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Mating Ritual of the Gulf Coast Pygmy Sunfish


Daniel
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3 hours ago, Larrimore said:

I'm really tempted to go try to catch some.  They're literally in the rivers just down the road.  Just have no idea what I'm doing.  I would assume you would use a minnow trap style thing.  One day I'll give it a shot.

They way I have collected them is with a large aquarium net on a pole. I have always found them in shallow still waters in thick floating vegetation. I have found them in a ditch on the side of an Interstate Highway (I-40), underneath a railroad trestle, and at the edge of blackwater slough on the edge of a swamp.

Sometimes they are abundant, but later at the same location there are none to be found. They have a similar lifecycle to killifish in that in they wild they are mostly annuals.

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@Paul I actually think it was Hwy 70 going East headed into New Bern. Do you know that long straight stretch that goes on for miles just before you get to Hwy 17 outside of New Bern? It was about midway down that stretch.

image.png.97011b3659ff14380a9c1fbc1669c0fe.png

I caught nice natives on both the eastbound and westbound sides. The pygmy sunfish that day were Elassoma zonatum.

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10 minutes ago, Daniel said:

@Paul I actually think it was Hwy 70 going East headed into New Bern. Do you know that long straight stretch that goes on for miles just before you get to Hwy 17 outside of New Bern? It was about midway down that stretch.

image.png.97011b3659ff14380a9c1fbc1669c0fe.png

I caught nice natives on both the eastbound and westbound sides. The pygmy sunfish that day were Elassoma zonatum.

@DanielI know exactly where that is. Thanks.

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Thanks for sharing the video! I have these on my radar to hopefully get this spring online. Have you kept them with other fish at all?

I was reading that they don't seem to spawn well with other fish in the same aquarium, but I though about keeping them with some of the endlers and white clouds as they seem to occupy different levels of the aquarium.

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5 minutes ago, Grubhead said:

Thanks for sharing the video! I have these on my radar to hopefully get this spring online. Have you kept them with other fish at all?

I was reading that they don't seem to spawn well with other fish in the same aquarium, but I though about keeping them with some of the endlers and white clouds as they seem to occupy different levels of the aquarium.

A long time ago, I did keep them in a community aquarium and they did breed.

But these days when I want them to breed I put them in their own aquarium.

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I pulled the eggs from the breeding action in the video up above and put them in this aquarium on Monday. Today is Friday and I see lots of pygmy sunfish fry when I wiggle the plants. They rain down from the plants and then ineptly swim back up to the plants again, so they are not really free swimming yet. But that gives some idea of a breeding/hatching timeline.

image.png.290303235e3de3f14c496b2be520367c.png

As you may know I don't do anything about hydra and there is a pretty good infestation of hydra in this aquarium. But, even I gulped a little bit when the tiny little slivers of fry that they are would brush up against hydra tentacles. Luckily, so far, I haven't seen a hydra eat a baby pygmy sunfish yet.

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11 minutes ago, James Black said:

What part of the U.S can I catch these pygmy sunfish?

Here one map of the ranges for the different species of Elassoma:

image.png.6ecc532e33973caee5747a8793d3f520.png

Here is a similar map showing specific drainages and which clade of Elassoma zonatum can be found there:

image.png.5bdb1f8372b9404dda4d174e5731656f.png

The only three I have collected in the wild were E. zonatum (North Carolina), E.  boehlkei (North Carolina), and E. okatie (South Carolina). I have never collected south or west of South Carolina.

 

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  • 1 month later...

@Daniel How are you enjoying keeping these pygmy sunfish? Do you keep any other natives? I’ve always been interested in keeping a native species of fish, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of information on them or interest to be honest. However, once these winter storms clear a bit I really want to track down some Bluespotted Sunfish.

The two reasons that they may not be popular in the hobby, that I have found at least, are they can be picky eaters and that they are “boring.” I’m guessing that means that they don’t have a lot of personality? Do you find this to be the case?

Either way, I’m not deterred from finally taking the plunge with them.

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I love Elassoma! I have kept pygmy sunfish in this genus for the last 15 years. They are definitely in my top 3 fish. I also keep Bluespotted sunfish (Enneacanthus gloriosus).

Here are a couple of young female Bluespotted sunfish.

616065269_Bluespotsunfishfemales.jpg.4ab

Elassoma are definitely picky eaters. I have never got mine to eat anything but live foods (mostly baby brine shrimp). And yes Elassoma will hide if they don't feel comfortable in their environment. When I first collected pygmy sunfish my wife referred to them as 'the fish you never see'. Eventually I put in enough cover and dense plants that after that they would come out and be visible.

Both of these fish are very popular in Europe.

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Oh my gosh that’s amazing! That Myriophyllum is something else. I’ll be researching that plant today for sure. Never thought I’d be mesmerized over a “ditch.” Lol.

Collecting them myself isn’t really an option for me, but it’s still a fun topic to hear about. Did you run them through some meds when first collected? The trio?

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17 minutes ago, OceanTruth said:

Did you run them through some meds when first collected? The trio?

Don't tell anyone, but I never quarantine my fish. I not saying other people should do it the way I do it, as there are good reasons to quarantine fish. I just don't it. And, it has been a long time since I had any reason to use a medicine.

Most of my aquariums are single species aquariums which not withstanding what I said above, is a kind of quarantine. By the time some of the fish end up in a community tank I have already owned them for quite a while.

 

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I’ve actually never run a community tank before, unless a single fish species and snails counts as a community. I usually quarantine in a separate tank, but I’ve never run medication through them straight away. I just observe them for a few weeks to a month. Like you, I wouldn’t outright say not to medicate, I just stick with what has been working for me.

I’ve always stayed away from wild caught fish in general, because I just assumed they must have something. Seems kind of silly now that I really think about it and say it aloud. Most fish I get are easily farmed I guess. I’m not sure where sunfish are usually sourced, so I thought I’d ask about meds.

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