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Why Aren't US Native Fish More Popular?


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I keep Pygmy Sunfish:


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.


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?

Edited by Thanassi
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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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