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by Mary Bailey, 09-Jun-1996.
In recent years spring has become a very special time for cichlid keepers, as spring (more specifically April) has come to mean Cichlids Yearbook time; 1993 sees the appearance of the third volume in the series, and I am delighted to report that it is just as good as its predecessors.
This year Ad Konings has brought together items by 19 different authors (five of them new to the series), including of course the usual major contribution by Ad himself. As we have come to expect, the text is a gold mine of useful information about cichlids from all over the world, and the photography is quite out of this world. As with the previous volumes, the book is divided into sections devoted to the various geographical areas where cichlids are found: the East African lakes (the three main lakes having a section apiece); West Africa; and both Central and South America. And as in Volume 2, there is a section titled "Cichlid Literatim" devoted to theoretical material and reviews.
But there are differences this time as well. In the two previous volumes the emphasis was on short pieces on individual species; this time the individual articles tend to be of greater length, and for the first time taxonomic material is included, e.g., a revision of the Lake Malawi genus Sciaenochromis by Konings himself and a description of a new species of Herichthys from Mexico by Juan Miguel Artigas Azas. Those in whom the mere mention of "taxonomy" causes a mental shut-down should not be put off, as the yearbook material is not just counts, measurements, and relationships based on formalin-preserved specimens, but includes descriptions of live fishes, their habitats, and their ecology. Thus, these items should prove invaluable to scientists and hobbyists alike.
Previously the emphasis has been on the new and unusual in the cichlid world, and there is certainly plenty of this type of material in Volume 3. But there are also pieces on well-known cichlids, such as the Neolamprologus brichardi complex, N. leleupi, and Julidochromis ornatus. The balance between Rift Lake and non-Rift Lake continues to improve with a marked increase in the coverage of West African and Neotropical cichlids; both these points should give the book increased appeal.
The Cichlids Yearbook series represents a quite unique collection of original material on cichlids which is, simply put, not available elsewhere, and which should form an essential part of every serious cichlidophile's reference library. So I would urge readers of Cichlid News not only to rush out and buy this new volume, but also to seek out copies of Volumes 1 and 2 if they don't already have them.