Book review: Dynamic Aquaria - Building Living Ecosystems. Walterr H. Adey and Karen Loveland

eyrops

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Dynamic Aquaria: Building Living Ecosystems . Walter H. Adey and Karen Loveland, Acedemic Press, 1991.
This is a book that is useful reference both for hobbyists and those who develop and maintain aquaria as a profession. It does not have material specifically about keeping amphibians. Its strength is covering aquaria as model ecosystems. In doing this it provides a solid foundation for designing and operating many kinds of aquaria and larger systems. The authors experience at the Smithsonian gives authenticity and a unique perspective to the subject. They are interested in how physical chemical and biological components interact to form ecosystems, and in how these systems can be modeled. In designing a museum exhibit that is a model ecosystem, many problems are encountered and solved that have relevance to smaller systems too. We create little ecosystems that work or don’t work whether they are little Rubbermaid trays for one salamander, or 200 gallon aquariums, or something larger. For a hobbyist, the book expands the possible. It shows, for example, the design of a coral reef, but it also shows the design of a Maine rocky shore and a Florida everglades system. For someone who keeps amphibians I think it offers an opportunity to consider their home in a new light.
Here is a table of contents from the third (2007) edition:

  • [FONT=&quot]Introduction [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Part I: Physical Environment [/FONT]

  • [FONT=&quot]The Envelope: Physical Parameters and Energy State [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Substrate: The Active Role of Rock, Mud, and Sand [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Water Composition: Management of Salinity, Hardness, and Evaporation [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]The Input of Solar Energy: Lighting Requirements [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]The Input of Organic Energy: Particulates and Feeding [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Part II : Biochemical Environment [/FONT]

  • [FONT=&quot]Metabolism: Respiration, Photosynthesis, and Biological Loading [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Organisms and Gas Exchange: Oxygen, Carbon Dioxide, pH, and Alkalinity [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]The Primary Nutrients - Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Silica: Limitation and Eutrophication [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Biomineralization and Calcification: A Key to Biosphere and Ecosystem Function [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Control of the Biochemical Environment: Filters, Bacteria, and the Algal Turf Scrubber [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Part III: Biological Structure [/FONT]

  • [FONT=&quot]Community Structure: Biodiversity in Model Ecosystems [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Trophic Structure: Ecosystems and the Dynamics of Food Chains [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Primary Producers: Plants That Grow on the Bottom [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Herbivores: Predators of Plants and Omnivores, Predators of Plants and Animals [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Carnivores: Predators of Animals [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Plankton and Planktivores: Floating Plants and Animals and Their Predators [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Detritus and Detritivores: The Dynamics of Muddy Bottoms [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Symbionts and Other Feeders [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Part IV: Ecological Systems in Microcosms, Mesocosms, and Aquaria [/FONT]

  • [FONT=&quot]Models of Coral Reef Ecosystems [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]A Subarctic/Boreal Microcosm: Test of a Biogeographic Model [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Estuaries: Ecosystem Modeling and Restoration: Where Fresh and Salt Waters Interact [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Freshwater Ecosystem Models[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Part V: The Environment and Ecological Engineering [/FONT]

  • [FONT=&quot]Organisms and Natural Products: Commercial Ecosystem Culture [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Large Scale Water Quality Management with Solar Energy Capture [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Part VI: Summary [/FONT]

  • [FONT=&quot]Microcosms, Mesocosms, and Macrocosms: Building and Restoring Ecosystems: A Synthesis [/FONT]
 

Jennewt

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Thank you for posting this review - it was especially good timing for me. I'm doing an "aquariums as ecosystems" workshop in February. I've just ordered this book to help prepare!
 

froggy

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Looks brilliant! Have spent my christmas amazon vouchers on this!
 

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I feel like no review is complete without purchasing information and a picture of the book, so thanks Froggy, for making me think of this:
Available on Amazon used starting at $56.06 for the 2007 edition; 1991 edition available used for $5.75.
 

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Jennewt

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I am currently reading and attempting to get some relevant content from this book. I am not having much success! It is highly technical (even for a scientist), and its major interest is with salt water systems. I have found a few tidbits of interest in it, but in my opinion it was not worth buying. I'm sure there is an audience out there for this book, but I'm not in it.

For more accessible information about the science of fresh water aquaria and their ecosystems, I would recommend Walstadt's Ecology of the Planted Aquarium.
 

eyrops

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I am currently reading and attempting to get some relevant content from this book.

I’m sorry you didn’t like the book. It’s become an old friend of mine. When I first got it (’92?), I read it through and immediately set up a tank with an algal scrubber dump bucket for my crayfish. It worked. The crayfish liked it fine. The most interesting result, however, was that the sound of dumping water inspired my fellow grad student in the cubicle next to me to visit the bathroom quite frequently!

Grad school was the last time I read it cover to cover, but I do learn a little something each time I pick up the book. I’ll admit it’s a bit of an ecology text. These folks were managing big, complicated aquatic mesocosms at times. Few of us have done or will be doing that. However, the ground that the authors have broken in simulating ecosystems that aquarium keepers have seldom attempted is an inspiration. It expands the possible. Also, many of the principles they discuss are scale independent. Consider what SludgeMunkey just did with his N. kaiseri . His scale was really small but his attention to the details of the physical, chemical, and biological environment he was attempting to recreate was impeccable. That’s what made it work. You do the same in your newt breeding. Although little of the book applies directly to keeping amphibians, I still feel that it’s one of the best things out there about aquaria as ecosystems.
-Steve Morse
 
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