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I was very pleased to receive a review copy of the new Tropica catalog the
other day. In the letter that Claus sent along with it he said,
"It is NOT something to compare with Christel Kasselmann's book, but for
the average and little bit more advanced aquarist this catalog will bring
the right names, and short, serious information useful in the maintenance
of the plants."
I think that's a very fair, if understated assessment of this lovely little
book. As with everything Tropica does, quality is obvious from the
covered, spiral bound spine and attractive layout to the heavy weight
paper, beautiful illustrations and built in tabs. There are tabbed
sections for the plant catalog, Information about Tropica and its growing
methods, and an index.
The catalog section starts with a key, explaining some of the "short hand"
notes given for each individual plant. Then every plant currently in
production by Tropica is detailed separately. (approximately 150 sp.) There
is a beautiful water color painting of each plant, a short paragraph of
information on how the plant is best used in aquarium, terrarium or pond,
and sometimes a reference to how the plant was discovered or developed.
This section also often mentions if a plant is particularly unpalatable to
herbivorous fish. This is followed by the key, which contains the
Speed of growth
There are some minor translation problems, such as "Vest Africa" in a few
places, but nothing that I felt interfered with either the information
being conveyed nor with the readability of the text.
This minor problem is, in my opinion, offset by the fact that the authors
have gone to great pains to provide the most up to date scientific names
possible. As we know, these names are in a constant state of flux, but as
of the time of printing, all species and variety names used in the book
have been verified by top experts in the field of aquatic botany.
Interspersed among the plant descriptions are excellent quality photos of
some of the plants growing in aquarium settings.
In the information section is information, there are photos of the Tropica
green houses and tissue culture labs with explanations of what goes on in
these areas. There are pages on handling a newly purchased Tropica plant,
how to design a beautiful aquarium and algae control. This section is
obviously meant as a brief overview, and not intended to be a comprehensive
guide to aquatic gardening.
I think the new Tropica catalog would be a lovely and useful addition to
anyone's library on aquatic plants. It would also serve as a very useful
basic identification guide even for the novice aquatic gardener in the
U.S., as most of the plants currently in commercial production here are