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 Native fish collection trip 4/30/16

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Liz
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PostSubject: Native fish collection trip 4/30/16   Mon May 02, 2016 8:42 pm

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of driving out to Charlottesville and meeting up with Bob Bock and other members of the North American Native Fish Association (Todd, Sean, Jim - I failed to get last names! Neutral ) along with Lee Shadbolt from the James River Aquarium Society and my nephew, Edward, as well as my daughters, at the Rivanna River for a native species collection trip.

We met at 10:30 a.m. and found the river to be a bit high and swift, but nothing too dramatic. We were able to collect a number of different fish, but mainly darters and minnows. I've attached some pics of the trip below. Bob was kind enough to organize the trip and brought along seine nets, dip nets and everything we needed, but of course the other members of his NANFA group came prepared, and it was wonderful to have so many experts on hand, ready to ID everything we came across. This was my first collection trip so it was a wonderful learning experience, and Edward was able to collect a number of fish for his native tank. The others were generous and allowed Edward to take home some choice darter specimens (fantails, Roanoke and tessellated) since he's just starting out and they were excited to support his interest. He also took home some lovely minnows, which I believe were "rosy," but these are not the typical fathead rosy minnows like you see at the bait shop - they had lovely markings, bright red eyes and the males had vibrant red fins. Anyone would be happy to have them in their aquarium, I'm sure. We had planned to be out there until 3 p.m. or so, but by 12:30 we already had collected as much as anyone wanted.

One thing to keep in mind is that every state has different laws about collecting native fish, and it is wise to keep in mind what you're collecting, and if you're not sure what it is, take a picture and put it back, and come back another time if you think you'd like to keep it after ID. Some states don't permit keeping native species in home aquaria AT ALL (Massachusetts, for one) so though we are lucky in Virginia that we can do so, it always pays to look into the local rules and regs.

We had a lot of fun, and I learned that just about any ditch or splash of water beside the road could hold a gem of a fish, so do a little homework and then set out with a dip net and some waders, and any little stream or creek, especially the ones near your house or workplace, could have something you could keep in your tank at home. Many of the darters are quite colorful, stay small and adapt very well to a fish tank at home, though they often prefer live or at least frozen food, certainly at first. You can't put them back when you're bored with them, though, so it is a commitment!

Good one of Edward and Lee, but where's Bob?


There's Bob! (Edward, stop making that face - you know you're glad to be here)


Down to the river, where there's practically whitecaps - running a bit swift today.


Getting the lay of the land


A wee little smallmouth - Edward would whip out his rod and reel and go after this one's kin later in the day, but we returned him


Not a very good pic of one of the minnows


The fellas hard at work


Fantail darter


Part of our haul

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gerald
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PostSubject: Re: Native fish collection trip 4/30/16   Tue May 03, 2016 12:16 pm

Thanks for the write-up Liz. The "rosy" minnows could be rosyface shiner, rosefin shiner, or rosyside dace, all of which occur in the upper James River basin. I hope Edward's new fish do well. Did you guys use salt in the collecting buckets?

I was out collecting on Friday with some NANFA and RAS people around Hillsborough NC. We caught some awesome chubs (bluehead and bull chubs) with tubercled heads, mountain redbelly dace, crescent shiners, pinewoods shiners (similar to VA's rosefin), swallowtail shiners, Roanoke and fantail darters, and others.
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PostSubject: Re: Native fish collection trip 4/30/16   Tue May 03, 2016 2:03 pm

Liz;

Thanks for the post -- close to my home. Great pictures.

Steve R.

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PostSubject: Re: Native fish collection trip 4/30/16   Tue May 03, 2016 3:11 pm

@gerald we did use some kosher salt, furnished by Todd. We individually bagged each fish with not too much water, which we refreshed right before heading out - we're an hour away but others were more like 2, and for that they brought buckets with aerators. I think rosefin shiner would be the right one.

Gerald, your name came up, of course, as another great resource for native species info (your credentials fly WAY under the radar here, sir) and we all agreed that we MUST make it down your way for one of your trips. My nephew is definitely on board for that as well. He's got his eye on William & Mary/VIMS, so I'm trying to introduce him to as many field experiences as I can.

@scruiz I didn't realize you lived so close to C-ville! I need to look at a map! Ida shamed you into joining us, lol.

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PostSubject: Re: Native fish collection trip 4/30/16   Fri May 06, 2016 8:07 pm

Looks like you guys had a fantastic time. Thanks for sharing the pictures... Cool

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PostSubject: Re: Native fish collection trip 4/30/16   Tue May 17, 2016 9:03 pm

That is fantastic, something I have always wanted to do but never have is to set up a native tank.

Anyone keep natives in the home aquaria - difficulties/experiences?

I know Deb at one time had a few....

