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Starting with natives - Johnny darter tank

4 replies to this topic

#1 leaqua

  • NANFA Guest
  • Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec, Canada

Posted 24 October 2019 - 09:33 AM

*Hello everyone !


As said in my presentation post, I just move from France to Québec and in the same time became really interested in native fishes. One of my favourite family is definitely the darters. There's a lot of Johnny darter (Etheostoma nigrum) in the river where I live,  and I decided to start a tank for them. My goal is to conceive the tank to please them first (and maybe, if I'm lucky, breed them). They may have tankmates or not, I'm not sure yet (maybe a small school of Fundulus diaphanus, are I found them in large number in the same place as the J.D.).


As I'm a student, I have two main constraint : place and money. I found a second-hand shallow tank   and thought it'll be perfect for darters as it optimize the floor area. I also bought a used Fluval 106 to have a good waterflow. I had some filter media from an old tank of mine which has been running for a year to "boost" the nitrogen cycle. The sand is a sandbox one (free of pollutants), so much cheaper than fish tank gravel and really looks like river sand (and already washed !). I add a simple LED bar (640 lumens, 3000K) that should be alright for the few plants I'm gonna have. All rocks, wood and plants come from the river.


So, here it is, just after setup (still cloudy):

L*w*h = 78*29*24cm = 31* 11.4* 9.4 in

About 54L or 14Gal.




I tried to replicate the biotope where I found JD here : a sandy river bottom with a lots of dark schist-like rocks of different size. I used the rocks to create 4 caves. I often found them next to the river bank, and so I tried to mimic it with the wood and some plants. To date I only have a few but I will add more.


Time for questions !

- How many JD could I keep in there ?

- If I want to breed them, should I leave them alone or could I had some tank mates ? If tank mates, which one ? (Next to my place I already found some Fundulus diaphanus and small minnows).

- Do you have any suggestion to improve the setup ? More rocks / caves ?


I look forward to have your comments and advice !


PS : I'm used to wait, and as it's almost winter here fishes will probably arrived only in a few month !

Edited by leaqua, 24 October 2019 - 09:40 AM.

#2 Michael Wolfe

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

Posted 26 October 2019 - 10:33 AM

your set up looks great.  I think you could keep 6-8 darters in that 31 x 11 footprint, but you might need a few more caves on the other side of the tank.  If you really want to see the Johnny darters breed, I would no add tankmates... except maybe snails as you will have to feed plenty to get them into condition and darters do not really compete well with other fish for food falling from the top.

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

#3 leaqua

  • NANFA Guest
  • Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec, Canada

Posted 28 October 2019 - 04:56 PM

Thanks for your answer !

Food competition with possible tankmates was indeed one of my fear. I think I'm gonna stick with a darter's only tank.

I recently discover there's others species of Percidae close to where I live : the channel darter (Percina copelandi), and the common logperch (Percina caprodes). As the first one is imperiled in Canada, harvest some is out of the question. But if I manage to catch some common logperch, could I mix them with Johnny darters ? I suppose their similar behaviour should limit food competition ?

Anyway, I'm right in the nitrites peak, so I have plenty of time to improve the hardscape and think about my future population.


Meanwhile, a clearer view of the tank:



And the first inhabitants:



Edited by leaqua, 28 October 2019 - 05:07 PM.

#4 Michael Wolfe

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

Posted 29 October 2019 - 12:55 PM

Logperch are great aquarium fish. They get bigger but have great behaviors to observe (using the long snout to flip stones is a sight to see). I highly recommend them.
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

#5 JasonL

  • NANFA Member
  • Kentucky

Posted 29 October 2019 - 01:07 PM

I keep a 4-5 inch common logperch with a variety of smaller darters without issues. For some reason, I've never had much luck with Johnny darters or their cousin Bluntnose darters. Not sure why.

I will be curious to see what becomes of your snail population. Several of my darters seem to have an affinity for them.

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