fast the animals grow, how big they become and how active they are), the reader receives information on their reproduction and origin. The representations are rounded off with live images and, for each type, a hand-painted illustration by the ichthyologist Dorian Noël, which particularly emphasises features for identification.
For only 29 € you can get more than an “ordinary” book on the author's website (www.thebichirhandbook.com), which contains the latest information about the bichir (including the Ropefish Erpetoichthys calabaricus). Thanks to the fabulous illustrations, this work is also a piece of art. When opening, a poster with all species comes out - in addition to a Polypterus bookmark. Whether you are an aquarist, scientist or simply a layperson, you will be interested in these animals: This book invites you to leaf through and is a must for everyone who is interested in these special fish.
Review by DATZ Magazine May 2021
Bichirs are very special fishes. The only remaining descendants of a lineage isolated for c. 400 million years from all other actinopterygians, bichirs unite a set of archaically appearing characters with features quite unique among fishes. Their (supposed) primeval body shape and behaviour make them popular aquarium fishes. And their phylogenetic position as the sister group to all other actinopterygians makes them an important taxon for evolutionary studies not just for ray-finned fishes but also for vertebrates, in general. Therefore, it seems surprising that there are so few books specialized on the family Polypteridae. Until recently there was only the book by Schäfer (2004) whose major focus was on presenting images of bichir species. Thus, The Bichir Handbook seems to be a long-overdue publication exclusively focusing on this fascinating taxon.
Joshua Pickett has set his goal on providing an aquarist book replenished with state-of-the-art scientific knowledge. The renowned South African ichthyologist Olaf Weyl, a former editor for the Journal of Fish Biology, wrote the foreword for this book shortly before he died (Cowx et al., 2021) and said that the book does an “excellent job in bridging the gap between the popular and scientific literature, and in providing the reader with concise and accurate information on these fascinating fishes” (Cowx et al., 2021). The book principally is divided into four parts: first, a general introduction to the biology of bichirs; second, a general view on aquarist issues of bichirs; third, a section depicting each species separately; and finally, an insight into the extinct relatives of the polypterid lineage. Read more...