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New Member and Tentative May 6-10th Florida Trip


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#1 Darkskies

Darkskies
  • NANFA Guest

Posted 01 May 2016 - 02:29 PM

Hi everyone,

 

I've just recently registered to these forums. I am an avid fan of aquarium fish and have recently become interested in natives. My friend and I are planning a road trip to Florida next week from the northeast and I was hoping to stop at some locations in the state to try my hand at collecting. I am principally looking to bag some heterandria formosa and bring them back with me. Would there be any other fish from florida that would go along with them or could similarly be kept separately in a small 2.5-5 gallon container like the heterandria? Does anyone know of locations near Orlando or Tampa that should have the heterandria? I was planning on buying a dipnet from Walmart and using that. Would that be a good idea? Any advice? My friend is not really interested in fish but I can convince him to go to one or two spots. Would the heterandria be fine with being transported in a bucket in the car for upwards of 15-20 hours? If I collect them earlier than right before we leave, I suppose they'd have to be all right with lasting for several days in the buckets. Would a battery-powered airstone help out in that realm? Where would I buy one? I apologize for the flurry of questions but I am really interested in catching some least killifish and perhaps some other small florida fish and bringing them back with me to the northeast. All advice is appreciated.



#2 Michael Wolfe

Michael Wolfe
  • Board of Directors
  • North Georgia, Oconee River Drainage

Posted 01 May 2016 - 05:37 PM

in addition to your dipnet, you also need to make sure you have a Florida freshwater fishing license.  And yes, you need a battery powered aerator... you can get these at something like a Bass Pro (they think it is for making your bait live longer in a bucket, but hey same idea).  I do not keep Heterandria, so I will let others help you with collecting locations., but you should be able ot get some spots.


Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

#3 lilyea

lilyea
  • NANFA Member
  • Peace River Watershed, Central Florida, USA

Posted 01 May 2016 - 07:24 PM

Heterandria formosa is a fairly common fish in the Tampa/Orlando area.  Yesterday I was collecting at Saddle Creek Park (http://myfwc.com/fis...dle-creek-park/) which is located half-way between Tampa and Orlando and I caught and released approximately 40 formosas in about an hour while using a "Perfect Dipnet" from Jonah's Aquarium.  I was specifically focused on Fundulus chrysotus (golden topminnow) and was able to add a few more to my species-specific 55g chrysotus tank.  Of course, past performance is no guarantee of future results.  I don't always find formosas, but it is a common fish along the I-4 corridor (Tampa/Orlando).  It certainly doesn't have to be that location - if you find aquatic vegetation along the edge of some water in Central Florida and you have the patience to sort through large numbers of Gambusias (mosquito fish) then there is a reasonable chance you will find find formosas.  Please let me know if you have other specific fish that you are focused on finding. 



#4 Michael Wolfe

Michael Wolfe
  • Board of Directors
  • North Georgia, Oconee River Drainage

Posted 01 May 2016 - 07:38 PM

I don't always find formosas,  


But when I do it makes me the most interesting man in NANFA!
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

#5 CCat

CCat
  • NANFA Member
  • Denver, CO

Posted 01 May 2016 - 07:59 PM

I haven't collected them personally, but I've kept h. formosa for the last year or so.  I've found them to be very hearty, growing happily in my indoor community tank, or outdoors in a summer garden tub.  (I'm in Colorado.)  They're not picky eaters, and seem happy in a wide variety of temps & water conditions.  They're some of my favorite fish, and I recommend them to anyone who will listen.  

 

Let us know how you make out.  Sounds like a fun trip!



#6 Darkskies

Darkskies
  • NANFA Guest

Posted 02 May 2016 - 12:11 AM

Heterandria formosa is a fairly common fish in the Tampa/Orlando area.  Yesterday I was collecting at Saddle Creek Park (http://myfwc.com/fis...dle-creek-park/) which is located half-way between Tampa and Orlando and I caught and released approximately 40 formosas in about an hour while using a "Perfect Dipnet" from Jonah's Aquarium.  I was specifically focused on Fundulus chrysotus (golden topminnow) and was able to add a few more to my species-specific 55g chrysotus tank.  Of course, past performance is no guarantee of future results.  I don't always find formosas, but it is a common fish along the I-4 corridor (Tampa/Orlando).  It certainly doesn't have to be that location - if you find aquatic vegetation along the edge of some water in Central Florida and you have the patience to sort through large numbers of Gambusias (mosquito fish) then there is a reasonable chance you will find find formosas.  Please let me know if you have other specific fish that you are focused on finding. 

