NATIVE FISH CHAT LOG
This is the log for the NATIVE FISH CHAT I hosted a few weeks ago.
JLWiegert says: Fishes native to North America are rapidly becoming very
popular in the aquarium hobby again.
JLWiegert says: In the early days of the hobby, circa 1900, air
transportation did not yet exist.
JLWiegert says: Importers relied upon ships to send fishes to the hobby.
JLWiegert says: Those that survived these lengthy sea voyages were very
expensive and often in poor condition.
JLWiegert says: Fishes you could catch yourself offered a realistic
alternative to high prices
JLWiegert says: Natives faded from the hobby with the dawn of good, cheap
air shipping and appearance of captive raised fishes on the market.
JLWiegert says: In the past ten to twenty years, there has been a boom
in the Native Hobby.
JLWiegert says: There are several reasons for this
JLWiegert says: Few Hobbyists are well off enough to enjoy a trip to
Brazil, Malawi, or other far off, exotic places
JLWiegert says: Collecting in your backyard is a attractive alternative
to spending thousands of dollars to travel.
JLWiegert says: Most of the time, all that is required is a fishing licensee.
JLWiegert says: This is much easier to get than collection permits,
visas, and the like
JLWiegert says: Many of our well known aquarium authors have turned to
the Native Fishes as new virgin ground for writings.
JLWiegert says: The various authors who have deviated to this include
long time Tropical Fish Hobbyist (TFH) editor John R. QuinnJLWiegert
says: and the famours cichlid author, clown-fish breeder, and author,
JLWiegert says: Hobbyists tend to read articles the way children watch
commercials near their birthdays
JLWiegert says: Ooh! I want that! This has lead the hobbyists to follow
suite of the authors and start collecting
JLWiegert says: Today people care more about the environment than ever before
JLWiegert says: This includes the fishes of our world
JLWiegert says: Conservation of these fishes often lies in the hands of
JLWiegert says: Department of Environmental Conservation officials cannot
be everywhere or know about every fish
JLWiegert says: Hobbyists can adopt streams, collect fishes to breed in
tanks, et cetera.
JLWiegert says: Hobbyists have reoom to do this, and generaly outnumber
JLWiegert says: As far as tank care of species goes, this is variable
JLWiegert says: Suffice it to say, that most species are easy to keep
JLWiegert says: Natives eat just about anything
JLWiegert says: Very few species have dietary difficulties.
JLWiegert says: These species might include some picky darters, a few
catfish, or lampreys.
JLWiegert says: Heaters or chillers are not needed for these tanks
JLWiegert says: So long as extremes in temperature are avoided, there
simply is no need.
JLWiegert says: Some species may have specific needs for current, such as
the familiar Rianbow Darter (E. Caerelum).
JLWiegert says: This is comparable to the current used in many reef tanks
today. Most species do not even need that much current
JLWiegert says: Most species of natives are breedable, although a few are
next to impossible.
JLWiegert says: Some of the easier species to breed include Sunfish
Sticklebacks, Riffle Darters, and the like.
JLWiegert says: More difficult species include Cave Darters, Madtoms,
most sculpins, and
JLWiegert says: larger, or game, species
JLWiegert says: In North American our fishes run the gamut of breeding
JLWiegert says: There are riffle spawners, such as Etheostoma spectable.
JLWiegert says: These fish spawn in a cup of pea sized gravel under a
power filter output
JLWiegert says: Some species spawn inside of caves, such as Etheostoma
olmstedi, the Tesselated Darter
JLWiegert says: Others spawn on verticle surfaces, beneath leaves,
mouthbrooding, or egg scattering.
JLWiegert says: The most unique method is nest building. This is seen in
the stickle backs.
JLWiegert says: This remarkable fish gathers bits of plants and glues
them together with an excretionfrom the males kidneys
JLWiegert says: The nest is shapped like a bsket with a few holes in it.
JLWiegert says: The female leays the eggs in it, and the male constructs
JLWiegert says: Often the male will build another nest on top of this
JLWiegert says: He aerates the eggs by sticking his nose into the nest
and pulling water thru the holes
JLWiegert says: North America also has a great variety of species.
JLWiegert says: My personal favorite group of speceis has always been the
JLWiegert says: They were the first fish I was agble to really collect.
