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#21 Guest_Newt_*

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 08:09 AM

Yeah, I meant redbreast. Posted Image

Most madtoms are too small to be good sunfish tankmates. If you can get one of the smaller bullheads (flat, snail, spotted) that might be a better choice.

#22 Guest_smbass_*

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 10:00 AM

This is what I give to my customers as far as care for sunfish, just ignore the parts about getting fish from me unless you change your mind about collecting your own...

The adult males of any species in the Lepomis genus of sunfishes can be quite territorial but this can be dealt with by having many other fish in the tank with them rather than just 1 or 2 tank mates that end up being the target of their aggression all the time. If you have ever kept a group of larger African cichlids you already know and understand this concept. In a 55-75 gallon tank a group of 8 should be sufficient to accomplish this. I would have no fewer than 6 in a group ever. The other route is to have 1 nice colorful male sunfish and a large group of shiners and other small fish, never go with 2 or 3 sunfish your asking for trouble. This rule applies to all of the Lepomis genus of sunfish. The different species and strains can be mixed and kept together as they all behave very similar. The main thing to consider is the typical size of the adults. The larger species can all be kept together...

MO Longear
Lepomis megalotis megalotis
LA Longear Lepomis megalotis ?
Redspotted Lepomis miniatus
Blackspotted Lepomis punctatus
Green Lepomis cyanellus
Pumpkinseed Lepomis gibbosus
Redbreast Lepomis auritus
Warmouth Lepomis gulosus
Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus(not real colorful and second largest)
Redear Lepomis microlophus(also not very colorful and by far the largest)

The mid sized ones that go well together and can be mixed with some of the smaller ones from the above group with some caution...

Western Dollar
Lepomis marginatus ?
Eastern Dollar Lepomis marginatus ?
Northern Longear Lepomis megalotis peltastes

and the two little guys of this genus and least aggressive which actually can be mixed in with the three
Enneacanthus species or if some caution is taken the same goes with the above three...

Lepomis humilis
Bantam Lepomis symetricus

If you intend to breed any of these it is best to have a species only tank because similar species or especially two strains of the same species will hybridize quite easily. The individuals I sell are small young fish that were bred this past summer in outdoor rubber lined ponds (approximately 20ft X 20ft). These young fish do best being fed frozen foods such as blood worms, mysis shrimp, glass worms, or mosquito larvae. If they are fed well and kept in the 75-80 F range they will grow quickly and can mature (not be full size yet but able to breed and showing some nice colors on the males) in about 4-6 months. When they reach about 2 inches it is good to start mixing in some larger foods into their diet and by the time they are 3-4 inches have them switched over completely to larger items such as frozen shrimp (just go to the grocery store and buy an extra bag to use as fish food rather than for yourself), just about any cichlid pellets (softer easier to crush ones work best so you can break them down to appropriate size for smaller fish), earth worms or night crawlers, and live crickets. I mostly feed my adults cichlid pellets and then give them some shrimp or worms once a week or so as a treat to give them a little variety. Once they have matured this is when they will start displaying more aggressive tendencies. Things that help prevent any problems are having plenty of cover in the tank in the form of rocks, driftwood or some plants. It is good to have enough hiding places so that all of the fish could disappear at once if they so chose. You will find though that most of the time they stay out in front begging for food. You can also lower the temperature a little if possible (turn off any heaters, or if the tank is in a basement this is usually easy) to 65-70 (this is below their breeding temps so males are less territorial), and the biggest thing is just keeping enough other fish in the tank so that if one individual does become overly aggressive he can not pick on any one other fish too much. If you do have an aggressive fish it is usually not a good idea to remove him because someone else will take his place and before long if you keep removing fish you will have too few and the dominant fish will start actually killing other fish because he is picking on the same 1 or 2 fish all the time.