Thanks for the replies so far, guys! Would a regular dipnet from a bait shop or walmart work just as well? I read somewhere that since they are so small, the formosa often slip through mesh nets unless the diameters of the spacing is small enough. Are dip nets with a small enough diameter spacing available at walmart/bait shops? I could also use an aquarium fish net but I think the handle diameter would be too short for collecting. I am really interested in any easy to keep small fish that would do well in 2,5-5 gallon tank setups. Can you think of any other species apart from the least killifish? Maybe the topminnows you mentioned. I would like to sample the waterways but really only take the heterandria(and any other suggestions) home with me.



#7 don212

don212
  • NANFA Member

Posted 02 May 2016 - 09:33 AM

immature formosa sometimes slip through my jonahs net but anything smaller is not sturdy enough, there is a long handled net usually sold to collect grass shrimp pretty regularly available down here, other species are several pygmy sunfish, though those seem to be a bit tough to keep , pygmy killifish (leptolucania, ommata),rainwater killifish (lucania,parva) often found in brackish water but also freshwater springs, you could also have a pair or trio of the slightly larger bluefin killie(lucania, goodei)



#8 lilyea

lilyea
  • NANFA Member
  • Peace River Watershed, Central Florida, USA

Posted 02 May 2016 - 08:36 PM

Thanks for the replies so far, guys! Would a regular dipnet from a bait shop or walmart work just as well? I read somewhere that since they are so small, the formosa often slip through mesh nets unless the diameters of the spacing is small enough. Are dip nets with a small enough diameter spacing available at walmart/bait shops? I could also use an aquarium fish net but I think the handle diameter would be too short for collecting. I am really interested in any easy to keep small fish that would do well in 2,5-5 gallon tank setups. Can you think of any other species apart from the least killifish? Maybe the topminnows you mentioned. I would like to sample the waterways but really only take the heterandria(and any other suggestions) home with me.

My dipnet has 1/8th inch mesh netting and that size works well for the size of the fish that you are hoping to collect.  There are many posts on this forum about dipnets that will provide a lot of information.  I haven't seen the nets that Don referred to for grass shrimp so I am not sure what the mesh size is on those nets.  Pygmy sunfish could be kept in a 5 gallon tank but they can be a bit more of a challenge to keep and do best with live foods (and aren't as easy to find).  Bluefin killies, wild sailfin mollies, golden topminnows, marbled crayfish, melanistic gambusia and a wide range of juvenile gamefish can all be regularly caught with a dipnet in the Tampa/Orlando ponds and lakes and many other species will be seen from time to time but IMO they are not suited for a 5g tank or smaller. 



#9 Darkskies

Darkskies
  • NANFA Guest

Posted 06 May 2016 - 12:30 PM

Hi everyone,

So I'm now in the kissimmee area and was wondering what local bodies of water would be a good place to look for heterandria Formosa. I'll only be here for the next 3-4 days and am hoping to have time to go on a collecting trip. Please let me know where I should start looking, particularly prefer if you have the exact addresses and names of locations. Thanks!

#10 Isaac Szabo

Isaac Szabo
  • NANFA Member
  • The Ozarks

Posted 06 May 2016 - 02:53 PM

Heterandria are so common down there that you shouldn't need a known location in order to find them. You should be able to find them in just about any water you happen to come across with appropriate habitat (shallow, vegetated). That said, FishMap is a great resource if you want locations. It shows 7-8 records for Heterandria within 10 miles of Kissimee: http://www.nanfa.org...-Killifish.html.



