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NFC: pygmy sunfish (fwd)






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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 2 Nov 1998 09:39:28 EST
From: Ellasoma at aol_com
To: SunfishTalk at listbot_com,
    nfc at actwin_com
Subject: pygmy sunfish

The Pygmy Sunfish
by Bill Duzen
Some of the Jewels of the aquarium hobby in Europe are not collected from some
pool in Zaire or netted from some rock out cropping in Lake Tanganyika. They
are not found in the black waters of the Rio Negro or the steamy jungle
streams of New Guinea. Many of the prizes of fish rooms across the "pond" are
from our neck of the woods. The colors of some of our darters, particularly in
the Genus Etheostoma will more than hold their own with any of the Tropicals.
Fundulus and some of the pygmy killifish such as Leptolucania ommata and
Lucania goodei and even the Florida Flag fish, Jordanella floridae command a
King's ransom over there. One of the favorites of the pygmy sunfishes is the
Everglades Sunfish, Elassoma evergladei.

The Everglades sunfish can be collected not only from the northern edge of the
Everglade swamps of Florida but also from coastal plain drainages from Mobile
Bay, Alabama to Cape Fear in North Carolina. They can be found in swamp areas
with heavy vegetation and usually over a mud bottom. They have been a staple
in the aquarium hobby in Europe since 1925, but only occasionally available
here and usually from a private breeder, unless you are lucky enough to be
able to collect they your self.

Elassoma evergladei is a fish that is hard pressed to grow to more than 1 
inches in length with the females being slightly smaller. the males have a
rather smokey charcoal coloration with bright sky-blue spots on the body. At
breeding time the male turns a deep black but retains the blue spots. The
males also have much larger fins with a dorsal spot on the back edge of the
dorsal fin.

The females are a overall greenish brown and the blue body spots are very
faint. When not in breeding condition the males also have a vertical barred
pattern.

Unlike other native sunfish which breed very much like many New World cichlids
of the Genus Cichlasoma with depositing their eggs in a "nest" either in a pit
dug for spawning or directly on the substrate, the Pygmy sunfish will lay its
eggs amongst fine leaf plants. It is best to set the Pygmy Sunfish up in a
species tank of about ten gallons for a single pair and at least a twenty
gallon "long" for up to three pairs. The tank should be set up with well aged
water at about 75 degrees and have a mulm type bottom with fibrous peat or
even Java moss. The use of rain water seems to help the spawning process. A
couple of rocks and plant stands completes the decorations. The water should
be filtered but little water movement is a must. The male will stake out a
territory of about 100 square inches and defend this against all other males.
Mock battles will occur but little damage has been observed. The male will try
to entice the female or females into his territory. Once there, the male will
dance around the female with his head in a downward mode. The female will be
gently guided into a plant thicket in which 40 to 60 eggs will be laid. And
unlike other sunfish, the Pygmy shows no parental care and will not eat the
eggs or the fry. Many generations can be raised in the same tank if it is
large enough. If you wish to remove the fry be sure the water is taken from
the spawning tank for the fry tank because the fry do not tolerate water
changes well.

The only drawback I have found in this species seems to be the reluctance of
the fish to eat any thing other than live food. The will nibble at frozen
brine but only if they are really hungry. But, every cloud has a silver
lining, because of their small size and small mouth, they relish baby brine
shrimp and micro worms, two foods that are easily obtainable. Vinegar eels go
unnoticed because the eels tend to stay near the surface of the water and both
the fry and adults tend to hug the bottom of the tank. Daphnia of all sizes
are also taken by the adults. 

These fish have a rather strange way of swimming. They will seem to "walk"
slowly on the substrate and seemingly drift with the current but will
literally disappear before your eyes if you try to net them. Your eyes can not
follow the quick escape movement, but they do not seem to swim far and can be
located a few inches away. These fish also do very well outdoors when the
water temperature remains constantly above 50 degrees and doesn't get warmer
than 86 degrees, but they can stand temperatures of 95 degrees for short
periods.

So, if your looking for something new to add to your fish room try something
native and give the Everglade Pygmy Sunfish a try.

References
Dr. Rudiger Riehl & Hans A. Baensch Aquarium Atlas I Baensch 1987