Introduction

This hook has been written for lovers of aquariums and terrariums.

Until now the literature dealing with aquarium plants could be divided into two groups. The first group is represented by the numerous books written by educated laymen. In spite of great efforts by their authors, these books usually contain a number of fallacies and errors that are in due course passed on repeatedly by later writers of other books. These errors are commonly found in the descriptions of the biological conditions necessary for cultivating aquatic plants, as well as in the taxonomic sections where incorrect names are used for the species. The second group of books is those written by botanists who have a great deal of knowledge, usually highly specialized, about the cultivation of plants, their structure, and their classification. Unfortunately these authors often lack even a basic understanding of aquarium science, the practical aspect which is of interest to most readers. These often technical books may give a great amount of information on species which cannot even be cultivated under aquarium conditions or, even worse, about plants which turn into pesty weeds that the aquarist finds difficult to remove from his tank.

The authors are aware that this book is incomplete. Some plants cultivated in aquariums have not been described scientifically at the time of writing and only their commercial names can be given. Other groups of plants require a thorough revision before we can be sure of the proper name for the species. In recent years the senior author has revised more than 30,000 herbarium specimens from the major botanical institutes of the world and has described about 30 new species of the genera Echinodorus, Sagit-tar ia, Aponogeton, and Cryptocoryne, the major groups of aquarium plants. The revised nomenclature of these important genera is presented here for aquarists for the first time.

In addition to general information on raising and identifying aquarium plants, we have also included descriptions of methods used to ensure the reproduction of aquatic plants under cultivation. In many cases these methods are more elaborate than the average aquarist would like. If the major aim of the aquarist is simply raising plants for decorating the aquarium, the best thing to do would be to purchase well developed mature plants from professional cultivators of aquarium plants.

The present book is the joint effort of our chosen specialized fields. Dr. Karel Rataj is a distinguished botanist from Sumperk, Czechoslovakia, who has specialized in the study of the taxonomy and ecology* of aquatic plants. Among his many important works might be mentioned his revisions of the important aquarium genera Echinodorus, Cryptocoryne and Sagittaria. Mr. Thomas J. Horeman, of Surrey, England, has made many journeys throughout South America and the Far East to collect aquatic plants. In the course of this activity he has discovered a number of new species, including Echinodorus horemanii, and has propagated and distributed them commercially. Thus the reader should be able to profit from the combined experience of both a technical botanist and a practical botanist for the first time in an aquarium book.

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