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Why Aren't US Native Fish More Popular?


Thanassi
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I keep Pygmy Sunfish:

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Not my picture, but when the males are in breeding color the picture above doesn't do them justice. The black is like velvet and the the blues are electric. The reason these aren't as valued here as they are in Europe (I think) is they need live food and they will be invisible all the time unless you give them many, many places to hide with an open area that they can come out to to display.

@Randy and @Bob had a great discussion about Pygmy Sunfish (Elassoma) on a recent Aquarist Podcast which I would highly recommend giving a listen. I think @Randy and @Bob are about to get in to a throw down to see who can breed them first. I will be following that closely!

I have mosquito fish and a couple of blue spotted sunfish females in the 1930's aquarium that I collected this fall in a ditch in Kinston, NC.

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Keeping those fish is like keeping guppies and Apistogramma, expect Mosquito fish and blue spotted sunfish are much, much hardier.

In some state there are regulations about keeping native fish, or at the very least you need a fishing license. Here in North Carolina you do not need a fishing license to collect 'bait' which is what these fish are considered legally.

 

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I think it has to do with regulations specific to keeping native natural resources. Like you could inbreed a species and it could potentially get back into the wild population and have adverse effects. I know I have looked it up before. Also you have a daily limit on possession of certain species and that would apply even if you were just keeping them in a tank. I think that you would be required to keep a fishing license as long as you keep the fish and in some cases a permit for fish farming if you intend to breed or sell them.  I could be mistaken since it's been awhile since I researched this and it could just be my state.

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My 300 gallon has a bunch of US natives I wish I could get some more from the east coast I have green sided, banded, Johnny, and rainbow darters as well as southern red belly dace, stone rollers, blue head chub, rainbow shiners, and a tadpole madtom that is to big and needs to be moved. Here are some pics if anyone has the ability and is willing to legally ship me native fish please reach out 

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Wow! So jealous! I'm quarantining a bunch of native fish I caught here in new england, when it gets warmer I'm going to collect more species, in the spring after quarantine I could help you out and send some for free if you pay for shipping 🙂, Also what filtration are you using/what are using to make a current?

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This is my only native, a banded sculpin. It is my culling solution. Yeah, it's not the most colorful or friendly fish, but it is the most interesting fish I have kept. It flashes colors and patterns in response to food or when frightened. The eyes are like nothing I've seen before, they'll be solid black until it catches a glimpse of movement and then they glow yellow. Also kind of looks like a frog. 

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  • 1 year later...
On 12/4/2020 at 12:09 PM, Aubrey said:

This is my only native, a banded sculpin. It is my culling solution. Yeah, it's not the most colorful or friendly fish, but it is the most interesting fish I have kept. It flashes colors and patterns in response to food or when frightened. The eyes are like nothing I've seen before, they'll be solid black until it catches a glimpse of movement and then they glow yellow. Also kind of looks like a frog. 

 

what do you feed him? 

is he aggressive at all?

does he hide a lot in ur tank?

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There are popular tropical fish that are not very colorful. There are fish from the southern states that are fine with warmer water.

I see two reasons that are hard to separate. Collection regulations, and desire for the exotic. I have heard that US native fish are more popular in Europe than here in the US.

Who, besides a nerm like me, would brag about having a tank full of fish they caught in the canal in the back yard. Most would rather have something from distant lands. The farther away the better. 

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Regulations is the big issue. Rules, rules, and more rules. One of the more popular pet birds in Europe and Asia is the American Cardinal. You can't keep one as a pet in America because of the 1918 Migratory Bird Act that prohibits the keeping of 1,026 different bird species in cages or as pets. Our native Blue Jays are also popular pet birds overseas. If you try to keep one in the States, you can be fined $15,000 and face six months in prison. They've been bred in captivity in much of the world as pets and do well, but you can't keep even a captive bred one in the States. 

There are local, state, and national regulations on keeping almost anything native as a pet and without being a biologist and legal scholar, it's hard to know what is and isn't safe to keep in any location. 

