5 Saltwater Aquarium Books Every Hobbyist Should Read

5 Saltwater Aquarium Books Every Hobbyist Should Read

Welcome to Saltwater Aquarium Blog. This is my very first blog post, initially written in 2009 and updated since then. In fact, when I started, the post was automatically titled, “Hello World”, by the WordPress platform. Updated as recently as January 2021 (and other times).

Before I start sharing some of what I’ve learned in my time as a hobbyist, I thought I would start by sharing with you the most important books that helped shape my knowledge and aquariums over the years.

Here is a list of 5  saltwater aquarium books every hobbyist should read.

There are a lot of books out there, but this list includes the books that I read when I first started out in the hobby and helped me build the foundation of knowledge I have today (for what that’s worth).

Any of these books would be a great present if you’re looking for gifts for a friend or family member who wants to learn how to start a saltwater aquarium.

While I certainly recommend you read all 5 saltwater aquarium books on this list, I recognize that would potentially cost a lot of money, so I have ranked them, in order of how helpful and inspiring they were to me.

Please also note that this is not an exhaustive list of the authoritative books on the hobby–for example, one book that I very much enjoyed reading and provided great information is The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, by Bob Fenner.

For now, let’s dig into the 5 books that got it all started for me–the 5 Saltwater Aquarium Books that every hobbyist should read.

#5 Saltwater Aquarium Book: The Authoritative Tome about Corals

Anthony CalfoBob Fenner
5.  Aquarium Corals : Selection, Husbandry, and Natural HistoryCharles Delbeek
By Eric Borneman.  This is actually the book that got me started in the hobby and is probably one of the best values for the money in the hardcover printed books category.  A similar read and resource to Delbeek books, the Borneman book combines great pictures and snippets of very useful information that presents a good all-around value for the money.  A great Holiday Gift for the reefer in your life.

# 4 The Reef Aquarium Volume 1 (and 2…see that, I’m cheating)

Eric Bornemanfood chain4.  The Reef Aquarium (Volume 1)Joe and The Reef Aquarium, Vol. 3: Science, Art, and TechnologyJoyce D. Wilkerson
by Charles Delbeek. Alright, so it’s not a single book, I already cheated here on this list, but these books are invaluable resources.  They’re technical in nature, a little boring at times, but comprehensive and well written.  They are only number four on the list because, well, I difficulty ranking each of the volumes independently–and since I took volumes 1 and 3 together, I felt the need to scale back their rank slightly by putting them in 4th place. If you think about it, buying both books comes with a steep price tag.  These books are for the serious aquarist, who wants to advance his knowledge in the hobby, and has the money to pay for the best.  I borrowed my copy from the library.

#3 Saltwater Aquarium Book: Clownfishes – get inspired to breed these amazing fish

The New Saltwater Aquarium GuideUnited Kingdom3.  ClownfishesUnited States
By Joyce D. Wilkerson.  The whole world loves a clown…fish.  This book, unlike its textbook brethren in the fifth and fourth spots, is a light, fun-to-read book, about the most popular marine fish in the world.  The book is full of information about the natural history of clownfish and their host anemones and provides information on ease of keeping and breeding.  A fun book that made me add a few breeder tanks in my basement.  This colorful and helpful book is a great way to cozy up with our favorite piscine friend, the clownfish.

Anthony Calfo#2 A book that got me absolutely addicted to corals and this hobby

Bob Fenner

2. Book of Coral Propagation, Volume 1 Edition 2: Reef Gardening for AquaristsCharles Delbeek
By Anthony Calfo.  This book will have you seeing green, as you start daydreaming about the money you’ll make selling off the frags of your favorite coral species.  The book gives detailed instructions on the care of and how to frag a HUGE selection of coral species.  Not nearly as technical as some of the earlier selections, sometimes harder to read, but chock-full of nuggets of information.   The book will have you seriously consider building a greenhouse to support your addiction, I mean, hobby.

#1 Saltwater Aquarium Book Every Hobbyist Should Read

Eric Borneman1. The Reef Aquarium, Vol. 2: A Comprehensive Guide to the Identification and Care of Tropical Marine Invertebratesfood chain
By Charles Delbeek.   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 this series, the technical nature of Delbeek’s running can be a little daunting at times for the average Joe, but the book is worth its weight in gold—and costs almost as much.  Also, since this book provides a lot of info on soft corals, this is a good book for those beginner/intermediate reefers.



I hope you enjoyed this list of the 5 saltwater aquarium books that every hobbyist should read. But before you go, I have two important updates since this article was originally published in 2009. There i

Two more recommendations

JoeThose books are still as helpful today as they were back then, but the publishing world didn’t stop when I started.

Several years back, I did my best to add to the community and published The New Saltwater Aquarium Guide.

It is an easy to follow distillation of the knowledge I had gained through reading, research, and trial and error with my own tanks. It has been a bestseller on Amazon, in the Aquarium Books category a bunch of times in the U.S., U.K., and Canada.

Check out The New Saltwater Aquarium Guide


Joyce D. WilkersonThe New Saltwater Aquarium GuideThe next book I’d like to recommend is a book written by a guy who specializes in SPS corals. Let’s face it, even in 2009, this wasn’t a list of only 5 books.

SPS corals are at the top of the food chain and represent the pinnacle of the craft. They are not for the faint of heart or thin of wallet, but they are breathtaking, amazing animals. If you’re interested in keeping SPS corals, this is the book I recommend:

A Reefbum’s guide to keeping an SPS Tank

There is a lot of great advice in this book to help you get that tank of hard corals you may be dreaming about.

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5 Saltwater Aquarium Books Every Hobbyist Should Read

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