NANFA-- Native Gems and some scattershooting

John B (
Tue, 11 May 2004 23:53:30 -0500

After reading several threads about finding native gems-in-the LFS, I
decided to give it a try to see what gems might be lurking. I began in
the feeder fish section of the store, this is is where the most
interesting fish are usually found anyway (they seem to be more grateful
once in my tanks than some of those snooty fish like Rainbows and
Gouramis). There in the far bottom tank, in the corner, empty for all
but one grass shrimp, was a small Darter! Apparently left over because
no one could catch him as a feeder fish!

My mistake was showing my excitement, sharing with the sales person that
this was truly an "exotic", the price began increasing. What was
previously a 4/$1.00 fish became 1 for two bucks. As one of my
employees once said referring to all my inventory, "One nice thing about
inventory...You can always raise the price!" I countered with "you
wanted .25 for the shrimp that were in there, I'll give you .50 for the
fish since its twice as big". The end result was that I got the fish
but I want to talk to the owner about getting a rebate.

There are always some oddball fish in their plant tanks. I looked
closely this time and found a female flathead minnow and some Hetrandria
formosa (I think) mixed in with a couple of Siamese algae eaters.

So now is the time to ID the darter. With Page and Burr near my side I
still, have been unable to ID this fish. I hope to get a photo soon. I
don't have the advantage of limiting the possibilities to a specific
distribution because I don't know where the fish came from (FLA?) It
has a green tint over the entire body. The body profile is very similar
to a Slough Darter. But that is where the similarities end. 7-8
saddles terminating above the lateral line. There are a series of
irregular markings like on the female Speckled darter terminating
precisely-in-the lateral line. The markings are directly below the
saddles but there is a gap between each set which makes it appear as if
there is a stripe along the lateral line. Prominent opurcular scale.
A single black dot-in-the base of the caudal fin. No teardrop but a
fine horizontal bar extending from the eyes around to the snout. Let's
get some thoughts and see how close we got when I post the photos!

Good News. I finally saw my Pirate Perch eating. He's taken a
hankerin' to frozen Mysis Shrimp. He is only one of a relatively few
natives that I have-in-this time. I've decided to let my tanks (read
Native Plants) recover a bit. I stuffed a lot of fish into my 10s and
my 55. Between the Golden Shiners and all the Fundulus those plants
were being picked to death. The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center has
allowed me to set up a NANFA tank prominently displayed on one of the
major walkways. Its an odd tank, about 4.5'H X 2.5W X 2.5D. 2" acrylic
walls! It uses an Eheim canister filter; nothing exotic. It has a
single 150watt Metal Halide pendant hanging above for light so plants
have to be restricted to bare minimum. Not much light will reach the
bottom of that deep tank. I've stocked it with Slough and Mud Darters,
Freckled Madtoms, Fliers, Bantam Sunfish, Three species of Fundulus...
blairae, chrysotus, notatus and creek chubsuckers. There are also
Mexican Tetra, and a few odd shiners. After a couple of weeks all is
well. The tank was overrun with Gambusia when I got there, but shortly
after, the neighboring largemouth bass and Texas Cichlids seemed to have
smiles on their faces and there were fewer Gambusia in the NANFA tank.
There is also a Texas salamander tank next to the NANFA tank. There is
a western lesser siren and some other sally mander. They just got
company. A young of the year grass pickerel with a few of those
gambusia! I'm sure you guys/gals will let me know if there is some
sort of incompatibility there but I don't see it happening unless those
Herps take a liking to young Pickerel.

I'm working on the artwork presently. Going to print a nice little
information card for each species including Photo, common and scientific
name, distribution within Texas, and habitat info. Also will have a
NANFA flier handout display and some sort of Title Banner that
addresses the theme of the tank; i.e., "Our Native Gems" or "Native
Exotics" or somptin. Any ideas are welcome.
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