#11 Darkskies

Darkskies
  • NANFA Guest

Posted 06 May 2016 - 06:50 PM

Heterandria are so common down there that you shouldn't need a known location in order to find them. You should be able to find them in just about any water you happen to come across with appropriate habitat (shallow, vegetated). That said, FishMap is a great resource if you want locations. It shows 7-8 records for Heterandria within 10 miles of Kissimee: http://www.nanfa.org...-Killifish.html.

Hey, thanks for the quick reply and the link to fishmap. How do I get the exact quadrants on Google Maps so I can get directions through there from where I am? I keep tapping on the red dots but the option for quadrants or "drive to" doesn't appear. Basically since I don't know anything about the area it's hard to know where the accessible creeks and canals are. Thanks!

#12 Isaac Szabo

Isaac Szabo
  • NANFA Member
  • The Ozarks

Posted 06 May 2016 - 08:12 PM

Click on a dot, copy the coordinates, and paste them into regular google maps. That way you can get driving directions to the site. One of the sites is Brinson Park right in Kissimee. That should be pretty easy to find.

#13 Doug_Dame

Doug_Dame
  • NANFA Member

Posted 07 May 2016 - 08:47 PM

Heterandria are so common down there that you shouldn't need a known location in order to find them. You should be able to find them in just about any water you happen to come across with appropriate habitat (shallow, vegetated). That said, FishMap is a great resource if you want locations. It shows 7-8 records for Heterandria within 10 miles of Kissimee: http://www.nanfa.org...-Killifish.html.

 

(Sorry for slow reply. I've been on vacation, without internet. Hard to imagine. I was shocked.)

 

Most any permanent pond, roadside drainage ditch or swamp in peninsular Florida will have them. Personally, if Hets were the main thing I was interested in, I would use a std 6x4 or 8x5" aquarium net. The males are typically only 1/2" to 5/8" long. and it's only by accident that you will catch any with a conventional collecting dipnet, they just run back through the holes in the net as fast as the water escapes. (Males are easy to ID, they have a gonopodium.) Females are somewhat larger, and plump. Sweep through vegetation in water 1" to a foot deep. If you stand still, they're usually easy to spot after a while. Golden colored slow movers, that peck at vegetation. Also characteristically, if you see a small golden fish from above that (from above) is J-shaped, or just pivoting in place, that's almost for sure a Het. But mostly you'll catch them without spotting them first, just work the shallow vegetation.

 

HTH


Doug Dame

Floridian now in Cincinnati
 


#14 Darkskies

Darkskies
  • NANFA Guest

Posted 08 May 2016 - 07:46 PM

 
(Sorry for slow reply. I've been on vacation, without internet. Hard to imagine. I was shocked.)
 
Most any permanent pond, roadside drainage ditch or swamp in peninsular Florida will have them. Personally, if Hets were the main thing I was interested in, I would use a std 6x4 or 8x5" aquarium net. The males are typically only 1/2" to 5/8" long. and it's only by accident that you will catch any with a conventional collecting dipnet, they just run back through the holes in the net as fast as the water escapes. (Males are easy to ID, they have a gonopodium.) Females are somewhat larger, and plump. Sweep through vegetation in water 1" to a foot deep. If you stand still, they're usually easy to spot after a while. Golden colored slow movers, that peck at vegetation. Also characteristically, if you see a small golden fish from above that (from above) is J-shaped, or just pivoting in place, that's almost for sure a Het. But mostly you'll catch them without spotting them first, just work the shallow vegetation.
 
HTH

Thanks for the detailed post! It was very helpful. I went to Brinson park. What part is public property and what is private there? It seemed like a very small area was actually the park and it ran behind a residential area with houses on either side. I mostly caught Gambusia. I think I may have caught a few hets but it's really hard for me to tell. The black markings are somewhat horizontal instead of vertical. Are there any places with a large, easy to catch population of hets? Maybe a swamp or something? I saw lots of interesting fish in the swamp area of gatorland including what I believe were sailfin mollies! I doubt I can collect there though and I don't feel like spending the entrance fee again just to collect. I would really like to bring back hets instead of gambusia. You guys have helped me out a lot so far but if you have any further advice, it would be much appreciated.