If you are interested in breeding them all you need to do is keep the tank around 75 and feed them well. Watch for the males to dig out a shallow circular nest with their tail. They will aggressively defend this area and if you see a male and female swimming in a tight circular pattern over the nest they are spawning. The male will guard the eggs and young until they begin to swim or hop around. At this time if you would like to raise some of the young use a gravel vac siphon and suck some fry out into a bucket. Put them in a small tank (keep them in water so pour them in) and have some freshly hatched brine shrimp ready for them. They will need the freshly hatched brine for about a month at which time you should be able to switch them over to the frozen foods mentioned above for the young you will be receiving. An alternative to tank rearing the fry is to put them outdoors in a plastic tub (if it is during warm time of year) with some live aquarium or pond plants. If you keep the number rather low (about 1 per 2 gallons) you should not have to feed them for the first month until they reach the size where they can easily be fed frozen foods. Do not put a filter of any kind in the tub because it will clean out their natural food source of insect larvae and other aquatic invertebrates.

I would also agree with newt that you should look into bullheads Ameiurus sp. as tank mates if you like catfish. As far as catching your own it really is not hard to catch some rather small sunfish hook and line and if you use barb-less hooks permanent damage is hardly ever done. If you go to a store that has fly fishing supplies you can get some rather small barb-less hooks that are meant for tying your own flies, size 16-18 should work nicely. Also if you only fish private ponds for your fish you are unlikely to find much variety of species. Use some maggots or small earthworms for bait and fish in and around cover such as rocks (if a lake or reservoir is lined with rip rap fish in the spaces between rocks for really small sunfish) or logs near shore and you should catch plenty of small sunfish. I'm also surprised no one has suggested you travel a little further east from Greensboro and look for some Eastern Dollar Sunfish, they would be the smallest Lepomis available to you in your state. Also I would avoid all but the largest shiners (probably Nocomis, and some of the larger Luxilus could handle being with most Lepomis sunfish) unless the species you choose has a very small mouth (pumpkinseed, dollar, longear). For tank set up ideas (smaller scale obviously) check out the portion of this thread about my large sunfish tank... link

#23 Guest_ZeeZ_*

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 11:13 AM

Some fantastic advice given here! I've always thought that tropicals are great fish, but the native animals (amphibians, inverts, fish) here have always intrigued me since I was a child. It's great that I'm finally learning more about these fish, I don't know why I didn't sooner than this.

I'm definitely open to traveling a reasonable distance, up to a few hours away from Greensboro. I really like the look of Western Dollars and some of the Longears I've seen are pretty colorful. If I got a bullhead of some type and a mix of Western Dollars and Longears to 6 total, would it still be possible to add some type of schooling fish? I like variety. Would the fireyblack shiners be too small? Where could I find a bullhead?

I saw your thread last night before you posted it here. I got a case of tank jealousy. I really want a 250-300 gallon tank but I'm renting and that would be way overboard. I love your gar, those are some very cool fish. I'd also like to add driftwood like you did to yours. I was thinking I could "duplicate" a lake's bottom, i.e. have driftwood, maybe a few leaves, native plants, and some human debris like glass beer or glass soda bottles, etc.

Edited by ZeeZ, 23 February 2011 - 11:14 AM.

#24 Guest_gerald_*

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 11:28 AM

Good idea Brian. Zeez if you want to catch smaller sunfish (Dollar, Flier, Spotted, Mud) then head south from Greensboro into the Sandhills Region around Pinehurst, Fayetteville, Rockingham, Laurinburg. The "dwarf sunfishes" bluespotted and blackbanded (Enneacanthus) are found around there too, but DON'T try to keep them with Dollars or other Lepomis. Fliers and Enneacanthus are harder to train onto dry foods, and do better with live and frozen foods.

Madtoms should do OK with any of these smaller sunnies. You can probably catch Margined madtoms and brown, flat, and snail bullheads in Reedy Fork Cr and Alamance Cr east of Greensboro. In the Sandhills you'll find both margined and tadpole madtoms.

Edited by gerald, 23 February 2011 - 11:36 AM.

