The photo shows the author and a son collecting fish using a seine net. Grandchildren are optional equipment when collecting.
In Newsletter No. 11 I set up the following contest:
“We are continuing the Email Contest and will give a free (including shipping) two pound bag of Simple Pet Products (www.simplepetproducts.com) #100 Grind fish food to the person who writes the most interesting email question to me. Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put “email contest” in the message line. The selected email question will be published and answered in the next newsletter. I’m the sole judge of what is interesting.”
I received some very interesting emails as a result, but picked one from Charles (“Chuck”) M. Breiter of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Chuck wrote:
“I have always wanted to collect. I’m curious about what basic equipment you start with and ideas for collecting sites that would yield fish. I am up north in Wisconsin so it would be more catch and release. I know I would have to check into local permits and so forth.”
I responded by a saying:
“Collecting can be fun. When we go collecting we take a seine net (get a high quality cotton net if you can since the nylon nets often don’t open up well), a couple of long handled nets with relatively fine mesh, a couple of 10″ aquarium nets, 5-gallon buckets, Styrofoam boxes, and aquarium bags for viewing the fish. We usually take a cast net, but find it to be of limited functionality. Most states require and [sic] fishing license. Be sure to release any game fish.”
I’ll expound a bit here.
Typically, the most useful net is a good seine net. I use one even if I’m collecting alone. I’ll fasten one end in place by sticking it into the mud or wedging it between rocks along the bank and then make a half circle arc with the other end around the fastened end. But, usually I’m collecting with someone. In which case we try multiple locations in order to find what works. Unfortunately, while most things have gotten better with time, seine nets have not improved. The new nylon nets are very difficult to use. They often don’t open properly and the fish easily escape. Try to find a high-quality, old-fashioned cotton seine. They require more maintenance, such as drying after use, but you’ll be rewarded with significantly better performance.
Long handled dip nets such as game fish landing nets are also useful, especially along steep banks with overhanging vegetation where a seine net can’t be deployed.
Cast nets function best on hard, clean bottoms. I’m not very proficient with them; they do take some practice. Also, the fish that are found where they are useful are often gray or silvery fish of little ornamental use.
When collecting I usually carry along several 5-gallon buckets. They are easily acquired from Home Depot or Lowe’s or even fast food restaurants (pickle buckets). As we net up fish, they are transferred to the buckets filled partially with water from the pond, lake, stream, or bay. I like to immediately sort the fish, returning those I don’t want to their watery home quickly. Fish I want or at least want to keep for a second look are kept in the buckets. I’m careful not to crowd the fish and if that is done, you’ll not need aeration. If you are collecting for a long time, you’ll want to change water periodically.
Once I’m finished netting for the day, I once again sort through the fish and release those I don’t want. The keepers are then bagged with ¼ new water and ¾ oxygen and placed in Styrofoam boxes for transport. If the day is hot and I want to take a lot of fish, I’ll carry cold packs to place in the box to lower the temperature.
It is important to observe local fishing laws. Most states require a fishing license to collect. Also, you should be able to identify any game fish and release them immediately. In Texas, you are also obligated to kill and not release any proscribed exotics such as tilapia.
Make the collecting trip a family affair (see the photo).
Lastly, don’t be greedy. Keep only what you want and are equipped to keep in reasonable numbers.
Tim Gray says
Mr. Clapsaddle, could you explain your quarantine practices when bringing in wild stock or from unknown sources?
Tim, This is a great topic. We have two large recirculating systems. On a daily basis we transfer fish, plants, livefoods, and water between the systems. Also, we use intensive culture techniques under which our 800 vats of fish are very crowded. Any infectious disease organism would have a heyday in our systems. So, avoidance of introduction of organisms such as Chilodenella or ich is critical.
We treat fish from sources we don’t completely trust or fish that we collect in the wild exactly the same. First of all we expect the fish to be loaded with internal parasites and to have some external parasites. Incoming breeding stock unknown sources or from the wild are placed into tanks that are off and isolated from our systems. During the summer we use outside 300 gallon vats placed in the sun. During the winter we use 40 gallon tanks in our warehouse and equip them with heaters. We prefer to use the outside vats for several reasons. One, water changes are easier. Two, they have more water volume. Three, sunlight itself is a disinfectant. Four, they have healthy populations of creatures such as Paramecium that feed upon some stages of external parasites and [nternal parasites that have external stages. Fifth, we don’t have aerate or filter these large vats. We only use the 40 gallon aquaria when it’s too cold outside or for very small numbers of very small fish.
Once the quarantined fish are in their vat, we feed them with fish food grinds of an appropriate size for the fish from Simple Pet Products. These foods are a bit oily and we coat them with powdered praziquantel, a commonly used wormer for vertebrates. We feed the the coated food every other day for a week. Next we treat the vats with 3-6 ppt NaCl (we use solar salt, but rock salt will work). To achieve 3 ppt salt simply calculate the volume of water in liters in the vat (3.8 L per gallon) and multiply by 3. We add this amount of the salt in grams directly into the tank. The salt dissolves slowly and gives the fish time to adapt. We also add 1 ml of a 37% formaldehyde/malachite green solution per ten gallons (or 38 L). This solution is made by adding 1.4 g of malachite green to 380 ml of 37% formaldehyde. This solution lasts forever if kept in brown bottles stored in the refrigerator. The vat is treated with this solution on the first and seventh days. We usually change 50% of water before the second treatment, but it’s not necessary if the vat is outside in the sunlight. If we change half the water, we then add half the amount of salt as the first salt treatment. Let me discuss the salt concentration for a moment. I prefer to use 6 ppt rather than the lower does of 3 ppt. I’ve found that even soft water fish will tolerate the higher dosage and the higher dosage is more effective against parasites. That said, for high cost, difficult to find soft water species I’ll use the lower dosage and not take any chances.
Another factor to consider when using prophylactic treatments is the health status of the fish. If the fish are in really bad shape, I delay treating them for a few days, especially if a small number of fish are placed in a 300 tank. Any parasites are likely to be diluted by the large volume of water and giving the fish a chance to recover somewhat before treating is a good idea. Reinfection from parasites will take a few days so there is time to delay treatment.
After a couple of weeks, I often place some fish from our systems in with the new fish. If nothing bad happens after about a month, I deem the new fish safe to introduce.
These procedures aren’t always perfect. When something slips through we have to treat our whole 75,000 gallon systems with salt, malachite green, and formaldehyde. This has only happened twice over the last 13 years.
Tim Gray says
Thanks for the quarantine information Charles, only two breaches in 13 years is impressive.
I have been using Simple Pet Products fish food (flake, #100, #200 and #300), and the growth rates are impressive.
Again thanks, Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Tim, We found the Simple Pet Products foods to be great. Our livebearers are fed #500 and #600 floating pellets in the morning and #100, #200, and #300 grinds throughout the day.
Help! This is our first time with a fish tank, it is brakish water and we have afacirn cichlids in it. It is three months old and we now have babies. I put the mom in a different tank until she released the babies. Now we have 17 + babies we don’t know what to do or how to raise them. Or what color or when they will get their color. The mom is doing good we put her back in the big tank and she is happy and playing with the other fish. When can we give the babies away? Thanks so mush for your web site Laura
Do you know the species of the African cichlid you got?