JLWiegert says: There are three genera of Darters, which are miniature
JLWiegert says: Ammonocrypta is the genus containing Crystal Darters.
JLWiegert says: These fish are excelent for those looking for a delicate
JLWiegert says: they are generaly plainly coloured, often clear.
JLWiegert says: Percina contains omse larger, plainer species. These
include Logperch, one of the best known darters.
JLWiegert says: The thrid, and best genus, is Etheostoma.
JLWiegert says: Most reach reasonable sizes.
JLWiegert says: Males are generaly very colourful in breeding dress, and
females are not exactly ugly either.
JLWiegert says: Tanks should be set up similar to their natural environment.
JLWiegert says: most species like water with a pH of about 7.2
JLWiegert says: a hardness of 10-12 DH.
JLWiegert says: Darters can be picky eaters.
JLWiegert says: live foods are preffered, and most fishes will learn to
eat flakes and the like.
JLWiegert says: Darters breed in basicaly three methods.
JLWiegert says: One is mop spawning.
JLWiegert says: Greenside Darters breed in this method.
JLWiegert says: Thick current washes eggs into large algae mats.
JLWiegert says: this is easily simulated with tetra or rainbow fish mops.
JLWiegert says: The next method is cave spawning.
JLWiegert says: THe males of cave spawners, such as E. olmstedi, have
darker heads than the females.
JLWiegert says: The eggs are laid under rocks, in cans, or the like.
JLWiegert says: The final breeding method is Ripple Breeders.
JLWiegert says: this has been discussed aboce, and i won't repeat myself.
JLWiegert says: Surely the most popular group of fishes native to North
America are the sunfish.
JLWiegert says: Sunfish are related to the bass.
JLWiegert says: They are the Cichldis of North America.
JLWiegert says: At one point, Bass were considered Cichla, but that has
JLWiegert says: Males of sunfish are very aggressive and coluorful, like
JLWiegert says: Preffered foods are small, live food, such as feeders,
craws, or insects.
JLWiegert says: Breeding takes place in early spring in a nest known as a
JLWiegert says: this is a pit dug by a male where he breeds with a harem.
JLWiegert says: Recetn evidence shows that some males will take on the
female colours to sneak into the harem and breed.
JLWiegert says: These shamblers look much like females, except they have
typical male shape and often a few splashes of colour.
JLWiegert says: As Centarchus is to Cichlasoma, Ellossuma is to
JLWiegert says: These Dwarf Sunfishes are small, peaceful, and colourful.
JLWiegert says: Much like Appisto's.
JLWiegert says: Most get no larger than 5 centimeters.
JLWiegert says: They may eat only live foods in the tank, they are
difficult to wean over to flakes.
JLWiegert says: Some of them are very easy to breed. Examples of the genus
JLWiegert says: include the pine barrens and swamp sunfishes.
JLWiegert says: North America Certainly has its share of catfishes.
JLWiegert says: The common pet shop bullhead is natibve to North America,
often seen in its albino form.
JLWiegert says: Other species include the familiar Madtoms.
JLWiegert says: LIvebearers are very popular, and we do have our share of
JLWiegert says: Also found in the gulf Of Mexico and throughout mexico
are many of the other livebearers, mollies, guppies, platies, etc.
JLWiegert says: Killifish are frequently fgound throught our brackish waters.
JLWiegert says: We are fortunate enough to have one of the most unique
fishes in the world, Rivulus marmoratus, on our East Coast.
JLWiegert says: this fascinating killie is able to breed on its own, no
JLWiegert says: Females are effectively hermaphrodites.
JLWiegert says: They are not as ugly as one mught guess either, being a
silver colour with iredescent spangels.
JLWiegert says: Sculpins our found in our bait shops and in deeper water.
JLWiegert says: these fishes resemble flying fishes with their overgrown
JLWiegert says: The rather ugly Mudfishes live within our borders as well.
JLWiegert says: Resembling the butt of a cigar, they are extremely versatile.
JLWiegert says: they can live in litteraly any water, no matter how
thick, poluted, or stagnant.
JLWiegert says: We also have a fiar share of Gobyids within our borders,
with little research done on them.
JLWiegert says: And of course there are minnows, and minnows, and minnows.
JLWiegert says: These are not just Zebra Danio-like fihes.
