Re: NANFA-- Fishes of Wisconsin

Christopher Scharpf (
Tue, 19 Jun 2001 11:43:32 -0400

Bob Muller asked:

>I saw the reference to the publication of Fishes of Wisconsin. Can anyone
>comment on the book? I like a little info. before buying $100 books.

Here's what I wrote in the Spring 2000 American Currents:

George Beckerıs Fishes of Wisconsin (1983, University of Wisconsin Press,
xii + 1052 p., hardcover) is one of the greatest regional fish books ever
published. Itıs also the most sought after. Natural history book dealers
tell me no copies are to be had, and that even if they were, Iıd be on a
waiting list to get one. Even a phone call to the author proved fruitless;
heıs given away all of his extra copies over the years. Happily, a second
printing is reportedly in the works. Opening chapters deal with Wisconsin
waters, glacial history, pollution, fishery management, and "Preserving
Ecosystem Integrity: The Role of Nongame Fishes." The bulk (781 pages) of
this bulky book is devoted to detailed accounts of 157 species. This
averages to nearly five pages per fish, the most of any regional fish book
I've seen. Topics covered in each account include description, distribution,
status, habitat, biology, importance, and management. The illustrated keys
are superb, and each species account is accompanied by a range map and a
photo (usually of a preserved specimen). Dr. Becker even notes when a
species has been kept in aquaria; however, some of his accounts could have
been strengthened had he consulted American Currents. The rainbow darter, he
writes, "does not adapt well to the home aquarium, and soon expires" (p.
936). And while the banded darter "makes an attractive aquarium fish," this
"use is not encouraged . . . since even in a well-aerated aquarium it will
generally die within a few weeks" (p. 931). Dr. Becker's husbandry skills
aside, this is one great fish book, with a mother lode of natural history

Note: I spend $150 for my second-hand copy (previously owned by Ernest
Lachner!), so $100 is a good price.

Note #2: I'm not sure if the reprint includes the recent addendum by Lyons
et al. I received a mailing from Univ. of Wisconsin Press re: the reprint,
but it does not say if the book was updated. Happily, the addendum that has
been published as a handsome stand-alone book -‹ Wisconsin Fishes 2000:
Status and Distribution by John Lyons, Philip A. Cochran and Don Fago (2000,
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, 87 p. + 4 color plates, $10
softcover). This book updates the current status, nomenclature, and
abundance of all the fish species included by Becker, and provides in-depth
(i.e., Becker-like) descriptions of two additional native species now found
in the state (southern brook lamprey and channel shiner), one former native
species (longjaw cisco) that is now considered a distinctive form of
shortjaw cisco, and four newly reported exotics (kokanee salmon, white
perch, ruffe, and round goby). The two senior authors, Lyons and Cochran
(both NANFA members), are preparing a new Wisconsin fish book with an
interactive CD-ROM and/or Internet component. Projected release date is
mid-2007. Wisconsin Fishes 2000 is available by sending a $10 check (payable
to "UW Sea Grant") to Sea Grant Institute, 1975 Willow Drive, Madison, WI

Chris Scharpf

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