Baensch/Mergus Cichlid Atlas, Vol. 1 – Book Review

Author:    Dr. Uwe Romer
Publisher:  MERGUS, Melle, Germany
Copyright 2000
English Edition 2002
Binding: Hard Cover with dust jacket
1,311 pages
1,448 photos
182 drawings
45 tables
10 maps
Bibliography: 1,350 references

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you click on an affiliate link and choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support!

I highly recommend this excellent book to anyone interested in South American Dwarf Cichlids. Dr. Romer is one of the world’s leading experts on these fish and this book contains more scientific information than any other. The 240-page section on biology contains a wealth of detail on many fascinating subjects.  Of great interest to many hobbyists is the information on factors influencing Apistogramma sex ratios. Romer has information from 685 spawns of 37 different species of Apistos that were conducted in a controlled fashion using waters of varying temperature and pH. I have used this information in several ways to insure that I get the sex ratios I desire when spawning my fish. Just the biology section alone contains more quality information than most stand-alone books!

This book is much more than biology with over 1,000 pages of information on all of the species known at the time of publication. Pomer provides in-depth information about natural habitats, identification, and aquarium husbandry.

The identification of dwarf cichlids has always been problematic and this book reflects that to some degree. A few of the identifications offered here are now believed to be incorrect and there are many new species and forms that have been introduced since Romer finished the original manuscript in 1997. However, these errors are few in relation to the material presented.

A section of the book that I find of little practical value is the identification key that is presented. This represents a very significant undertaking but I’ve not found it helpful. I have yet to find anyone who has used the key with any regular success. The only other weakness is the index. It only references the major information about a given species and many photos and tidbits of information are not indexed.

These are just minor complaints about the book that I consider to be the best available in English. The binding is excellent although the small type occasionally strains my old eyes. The bibliography is amazing with nearly 1,350 references. There are newer books that do a better job of identifying all species but there is no other book that comes close to the overall excellence of this great book. If you are only allowed on dwarf cichlid book this should be it.

When this book was first published there was doubt that it would ever be published in English. Interested buyers were asked to prepay for their book with printing was not done until enough copies were pre-sold. Finally, the book was published long after the translation was completed.

Where to buy

For a few years, the book was widely available and most Apistogramma fans purchased a copy. Unfortunately, in 2006 the entire unsold inventory of the English version was destroyed in a warehouse fire turning this into a very rare book. It can be found at times through used book dealers where the price is usually near $200.00. Check here to find it on

Volume 2 of this book has been published but it contains only new information and the species covered in Volume 1 are not included. So keep your eyes peeled and be prepared to jump if you can find a copy as it is truly a great book.