Young chiselmouth up to 10 cm (4 in) long feed on surface insects.
Adult chiselmouth feed by using their chisel-like lower jaw to scrape
algae from rocks and wood. Chiselmouth do not graze as many other
algae feeders do. Instead, they appear to attack the algae, scraping
off bits with quick, darting movements. Like other herbivorous fishes,
chiselmouth have a long intestine, in this case up to twice the length
of their body. Yet despite their specialized digestive system,
chiselmouth are not really after the algae they swallow, but rather
the tiny organisms, primarily diatoms, that live within it. Little else is
known about their natural history. Chiselmouth seem to prefer the
warmer parts of faster flowing streams, but also live in lakes where
they can migrate into tributary streams to spawn in early summer.
Males mature and spawn at three years of age, females usually
at four. Although spawning has not been observed, chiselmouth
eggs have been found on the open bottom and buried among
boulders. Average life span is six years.
Perhaps because of their size, chiselmouth are not commonly
kept in home aquaria. Norman Edelen, Jr., a NANFA member from
Washington, has kept chiselmouth and reports that their algae-
rasping is interesting to watch, although they will eat any food
offered them. Chiselmouth are often collected with peamouth
(Mylocheilus caurinus), redside shiner (Richardsonius balteatus),
speckled dace (Rhinichthys osculus), and young northern
pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus oregonensis). A large tank of
these minnows can make for a nice schooling display. One
published note observed that the chiselmouth's "overall behavioral
activity level appeared to increase with barometric pressure and
full-moon cycles," but that more observations were needed to
confirm this behavior (Ulstein and Blackburn, American Currents
Nov. 1988-Jan. 1989: 11-12).
> Anyone have any information on this species? Ya'll are making me look bad
> on my first task as website contact.
> Nick Zarlinga
> Aquarium Biologist
> Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
> 216.661.6500 ext 4485
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Gary or Sarah Jackson
> Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2003 1:37 PM
> To: junk1_at_www.peter.unmack.net
> Subject: Acrocheilus alutaceus (chiselmouth)
> Dear NANFA -
> I am a fisheries resources student at the University of Idaho and I would
> be interested in corresponding (or speaking) with anyone that you might know
> that has knowledge of the spawning habits of Acrocheilus alutaceus. I am
> currently working on a management plan for a small reservoir in Northern
> Idaho and I am considering introducing the chiselmouth as a forage fish and
> possibly as an aid for phytoplankton/macrophyte control. Any information
> that your organization might offer would be kindly appreciated.
> Gary Jackson
> (208) 885-5720
> Do you Yahoo!?
> Protect your identity with Yahoo! Mail AddressGuard
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