Re: NANFA-- native fish trivia question

Christopher Scharpf (
Fri, 14 Apr 2000 07:15:43 -0400

<< What native North American minnow is the only minnow in the country (if
<< not the world) that naturally inhabits coastal islands?
>The peamouth (Mylocheilus caurinus).
>Richard Hopper

You are correct, sir!

The peamouth is native to Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, mainland British
Columbia, and on BC's coastal islands near Nanaimo and on the west side of
Vancouver Island. The peamouth is one of the few minnows in the world that can
tolerate salt water. How it reached the BC islands, however, is something of a
mystery. The peamouth's ability to live in salt water (usually an impassable
barrier to freshwater fishes) probably allowed it to survive riding a plume of
brackish water from the Fraser River estuary on mainland British Columbia across
the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver Island. How the peamouth reached the west
coast of Vancouver Island is even more of a mystery. Since it occurs in Ozette
Lake on the Olympic Peninsula of northwestern Washington, it's possible the
peamouth crossed over during the last glaciation when melting ice sheets
decreased the salinity of the Pacific Ocean coast and Juan de Fuca Strait.

As far as I know, there are no published references about the aquarium care of
this handsome fish with the red lower lip. Despite growing to 14", nothing about
its biology indicates it woul be difficult to keep.

Do any of the northwesterners on this list have any experience with the

Chris Scharpf

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