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PostSubject: Re: Native fish collection trip 4/30/16   Tue May 17, 2016 9:42 pm

thegundog wrote:
That is fantastic, something I have always wanted to do but never have is to set up a native tank.

Anyone keep natives in the home aquaria - difficulties/experiences?

I know Deb at one time had a few....

I set up a 40 breeder for my nephew in the pics a couple years ago, and he has great success. So far he has kept little bluegill and largemouth bass. The bluegill he kept for years until they wound up killing each other, and it is true they behave very much like any cichlids. They tried to spawn but Edward didn't really choose his specimens carefully (he was 11) and there may have been two males and a female, so a lot of stress.

He has kept bass for about a week and put them back where he got them. Keep them much longer and you can't return them due to transmitting aquarium diseases to the wild, and it is not legal. He fishes nearly every day, when possible, since he was 6 or 7, so he often catches fish he wants to keep. Never had a problem getting them to eat, especially if he starts with live food, then frozen, then flake or pellet.

Now he has the darters and minnows, eating everything right away, and he'll keep them long term, adding to their numbers as necessary. Lots of broken sight lines, no heater, plenty of filtration, and now that he's older his PWC schedule is more like it should be Wink The tank is on a glassed in porch, so not fully exposed to the elements but not heated or cooled, sort of in between.

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PostSubject: Re: Native fish collection trip 4/30/16   Tue May 17, 2016 9:49 pm

Liz wrote:
thegundog wrote:
That is fantastic, something I have always wanted to do but never have is to set up a native tank.

Anyone keep natives in the home aquaria - difficulties/experiences?

I know Deb at one time had a few....

I set up a 40 breeder for my nephew in the pics a couple years ago, and he has great success. So far he has kept little bluegill and largemouth bass. The bluegill he kept for years until they wound up killing each other, and it is true they behave very much like any cichlids. They tried to spawn but Edward didn't really choose his specimens carefully (he was 11) and there may have been two males and a female, so a lot of stress.

He has kept bass for about a week and put them back where he got them. Keep them much longer and you can't return them due to transmitting aquarium diseases to the wild, and it is not legal. He fishes nearly every day, when possible, since he was 6 or 7, so he often catches fish he wants to keep. Never had a problem getting them to eat, especially if he starts with live food, then frozen, then flake or pellet.

Now he has the darters and minnows, eating everything right away, and he'll keep them long term, adding to their numbers as necessary. Lots of broken sight lines, no heater, plenty of filtration, and now that he's older his PWC schedule is more like it should be Wink The tank is on a glassed in porch, so not fully exposed to the elements but not heated or cooled, sort of in between.

That's some great information Liz and very encouraging - not a bunch of equipment needed and care similar to normal aquariums.

I have too many dry tanks so this is tempting me bad......

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PostSubject: Re: Native fish collection trip 4/30/16   Tue May 17, 2016 10:17 pm

I'd suggest sand rather than gravel, but otherwise most not fussy, and there are some great local species out there. Check your local laws though, as far as collection is concerned (had to throw that in, lol!)

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PostSubject: Re: Native fish collection trip 4/30/16   Tue May 17, 2016 11:49 pm

One thing to remember is to minimize stress during collecting and transport, otherwise they're likely to get Flexibacter (Columnaris) infections - especially minnows. Dont take too many fish, especially in warm weather, and add 0.5 to 1 teasp/gal salt to the collecting bucket or cooler before you start collecting. Stressed fish lose salt ions very quickly (within the first few minutes) which opens them up to skin infections. Transfer them quickly from net to bucket; handle as little as possible and NEVER grasp small fish between your fingers. Scoop your hands (or a net) around them.
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PostSubject: Re: Native fish collection trip 4/30/16   Wed May 18, 2016 8:36 am

gerald wrote:
One thing to remember is to minimize stress during collecting and transport, otherwise they're likely to get Flexibacter (Columnaris) infections - especially minnows.  Dont take too many fish, especially in warm weather, and add 0.5 to 1 teasp/gal salt to the collecting bucket or cooler before you start collecting.  Stressed fish lose salt ions very quickly (within the first few minutes) which opens them up to skin infections.   Transfer them quickly from net to bucket; handle as little as possible and NEVER grasp small fish between your fingers.  Scoop your hands (or a net) around them.

The salt tip is something I learned on this recent trip, and someone brought along some kosher salt to share, so there was plenty for everyone. I was glad to get that piece of info.

There are some truly stunning and colorful species right in our back yards (look at Gerald's avatar) and most of them are not much different than the species we already keep, just N. American versions. There are a few that are really going to turn their noses up at anything but live food, but for the most part it is not difficult. They will likely be wormy and have parasites, and you can get these things on your nets and equipment, so don't mix them with your tropical aquariums and equipment.

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