NANFA-- Fishy observations
Tue, 6 Mar 2001 13:44:45 -0600

Last week I took the opportunity on a warm sunny day to try my
luck at Westville Creek near Pinola, MS. This creek is a tributary
to the Strong River, which some of you will remember from the
Jackson convention. I was alone, so I did not do any seining, but I
had been told by Roy Weitzell (Mississippi Museum of Natural
Science) that this was a good spot to find some silverjaw minnows
(Ericymba buccata). Alas, I found none with my dipnet, but I did
find two interesting fishes which are new to me. The first is the
rough shiner, Notropis baileyi. This is a very striking minnow with a
prominent black stripe, with a lighter stripe just above it. These
guys are vigorous swimmers, let me tell you! I found them in
shallow pools behind stream obstructions.

I found no darters in the riffles (the stream bed is mostly sand, with
plenty of pebble riffles) but I DID find the shallow, slow-moving
areas to be teeming with Etheostoma stigmaeum. At first I wasn't
sure what I had, because almost all of the individuals I found were
colorless (by which I mean they had brown blotches). But I did find
one male with some color, which cinched the ID as this species is
hard to confuse with anything else. They have a pale body and
bright blue bands along the entire body - spectacular fish!

The darters, minners, and a few other assorted fishes went into one
of my 20g outdoor tanks (the one I set up with an elliptical
circulation pattern), which I dosed with nitrofurazone in order to
prevent the notorious creeping white rot. Actually, I used Jungle's
"fungus cure", which I discovered quite by accident. This great
product contains two nitrofuran-type antibiotics, some salt, and a
touch of KMNO4. Perfect for preventative medicine. Anyway, the
fishes settled in quite nicely. The rough shiners were taking food
immediately after being placed in their new quarters. I was a little
worried about the darters, but my fear proved unfounded as they
now eat bloodworms with evident relish. Alas, the one brightly
colored male leaped to his death within 24 hours - I found his
crispy dried body nearby. At first it seemed that quite a few of the
other darters had evaporated in similar fashion, as there didn't
seem to be many of them left. But when feeding time came, they
sprang from the woodwork like fleas from a drowning rat!

A few small crayfish went into my son's spotted bass tank as food.

Here's an unrelated tidbit. I, along with a few others on this list,
purchased the Hanna Total Dissolved Solids meter which was (and
still is) available for $14.99. I assumed that I could use this meter
as kind of a substitute for a hardness test kit (which I do not own).
Although I have had fun with it, nothing could be farther from the
truth! In preparation for collecting more bluenose shiners this
spring, I bought some water softener pillows from Mark Binkley
(AKA "Jonah") and used them in my indoor 34 gallon native tank.
Now, I had previously tested welaka water at 13ppm TDS (!)*, and
this tank read around 350ppm, so I thought I needed to soften the
water. The pillow should have removed around 150-200 ppm of
hardness, but after the first use the TDS reading had not changed.
Ha!, I thought, since it is replacing calcium ions with sodium, what
should I have expected? Indeed, after I recharged the resin and
replaced it, still dripping with the strong salt solution I had
immersed it in, my TDS level DOUBLED to over 700ppm within 24
hours. This should have come as no surprise, since the calibration
solution sold by Hanna Instruments consists of KCl. But now it
seems I need a hardness test kit after all...

* For those who are interested, D.O. was a mediocre 7ppm, and
pH was an astonishing 9.2 (questionable, since the meter was not
calibrated that morning).

And so it goes. Maybe I'll hit the streams again tomorrow :-) I am
looking forward to another trip this year with BG for some bluehead
shiners (P. hubbsi). And, of course, my reliable flagfin and
bluenose sites are always within easy reach. But dammit, I still
want to find those silverjaws...


Jackson, MS
Whenever I see an old lady slip and fall on a wet sidewalk,
my first instinct is to laugh. But then I think, what if
I was an ant, and she fell on me. Then it wouldn't seem
quite so funny.

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