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Re: NFC: Article

nice job Robert I enjoyed that very much. I myself
have taken to natives after my first collecting trip
in the Wekiva River here in Orlando. I want to get
some Red Breast They are gorgeous anyone have any
aideas how to catch them? They go deep and other then
a hook and line what other way is there to get them?


--- robert a rice <robertrice at juno_com> wrote:
> The Aquarist as a Naturalist
> Robert Rice
> In the early days of the aquarium trade (the early
> 1900's) native species
> were all that most of us could get. We could not
> afford to acquire
> species such as Angelfish or Discus, even if we had
> known about them. Our
> knowledge of their needs was pretty limited there
> were no filters, power
> equipment, prepared foods, or any of the other
> luxuries we take for
> granted today. Yet in spite of these limitations the
> hobby prospered and
> grew. Our local fishes started the hobby off fine
> and for a decade or two
> they were enough to keep us happy.
> Then came the lure of the exotics and the profits of
> importing them.
> Suddenly by the late 1930's the Native Fishes were a
> non issue usurped by
> the Guppy and all that came after them. With their
> demise in the Aquarium
> trade, the Aquarist who was a Naturalist became a
> dinosaur. An
> interesting but useless relic of days gone by. So
> memories of so many
> colorful species and their unique local names like
> the Jersey Discus
> (Blackbanded Sunfish) and the Kansas Cichlid
> (Central Longear) went to
> the wayside along with the men and women who
> pioneered the movement.
> Now some seventy years later as things tend to do,
> we have come full
> circle in the aquarium trade. Much to the surprise
> of tropical fish
> importers, many Aquarist are becoming dissatisfied
> with the current cycle
> of importation and exploitation. We have chosen to
> look towards our
> roots, the way Aquarist got started almost a century
> ago. More and more
> of us are spending our free time studying local
> bodies of water in search
> of suitable aquarium species.
> As a consequence Aquarist are surprised to find
> themselves becoming
> Naturalist. We did not intend it (at least I didn't)
> but you can't spend
> hours in the field searching and studying our
> Natural Resources without
> being affected. In much the same manner as Aldo
> Leopold started out over
> seventy years ago, we went to take something out of
> our wild places and
> instead we found those wild places took something
> out of us (apathy and
> ignorance in my case). We went to take something
> away and instead were
> taken in!
> In the 1955 book by H. Axelrod, Atlas of Aquarium
> Fish almost 100 pages
> is spend on collecting tips, ichthyology and
> identification tips.
> Approximately 45 0f the 600 species mentioned are
> North American Native
> species. It is clear from the book that in those
> days there was a dash of
> Naturalist in most serious Aquarist. Since that time
> the hobby has
> changed a great deal and so has the Aquarist
> mentality . We have become
> less like Naturalist and more like tourist. Ask an
> Aquarist to name just
> one local non game species. You'd be surprised at
> the percentage who can
> not. When was the last time you saw anything about
> collecting in a
> mainstream publication? It's been a long time I'll
> bet! Has the hobby
> been reduced to a passive, sterile source of
> entertainment a kind of live
> Television? I hope not. I believe within the hobby a
> movement has begun
> to stir, a new generation of Aquarist is beginning
> to say I know we can
> do more, we can do better. This generation is
> rediscovering old roots and
> in the process rewriting some of the roles
> traditionally only held by
> professional Biologist. This new generation has
> become a proactive force
> in endangered species preservation. This generation
> has become
> Naturalist!
> We are in a unique position in this country. We can
> stock our aquariums
> with beautiful durable fish that are the envy of
> much of the world. It
> costs us nothing more than a leisurely stroll down
> to the local pond or
> creek, and a fishing license (in most cases). We
> have largely ignored
> that opportunity. Aquarist seldom venture beyond the
> pet store or their
> fish room. I have yet to hear of Aquarist getting
> into the environmental
> fray on a local level. I say without question we
> should! Imagine how your
> city would be different if one hundred
> Aquarist/Naturalist showed up at a
> zoning meeting. Think of the impact if Aquarium
> Clubs adopted just one
> stream through the Department of Natural Resources
> Stream Team program.
> It would literally be life changing, for our
> waterways and their
> inhabitants.
> Let me share a personal example of the impact a
> single Aquarist can have.
> A little over two years ago I was collecting for
> Orangethroat Darters in
> one of my favorite murky, slow Kansas prairie
> streams. This particular
> stream had an unusually colorful and durable Darter
> strain that made them
> excellent aquarium specimens. As I was working the
> riffles I began to
> notice a few Longear Sunfish moving lethargically
> across the surface.
> Wow, I thought, Longears free for the taking, what a
> lucky break. I
> scooped them up with my dipnet, put them in the
> bucket and kept working.
> I came back to my bucket about five minutes later to
> drop off some more
> fish and everything in it was dead. Suddenly the
> light went on! There was
> something in the water moving downstream killing
> everything in its path.
> I took a deep breath, grabbed my equipment, dashed
> to my car and drove as
> fast as I could downstream. I hoped I could beat
> this thing downstream
> and save a few fish and their unique genetic makeup
> from certain death. I
> drove a half a mile or so and went to work as fast
> as I could. I worked
> for almost an hour before the wall of death made its
> way to me. I
> collected samples of every type of fish I could
> until my buckets were
> filled past overflowing ! As I returned back up
> stream the creek was
> littered with hundreds of carcasses and the smell of
> death was heavy in
> the air. I reported the kill to the DNR and in two
> weeks returned each
> and every one of the survivors back to their creek.
> If an Aquarist had
> not happened to be there those fish and the unique
> strain of Orangethroat
> Darters might have been lost forever.
> The Federal Government realizes the role the amateur
> Aquarist can play in
> species preservation. They have watched as easy to
> reproduce species like
> the Goodenough Gambusia, Maryland Darter and Blue
> Pike disappeared
> because the federal agencies did not have the
> resources or skills to
> effectively respond when the species hit the
> critical list. Serious
> Aquarist have those skills. They observe fish from a
> micro perspective,
> constantly observing the smallest detail to learn
> the intricacies of
> spawning and rearing a given species. Biologist
> observe from a macro
> level, while very important skill in resource
> management, it leaves them
> lacking many times in domestic rearing of a species.
> Together Biologist
> and serious Aquarist give a species an excellent
> opportunity to be
> successfully domestically reared! Think of the
> impact if every Aquarium
> club took it upon themselves to successfully rear
> and breed just one
> species of local fish. If they took the time to
> document their findings
> and make them available to local Biologist or
> Universities they could
> have a tremendous positive impact on a species
> chances for survival. If
> the unforeseen occurs there would be a ready source
> of specimens to
> repopulate the local waters!
> In these days of shrinking habitats and dwindling
> natural resources
=== message truncated ===

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