The Cichlid fishes are one of the most diverse groups of animals in the world, this is partially an artifact of their distribution in rift lakes. This isolation in a diverse environment has led them to evolve to fill a myriad of ecological niches. They are also one of the most popular groups of aquarium fishes and their behavior and diversity is of interest to a large number of people. That is why this book, a scientific treatment of their behavior can be produced for a larger audience. As such this is perhaps the best book, available to the lay reader, on fish behavior.
George Barlow is (was) a fish behaviorist at UC Berkeley. In this volume he explains the complex behaviors of mate selection, territoriality, feeding, and the rearing of offspring in this well studied group. He also discusses their diversity and, sadly, has to address their conservation (as the their home is being lost to several environmental factors). This book is interesting and well written. However, it is probably only of interest to the most serious cichlid hobbyist, or persons with a special interest in fish behavior in general.
Cichlid fishes are amazing creatures. In terms of sheer number of species, they are the most successful of all families of vertebrate animals, and the extent and speed with which they have evolved in some African lakes has made them the darlings of evolutionary biologists. With warmth and wit, Barlow describes the remarkably high intelligence of these fishes, their complex mating and parenting rituals, their bizarre feeding and fighting habits, and their highly unusual adaptations. A celebration of their diversity, The Cichlid Fishes is also a marvelous exploration of how these animals might help resolve the age-old puzzle of how species arise and evolve.