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In today's world of internet information it may seem outdated to use or even recommend books. Most of the information you will find in most books can be found online so I don't push books too hard, but there are a few that I consider to be an essential part of a successful reef aquarium. These books are complete, thorough, and in-depth. They go beyond just giving you a soft introduction, they give you a solid foundation of knowledge that is invaluable. They provide the information you wish you could find online, but put it all in one place, explain the information well, and you don't have to sort out thousands of people's opinions and misinformation to get to the good information.
Anthony Calfo and Robert Fenner
This book is incredible and has entire chapters devoted to live rock, refugium filtration, live sand, etc. The only odd thing about it is that apparently at least one of the authors has it out for aquacultured/maricultured live rock. I am not sure why but this book definitely makes it sound horrible which I have never found to be the case. Some of the best live rock I have ever seen has been aquacultured and it is a great way to be bring some more diversity into the tank. I think their rant on aquacultured rock may be the reason why the book was not picked up by a major publisher, making it difficult to find sometimes. But that means nothing compared to the vast amount of detailed, accurate information in this book. It really helps you understand what a refugium really is, what it does, and how it works. It provides the same type of information about live rock, live sand, as well as information about your options of macroalgae, hermits, sea stars, and more.
This book is very detailed when it comes to corals. It is very good at giving you a real idea of what the lighting needs are and what light actually does in the coral, how stony corals grow, what foods they really need, how they color up, why they brown out under inadequate lighting etc. It is in depth but really is the best foundation for anyone getting in to corals. It is very detailed. It is like a textbooks for corals. This may sound overwhelming, but unlike all those topics in school you are actually interested in this one so it really does help.
Giant Clams in the Sea and the Aquarium
This is as good as the corals book but completely devoted to giant clams. These are one of my favorite reef inhabitants and when properly cared for can be unbelievable additions to tanks that can provide them with what they need. This book helps you identify the different species, know how to spot problems in clams in your tank or in the fish store, how to acclimate them to your tank and lighting, how to feed them (or not to), and more. Clams are not for everyone or every tank, but if you even think you may want one research first, and if you aren't ready for them yet this book may inspire you to get there and tell you how.