Every hobbyist begins by seeking information. And while internet searches work well (thank you for visiting), it also helps to have saltwater aquarium books around that you can grab and reference whenever you find yourself with a problem. (For instance, in case a power outage happens and you CAN’T reach a certain helpful blog)
Table of Contents: Saltwater Aquarium Books
If you know the topic you’re interested in, you can drop down to the link with the title that catches your eye. But my goal with this post is to provide a solid beginning to an aquarist’s library. As such, I hope you’ll read through everything. You may end up with your interest piqued by an aquarium book (or three) you never considered before!
- Why These Saltwater Aquarium Books?
- Top 5 Saltwater Aquarium Books Every Hobbyist Should Read
- Aquarium Corals: Selection, Husbandry, and Natural History
- The Reef Aquarium: Volumes 1 and 3
- Clownfishes: A Guide to Their Captive Care, Breeding, & Natural History
- Book of Coral Propagation: Volume 1, Edition 2: Reef Gardening for Aquarists
- The Reef Aquarium: Volume 2: A Comprehensive Guide to the Identification and Care of Tropical Marine Invertebrates
- Additional Saltwater Aquarium Book Recommendations
- For More Information
Crazy as it sounds to me now, this was my FIRST post for the Saltwater Aquarium Blog, initially written in 2009. (Don’t worry, it’s been updated since then) Why the first words I set down? Because I felt THAT strongly about setting up a “reference library” other hobbyists would find useful.
See, there are TONS of aquarium books available that you can peruse and stack on the shelf – some better than others. And you’ll find plenty that can help you on your journey toward starting a saltwater aquarium. But the five I’m going to get you started with? These books stand out from the rest. Why? They’re the ones that I started reading when I got my start. And they became the foundation for the knowledge I can share with everyone today.
I honestly believe these aquarium books can do the same for you. (You can continue to grow your library from here)
I absolutely recommend collecting and reading all of the saltwater aquarium books on this list. But I also recognize the cost that would represent. So, in the interest of remaining friendly to MY readers, I ranked them in the order of how helpful and inspiring they were to ME. I started from the best (in my opinion) and worked my way down to the additional aquarium books I feel confident you’ll want to add to your collection.
Of course, you can look at the reviews and decide whether you feel the ranking works for where you are on your aquarium journey. (Everyone sets their own priorities) Maybe you’ll see something that works better for you. Eventually, though, I think it’s a fantastic idea to have all five of these displayed on your shelf.
Aquarium Corals: Selection, Husbandry, and Natural Historyby Eric Borneman is the definitive aquarium book on managing corals. This is the tome that got me started in the hobby. It’s also probably one of the best values for the money, especially considering it comes in hardcover. It’s comparable to The Reef Aquarium volumes, combining great pictures and snippets of useful information. You’re getting genuine value for the money.
It’s the perfect holiday gift for the reefer in your life.
The Reef Aquarium: Volume 1: Identification and Care of Tropical and Marine Invertebrates and The Reef Aquarium: Volume 3: Science, Art, and Technology by Charles Delbeek. Alright – it’s not a single book, so I cheated a bit. But these aquarium books are invaluable resources. They’re technical in nature and a little boring at times, but comprehensive and well written. I slide them in at the number four slot due to the difficulty ranking of the volumes. I combined volumes 1 and 3, and the hefty jargon and textbook-like reading convinced me to set them back.
Also, if you think about it, buying both books comes with a steep price tag. You’re talking about a commitment for the serious aquarist who wants to advance their knowledge in the hobby – and has the money to pay for the best. (I admit – I borrowed my copies from the library) However, you won’t find better reference materials out there. So add them to your wish lists and let your family know you’re interested in them.
Clownfishes: A Guide to Their Captive Care, Breeding & Natural History By Joyce D. Wilkerson. The whole world loves a clown…fish. Unlike its textbook brethren in the fifth and fourth spots, this aquarium book is a light, fun-to-read book centered around the most popular marine fish in the world. You’ll find information about the natural history of clownfish, their host anemones, and the ease of keeping and breeding these awesome striped fish.
It’s a fun aquarium book that made me add a few breeder tanks to my basement. And if you decide to pick it up? You might find yourself doing the same. In no time, you’ll find yourself cozying up with our favorite piscine friend, the clownfish.
Book of Coral Propagation: Volume 1, Edition 2: Reef Gardening for Aquarists By Anthony Calfo. This aquarium book will have you seeing green – as in MONEY. You’ll start daydreaming about the profits you can make selling frags from your favorite coral species. The book provides detailed instructions on the care of and details of fragging a HUGE selection of coral species.
It isn’t nearly as technical as some of the aquarium books on this list which can get harder to read. (Don’t get me wrong – they’re still chock-full of nuggets of information!) This volume will have you considering the addition of a coral greenhouse to support your addiction. (I mean hobby)
The Reef Aquarium: Volume 2: A Comprehensive Guide to the Identification and Care of Tropical Marine Invertebrates
The Reef Aquarium: Volume 2: A Comprehensive Guide to the Identification and Care of Tropical Marine Invertebrates By Charles Delbeek. That’s right, we’re completing the set with this aquarium book. And if you’re a beginner or intermediate in the hobby, this book is a must-read. It lays a foundation that will provide YEARS of benefit to you and your tank.
Like the other books in the series, the technical nature of Delbeek’s writing gets a little daunting at times. But this aquarium book is worth its weight in gold -and costs almost as much. But since this book provides a lot of info on soft corals, it’s a great option for beginner OR intermediate reefers.
Now, as I mentioned at the start, this was my original post for the blog. And the list of helpful book selections out there? It’s grown and grown since 2009. An exhaustive list of saltwater aquarium books would – well, it would look like a library. I want to make sure I slide a few extra additions onto your shelves, though. (Yes, without changing the original title of the post)
The Conscientious Marine Aquarist By Bob Fenner. This awesome book hit the shelves AFTER I published the original post. But if you’re a serious hobbyist (okay, so yes, that’s a bit of an oxymoron), it’s an awesome aquarium book to have around. The pictures are fantastic, and it’s a breeze to read – nothing like some of the textbooks that have stumped people on the remainder of the list.
You’re not going to break the bank with this purchase, either. And it works for ANYONE – beginners and pros alike.
The New Saltwater Aquarium GuideBy Albert Ulrich III. You read that correctly. Several years back, I did my best to add to the community and published The New Saltwater Aquarium Guide. It’s an easy-to-follow distillation of the knowledge I gained through reading, research, and trial and error with my own tanks.
And while, yes, I think my experience can do a lot to help ANYONE getting started in this hobby, I’m not just bragging. This aquarium book scored as a bestseller on Amazon in the Aquarium Books category multiple times in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. (Okay, so it’s bragging a LITTLE)
A Reefbum’s guide to keeping an SPS Tank By Keith Berkelhamer. This aquarium book comes from a guy who specializes in SPS corals. SPS corals sit at the top of the food chain and represent the pinnacle of the reef tank craft. They’re not for the faint of heart (or thin of wallet), but they’re breathtaking, amazing animals.
If you’re interested in keeping SPS corals in the SLIGHTEST, this is the aquarium book I recommend. You’ll find plenty of great advice to help you start that tank of hard corals you’ve been dreaming about.
Now that you have your aquarium books on the shelf, you’re probably wondering where to go next. (Or you’re just chomping at the bit on getting that tank up and running) Not to worry – I’ve got you covered with your next steps:
- How to Set up a Saltwater Aquarium
- The Definitive Guide to Live Rock
- 5 Best Saltwater Aquarium Fish for Beginners
- 5 Saltwater Starter Fish Every Beginner Should Avoid