#25 Guest_smbass_*

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 11:45 AM

For your first shot at natives I would advise against the flier, mud sunfish, and the three Enneacnthus sp. because of them being more delicate and not as easy to get onto prepared foods. If you stick with the Eastern Dollar and you may be able to find some central longears in the extreme western part of your state (get out of the Atlantic slope drainage) then you should be able to do some medium sized active shiners like the fiery blacks or another Cyprinella sp. although the bullhead may be an issue with these... In that case try a smaller madtom, again with the smaller mouthed Lepomis that should not be a problem. Personally I like geralds idea of the blackspotted sunfish too. They are a little larger than longears or dollars and have a slightly bigger mouth but nothing like a green, warmouth, or redbreast for that matter (those are the three with the largest mouths). You could probably do maybe 2 blackspotted and 4 eastern dollars along with a margined madtom and school of 8-10 fiery blacks. Starting with sunfish in the 2-3" range would be best, by this size they are large enough to be caught, more durable than very small young, and not so big to start fighting yet. It is good to get all the fish at once and let them grow up together, this also really helps with future aggression issues.

#26 Guest_ZeeZ_*

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 12:20 PM

Is there a difference between Eastern and Western Dollars? I think I like the idea of Dollars with Longears.

If I caught a Snail Bullhead before a Margined Madtom, then what would alternative fish choices be since shiners would be basically food for the bullhead?

And yes, I intend to try and capture the fish in a time frame as close as possible, within a week, hopefully. Any suggestions for native plants?

Edited by ZeeZ, 23 February 2011 - 12:21 PM.

#27 Guest_EricaWieser_*

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 01:15 PM

Any suggestions for native plants?

Many. Use full spectrum lighting (6000 K or above) and a nutritious substrate such as soil or kitty litter.

Websites to read:
Substrate: http://www.thekrib.c...rate-jamie.html
Lighting: http://en.wikipedia....lor_temperature
Plants near you: http://www.lakenorma...lants/index.php

Edited by EricaWieser, 23 February 2011 - 01:15 PM.

#28 Guest_smbass_*

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 03:10 PM

There is a difference in Dollars on the east coast and dollars from the western part of their range. This is primarily in coloration and some slight other physical features. There is no difference in behavior and size of adults as far as I can tell. Eastern dollars have significantly less red and orange on them and do not have the blue flecs on the opercle flap like the western dollar. Large male eastern dollars have very long extensions on the tips of the pectoral fins and westerns do not have this. There are a couple of OK photos of male eastern dollars in my photo gallery http://gallery.nanfa...is/Lmarginatus/ but nothing I would say is really good. I have posted good shots of male westerns that I keep on here several times including the last fish photo in the link I posted above about my big sunfish tank.

As far as larger minnow tank mates for with a bullhead... Large crescent shiners, white shiners, or bluehead chub should all work well.

#29 Guest_ZeeZ_*

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 04:25 PM

Oh, I see now. Only Eastern Dollars are in NC.

So the stock list I'd like - 4 Eastern Dollars, 2 Longears (if I can find them) or Blackspotted Sunfish, either a Snail Bullhead or a Madtom, with 8-10 Crescent Shiners or Bluehead Chubs. How would I go about catching Bullheads or Madtoms?

As for planting, I understand the basics and I currently keep low-light plants such as Java Ferns, Java Moss, Ludigwia, Dwarf Hairgrass, and Anuibas. etc. in my 20g shrimp/snail/oto tank. The link you provided for native plants gives a short list of mostly plants that will come out of the water, which isn't really what I'm looking for. I'd like to try topsoil made for vegetable growing with a bottom layer of clay and a top layer of similarly-colored dark gravel to the topsoil to help maintain water clarity, according to the link you provided. This would be my most ambitious planted tank project yet.

Edited by ZeeZ, 23 February 2011 - 05:17 PM.

#30 Guest_EricaWieser_*

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 06:35 PM

So the stock list I'd like - 4 Eastern Dollars, 2 Longears (if I can find them) or Blackspotted Sunfish, either a Snail Bullhead or a Madtom, with 8-10 Crescent Shiners or Bluehead Chubs. How would I go about catching Bullheads or Madtoms?

