Obituary Herbert Richard Axelrod

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Obituary: Herbert Richard Axelrod
12th June 2017

By Sandra Pearce

Dr Herbert Richard Axelrod, a pioneer in the aquatics hobby, died on May 15, aged 89 years.

In a posting on its Facebook page, the Ornamental Fish International said: “It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Dr Herbert Axelrod, who was a pioneer in the development of the hobby after WWII and helped shape the modern aquarium industry.

“His many contributions to the industry include founding the iconic Tropical Fish Hobbyist magazine in 1952, being the author of many books about the industry and extensive field work leading to discovery of new species. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Dr Axelrod was author of many books including the Handbook of Tropical Aquarium Fishes (1955), which sold more than a million copies at a time when aquarium books were a rarity. He earned a PhD at New York University and founded the publishing firm TFH Publications, which became the largest publisher of pet books in the world. His most recent book was Dr. Axelrod’s Atlas of Freshwater Aquarium Fishes. 

Many fish species were named after him due to his numerous contributions to ichthyology. 

In 1989 he donated his collection of fossil fish to the University of Guelph, in Canada, which the university said was one of the largest donations by an individual to a Canadian university, and named the Axelrod Institute of Ichthyology after him.