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J. L. Wiegert
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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998 12:05:00 EDT
From: Ellasoma at aol_com
To: NFC at actwin_com
Subject: (no subject)
Native Fish Conservancy
Informational Series Number 1
Konrad Schmidt, Editor
St. Paul, MN
This introductory packet contains the following information series which
should be helpful in getting your "feet wet" with natives.
Finny Critters Care and Maintenance.
Fish Collecting Toys and Tips.
Information Fishing Holes.
I. Finny Critters Care And Maintenance
Too Much TLC - The Editor's many hats includes a stint in a pet store selling
tropical fish. The most common problem which confronted novice Aquarists was
overfeeding their fish. Cloudy water and copious amounts of food accumulating
(and rotting) on the bottom were rarely acknowledged in time to prevent the
imminent disaster. Some well meaning fish keepers would feed three times a day
just like people when actually once a day is just fine and if you miss a day
or even a weekend - no problem. In fact, as long as it does not become a
regular practice. Fish are much tougher than they appear!
Carrying Capacity - One of the most frequently asked questions in fish
husbandry is how many fish can be comfortably maintained in an established and
filtered aquarium? A rough rule of thumb is one to two inches per gallon
(e.g., 10 - 20 inches in a 10 gallon aquarium). This guideline can be
exceeded, but the aquarium will require more frequent water changes and a
power failure or disease under crowded conditions can cause a major wipe out.
An Ounce Of Prevention - One very simple, safe, and inexpensive disease
preventive is the addition of salt to the aquarium water. Dosages range from
one-half to two teaspoons per gallon. Aquarium salts are available at pet
stores, however, non-iodized table salts are much cheaper and work just as
well. The only drawback occurs when aquarium water spills on the outside glass
and evaporates leaving a film which can be difficult to remove.
Landscaping With Rock - Many aquatic habitats contain rock which provides
structure and cover for fish. This natural and also attractive feature can be
realistically duplicated on a small scale in aquariums. Shale and limestone
are the easiest to work with and the latter also doubles as a buffer which
prevents the pH of water from going acid. The Editor favors contouring gravel
with rocks to form terraces which are honeycombed with crevices and caves for
fish. Live or plastic plants add a nice final touch on the upper level. Rocks
can be purchased from pet stores or collected from streams, lakes, or
quarries. However, avoid railroad beds where spills and leaks occur from a
myriad of nasty chemicals. I have heard several tragic tales from aquarists
who helplessly watched their favorite fish gasp its last breath shortly after
adding a pretty, but tainted stone or two.
Natural Vegetation - Live, aquatic plants provide cover for fish, reduces
algae growth, and also greatly enhances an aquarium's aesthetics. Several
species will work in the aquarium, but the grass-like, Valisineria (wild
celery), and bunch plant, hygrophilia, are two favorites of the Editor. I
prefer to purchase these from pet stores, but remember to leave the root crown
above the gravel with Val and remove any lead weights or rubber bands from
bunch plants. Plants also can be collected in lakes and streams, but restrict
harvests to early season when plants are actively growing. Late season
transplants, at least in Minnesota, often die back to the root system. Keep
lights on for only about 6 hours per day because longer photoperiods promote
excessive algae growth. Like fish, plants will need periodic water changes to
prevent water from getting too acidic. A 25% change once a month should be
sufficient. Finally, one plant to avoid is duckweed which floats on the
surface. To its credit, aquarium lights are nicely filtered through the
canopy, but no other plants can survive in the understory and once introduced
is almost impossible to eradicate.
Jumpers - Some natives have this suicidal tendency more than others and is
often most prevalent in the first few days of captivity. In Minnesota,
examples include the redside dace (Clinostomus elongatus), and both southern
(Phoxinus erythrogaster) and northern (Phoxinus eos) redbelly dace which the
latter, by the way, is often sold as jumpers in bait stores. The only solution
is a full hood on the aquarium, but sometimes a temporary cover restrains the
newcomers long enough to adjust and accept their new surroundings.
Coldwater Tempering - Generally, floating new fish in an opened bag for about
20 minutes in the aquarium is sufficient time to equalize temperatures.
However, when collecting in trout streams or at northern latitudes in early
spring or late fall, much more time may be required to prevent losses. The
Editor uses a simple guideline: if there is more than 10 degrees difference in
water temperature, fish are put to bed overnight in a non-insulated bucket
with an air stone. The next day, if the bucket temperature is still too low,
begin partial water changes which are replaced with the target aquarium's
Those Other Things - There are several other fascinating organisms which
frequent fish environs that are either ignored or overlooked. Some work well
in community aquariums while others must be kept alone or with their own kind.
Some compatible critters include tadpoles, newts, snails, ghost or glass
shrimp, fiddler crabs, and small crayfish and mudpuppies. Another option is a
bug or macroinvertebrate tank. Streams, ponds, and lakes carry a myriad of
insect larvae, crustaceans, and zooplankton. Possibilities include larvae of
dragonflies, mayflies, damsel flies, stonefiles, caddis flies (junk bugs),
dobsonflies (helgramites), mosquitoes, midges, craneflies, water scorpions,
giant water bugs (warning-they bite), daphnia, scud; and fairy, opossum, seed,
and clam shrimp. Many of these bugs are predators and will happily prey before
your eyes on feeder guppies, goldfish, or minnow fry. Many zooplankton species
can be kept separately in very small aquariums and observed in incredible
detail under a microscope. For more information on the realm of possibilities,
refer to the Audubon, Golden, or Peterson Guides for reptiles, amphibians, and
insects. All should be available at most book stores.
Timers are very handy for many of us who are forgetful about turning aquarium
lights on and off. For as little as $6, this task is taken care of every
single day and also on vacations. Most timers have an override switch which is
handy for after hours viewing. One thing to remember - never plug the air pump
into the timer!
Stream Aquariums - Powerhead submersible pumps have been around for a long
time, but most are simply used on the top of an undergravel filter tube. Why
not try something just a little more creative? Next time the aquarium is
cleaned, insert the intake port directly into the filter plate and the outlet
nozzle pointed toward the front glass of the aquarium. If the fit is not
tight, try the adapters which come with the powerhead or use silicone to glue
it in place, but avoid plugging the intake screen. Make a sprinkler wand from
a rigid plastic tube (try pet stores) which should come within an inch of the
front glass and plug one end with silicone. Drill a straight line of holes
into one side of the tube which will direct current lengthwise across the
bottom of the aquarium. Select two slabs of limestone or shale which will fit
between the powerhead and the front glass and carefully sandwich the wand
between slabs. Lodge small rocks in the crevice to keep weight off the wand
and support the upper slab. Landscape with additional rocks to hide powerhead
and cover with gravel to fill in gaps. Fish will enter the current and find a
preferred velocity. Carpsucker and buffalo usually remain in a school
preferring the slacking currents farthest from the powerhead. While longnose
dace take turns charging the crevice where their bodies vibrate violently in
the high velocity turbulence. In large aquariums, two powerheads can be used
and the opposing currents collide in the middle. The only drawback is
powerheads greatly enhance the filtering capabilities of undergravel filters
and the gravel must be vacuumed on a more frequent basis.
Garden Ponds - Most native fish keeper