Florida Trip – Around Miami (Day 4)

June 17th, 2007

We woke up Sunday, ready for a full day of collecting around the Miami around. In Miami, canals crisscross the entire area, allowing us plenty of accessible collecting spots via public boat ramps. In addition, due to the large population density, many non-native fishes have made their way (unfortunately for the habitat, fortunately for us) into the waterways. At our first stop, we found a boat ramp behind a fairly large shopping complex. Walking down the canal banks, we didn’t see a any signs of life outside of a few clumps of Hygrophila polysperma and Cabomba. There were more office chairs and discarded garbage in the canal then we saw fish.

Canal in Miami

We decided to cast our nets into the polysperma anyways, and to our surprise, we found 4-5 small cichlids! There seemed to be two types present, 1 type with vertical bars that are probably juvenile Mayan cichlids, and the other, a much more colorful Jewel cichlid (shown below.) What was originally a very bleak looking habitat suddenly came to life. As we continually pull more of these cichlids from the water, we start to see some larger fish take interest in our activities. Peacock bass start coming in to feast as we startled the smaller fish from their protective plant mats. We continue netting fish for several hours, before deciding to grab some lunch and move on to our next location.

Jewel Cichlid

A few miles away, we located another canal system with public access to the waterways. Unfortunately, this dock was much more frequented by jet skis and motor boats, so we decided to investigate a more seclusive pond right next to the canal. A few of us are looking down in the pool, seeing the usual batch of mosquito fish swimming around, when a couple of plants take our eye. First, floating on the surface is a very frilly plant, that upon closer investigation is a carnivorous badderwort. Well, I have to try that one out, and while I’m gathering a few small fronds of that, I notice another plant with elongated brown and yellowish leaves. Immediately, I get excited that I had found a bed of crypts! So, I pull a couple out, and take them to Ghazanfar. “Nope, they’re not crypts,” he says, but instead appear to be some sort of an Aponogeton. In this pool, none of the Aponogeton are taller than7-8 inches. I’m really hoping that they intend to stay that height because every other species that I’ve tried tends to grow multiple feet in length.

Investigating a pool

Meanwhile, a few other folks had started dipping their nets in the canal, now free of jet skiers. More great fish start showing up in our nets, including a very pretty variety of sunfish (shown below), some shiners/minnows with really nice red on their tails, two varieties of darters, and a new color strain of Jewel cichlids. The Jewels in this canal are much redder in coloration, while in the first canal, they were more turquoise. After being out under the sun for a number of hours, we all decided that it was time to cool off back at the hotel.

Sunfish in hand

One Response to “Florida Trip – Around Miami (Day 4)”

  1. L Says:

    The jewel cichlids are so beautiful!