This handbook to the marine aquarium was one of the first manuals with practical instructions for constructing, stocking, and maintaining a marine fish tank, and for collecting plants and animals to stock that tank. It’s an original DIY project. Philip Henry Gosse (1810-1888) coined the term ‘aquarium’ in 1854 and set off the Victorian craze for keeping them in the home. His classic Handbook offers simple, practical advice for the beginner. This second edition, much improved by first-hand experience, captures Gosse at the height of his influence. Over 150 years old, his Handbook is a fascinating window into the earliest days of aquarium keeping.
Gosse did not invent the marine aquarium, he developed it and he promoted it as a spyglass into unseen aquatic worlds. Rebecca Stott’s book, Theatres of Glass, brilliantly tells the story of Anna Thynne. To my mind, Thynne deserves credit for solving the key problem of keeping animals alive in containers for seawater and undertaking close analysis of why her solution worked. She did this in the 1840s.
“This little Handbook appears to contain every information that can be required for a commencement; and will, doubtless, prove highly acceptable to those whose interest themselves in marine zoology.” Annuals of Natural History, Feb 1856
Why reprint the “second edition revised”? The first edition appeared in 1854. Over the next two years, Gosse substantially refined his techniques, new technologies became available, and he simply understood the process better. The 1856 edition shows an experienced and confident keeper of aquariums.
This is a historical book; the advice given was modern in 1856, not today.
Gosse, Philip Henry. 1856. A Handbook to the Marine Aquarium: containing practical instructions for constructing, stocking, and maintaining a tank, and for collecting plants and animals. (London: Euston Grove Press). 2010 complete facsimile of Gosse’s 1856 (second) edition.
ISBN 9781906267186 (paperback) – out-of-print
dimensions: A5 8.3 x 5.8 (inches) or 210 x 148 (mm)
This book also is available via Internet Archive.
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