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Re: Texas fish and plants
Nice pictures, Steve. I bet that was a fun collecting trip. I've been
out of touch a bit lately, first because my ISP's mail service went down
for a couple days, then because I was out of town for a couple more
days, so this is my first opportunity to respond.
I was out of town doing a water quality survey of a small part of the
Canadian River in northeast New Mexico (the Canadian is part of the
Arkansas River drainage) where I saw lots of the little, brightly
colored fish in your picture. I'm pretty sure it's a shiner and I
wouldn't be surprised if it were a red shiner, as someone else
identified it. My LFS has carried a fish they called a red shiner, and
it didn't look like the animal in your picture.
I saw the fish swimming in water with a larger range of salinity, up to
about one fifth the salinity of sea water, but not much higher. Water
temperatures ranged from about 21 degrees Celsius (70 F) just after dawn
to more than 31 degrees C (88 F) in late afternoon. Winter water
temperatures on this reach drop to near freezing. In past surveys in
the same area I've broken through ice to get water samples.
I usually noticed it swimming with medium-size to large schools of other
shiners, and not usually in groups of it's own kind. The other fish
probably were sand shiners or the endangered Arkansas shiner; the area I
was in is one of the few remaining strongholds of the Arkansas shiner.
In one location with relatively low salinity (none of the water in the
area is actually fresh) I also saw it swimming with a beautiful,
similar-sized fish with an irridescent, dark blue body and red fins;
possibly another shiner. I understand that there are about 100 species
of shiner in the US, and several are endangered.
The preferred habitat for the adult fish was shallow, open, flowing
water over a clean sand bottom. I think they are omnivorous. I
understand that most shiners breed in the spring and use an increase in
water level as a cue for breeding. The fry and juveniles seek calm
From descriptions I've read, the sword plant you collected is probably
E. berteroi (which I think is also called E. rostratum). The plant
isn't unique to your near-tropical setting. I've read reports of it as
far inland as Pantex Lake near Amarillo, Tx. That's most definitely not
a tropical setting.