JLWiegert says: Many gorgeous fishes exist, such as Notropsis welaka.
JLWiegert says: this blueish fish has very large finnage, cobered in
incredible blue shades.
JLWiegert says: Minnows are very easy to breed.
JLWiegert says: Most of them are egg-scatters.
JLWiegert says: if oyu hav bred danios, barbs, or the like , which are
all minnows, you'll have not rouble with our native versions.
JLWiegert says: Ther are many sources of information on natives
(shameless plug time)
JLWiegert says: One of the best of these is NANF.
JLWiegert says: this is a Majordomo run mailing list dedicated to the
keeping, breeding, capture (any method but hook-and line), and exchange
JLWiegert says: of native fishes.
JLWiegert says: To sign up for this exciting mailing list, send an e-mail to
JLWiegert says: Majordomo at actwin_com with the command subscribe NANF in
JLWiegert says: A second source is NANFA.
JLWiegert says: Although not associated with NANF at actwin_com, this
association, an auqrium club, is a valuable source.
JLWiegert says: Unfortenately, I could not find subwscription information.
JLWiegert says: if you are interested, E-me at JLWiegert at aol_com and
asap, I'll foward it to you.
JLWiegert asks: Thanks for coming.... Are there any questions?
JuanMi applauds Julius Lucius enthusiasltically
JLWiegert cheers enthusiastically himself..
Juanmi raises his hand.
JLWiegert says: GA Juan.
JLWiegert says: GA = Go Ahead.
Juanmi ask: Do you find natives in your aquairum stores?
JLWiegert says: Yes.
Juanmi nods his head in understanding.
DaveO raises hand
JLWiegert says: Occasionaly a few minnows and the rainbow darter show up
via Lambardo's Metro Pet locally.
JLWiegert says: They're generaly only by order.
JLWiegert says: GA Dave.
Juanmi says: Thanks
DaveO asks: why arent sunfish basses not considered cichla?
JLWiegert says: Their tooth structure is too different.
JLWiegert says: If you've ever fished, you know you can pick a bass up by
DaveO nods his head in understanding.
JLWiegert says: Can't do that with a Peacock Bass (Cichla
DaveO asks: but their breeding habits are the same?
JLWiegert says: Not really... I'm not sure how Peacock Bass breed...
Juanmi says: pair forming
JLWiegert says: But sunfish breed in harems in redds, different from most
JLWiegert says: True bass breed in shallow water in spring in large groups.
JLWiegert says: Possibly forming pairs... i've never realy studied
Bass... (i.e., smallmouth.)
Juanmi raises his hand.
JLWiegert says: GA again Juan.
Juanmi asks: can you breed middle size sunfish like lepomis gibbicep in
a reasonable sized aquarium?
JLWiegert says: I'd go with a 55 or larger.
JLWiegert says: a 20-30 gallon tank might work for a pair, butthats it.
Juanmi asks: Arent they too aggressive for that?
JLWiegert says: Yes and No.
JLWiegert says: The female would need plenty of shelter.
JLWiegert says: and would have to be removed from the tank in order for
her to survive.
Juanmi asks: They male will take care of th efry?
JLWiegert says: Yes and No... again.
JLWiegert says: He may take care of the fry, but without dithers, whcih
will only be killed....
JLWiegert says: He'll turn on them early.
JLWiegert says: Best bet is probably to remove both of them after the
JLWiegert says: That is female after the eggs are laid, male after they
JLWiegert says: and finish it up artificialy.
Juanmi asks: What is the fisrt food you offer to them, Brine shrimp?
JLWiegert says: No... I steer away from BS.
JLWiegert says: I'd go with Daphnia, small shrimp, other natural foods.
Juanmi asks: Are they large enough to get it?
JLWiegert says: Remember, these are "Centarchus"so they can be treated,
effectively, as cichlids.
JLWiegert says: They should be.
Juanmi nods his head in understanding.
Juanmi says: Thanks
JLWiegert says: I believe under phylogenetic or sometihine like that,
they are more closely related.... Thats some crazy system that says man
is more closely related to lungfish
JLWiegert says: than Lungfish are to other fishes.
Juanmi says: some guys seem to be :)
JLWiegert says: I can see Sunnies and Convicts being more closely allied.
