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Re: NFC: Re: $ sunfish

Are you goin to post some more pictures so we can guess at it?

>From: "Chris Hedemark" <chris at yonderway_com>
>Reply-To: nfc at actwin_com
>To: <nfc at actwin_com>
>Subject: NFC: Re: $ sunfish
>Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2001 20:32:20 -0500
>Do you have a key for sunfish that can be put on the NFC site?  I'm finding 
>regional guides are useless with all of the non-native introductions.  
>Hybridization doesn't make it any easier (and I realize a key probably 
>won't help there anyway).
>My immediate concern is telling for sure if I'm finding dollar sunfishes or 
>something else.  A year ago you and some others "guessed" from photographs 
>that they were PROBABLY dollars but I want to be able to tell conclusively. 
>  I'm also finding another kind of sunfish that does really well in my 
>tanks but don't know what it is.
>Chris Hedemark - Hillsborough, NC
>   ----- Original Message -----
>   From: robertrice at juno_com
>   To: nfc at actwin_com
>   Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2001 7:14 PM
>   Subject: NFC: $ sunfish
>   The Dollar Sunfish (Lepomis marginatus) as an Aquarium Species
>   Robert Rice
>   Hiding in the back waters, swamps and small ponds of the Southeast is a 
>seldom seen gem that is so beautiful , so pleasant to keep that it puts 
>many tropicals to shame. It's behavior in captivity and ease of care are 
>worthy of an entire book not just an article. It's life colors and habit 
>remain basically ignored by the various professionals who have come across 
>this shining star. It's size or lack of it (under 5 inches) relegate it to 
>bait status and thus it is totally forgotten by the local sportsmen. With 
>this ignorance comes apathy and sadly it is, quietly disappearing from it's 
>traditional homes. The victim of our increasing pressure on the 
>   Who is this you wonder, some unusual fringe species ? Some really cool 
>orchid ? A hard to please environmental elitist? Nope this fella is the 
>Dollar Sunfish one of the hardiest guys you will ever come across! I have 
>yet to find a true species definition, the standard definition is see 
>Longear description as they are so similar in appearance. My observations 
>are as follows, the Male Dollar sunfish is a bluish hue with light colored 
>vermiculations across the face, gill plates, and lips. The eyes can be 
>encircled with colors ranging from red to white. Maximum size 5 inches 
>typical size 4 or less. They display sexual dimorphism in the typical 
>Sunfish manner. The males being more colorful and aggressive than the 
>females. They are predacious feeding on insects and small fish. There is an 
>extreme amount of color variation from location to location which leads me 
>to suspect that the species possesses plastic genes. For the aquarist this 
>is a terrific bonus, the chance to develop new color strains is always 
>   Collecting this species is the most time consuming and difficult problem 
>that the Aquarist must tackle. For those outside of it's native range ( 
>Eastern Texas east to the Atlantic and South of Central Oklahoma) I 
>recommend trading with Aquarist who already possess and are breeding the 
>species. For starters I'd recommend that you check into the North American 
>Native Fish Association which regularly posts a trading post section in 
>it's publications or the North American Native Fish Echo (NANFE) on the 
>fido net which has become an electronic gathering place for those of us who 
>keep and enjoy Native Fish. NANFE has become the quickest place for people 
>to negotiate their trades. Which ever is convenient for you I recommend you 
>check them out first.
>   For those of you within the Dollar Sunfishes Range who are bound and 
>determined to collect a local strain, get a dip net, a fishing license and 
>some waders because this little guy hides in some of the murkiest , 
>weediest off the beaten path places you will ever collect in. I've found 
>them commonly in back washes, ox bows and swamps. You might as well accept 
>the fact that you are gonna get sweaty , muddy and bitten by something 
>before it is all done. Of course for me , that is the major part of the 
>fun, for you it may not be. After I collect sunfish specimens there is a 
>small problem with field identification. In areas where the Dollar Sunfish 
>and the Longear Sunfish overlap you sometimes find juveniles of both 
>species very hard to tell apart. I have found the simplest solution is to 
>take home a few and study them at the house. You will find with a little 
>time and effort proper identification will come to you. As the specimens 
>grow the differences will become clearer. You can then release unwanted 
>specimens back to their homes with no harm done.
>   Once in the Aquarium they are a joy to keep They take a variety of foods 
>without a problem. I feed mine frozen crawfish, raw oysters and a mix of 
>worms and other live insects when available. They adapt very quickly to 
>domestic life, they are not even a little shy as long as there is 
>sufficient structure to make them comfortable.. Within a week you can 
>expect to see typical Dollar Sunfish behaviors. The males will begin to 
>establish a hierarchy for everything from feeding to breeding. The females 
>will float between territories with little ill effects. One of the most 
>pleasant things about the Dollar Sunfish is that it's small mouth allows 
>you to keep a variety of darters, shiners and Madtoms in a community 
>atmosphere. So instead of relegating your sunfish to single species tank in 
>a back room you can put them up front in the main display tank and not 
>worry about your latest catch becoming a sushi bar!
>   For the Aquarist serious about breeding these fella's I have a tip, get 
>an outdoor pond! I know many people who have successfully bred the Dollar 
>Sunfish in an outdoor pond , but only a handful who have had similar 
>success in an aquarium. They seem to be the perfect species for a small 
>outdoor pond. They are aggressive insectivores, very tolerant of water 
>conditions and extremely tolerant of temperature extremes. I have been 
>fortunate enough to have observed a successful spawn in one of my tanks and 
>can add the following observations. The Dollar Sunfish needs a chilling 
>period to induce a spawn, like many temperate species without a season of 
>cold (-60 F) the females just don't become gravid. They seem to be 
>continual spawners when finally induced to spawn, at a temperature of 74 F 
>my specimens spawned regularly for over a month until the tank temperature 
>reached 80 F. Then suddenly the spawning ceased. During that time they ate 
>HUGE amounts of foods of all types with relish.
>   If there ever was the classic example of a species that needs the 
>Aquarist help the Dollar Sunfish is that species. He has no advocate 
>anywhere except a few of us collectors. We have collected and kept him for 
>generations trying to learn as much as we can about this little jewel, with 
>the hope we can contribute to it's continued survival. Those same 
>collectors are many times not taken seriously by either our local 
>Department of Natural Resources personnel or the local Aquarist we meet. We 
>who know the species best are allowed to contribute the least. I believe 
>that now is a time for change, a time for action. Imagine if a local 
>Southeastern Aquarium Club in Atlanta for example, decided they were going 
>to get involved in keeping, rearing, and studying the Dollar Sunfish. 
>Keeping detailed notes on collection sites and breeding behaviors. With the 
>sheer number of members and the added influx of time and resources they 
>would make huge impact ! Detailed collection and breeding data would prove 
>invaluable and even more the public awareness could be priceless. When 
>someone said habitat for Dollar Sunfish was threatened people would care, 
>people would react.

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