The rules and regulations are a bit weird in that if a native species escapes or gets released in the wild, it's not a big deal. They're here to begin with. They're just one more of what's already here. If a nonnative species gets loose or is released, then it can have bigger implications. They're not here natively. So, our brilliant lawmakers have banned the keeping of most things native but have fewer restrictions on nonnative species. As policies go, these are a bit odd.

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On 4/23/2022 at 9:27 AM, gardenman said:

The rules and regulations are a bit weird in that if a native species escapes or gets released in the wild, it's not a big deal. They're here to begin with. They're just one more of what's already here. If a nonnative species gets loose or is released, then it can have bigger implications. They're not here natively. So, our brilliant lawmakers have banned the keeping of most things native but have fewer restrictions on nonnative species. As policies go, these are a bit odd.

This thought process is one of the reasons for the prohibitions on keeping native fish. What harm can come if I put this fish back in ths lake I caught it from, they are already native? The concern is not so much reintroducing the fish, but what else are you introducing along with the fish? Maybe you kept that fish along with some non-native fishes and it picked up a non-native parasite. Maybe that parasite infection has not yet progressed to a point to distress the fish. Maybe the fish is immune to the effects of this stage of the parasite, but future stages will be fatal to this or other fishes. Maybe you kept the native fish separate from your non-native fish, but didn't sterilize the tank or equipment thoroughly enough, or there was some other cross contamination. The risks are small, but real. It is hard enough to educate the general public about the perils of releasing non-native fish into the wild. It is way harder to educate them about the perils of reintroducing native fish into the wild. Once a pet, always a pet.

Edited by Widgets
Stupid typos
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On 4/23/2022 at 10:13 AM, Brandon p said:

Most states have permit laws about collecting with out a permit. In some state they come down hard for a common fish like cat fis. I’m in Florida and moved her and you could collect and fish except danger species. They changed pretty quickly because the reef fish where declining fast

I just collect freshwater bait.

https://myfwc.com/fishing/freshwater/regulations/taking-bait/

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On 4/23/2022 at 9:44 AM, Widgets said:

This thought process is one of the reasons for the prohibitions on keeping native fish. What harm can come if I put this fish back in ths lake I caught it from, they are already native? The concern is not so much reintroducing the fish, but what else are you introducing along with the fish? Maybe you kept that fish along with some non-native fishes and it picked up a non-native parasite. Maybe that parasite infection has not yet progressed to a point to distress the fish. Maybe the fish is immune to the effects of this stage of the parasite, but future stages will be fatal to this or other fishes. Maybe you kept the native fish separate from your non-native fish, but didn't sterilize the tank or equipment thoroughly enough, or there was some other cross contamination. The risks are small, but real. It is hard enough to educate the general public about the perils of releasing non-native fish into the wild. It is way harder to educate them about the perils of reintroducing native fish into the wild. Once a pet, always a pet.

I understand that, but the risks are higher with nonnative species that you are allowed to keep. A nonnative fish in captivity can be just as potentially infested with exotic parasites or diseases (likely more so even) and escape or be released into the wild. Unless you end the keeping of all fish, pets, creatures, you run that risk. To me, the risk from keeping native species is lower than from keeping nonnative species. 

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On 4/23/2022 at 11:02 AM, gardenman said:

I understand that, but the risks are higher with nonnative species that you are allowed to keep. A nonnative fish in captivity can be just as potentially infested with exotic parasites or diseases (likely more so even) and escape or be released into the wild. Unless you end the keeping of all fish, pets, creatures, you run that risk. To me, the risk from keeping native species is lower than from keeping nonnative species. 

On 4/23/2022 at 9:44 AM, Widgets said:

It is hard enough to educate the general public about the perils of releasing non-native fish into the wild. It is way harder to educate them about the perils of reintroducing native fish into the wild.

I addressed that. There are fewer vectors af damage, so the risk is smaller, but the education is immensely harder.

I do not agree with the prohibitions, but I understand them. A wise man once said that you do not fully understand the issue unless you can successfully argue both sides.

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