This weekend, I plan to get out and find some fish for the tank. Target species will be rainbow and tessellated darters, spotfin or satinfin shiners, rosyside dace, silverjaw minnows, and eastern silvery minnows. I will keep other similar species if I catch them, like the more common ones (longnose dace are cool, blacknose dace, etc.).
Well, no aquarium project is completely finished until it supports life, and in this case, fish. I had a little time late on Sunday to get out to a creek that is only 15 minutes from my house to catch a few fish. My goal was to collect a few minnows of any time, and if lucky, a couple darters. So, I gathered up my hip boots, a bucket, and my net, and headed to the creek.
After about a quarter mile hike, I got to the spot that I wanted to collect. I had about an hour or so before the lost of daylight. I walked the creek bank for a bit and didn't see any fish at all. Either the fish weren't there, or the cold weather had them all hiding. I wasn't sure if perhaps they migrated out of the creek and into the river or were still there.
I climbed into the creek and tried kicking up leaves and, sure enough, the first fish showed up in the net, a small eastern black nosed dace (Rhinichthys atratulus). It was tiny, and I didn't want tiny fragile fish in a new tank. So, I kept disturbing leaves and eventually, found more larger fish of the same species. I kept five of them for the tank. I moved from pool to pool disturbing rocks and leaves with my feet, but, no darters.
So, I decided to start turning over larger rocks with my hand. So, I rolled up my shirt sleeves and began to work. I turned over the rocks, used my other hand to scare anything underneath into my net, which leaned precariously against my leg. After a few rocks, finally, a beautiful male rainbow darter (Etheostoma caeruleum)showed up in my net!
I was so pumped, what a beautiful fish. I should have taken a picture then, but, my phone was in my jacket on the creek bank a few pools back. It was very dark, and his orange/red fins were stunning. I kept turning over rocks looking for a female companion for him.
After a few more rocks turned over, another darter showed up in the net. At first, I thought it was a female, but, on closer inspection, it was a different species. It was a fantail darter (Etheostoma flabellare). I tried for a while more, working down each pool with no more success on darters. I caught a sculpin, but released it, along with several more blacknose dace. Since daylight was ending, I called it quits, happy with what I caught. Not just happy, elated!
I took the fish home, stuck an airstone in the bucket and let it alone for about four hours, so the water temps would warm to room temperature in my basement, about 64 degrees. The creek was quite cold, so it took a while. I tested a few parameters of the creek water and they were very similar to those of my tank. After that, I netted the fish out of my bucket and released them into my tank.
Within an hour, the dace and fantail darters were exploring the tank. The rainbow darter hid and sulked for a long time, perhaps more than two hours before coming out to explore. I fed a few flakes to the dace, and they ate. I didn't expect the darters to eat the flakes, so, I tossed in some blackworms. The fantail darter ate some immediately, as did the dace. The rainbow darter had no interest in food yet.
Last night, I came home from a fishing trip and rushed downstairs to observe my new fish. All of the fish were happy, doing what they do. The darters explore every nook and cranny in the tank, hunting for food. I fed them flakes again first, thinking the dace would get full and not eat the worms. I learned that they are never full.
I dropped in some blackworm with a turkey baster, target feeding near the darters to make sure that they got at least one worm to eat, and that worked. Both darters ate them with gusto. Success! The fish are feeding already, and seem happy in their new environment. I marveled at the personality of both darters, and the brilliant coloration of the male, not yet in breeding colors, but still amazing that fish like that live so close to me.
I put together a video of the clips from the last two days, showing the tank with fish. I hope you enjoy it!
I don't think I'm alone when I say that a lot of us have been waiting roughly 3 years, 19 days, and ~2 hours for this video. Congrats, Kevin. This is a fantastic tank and it will be even more enjoyable to watch as you add more fish. Tip of the hat, good sir.
Thank you so much Nick! Sorry that it took so long! I can't wait to get out and get some more fish. But, right now, even though I did a fishless cycle, I'm nervous about adding too many fish too fast. I dumped in some bottled bacteria last night just in case. I certainly would like a few more of each species of darter. I need to get some snails to tackle that algae, although, it looks kinda cool on the roots. I guess that the darters would keep any snail population in check though, or eliminate them entirely.
I agree about adding too many too quickly. Certainly no rush. I would look at your lighting cycle/duration as an alternative to snails. I only say this b/c I added FIVE ramshorn snails to my 150. A few were eaten right away, then the others I never saw again. What I found every time I cleaned out the canister filter was dozen and dozens of juveniles surviving in the media and sponges. Every so often they would jam up the pump and I'd have greatly reduced flow and performance. Not to say you can't add any. Just something to think about with a small pump and impeller on your canister filter.
Thank you Nick. You're right, there are other ways. I was hoping to grow some water stargrass on the right side of the tank near the glass, hoping to buffer the return current, but also to absorb nutrients to compete with algae. But, it might be too late to find it with the cold temps. I guess it dies off about now.
BTW, do blackworms live in the tank if they aren't eaten right away? I've kept them alive for months in my refrigerator with about an inch of fresh water in the container. Will they be a constant source of food for the darters? If not, no big deal, because they're pretty cheap and easy for me to obtain.
I have a glass top, so I think it should keep the fish in. I wanted the glass top to reduce evaporation also, as well as keeping fish in. It's constantly wet, so I'll need to clean algae off on a regular basis, especially if I want to keep plants to keep the light levels up. So far, so good. Thanks for the info on the blackworms. Fortunately, my LFS keeps them in stock regularly, and they're cheap.
I wound up collecting more fish from a local stream about 40 minutes from my house for my FW stream tank this past weekend. This small stream has been one of my favorite smallmouth bass fishing spots over the years. It has a wide diversity of fish species, as much as any stream in the Western part of Maryland.
There are a couple species that I still want, but, for the most part, it's fully stocked now. I also found a beautiful red rock that I just had to put into the tank. I'm trying to find at least one rock to add to the tank from each fish collecting site. This tank is a Potomac River biotope tank, minus major predators.
The species below are currently in this tank:
Rainbow Darter (Etheostoma caeruleum)
Fantail Darter (Etheostoma flabellare)
Greenside Darter (Etheostoma blennioides)
Minnows, Shiners and Dace:
Eastern Blacknosed Dace (Rhinichthys atratulus)
Spottail Shiner (Notropis hudsonius))
Silverjaw Minnow (Notropis buccatus)
Longnose Dace (Rhinichthys cataractae)
River Chub juvenile (Nocomis micropogon) or perhaps a juvenile creek chub (Semotilus atromaculatus). I can't get a good look at this fish because it has dominated one of the caves, loves to hang out there. When I caught it, I actually misidentified it as a spottail shiner.
Here's a short video of the tank and the new critters:
Just some experience with N. amplamala, the southern sister species to your silver jaw... they do not do well unless there is a sandy substrate area of the tank... they dont seem to "pick" food from between pebbles or stones... they seem to want to "suck" food off the smooth softer substrate. When I find them down here, they are almost always over sand... what did the habitat look like when you collected yours?
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin
Thank you Michael for the info. I couldn't find much info about silverjaws in captivity, so this is very helpful. I intended to add sand to the tank. My first collection trip creek had some really nice dark sand, so I think I'll grab some of that, wash it out, and add it to the low spot in the tank, maybe all the way to the right side of the tank. My intent is to grow stargrass on that end of the tank, so the sand may help that too.
I was thinking the same thing! I thought it was another spottail shiner until I had a closer look. I need to do a better job in field ID. I'll bring my photo tank next time. IDing in the net didn't work so well!