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Mysterious Missing Fishes

9 replies to this topic

#1 catfishresinst

  • NANFA Member
  • tennessee

Posted 16 August 2018 - 02:15 PM

Hello Everyone:


I have an issue that I would like some help with.  In June while I attended the convention in Georgia; I managed to bring home a small madtom catfish.  In addition to this; I collected some Darters and Sculpins from a local creek.  Everyone was doing fine.  I went to the Ichs and Herps convention in New York and worked my way back home to Kentucky.  When I got home; all the Darters, Sculpins, and the one Madtom has disappeared.  


Here is what I have done.  I have collected a single Darter and Sculpin and placed these small specimens into the tank specifically set up for creek fish.  They seem to be doing quite well so far.  The mystery is that there are no carcasses, not skeletal remains at all.  I have even put dead minnows into the tank to see if the very small crayfish could of disposed of the the remains, but even though that have eaten some of the minnows; you can still make out the skeletal remains.


Where did the 16 fish go.  Nothing around the tank indicating that they jumped out, and no remains in the filtration system.  


Any ideas???

#2 Michael Wolfe

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

Posted 16 August 2018 - 02:36 PM

Madtoms and sculpins are excellent at two things. Eating and hiding. I have had madtoms specifically disappear for months. And the surprise me when I move the last rock out of an empty tank. And be significantly larger than when I last saw them.

If you have more than zero hiding places and more than an inch of water. Then you might still have the sculpins and or madtoms
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

#3 Matt DeLaVega

Matt DeLaVega
  • Forum Staff
  • Ohio

Posted 16 August 2018 - 06:32 PM

I agree. They went Highlander,  and there is still one or a few dug in. Sleeping off the big meal.

The member formerly known as Skipjack

#4 JasonL

  • NANFA Member
  • Kentucky

Posted 16 August 2018 - 07:40 PM

Agree with the above.

I have a large native multispecies tank and last year made the mistake of adding a tiny half inch tadpole madtom to the mix. Thought he might add some interest and what harm could a tiny cat do? Didn't see him for over a year and actually forgot about him. Next thing I know some of my smaller darters and other micro species started to disappear. Long story short, turns out that madtom had grown to over 6 inches in a little over a year and was hiding in a small crevice near the back of my tank partially buried in substrate. Came out at night to forage on darters apparently.

Bottom line, if you break down your tank you will find the culprit. My money is on the madtom but the sculpin is plausible too.

#5 Doug_Dame

  • NANFA Member

Posted 17 August 2018 - 04:17 AM

Agree, BTDT.


Catfish are amazingly effective nocturnal predators. And they have big mouths. They'll eat anything that will fit in their mouth. (I have a buddy who years ago made the mistake of putting a couple of dozen 1/2" baby cats ... "they're so cute!" ...  in a 200g tank that had more than 400 Heterandria in it. Two week later, there were no Hets. 10 days later, the last 2 (much larger) catfish died, lock-jawed, as one unsuccessfully tried to eat the other.) 


Never kept sculpin, but Darwin designed those as stealth predators. Huge mouth-to-body ratio.


Also, never trust a crayfish around fish. They're sneaky too.

Doug Dame

Floridian now back in Florida

#6 Josh Blaylock

Josh Blaylock
  • Board of Directors
  • Central Kentucky

Posted 17 August 2018 - 06:39 AM

I'd bet on the catfish too.  That's why the Elegant Madtom from the Green River in KY is the perfect aquarium catfish, it doesn't get very big.

Josh Blaylock - Central KY
NANFA on Facebook


I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.

- Abraham Lincoln, 1861

#7 catfishresinst

  • NANFA Member
  • tennessee

Posted 22 August 2018 - 08:27 AM

I agree, but the Sculpins were all bigger than the Madtom.  The Rainbow and Johnnie Darters as well.  Here is the issue.  I took almost all the substrate out looking for these fish.  They are not buried in the remaining gravel that I have which just barely covers the bottom.  When going through the removed sand and gravel, there was no bone fragments to be found.  If they had jumped out, which was almost impossible since the cover was on, there would be carcasses and there aren't any.  It is a complete mystery to me.  The very juvenile crayfish that I have in the tank was a possibility, but when tested by putting in dead minnows; they were not eaten by them in a specific time, but even if they were bone fragments would still be present.  I have since procured a single small sculpin and darter and they are still going good after 2 weeks.  My thought is that the person that was suppose to be feeding my tanks allowed them to die and removed them, but then was apprehensive about telling me.

#8 gerald

  • Global Moderator
  • Wake Forest, North Carolina

Posted 22 August 2018 - 06:36 PM

Do you have a house cat?

Gerald Pottern
Hangin' on the Neuse
"Taxonomy is the diaper used to organize the mess of evolution into discrete packages" - M.Sandel

#9 Doug_Dame

  • NANFA Member

Posted 22 August 2018 - 08:34 PM

I got it, I got it !!!!


Colonel Mustard in the Basement with a Flamethrower !




“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

 - Sherlock Holmes

Doug Dame

Floridian now back in Florida

#10 catfishresinst

  • NANFA Member
  • tennessee

Posted 22 August 2018 - 09:09 PM

No Cat, but it does seem as though I am playing the Clue game.  

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