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    I would be interested in the dollar sunfish and any pygmy sunfish -
let me know.

-----Original Message-----
From: robert a rice <robertrice at juno_com>
To: nfc at actwin_com <nfc at actwin_com>
Date: Tuesday, August 04, 1998 3:53 PM
Subject: $ SUNFISH

><HTML><PRE>   The Dollar Sunfish  (Lepomis Marginatus) as an Aquarium
>                           Species
>                       by 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 environment.
>     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 exciting!
>     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.
> This species is very well suited to the Aquarium and has
>been ignored for so long that he has practically disappeared
>from many texts. That is a mistake. We as Aquarist can do
>more to put these species back on the map. As you can tell I
>really enjoy the Dollar Sunfish and a great many more of our
>native fishes. If you seek more information  about native
>fishes I recommend you check out the following resources
>NFC (see side bar) , Petersons Field guide to North
>American natives by Larry Page and Brooks M. Burr or a
>Our Native Fishes by John Quinn are excellent resources for
>the Aquarist who wants to learn and do more for our Native
>Fishes. You can also reach me at RobertRice at juno_com or 2213
>Prytania Circle Navarre Florida 32566
>Robert Rice
>Save A Native Eat An Oscar <:)((((<
>Check Out the Native Fish Conservancy at
>email  NFC at actwin_com   or  website  http:\\nativefish.interspeed.net\
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