NANFA-- No luck on Heterandria formosa, but......
Thu, 5 Jun 2003 02:37:34 EDT


I've been lurking for a while, reading the posts from time to time (wishing I
able to go to the convention since it's in state but not enough time......)

Anyway, two weeks ago I stopped at a roadside drainage ditch to see if I might
be lucky enough to find a population of Heterandria formosa dwelling there
(for a
fish that's supposed to be common here in coastal Alabama, they sure are
elusive). Taking my dip net I scrounged along the bank of the ditch, coming
with a net full of hornwort, duckweed, ludwegia and......something long,
and thin which quickly slithered its way under and plant matter (instant
impression --- ah, a pipefish --- as I started pulling out the plants).
Another quick
glimpse of it as it slides below another wad of hornwort (hmmm.... too stocky
for a
pipefish....a baby trumpetfish?....can they survive brackish water? --- it's
amazing how many thoughts can pass through your head in just a couple of
seconds). I get to the bottom of the net, invert my find into my collecting
and just stand there staring at a 3" gar. How cool!!! I'm not big on
predators, but
have always thought gars and bowfins were fascinating and now here I have a
of managable size to observe. Of course, now I'm thinking, if I'm lucky
enough to
find one juvenile gar maybe.........

So I start exploring this ditch very meticulously. In the course of the next
hour or
so I find seven more gars but these were really babies --- all of 3/4" long
(I was very
glad I was using my large aquarium dip net with the fine mesh).

Over the course of the past two weeks all have done very well. The first one
I caught
is now pushing 5" and I believe it to be a longnose gar. The seven babies
are now
ranging between 1-3/4" to 2-1/2" and are now taking baby gambusia (which,
me, after trying to satisfy them with enough live mosquito larvae for two
weeks is a
welcome change in diet). The growth rate of the babies is phenomenal to say
least (and they all appear to be longnose gars as well).

So, now it seems my primary interest is going from one extreme to another ---
the tiny (Heterandria) to the monsterous (gars).

Hey, but versatility is a good thing --- right?

Anyway, I'd be interested in knowing if anyone else has had any experience
raising post larval stage gars (any species). This week I have collected 30
gar fry
from another spot and these appear to not all be of the same species (but
then again,
these are also only 3/4" long yet and I've already seen how variable the
color patterns
on these guys can be --- my seven babies from two weeks ago show two very
color phases --- three are chocolate brown and cream colored and three are a
green and white --- and one is an overall pale white color with no markings
or stripes
at all..... I'm watching that one very closely - no, it doesn't have red eyes
- that
would be just too cool for words)

Anyway, that's enough for my rambling first post to the group. Eventually I
hope to
be able to post online plenty of pics of the growth and changes the baby gars
through (and pics of a tiny gar wrestling with a mosquito larvae --- it's a
surreal image)
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