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Sheepshead minnow as a pond fish?


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#1 Joshaeus

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Posted 12 February 2017 - 01:52 PM

Hello all! I am considering using the sheepshead minnow, Cyprinodon variegatus, in a container pond this year...I have a few questions about using them for such a purpose:

1 - How visible are they in container ponds? The 'pond' in question is a 24 inch diameter pot.

2 - How much salt will they need? Will 1/4th teaspoon reef salt work, or do they need more than that? (I want to have enough to keep them happy while having sufficiently little to grow typical pond plants...REALLY want a water lily)

3 - I understand that when they encounter low (below 50 degree) temperatures in the wild, sheepshead minnows burrow into the substrate until the temperatures warm up. Since adding the sand to the bottom of the pot would make it unwieldly and heavy, can I simply provide several jars with a couple inches of sand in them each? Should I even bother providing a substrate?

 

Thankx in advance :) Really confuses me why sheepsheads aren't more popular aquarium fishes considering how hardy they are.



#2 Joshaeus

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 02:48 PM

Well...any thoughts?



#3 Doug_Dame

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 04:08 PM

Being a brackish water fish, this is probably not a fish that a lot of people have kept. So lack of experience probably explains why no answers yet.

 

I have kept a few ... that literally washed into my front yard during Hurricane Hermine ... in a pure f/w community tank. And I've kept them before in brackish water tanks. I have not tried keeping them outdoors. Some observations:

* seem to do fine in a pure f/w environment with plants. I had four originally, lost one in Dec and another last month. AFAICT, just normal age-related mortality, they were all adult-sized when I got them in August.

* they're reasonably active fish

* omnivores, happy to take a variety of flake foods

* bottom-dwellers, and semi-cryptically colored from above. 

* Breeding males get an irridiscent blue flash on their head which is attractive.

* They also tend to get rather territorial, and expend much energy defending their territory. Certainly from other male CVs, but also from some other species. Or individuals they don't like. I haven't figured out exactly what gets their attention. Having various pieces of structure reduces the visual stimulation and gives cover to the pursued. I have not seen physical damage, it's mostly chasing. They don't tend to go up and bother mid-water or top-water fish. (one batch of brackish water ones were in a 55g, mostly with other brackish water killies, like F. grandis and similis, and mollies; the others were in a 20L species tank.)

 

The fact that they seem to live well in freshwater is a big plus, since there's very few aquarium-type plants that like salt. Don't know if they would breed in f/w however.

 

I count these pupfish as "personality fish" with an interesting shape and behaviors. You'd miss out on a lot of that by putting them in a container pond, as opposed to an aquarium where you could more easily watch them,

 

In the wild, adults and especially juvvies are often seen in extremely shallow water, usually over sand. 

 

Cohabitate especially well with mollies, which tend to prefer the surface and mid-waters.

 

Don't have personal experience with their cold water adaptations.

 

A 24" pot filled with water is going to be heavy enough that an inch or two of substrate isn't going to make a significant difference in how movable the pot is. I think a substrate will make a significant difference in how comfortable your CV are in their environment. But you can get a serious wheeled plant stand (dolly) for $20 to $30 that would give your pot mobility. (On a smooth surface, not so much on grass.) I've had good luck with the DeVault brand (see Amazon) but there are others that look comparable. 

 

HTH - YMMV


Doug Dame

Floridian now back in Florida
 


#4 Chasmodes

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 05:36 PM

Good stuff Doug.

 

I had few along with some mummichogs in a 10 gallon many many years ago along with a blue devil damsel.  It was my first saltwater tank.  I caught them locally and just dumped them into the full saltwater.  It didn't phase them at all (as I was hoping).  They were out and eating the next morning.  I had one male and three females.  They were quite entertaining.    


Kevin Wilson


#5 don212

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 08:34 PM

there is a freshwater subspecies in lake eustis fl.



#6 Doug_Dame

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 12:13 AM

there is a freshwater subspecies in lake eustis fl.

 

Yes there is.

 

And according to the new Imperiled Species Management Plan adopted by the FWC at their November meeting, the "Lake Eustis pupfish" has been moved from a Florida Species of Special Concern, to De-Listed, effective last month. So now it's legal for hobbyists to keep them without getting special permits. 

 

There was a big push in this plan to move species from the Species of Special Concern status to either Threatened, or Not Listed. The current use of SSC is basically as a temporary time out, due to lack of sufficient scientific evidence to conclude that a species is indeed Threatened. (Or not.)

 

(Other species of possible interest here that had status changes were:

* Pt. welaka - bluenose shiner - from SSC to Threatened

* Kryptolebias (nee Rivulus) marmoratus - mangrove rivulus - from SSC to De-Listed)


Doug Dame

Floridian now back in Florida
 


#7 don212

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 02:49 PM

i wonder if anyone will want to head to lake eustis next week?



#8 Joshaeus

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 05:12 PM

Was more worried about moving the pot when it is emptied of water (in which case the sand could be important). Anyhow, thankx!



#9 lilyea

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Posted 24 February 2017 - 11:25 PM

Joshaeus - I currently keep Cyprinodon variegatus in a brackish setup and have previously kept them in a full saltwater setup.  My understanding is that they could be kept in anything from full saltwater to full freshwater but would not breed without a certain minimal level of salt.  Although I don't have many answers to your questions, I will be interested to hear about your findings.  Best of luck!



