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This handbook was one of the first manuals with practical instructions for constructing, stocking, and maintaining a tank, and for collecting plants and animals. 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.

“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.

Please note: This is a historical book; the advice given was modern in 1856, not today.


A Fellow of the Royal Society, Philip Henry Gosse was one of Britain’s great naturalists of the seaside, an expert on sea anemones, and a widely admired science writer.


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), xx pages. 2010 complete facsimile of Gosse’s 1856 (second) edition.

ISBN13: 978-1-906267-18-6 (paperback)
ISBN10: 1-906267-18-9 (paperback)
Recommended price: GBP£5.00 | USD$7.50
dimensions: A5 8.3 x 5.8 (inches)
dimensions: A5 210 x 148 (mm)


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