#15 Doug_Dame

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  • NANFA Member

Posted 08 May 2016 - 11:10 PM

Thanks for the detailed post! It was very helpful. I went to Brinson park. What part is public property and what is private there? It seemed like a very small area was actually the park and it ran behind a residential area with houses on either side. I mostly caught Gambusia. I think I may have caught a few hets but it's really hard for me to tell. The black markings are somewhat horizontal instead of vertical. Are there any places with a large, easy to catch population of hets? Maybe a swamp or something? I saw lots of interesting fish in the swamp area of gatorland including what I believe were sailfin mollies! I doubt I can collect there though and I don't feel like spending the entrance fee again just to collect. I would really like to bring back hets instead of gambusia. You guys have helped me out a lot so far but if you have any further advice, it would be much appreciated.

 

Probably none of us has ever been to Brinson Park. Well, except for Brian Zimmerman, that's one of his locations recently added to the FishMap application. Zooming in on the Google map, it's looks like his GPS spot is in the lake, in the vegetated area right in front of the parking. That seems like probable territory for Hets. Usually private property adjoining public parks is marked with private property and/or "posted" signs.

 

You probably caught some on your first foray there. Can you post a picture of your best prospect?

 

 

The fish you are most likely to catch there, possibly all on the same scoop of your net:

 

* Gambusia - primarily SCHOOL at the TOP. Active. Blue-ish tinge, over silver/gray/white. Not much markings. No hint of gold. No red anywhere. Black eye marking. Many will have prominent black "gravid spot." 1 to 2 inches. In many locations, one in 737 males will have a very easy to spot "salt & pepper" coloration.

 

* Heterandria - Not at the surface, down in the vegetation. Color olive/gold. Has a distinct red ring around a small black spot on front of dorsal. No hint of blue whatsoever. May or may not have black markings on side,but typically has a broad horizontal band with 6-10 very fine vertical lines. (Gambusia don't have anything like that.) 

 

* Native molly - bigger than either gambusia or Heter, and faster. Even big adults may be in very shallow water. From above, have yellow line down the body. Males showing off will have a flashy blue or blue+orange tail, and some will show an oversized dorsal fin. In the hand, many females will have a rather bright yellow belly (and are fat.). Every scale will have a small black dot. Pointed molly face with lips. May try to jump out of your bucket or cooler.

 

Plus: 

* Bluefin killie (Lucania goodei.) - Males have blue or red or orange (or occasionally yellow) dorsal and anal fins. Wide black side stripe, with zigzag edges. Females yellowish and usually have purplish tinge. Slightly deeper water. 

 

* golden ear topminnow (Fundulus chrysotus) - in the vegetation. Golden flecks and/or red/metallic spots on body. May have red fins. 

 

* flagfish. Mottled green/yellow/white. Murky dark spot on side. At about 1.5", males start developing stripes down the side that look kinda like an American flag, if it were green and orange. Babies under 1" hang out in extremely shallow water, in vegetation.

 

* Elassoma. Evergladei and okefenokee are local to the Orlando area. If you catch a tiny almost black fish with electric blue bars, that'll be one of the males. Females brown/purplish/tan with some mottling. 

 

If you catch anything not listed above, send a picture. PM me if you want.


Doug Dame

Floridian now in Cincinnati
 


#16 Darkskies

Darkskies
  • NANFA Guest

Posted 15 May 2016 - 03:23 PM

 

Probably none of us has ever been to Brinson Park. Well, except for Brian Zimmerman, that's one of his locations recently added to the FishMap application. Zooming in on the Google map, it's looks like his GPS spot is in the lake, in the vegetated area right in front of the parking. That seems like probable territory for Hets. Usually private property adjoining public parks is marked with private property and/or "posted" signs.

 

You probably caught some on your first foray there. Can you post a picture of your best prospect?

 

 

The fish you are most likely to catch there, possibly all on the same scoop of your net:

 

* Gambusia - primarily SCHOOL at the TOP. Active. Blue-ish tinge, over silver/gray/white. Not much markings. No hint of gold. No red anywhere. Black eye marking. Many will have prominent black "gravid spot." 1 to 2 inches. In many locations, one in 737 males will have a very easy to spot "salt & pepper" coloration.