#10 mmyers1976

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Posted 26 February 2018 - 12:02 PM

I grew up catching sheepshead minnows down on Galveston Island, always thought of them as a brackish/marine species, so I was surprised to catch some about 30 miles upstream of where Buffalo Bayou enters the most inland, and lowest salinity part of the Galveston Bay system, in a little tributary creek that should be completely freshwater. I put them in my pond, but they disappeared, just like the male sailfin mollies and golden topminnows I've also tried to keep in my pond. Female mollies do fine and reproduce, as do all gambusia, so I suspect the more colorful fish like male sailfin mollies and sheepshead minnows are getting snatched by birds.



#11 Hydrophilus

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Posted 18 November 2018 - 02:46 PM

At risk of reviving a long dead thread and drifting slightly off-topic, I'd like to reply to something Doug Dame said. Although the Lake Eustis pupfish (Cyprinodon variegatus hubbsi) and mangrove rivulus (Kryptolebias marmoratus) were both de-listed, that does not mean they can be legally collected. They both remain on the FWC's list of no-take species for now, unfortunately.
-Eric C. Maxwell
DEC Rare Fish Unit, Watertown, NY

#12 Doug_Dame

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Posted 18 November 2018 - 04:30 PM

Eric, 

 

Please explain how you came to that conclusion.

 

The FWC website in the section on Protected Wildlife Permits says "Protected wildlife includes those species listed as Endangered, Threatened or Species of Special Concern" ... which is entirely consistent with all the language I have ever seen. Neither the Lake Eustis pupfish nor the mangrove rivulus meet that criteria since they were officially de-listed. They are still included in the Imperiled Species MANAGEMENT PLAN, but I haven't seen any language in the management plan that suggests that the management plan is intended to, or has the effect of, being a no-take list that supersedes the species explicitly listed in the current version of Rules 68A-27.003 (endangered and threatened) and 68A-27.005 (species of special concern) of the Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.)

 

As an aside, I never agreed with what I saw as a political, ideological de-regulation drive to rollback protections of imperiled species. On the positive side, the effort of gathering and reviewing the scientific evidence has clarified the status of some of the species, and in some areas, the new management plans have some steps/requirements that are more than "keep monitoring." But for cryptic species for which there is very little hard data, the goal posts have been moved to the point that by the time that the professional biologists in FWC could show that a species is in severe peril, that species could very well be past the point of potential recovery. (This my opinion purely as a resident and lay observer, but encompasses not only FWC, but also other state regulatory/scientific/permitting agencies, e.g. the water mgmt districts and the Fl Dept of Environment Protection.) As they say, elections have consequences. When anti-environmentalists dominate the legislature, the laws and marching orders of state agencies tend to shift. But enough on that rant.

 

As always, NANFAns consider removing species from the wild should consider the rarity and difficulty of keeping each species, even if it's not legally protected.


Doug Dame

Floridian now back in Florida
 


#13 Hydrophilus

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Posted 18 November 2018 - 05:53 PM

Hi Doug,

  I obtained my information from the FWC website. I saw that those two species were de-listed while planning a collecting trip to Florida this winter, and thought that since they were no longer listed that they were legal to take like other non-game fish. However, the FWC website on Lake Eustis pupfish (http://myfwc.com/wil...eustis-pupfish/) says under the Conservation and Management heading " The Lake Eustis pupfish is protected from take by 68A-4.001, F.A.C." I took that at face value at the time. I dug back into that regulation, and looked at the Imperiled Species Management plans, and am forced to conclude that the webpage is in error. All other sources that I can find state that this species is no longer regulated any differently than other non-game fish, as far as the hobbyist collector is concerned. The ISMP says "The Lake Eustis pupfish receives the same protections as other small, nongame fish, as outlined in Rule 68A1.004(46), F.A.C.; harvest methods are regulated under Rule 68A-23.003, F.A.C."

 

  The page for mangrove rivulus says the same thing the pupfish page does ("The mangrove rivulus is protected from take by 68A-4.001, F.A.C.") (http://myfwc.com/wil...angrove-rivulus). When I dug back into the rules for this species, I expected to find similar information as I did for the pupfish. The only regulation for this species that I could find was listed under the ISMP, which says, "Collection is regulated through the Marine Special Activity License program, pursuant to Chapter 68B-8, F.A.C.". The Marine SAL list of regulated marine species says this is a prohibited species - meaning all take is prohibited. However, that list was updated in July of 2016, before this species was de-listed. I'm not sure if it's still regulated or not. If it is still regulated by the SAL program, then the only legal collections that can be made are by researchers and educators, essentially. I'll have to contact the FWC Marine SAL office for clarification on this species. I have been hoping to have a chance at keeping this species ever since a close friend told me about his experience breeding them several years ago. They seem like fantastic fish.

 

  Thanks for inspiring me to wade a little deeper into those regulations! Also, my apologies to the OP for getting this thread a little side-tracked.

 

Cheers,

Eric


-Eric C. Maxwell
DEC Rare Fish Unit, Watertown, NY



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