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by Don Danko, 05-Jan-2016.
At the 2015 Ohio Cichlid Association Extravaganza, I was fortunate enough to obtain a copy of Ad Konings’ new book, entitled “The Cichlids of Lake Malawi National Park”. Even though I do not specialize in Malawi Cichlids, this book has provided hours of enjoyment for me over the holidays and I thought I’d share my thoughts with you.
This fantastic book is set up much like a field guide to Lake Malawi National Park, with sections on the individual islands and with individual write-ups on each of the species found in the park. As with all of Ad’s books, it is well illustrated with high quality underwater shots of the species described. The pictures in this book are glossy which ads a nice touch.
After the introduction which states that an amazing 875 species are found in the lake, there is an interesting section that describes the lake in detail and sets the stage for covering the Cichlids that live there. Ad shares many facts, such as more than 40,000 tons of fish are harvested each by the more than 45,000 fisherman!
The next chapter, called “The Cichlids” covers what Cichlids are, why they are so successful in Lake Malawi and why there are so many species. Ad explains that Cichlids are very successful in the lake’s clear water because they can see their offspring and actively protect them from predators. He further explains that they quickly adapt to new environments and this fact helps explain why there are so many species.
The next section, “The Park’s Geography”, provides detailed descriptions of each of the islands and rocky outcroppings in the park. To augment the sixteen thorough descriptions, glossy photographs of each site are provided as well. He provides useful information to those that would visit these islands including the locations of beaches and places to leave boats as well as what to expect below the surface of the water.
In “Cichlid Habitats”, Ad describes the surge zone, rocky habitat, intermediate habitat of sand and rock, bays with aquatic plants, the sandy habitat, and open water. Underwater habitat pictures are shown for each type to go along with each of Ad’s descriptions.
In “Feeding Strategies”, he talks about thirty-two different strategies employed by the Cichlids of the lake. These strategies are categorized by predators and by herbivores. Many illustrations of various species exemplifying the behavior are provided. It is truly amazing that so many unique strategies have evolved in this complex group of Cichlids.
“Breeding Strategies” covers courtship, spawning, post-spawning and postnatal care in detail. Examples of species are noted and many photographs are included as well.
The balance of the 288 page book is devoted to the “Cichlid Species in the Lake”. For each species, much insight is provided concerning the distribution, local morphs, maximum length, habitat, food, breeding behavior, similar species and best place to see the species. For most species, excellent high quality underwater pictures of males and females are provided. An amazing 219 species are covered in great detail making this book a must have reference for all Cichlid keepers.
In “Other Fishes in the Park”, Ad covers the eels, barbs, catfish and other fishes in the lake. I found it amazing that the mottled eel, Anguilla bengalensis labiata, grows to 1.5 m (5 feet) long, 15 cm. (6”) in diameter and stays up to 20 years in the lake before returning to the ocean to breed!
In “Underwater Explorations”, the final chapter, species lists are provided by location in the park. Again, excellent underwater pictures are provided for several of the species.
In summary, “The Cichlids of Lake Malawi National Park” is mandatory reading for those interested in Lake Malawi Cichlids. With all of its excellent content and illustrations, it is an essential reference guide. Take the time to find the book and to read it as you will not be disappointed.
This book gives detailed profiles for the 220 cichlid species that occur in Lake Malawi National Park. Each species is further represented by photographs of both male and female fish for easy recognition, but also detailed characters are given to distinguish between the various forms that look alike. Species checklists are given for 14 localities throughout the park. Almost all photos were taken in the lake, and the information given is based on the author's observations-over a period of more than 30 years-of these cichlids in their natural habitat.
288 glossy pages, 675+ color photos, softcover, and size: 6.