JLWiegert laughs @ juan..
JLWiegert says: I'm sure you could probably mange to keep them in the
Brianl raises his hand.
JLWiegert says: GA Brianl
Brianl says: I got here late..so you may have touched on this..
Brianl asks: but do you think the U.S. has been well explored in terms of
fish species, or do you expect many new species to be found?
Brianl asks: Also, what areas are least explored?
JLWiegert says: I expect many new fishes to come out.
JLWiegert says: There are two reasons for this.
JLWiegert says: One is that basicaly, they were forgotten for 80 odd years.
JLWiegert says: So all that "Well, if you look at these two, they're
really two speceis" stuff thats come out of alte.
JLWiegert says: hasn't effected them yet.
JLWiegert says: And secondly, a lot of areas are still unexplored
JLWiegert says: So there may be a species that occurs in one stream no
ones looked at yet.
LittleD raises his hand.
JLWiegert says: GA LittleD.
Littled asks: related to this, What can the home aquarist do to help in
their conservatio message?
JLWiegert says: Keep the fishes.
JLWiegert says: Much like some of the african fishes, we're loosing our
JLWiegert says: Hobbyists who have them safely breeding in a tank will
often be able to save the fishes.
Allanfaust raises his hand.
JLWiegert says: Robert Rice wrote an article a while back.
JLWiegert says: He realted a story on how he was netting a stream when
some toxin came floating down.
JLWiegert says: He was able to save the fishes he had netted by running
downstream over and over and
JLWiegert says: eventualy return them to the stream when conditions improved.
JLWiegert says: Also, there are "adopt a stream" or adopt a waterway
JLWiegert says: Contact your local DEC for info on that.
JLWiegert will get to Allan in a sec.
JLWiegert asks: Does that answer your question?
Littled says: Yes, thanks
JLWiegert says: Ok... I probably should have said more on that...
JLWiegert says: GA Allan.
Allanfaust says: this has something to do with what we were talking about
the other day... and at the same time, seems quite on topic...
Allanfaust says: do you need a special license for collecting, or will a
standard fishing license work... because..
JLWiegert says: standard fishing liscense is all thats needed in most of
the Untied States... most just "recomend" one.
Allanfaust says: i know where I can get one of the species of fish that
you were looking for the other day..
Allanfaust says: the sculpins.... there is a stream about 10 min away
from here, where i can get them
JLWiegert exclaims: Great...!
JLWiegert says: Most of the time, you can get away w/o a fishing
liscense, but as I've said, get one just the same.
Littled raise hand
JLWiegert says: the $$ from it will help conservation programs for game
fish, which eventualy
Allanfaust says: along with other species of minnows... and I have my
license every year...
JLWiegert says: help non-game species.
JLWiegert asks: Alan, did I answer your question?
Allanfaust says: yep... and i'll have a few more for you personally latr..
Brianl raises his hand.
Brianl raises his hand.
JLWiegert says: Ok...say GA Littled, then Brian.
Littled asks: Alan what kind of sculpin?
JLWiegert says: More than likely, its the mottled sculpin.
Littled says: OK, I'm done for now
Allanfaust says: im not sure..... i got the very minimum of details... im
going to be getting more info in the future... specially if JLW is still
JLWiegert says: Is still interested.
JLWiegert says: GA Brianl.
Brianl says: Do you know of the everglades or the Louisiana Bayou have
been well explored? Those are two areas I'd expect interesting fish species.
JLWiegert smiles - a rare sight indeed..
JLWiegert says: Everglades yes, bayou, I don't know....
JLWiegert says: Everglades and Bayou areas have been touched, of course.
JLWiegert says: But not to any great extent.... Unfortunately, a lot of
fishes have no doubt vanished from both.
JLWiegert says: Especialy the everglades, where all those environmental
problems have ta'en their toll
Brianl says: The everglades due to non-natives of course...by why the Bayou
JLWiegert says: A while back a large rodent
JLWiegert says: Was introduced into the bayou.
Brianl says: say no more...that's a shame.
JLWiegert says: Its litteraly been eating them away, the bayous are
draining over time.
JLWiegert says: Looks sort of like an overgrown beaver w/ no tail....
JLWiegert says: If you looked into both areas, I'm sure you could
probably find a new species or three.