Native Fish – Sunfish, Killies, Darters

August 14th, 2008

I managed to get a few pictures of the native fish that I recently collected from the Potomac River in Virginia. I’m really happy with these fish so far. When I first put them in the tank, they went straight into the plants, not to be seen.

Blue Spotted Sunfish

Blue Spotted Sunfish - Enneacanthus gloriosus

Since then, I’ve been feeding them blackworms, and have spent a lot of time in front of the tank, which seems to be getting them used to my presence. The sunnies, in particular, were quite shy to begin with. Now, it’s not unusual to see several of them out and about at the same time.

Blue Spotted Sunfish

Blue Spotted Sunfish - Enneacanthus gloriosus

Many of the sunfish have also colored up quite a bit. Some of the younger ones don’t yet have their blue spots, but the older fish are actually quite striking. The little teardrop, or black stripe, under their eye reminds me of Bolivian Rams, Mikrogeophagus altispinosus.

Tesselated Darter

Tessellated Darter - Etheostoma olmstedi

In general, I tend to really enjoy lazy bottom dwellers, and this Tessellated Darter, Etheostoma olmstedi, is exactly that. I love how darters prop themselves up on their front fins, and just sit there waiting for food to come along.

Tesselated Darter

Tessellated Darter - Etheostoma olmstedi

He’s readily accepting blackworms, but even though I’m adding a few pellets with my other feedings to try and get him on commercial food, so far he’s not interested. The Banded Killifish, Fundulus diaphanus, are another one of the fish that are slowly calming down in my tank.

Banded Killifish

Banded Killifish - Fundulus diaphanus

When I first introduced them, they would often jump from the water when I approached the tank. Now, they’re still staying close to the plant cover, but they’re at least out in the open, while keeping a close eye on me.

Banded Killifish

Banded Killifish - Fundulus diaphanus

I’ve noticed that they have an interesting mouth that tends to open and unfold a little bit differently than other fish I’ve kept. I presume this is designed to suck surface bugs into their mouths. If I’m ever able to get a picture of it up close, I’ll post it. Overall, I’m still quite pleased with my recent acquisitions. All of the fish appear to be healthy, and should be a nice addition to my tank for some time.

18 Responses to “Native Fish – Sunfish, Killies, Darters”

  1. Phillip Brown Says:

    They are so attractive and interesting. Great photos too.

  2. Jason Says:

    This is excellently excellent! They are so beautiful! Thank you for posting this.

  3. guitarfish Says:

    Thanks guys. Jason, see, ask and you shall receive. 😉 Please don’t mind the hair algae in these pictures!

  4. Jason Says:

    Oh boy. You should see my tanks 🙁

  5. Rami Says:

    Wow, those’re real gems! I love the pattern of the Tessellated Darter, and the blue-purple on its gill cover.

    Makes me wonder if we have anything half as cool up here in Washington state.. C:

  6. Jason Says:

    Hey Rami, I live in south Seattle, but I came from Louisiana where there are tons of neat freshwater fish. I also would love to know if there is anything up here besides salmon…

    I wonder if you would need a chiller though?

  7. guitarfish Says:

    I’d guess that there are, but if there are, you’d also have to check on whether your local laws allow collection. I’d suggest you register over for the NANFA forums, and ask there. I’m sure someone there is from your area.

  8. Jason Says:

    “you’d also have to check on whether your local laws allow collection.”

    Yeah, I hadn’t thought of that. It’s probably not legal. Our state motto is, “Washington: There’s a law against that.”

    *le sigh*

  9. Tim Says:

    I’m really interested in your sunfish. I’m in Southeastern Virginia, was thinking about collecting. Can you recommend books or something about keeping sunfish? Do they need live food all the time? Is it hard to get a collecting permit? Are they aggressive? Is a 30 gal too small?

  10. guitarfish Says:

    Tim, I’ve just been going on the advice of other hobbyists locally who have collected and keep sunfish and have searched around online. NANFA (North American Native Fish Assoc) is a great resource for these types of matters, and members receive a quarterly journal from them. I chose the Blue Spotted Sunfish because they max out around 2-3 inches, and won’t rearrange my planted tank. Most other sunfish in the Lepomis genus get much bigger, are more aggressive, and require more space. A 30gal would be fine for Blue Spotted Sunnies. This is my first experience with these fish, but thus far all they’ll eat are live foods. I’ve read that younger fish can be trained onto prepared foods, and if you breed them, you’re likely to be able to get the fry to eat whatever you want. For the location we collected from, all we needed was a fishing license. Depending on other locations, you may not be allowed to collect (i.e. stocked trout streams), or you may need scientific permits depending on the species. Contact your local fishing/hunting locality to find out for sure.

  11. Kim Says:

    Those are beautiful, but where’s the shrimp?:)

  12. Rami Says:

    Jason: In Washington, “State scientific collection permits are issued to scientists/researchers, educators/educational institutions, and museums, aquariums/zoos. They are NOT issued to the general public for collection/take of fish and/or wildlife.”

    Bummer for us, we’re not allowed to collect natives. D: Had my hopes up for river minnows in the aquarium, but apparently that’s not going to happen.

  13. guitarfish Says:

    Kim, I’ll get some shrimp pictures. The shrimp were hiding the other day.

  14. Tim Says:

    Thanks for the advice! If yours ever breed, I’d love to take some babies off your hands. 😉

  15. Patrick Says:

    Looks great, keep us posted!

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