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NFC: Fishy Observations

Last week I took the opportunity on a warm sunny day to try my 
luck at Westville Creek near Pinola, MS.  This creek is a tributary 
to the Strong River, which some of you will remember from the 
Jackson convention.  I was alone, so I did not do any seining, but I 
had been told by Roy Weitzell (Mississippi Museum of Natural 
Science) that this was a good spot to find some silverjaw minnows 
(Ericymba buccata).  Alas, I found none with my dipnet, but I did 
find two interesting fishes which are new to me.  The first is the 
rough shiner, Notropis baileyi.  This is a very striking minnow with a 
prominent black stripe, with a lighter stripe just above it.  These 
guys are vigorous swimmers, let me tell you!  I found them in 
shallow pools behind stream obstructions.

I found no darters in the riffles (the stream bed is mostly sand, with 
plenty of pebble riffles) but I DID find the shallow, slow-moving 
areas to be teeming with Etheostoma stigmaeum.  At first I wasn't 
sure what I had, because almost all of the individuals I found were 
colorless (by which I mean they had brown blotches).  But I did find 
one male with some color, which cinched the ID as this species is 
hard to confuse with anything else.  They have a pale body and 
bright blue bands along the entire body - spectacular fish!

The darters, minners, and a few other assorted fishes went into one 
of my 20g outdoor tanks (the one I set up with an elliptical 
circulation pattern), which I dosed with nitrofurazone in order to 
prevent the notorious creeping white rot.  Actually, I used Jungle's 
"fungus cure", which I discovered quite by accident.  This great 
product contains two nitrofuran-type antibiotics, some salt, and a 
touch of KMNO4.  Perfect for preventative medicine.  Anyway, the 
fishes settled in quite nicely.  The rough shiners were taking food 
immediately after being placed in their new quarters.  I was a little 
worried about the darters, but my fear proved unfounded as they 
now eat bloodworms with evident relish.  Alas, the one brightly 
colored male leaped to his death within 24 hours - I found his 
crispy dried body nearby.  At first it seemed that quite a few of the 
other darters had evaporated in similar fashion, as there didn't 
seem to be many of them left.  But when feeding time came, they 
sprang from the woodwork like fleas from a drowning rat!  

A few small crayfish went into my son's spotted bass tank as food.

Here's an unrelated tidbit.  I, along with a few others on this list, 
purchased the Hanna Total Dissolved Solids meter which was (and 
still is) available for $14.99.  I assumed that I could use this meter 
as kind of a substitute for a hardness test kit (which I do not own).  
Although I have had fun with it, nothing could be farther from the 
truth!  In preparation for collecting more bluenose shiners this 
spring, I bought some water softener pillows from Mark Binkley 
(AKA "Jonah") and used them in my indoor 34 gallon native tank.  
Now, I had previously tested welaka water at 13ppm TDS (!)*, and 
this tank read around 350ppm, so I thought I needed to soften the 
water.  The pillow should have removed around 150-200 ppm of 
hardness, but after the first use the TDS reading had not changed. 
Ha!, I thought, since it is replacing calcium ions with sodium, what 
should I have expected?  Indeed, after I recharged the resin and 
replaced it, still dripping with the strong salt solution I had 
immersed it in, my TDS level  DOUBLED to over 700ppm within 24 
hours.  This should have come as no surprise, since the calibration 
solution sold by Hanna Instruments consists of KCl.  But now it 
seems I need a hardness test kit after all...

* For those who are interested, D.O. was a mediocre 7ppm, and 
pH was an astonishing 9.2 (questionable, since the meter was not 
calibrated that morning).

And so it goes.  Maybe I'll hit the streams again tomorrow :-)  I am 
looking forward to another trip this year with BG for some bluehead 
shiners (P. hubbsi).  And, of course, my reliable flagfin and 
bluenose sites are always within easy reach.  But dammit, I still 
want to find those silverjaws...


Jackson, MS
Whenever I see an old lady slip and fall on a wet sidewalk,
my first instinct is to laugh. But then I think, what if 
I was an ant, and she fell on me. Then it wouldn't seem
quite so funny.