Aren't some of those fish burrowers? Like the madtom?

#31 Guest_ZeeZ_*

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 11:09 PM

The madtom is, yeah. I'll probably end up trying to catch a Bullhead instead.

#32 Guest_smbass_*

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 11:59 PM

bullheads can often be caught the same way I described for sunfish except at night. The madtoms would likely have to be caught with a net, along with the crescent shiners. The Bluehead Chub can be readily caught with a net or hook and line, either will work. I'm not sure you would want that many big chubs though they get just as large as the sunfish. Maybe 2 or 3 chub and 5-6 crescents would be more reasonable.

#33 Guest_EricaWieser_*

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 12:08 AM

With burrowing fish you might want to think about potting the plants in something like a terra cotta flower pot (image: http://images.lowes....501201204lg.jpg ) and then burying the pot in whatever burrower-friendly substrate you use.

#34 Guest_ZeeZ_*

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 12:27 PM

If I do get a madtom instead of a bullhead, I'll do that. Thanks for the suggestion!

Oh, okay, I didn't realize the chubs got that big. Bullheads at night? The parks would be closed then...

Edited by ZeeZ, 24 February 2011 - 12:29 PM.

#35 Guest_smbass_*

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 05:12 PM

Here in Ohio most larger reservoirs with public access allow fishing at night. There are often signs posted saying you can't camp or do other activities but fishing is allowed. There are often a lot of lights around the boat ramps and such so it is not all that dark. I used to spend quite a few summer nights with my buddies fishing all night and we caught plenty of catfish, big and small species. You do occasionally catch bullheads durring the day, usually early morning or evening. Especially if you get the bait right down in their hiding spot...

#36 Guest_ZeeZ_*

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 12:55 PM

Hello again!

Are there any identifying features of the snail bulkhead so I'd be able to tell the difference between it and other bulkheads, madtoms, and catfish?

#37 Guest_smbass_*

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 01:23 PM




These should all help with Bullhead ID in general

#38 Guest_gzeiger_*

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 02:01 PM

Be very very careful with a netted catfish. The spines are part of the pectoral fins, but are by far the sturdiest part. The first time I tried to net a small bullhead to move him to a larger tank the spines got caught in the mesh, shredding the rest of the fins and getting the poor guy so tangled up that even after cutting the net apart I wasn't able to remove all the pieces from his fins. He swam around for 3 or 4 days trailing bits of netting until they finally fell out.

It took me a while to figure out native plants, and I still don't know a lot. It seems like the species commonly marketed are actually quite a rarity in nature. Plants adapted to low light don't compete well with high light plants since they grow more slowly, and typically there's a strong advantage to be gained by having emergent leaves to reach better light and CO2. Substrate seems to be the key thing though. If you're still setting up your tank I think you'll be glad you put a nice layer of plain dirt on the bottom. None of my tanks have that yet, but their fine sand bottoms wouldn't grow plants for a long time. Finally after having a tank set up for a year and turning under algae and mulm into the sand it's finally capable of supporting plants, including several species I had previously tried with no hint of success.

#39 Guest_EricaWieser_*

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 03:57 PM

Finally after having a tank set up for a year and turning under algae and mulm into the sand it's finally capable of supporting plants, including several species I had previously tried with no hint of success.

Ouch. That seems sort of masochistic when you could have just stirred in some kitty litter, soil, or fertilizer sticks. Fertilizer is less than $10 at PetCo. Link: http://www.petco.com...r:referralID=NA

Here, read this: http://www.thekrib.c...te-jamie.html#0

#40 Guest_gerald_*

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 07:06 PM

Snail and Flat Bullheads: Base of dorsal fin is conspicuously darker than the upper part.
Brown, Yellow bullheads & White Cat: Base of dorsal fin is NOT noticeably darker.
Those are all the bullhead spp likely to be found around Greensboro

Hello again!

Are there any identifying features of the snail bulkhead so I'd be able to tell the difference between it and other bulkheads, madtoms, and catfish?

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