Re: NANFA-- RE: Native fish keeping starts
Fri, 1 Jun 2001 18:34:30 EDT

as for me...
i always enjoyed playing in creeks as a boy, looking for crayfish and such.
fish however seemed pretty boring, and i did not think much of my friends
tropical aquariums. blah blah... i like that skeleton w/ a bopping skull. i
was more into the woods, hunting, hiking, boy scouts, camping and playing...
i always enjoyed seeing animals, insects, snakes, lizards and such. turning
over logs for bugs and stuff.

when my son was about 5 connie brought home a goldfish from a fair or
something in a little jar. well that did not seem like a good place to be
living so i proceeded to set up and decorate an old 5 gallon water bottle.
then to the creek for a crayfish or something as a roommate. we were finding
found snails and bugs and slimy things. to the pet store a few times getting
pretty, interesting fish... all dying in a few weeks... but the goldfish was
still hanging in. all the snails died... then i realized a decorative copper
encrusted rock was killing them. back to the store. dragonflys hatching out
in the living room. then i burned out my friends water pump cause it got
clogged w/ leaves. everything died again but the goldfish.
i started looking in creeks more, my fish shop purchases were not working out
to well and i didnt know anything about them. one of the first fish i caught
was a sculpin... a strange looking thing. i looked and looked in the audobon
field guide and was finally convinced i had caught a endangered snail darter,
( take a look at that picture... it still kinda does :). i was glad to hear
david etnier make a comment like that when he first caught one so i dont feel
to stupid.
about that time the tennessee aquarium offered a conasauga snorkling trip...
well that sounded interesting ( as i had scuba-ed the virgin islands and
snorkled the keys when i was a bit younger ). after 2 attempts standing in a
parking lot waiting and having it called off cause of the rain i requested
directions for myself. drove over and jumped in... blown away. incredible.
never felt the cold i was so amazed... adrenalized, hyperized. i had sat for
hours w/ my dad squirrel or deer hunting... bored stiff. here i stuck my face
in the water and life was everywhere. turtles, fish, darters... clouds of
minnows, big crayfish... alive! but i could not find anyone to go with me or
help me know what i was seeing or even share in the excitment. fish store
people would just wag their finger at me... illegal, you cant keep fish, take
that back where you got it, etc. discovering the internet i found a site on
aol about native fish... allright! i was able to ask questions. then i went
to the library and found john quinn's book! what a book! and then a fellow
told me about nanfa. the rest is an ongoing history. never boring,
interesting people, new experiences, traveling and exploring. new species.
better aquarium management... tho im getting more and more keen on just
observing, perhaps photography will be my direction. it is impossible to
replicate in a little tank of water what i experience in the tellico or
conasauga... or even the little stream flowing down thru the neighborhood. i
have extremely enjoyed this opportunity to experience god's creation. it is a
glorius wonder. and i do see our mankinds impact on it. much concern. i think
most of us try to share this with our friends, neighbors and coworkers. we do
have to care for our world, keep it clean. i have seen some scary stuff...
some people just dont care. streams are still dump sites. but i have also
seen people learning and appreciating. that excites me and gives me hope.
for those interested i would urge you to pursue wildlife management people or
university biology departments. ive been able to participate in a lot of
surveys w/ people like those. for 3 years i was able to help document all the
fish found in chattanooga city limits urban streams. this is an activity that
can really speed up your knowledge acquiral. they love to have people along
who are fired up and interested and can use the extra help. ive been on boats
electro shocking up big gars, drums and catfish. ive been in little creeks
where we found red bellied dace and extended their range. ive been back in
caves catching blind cavefish for permitted research. everywhere i go i take
my mask and snorkle. when it is so hot all you want to do is stay inside w/
the airconditioner... grab your mask and head to some real liquid air
conditioner and spirit rejuvenator!

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