NANFA-- Culturing Blackbandeds & Other Natives

Jeffrey Fullerton (
Fri, 02 Jan 2004 20:51:28 -0500

My two cents on this the "Wintering Fish Thread.

If natives became popular most of the species which mainstream of the
aquarium hobby would have sustained enthusiasm for would be as easy to
propagate in conventional fish hatcheries as natives already being
propagated for sport fisheries or the bait trade.

Some of potential commercial value already are- there are hatcheries
that raise Longear Suns and Banded Killies (my first pets of the latter
species were bait bucket leftovers from a fishing trip my dad took me on
in preschool days!) There's no reason why methods used by hobbyists to
breed and rear Southern Redbelly Dace and other colorful cyprinids could
not be scaled up for mass production like is done for Fatheads and
Golden Shiners.
Many of the colorful and easy to raise southern killifish species also
have potential. Eastern Starheads are as easy to propagate in a small
outside pond as livebearers!

Based on personal experience, those hobbyists who are not intimidated by
the special requirements of darters and the Eneacanthus sunfishes would
eventually tire of effort of keeping them alive in a tank so there is
little prospect the demand for them will ever become strong enough to
threaten wild populations. But if a viable market did develop- it could
easily be supplied with pond bred fish- as far as the sunfishes go-
before I started introducing more compeditive Lepomids into my main
pond , I've counted in the neighborhood of 200 Blackbandeds when I
inventoried my pond in the early 1990s! And this is a 16X20 foot pond.
And to make it more amazing they subsisted entirely upon natural food
sources along with similar numbers of Eastern Mudminnows, a few adult
Chubsuckers and an assortment of Golden Shiners and other cyprinids.

Anyone interested in propagation of Enneacanthus or Mudminnows or
Madtoms for commercial or conservation purposes- here's your model for a
hatchery setup- get enough pond liner to make a large shallow freshwater
habitat- put in lots of potted water lilies, milfoils and other aquatic
plants, seed it with blackworms, daphnea, scuds and isopods- plus you'll
get midges that will breed in the pond and give you blood and glass
worms and then introduce your fish and wait a couple years. You'll be up
to your ears in whatever you want to raise- provided local conditions
are suitable and you choose compatible species. My guess is that a small
species diversity is what makes these mini-ecosystems work. I attribute
my early success with Blackbandeds to the lucky accident of stumbing
onto the right combination- BBF, Mudminnows and Chubsuckers (the latter
did not reproduce successfully) which I understand are found together in
the wild in New Jersey and other blackwater habitats along the Atlantic
coast. Forgot to mention that I had gambusia too- which apparently
didn't affect the BBSF and MMs because their offspring occupy deeper
water niches while the Gambusia fed near the surface. It was a pretty
good system which I probably ruined by trying to include too many new
and different species. Diversity can be wonderful- but a pondkeeper can
get too much of a good thing- especially in a small system.

My Blackbandeds were apparently outcompeted by the Bluespotted and
various Lepomid sunfishes. I'd like to try again someday with the
origional combination minus the Golden Shiners and include a few other
species that have done well and seem to be able to coexist with BBSF and
maybe include a small predaceous species like Mud Sunfish and Pirate
Perch that could live off the prolific mudminnow population!

/"Unless stated otherwise, comments made on this list do not necessarily
/ reflect the beliefs or goals of the North American Native Fishes
/ Association"
/ This is the discussion list of the North American Native Fishes Association
/ To subscribe, unsubscribe, or get help, send the word
/ subscribe, unsubscribe, or help in the body (not subject) of an email to
/ For a digest version, send the command to
/ instead.
/ For more information about NANFA, visit our web page,