 

* Heterandria - Not at the surface, down in the vegetation. Color olive/gold. Has a distinct red ring around a small black spot on front of dorsal. No hint of blue whatsoever. May or may not have black markings on side,but typically has a broad horizontal band with 6-10 very fine vertical lines. (Gambusia don't have anything like that.) 

 

* Native molly - bigger than either gambusia or Heter, and faster. Even big adults may be in very shallow water. From above, have yellow line down the body. Males showing off will have a flashy blue or blue+orange tail, and some will show an oversized dorsal fin. In the hand, many females will have a rather bright yellow belly (and are fat.). Every scale will have a small black dot. Pointed molly face with lips. May try to jump out of your bucket or cooler.

 

Plus: 

* Bluefin killie (Lucania goodei.) - Males have blue or red or orange (or occasionally yellow) dorsal and anal fins. Wide black side stripe, with zigzag edges. Females yellowish and usually have purplish tinge. Slightly deeper water. 

 

* golden ear topminnow (Fundulus chrysotus) - in the vegetation. Golden flecks and/or red/metallic spots on body. May have red fins. 

 

* flagfish. Mottled green/yellow/white. Murky dark spot on side. At about 1.5", males start developing stripes down the side that look kinda like an American flag, if it were green and orange. Babies under 1" hang out in extremely shallow water, in vegetation.

 

* Elassoma. Evergladei and okefenokee are local to the Orlando area. If you catch a tiny almost black fish with electric blue bars, that'll be one of the males. Females brown/purplish/tan with some mottling. 

 

If you catch anything not listed above, send a picture. PM me if you want.

 

Thanks for such a great post! I apologize for my delay. I am now back in the northeast. It was a very fun and action-packed road trip. Wish I could have stayed a few more days. There are just so many things to do in Orlando! Your description was spot on and really helped me distinguish between gambusia and hets. I went back to Brinson Park and was able to catch around 10 hets(maybe more, maybe less). It was hard not to have gambusia in the mix after netting fish so there are a few of them in my 5 gallon plastic see-through shoebox as well(filled with water halfway). A few fish died but it seems like most of them made it on the bumpy 18-20 hour car drive with multiple stops! It's hard for me to count all of them but I went to feed the fish today but they all scatter every which way and continue to panic after I remove the lid of the shoebox. I put some NLS small pellets in the water and left them floating. I'm pretty sure the pellets are smaller than the mouths of the hets. I also left the lid off so that hopefully over the next few days they get used to people walking around them. They haven't eaten anything since I caught them on Tuesday morning and today was my first attempt at feeding. Since these are wild fish, will they realize that the NLS pellets are food? Since they panic when I approach their container, they don't realize that I brought them food. Although it's only filled halfway, I doubt the hets would swim to the surface to eat the pellets. My readings gave me the impression that hets are easy to transition to pellets/flakes. How do I go about doing this?

 

Based on other posts I read, it seems that others have had success with keeping hets in even 3 gallon shallow containers with no mechanical filtration or air stones. Should I be equally as successful with keeping my hets in this 5 gallon plastic shoebox? So far, they seem lively enough and have survived for the past 5 days. I only filled the shoebox halfway so that there would be more efficient oxygen transfer beneath the surface of the water. I am fine with doing water changes once a week or even more frequently if necessary. I just want to know how I can get the fish to eat pellets and if this is a viable setup long term. I really owe it to you guys for helping me out with this! Your advice has been very valuable thus far. Thanks!


Edited by Darkskies, 15 May 2016 - 03:24 PM.


#17 Doug_Dame

Doug_Dame
  • NANFA Member

Posted 15 May 2016 - 04:15 PM

Don't know how well pellets would work. Hets have pretty small mouths, and seem to mostly exist by pecking at plants, for micro-critters we can't see and/or algae. But they do fine on flake food, just crunch it in your fingers into tiny fragments. They should do fine in a small tank/shoebox ... but I would always put them with plants, which provide comfort & safety, food, and will improve water quality. A sponge filter would be good choice if you want filtration. 

 

Glad you found some. 


Doug Dame

Floridian now in Cincinnati
 




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