Ultimate Marine Aquariums by Mike Paletta (hard cover)

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This large format (8.5 by 11 inches) volume contains 192 pages, each illustrated with at least one photograph of a marine aquarium or with details of its inhabitants and/or its construction. The excellent photographs are beautifully reproduced. There is an index of the tanks, their owners and designers.

Mike Paletta's book of photographs featuring an international group of 50 outstanding, healthy and beautiful marine aquariums proves that the variety of techniques developed by a largely amateur cadre of marine aquarium enthusiasts has proven capable of sustaining coral reef organisms in prime condition. The volume emphasizes reef aquariums but includes fish-only tanks, and shows the outcome of a wide range of approaches, from low-tech systems to those relying on ultra high-technology designs.

In addition to the superb photographs, Paletta provides vital information for those seeking to emulate the conditions that maintain these gorgeous and successful tanks. He starts by stating the system?s owner and designer, it?s location, its date of establishment and its location. For each aquarium he then provides an Aquarium Profile, detailing its volume and dimensions, its overall construction, water circulation, temperature and other control systems, filtration system, lighting method and photoperiod, and water parameters and chemistry. He also includes details on the system's livestock and feeding regimens and provides short notes on each system?s major successes and problems.

In the last issue of Advanced Aquarist, August 2003, Mike provided a very useful summary of the information included in the Profiles, with basic statistics that attempt to digest and condense much of the information he provides for each aquarium, but we know how much is lost in averages. If you really want to see how far we've come in our efforts, and motivate and stimulate yourself to reach for the maximum you can achieve in terms of health and beauty in your aquarium system, treat yourself to a copy of this book.

One is tempted to compare Ultimate Marine Aquariums to Takashi Amano's Nature Aquarium World books that are devoted to photos of beautifully landscaped freshwater tanks, but the comparison does not hold up. It is my understanding that the Amano photos are based on plant compositions specifically created with new specimens at the time they were photographed. The displays Mike Paletta shows are true living systems with organisms that have been growing and thriving over time. That makes all the difference.