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bgcajun at juno_com: NANFA-- Pt. welaka (bluenose shiner)

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From: bgcajun at juno_com
To: nanfa at aquaria_net
Subject: NANFA-- Pt. welaka (bluenose shiner)
Date: Thu, 25 Dec 1997 18:14:11 -0600
Message-ID: <19971225.181413.3430.16.bgcajun at juno_com>

	Pteronotropis welaka, the Bluenose Shiner
			B.G. Granier

Pteronotropis: meaning winged shiner;  welaka: as in the town of  Welaka,

This is one of the most beautiful fishes in the world, even after one has
kept and admired such exotic species as the Rainbow fishes, the
Killifishes, the Discus, the Neon Tetras, Lamp eyes and African cichlids,
Darters or any other genera that one may have kept ! It is a native fish
of the North American continent,  from a  freshwater environment!

Before I had  seen this fish, I could have never imagined it's form,
colors and
fin shapes! Only in my wildest dreams would I have imagined what this
fish actually looks like in life. Such a fantastic fish had to be from a
far-away exotic place like Papua New Guinea,  the Amazon Basin, or the 
African riverine systems! I had always thought of a shiner as a plain,
silver- colored bait fish with colorless fins. ( In Louisiana,
Notemigonus crysoleucas ( the Golden Shiner) is commonly used as bass and
crappie fishing bait.)

I first saw a line drawing and a photograph of this fish in the book
"Freshwater Fishes of Louisiana" by Dr. Neil H. Douglas and knew that I
had to become acquainted  with Pteronotropis welaka. Mark Tarride and I
set off after this fantastic fish and after two or three excursions,
finally got them into our tanks. We were amazed that such a fish existed
here in Louisiana! Thanks to Mark's extremely sharp eyesight; he saw just
a glimmer of neon blue,  we succeeded in capturing one of the most unique
species  in the world!  The description is as follows:

Body shape: typical shiner shape, elongated and slender.

Finnage: Huge dorsal, ventral and anal fins, large forked caudal fin on
the male. Fin sizes normal on the females of the species and lacking the
body coloration of the males, except for the black lateral-line stripe
which extends partially into the caudal fins of both sexes.

Coloration: Broad lateral stripe of black from rear of eye extending into
the caudal fin. Females show this feature and have otherwise colorless
fins and body. Males have a metallic "copper and brass-colored"  overlay
of scales over the black lateral stripe, the top of which is a thin
lateral band of a golden color. The dorsal color is charcoal black. The
dorsal fin is black, highlighted with streaks of bright yellow, edged
with a very thin border of yellow,  while the anal fin is bright yellow,
highlighted with thin streaks of black. When fully flared, the dorsal and
anal fin each form almost perfect circles! The ventral fins are of the
same coloration of the anal fin, as brightly colored. The caudal fin is
edged with thin stripes of yellow/white coloration. Now, add  a neon-blue
nose extending from the upper lip and head to just behind the eyes, and a
golden sheen to the operculum, pectoral fins and belly! 

Size: To 2 1/2 inches total length.

Longevity: 2 to 2 1/2 years in aquaria. (Personal observation)

Habitat: Typically moving streams, tannic- colored and/or spring-fed,
across the lower southeastern states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama,
Mississippi and Louisiana;  heavily vegetated and with varying depths of
the streams.  Bluenose shiners are typically found where a shallow
current breaks into a slightly deeper area in Louisiana. They are also
found in deeper  Florida environs, up to thirty foot depths. (As per
personal communication with Rodney Harper of NANFA, who has observed them
while using Scuba gear!)

Water chemistry: Very soft water, ph 6.4 to 7.0,  temperature 50 to 78
degrees F. in the wild. The species will survive in an aquarium  of  8.4
ph and temperature 80 F. but do best in conditions closer to their
natural habitat  water conditions. (Personal observation).

Food requirements in captivity: Readily accept quality flake foods. Live
foods relished also, especially useful when conditioning adults for

Behavioral traits: Schooling fish. In the wild, males and females
congregate en-masse near favorable spawning sites, deeper pools near
shallow sand and gravel areas where sunfish tend their nests. When one
walks up and frightens a male sunfish away from his nest, the Pt. welaka
rush in and rapidly engage in a very quick, frenzied spawning activity
which is over in a matter of seconds! In the aquarium, the males engage
in a fin-flaring (Betta-like) showing of their flared dorsal and anal
fins and rapidly circle each other in a 360 degree circle for several
seconds, after which the entire school of males and females may
participate in spawning activity, scattering eggs throughout the bottom
substrate of the tank. The huge dorsal and anal fins of the males are
generally held in a relaxed, folded condition, but males will flick their
fins into a briefly erect position to signal to any females their
readiness to spawn, but will only show a fully-flared finnage to a rival

Spawning habitats: Adults shoal up into shallow waters during the spring
to deposit their eggs into the nests of  sunfish, L. megalotus. Young of
the year are found among the heavily vegetated shores of the habitat in
the warmer months of June, July and August.  (Personal observations)

Feeding habits: In the wild, the species exhibits insectivorous feeding
activity by quickly darting to the surface to devour any unlucky small
insect that happens to break the surface-tension of the water. Otherwise,
they lie in wait for any morsel that may float their way in the
prevailing current of the stream, thereby avoiding avian predation.  

Distribution: Although this fish is recorded from five  southeastern
states: Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana  they are by
no means " common or 
abundant"!  Due to their distinct preferences of habitat conditions, they
may be found only in a certain area of a drainage system, even though
that system may cover an extremely large area. 

Concerns: Habitat destruction in the forms of clear-cutting and farming
operations have considerably impacted populations of Pteronotropis
welaka.  The additional load of silt and the clearing of the forested
areas through which many of the southeastern streams flow through have a
detrimental effect on the habitat of this species, as one can imagine. 
Over-zealous aquarium collectors may also have a deleterious affect on
local populations. The fish is listed as SSC (ie: species of special
concern) in the state of Florida. ( As per personal communication with
Dr. Steve Ross of the University of Southern Mississippi.)

On the behalf of the North American Native Fishes Association, I wish to
thank those contributor's to this article who have studied this
remarkable native fish in the field:
Dr. Steve Ross,  Rodney Harper and special thanks go to Mr. Mark Tarride,
who so valuably assisted in our search for this amazing fish in the Pearl
River basin of Louisiana!

 I also wish to acknowledge Carol Johnstone and Charles Knight for their
efforts in studying this species. Reference:  ASIH June 13-19, 1996 76th
Annual meeting. Page 186 of the June 1996 ASIH Programs and Abstracts
catalog, "Life history and behavioral ecology of the bluenose shiner." A
manuscript of their work is being reveiwed for publication at a later

See www.nanfa.org/pictthis/bluenose.htm for a picture of this fish, by
Dick Stober of NANFA, that was previously published on the cover and back
page of an American Currents.

BG Granier
608 Maureen Dr.
Baker, LA 70714


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