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Old 04-17-2011, 05:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Field trip!!!!!

Hi y'all! I'm now writing from Destin, FL, wherein starting tomorrow I will be scouring every Florida ditch for aquatic life.

So far, we landed in New Orleans (it was cheaper) and driven across Mississippi and Alabama. Along the way I found a ditch outside a hotel and collected a cool Hydrocotyle specimen of some sort. Pictures later when I get around to it. There was a crayfish living in the ditch, but His Manliness (Lord and Master of Our Home and Castle) wouldn't let me dig my nets and stuff out of the trunk to catch it. Shall look for more now that we've arrived and unpacked. Except it's dark out, so tomorrow.

I got a lead on finding some sailfin mollies from the lady at the resort lobby desk. Says she has one in her tank at home. Maybe if I'm lucky I'll find some killies as well. There's also an Elassoma species whose range extends nearby and some kind of neat darter to look for.

Off to dinner now!
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Old 04-18-2011, 12:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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So, entering phase 2 of my mission, I have so far obtained 2 species of Hydrocotyle - one that's probably H. umbellata (for my pond, it doesn't submerse well) and one that I can't identify. It's got leaves like H. tripartita (i.e. tripartite ones LOL) but much larger - H. triparta, apart from being from Australia and not America, is supposed to have 15-25mm leaves or so, these are pushing 50-60mm. Also seems to have a vaguely rosette structure, so I'm wondering if it's not a Ranunculus species instead, but the leaves are very glossy and Hydrocotyle-like, so I'm puzzled. Very nice-looking plant, whatever it is.

I also went out this morning and purchased a minnow seine and battery-operated air pump.

Will be taking a trip down Rte. 98 this afternoon to seek out more ditches and mud puddles. So far have not encountered any gators or poisonous snakes. Did find several feral cats and one American anole.

Took reference pic of funky Hydrocotyle but can't be bothered to get it off my camera and upload. Florida sun makes me lazy.
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Old 04-19-2011, 11:22 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Field trip!!!!!

Okay, as promised, pic of funky Hydrocotyle-lookin' thing:

Shiny, innit?


Tripartite leaf


Root ball


crown structure

Also, found a great little puddle yesterday afternoon that has giant wads of a large Liliaeopsis species - probably L. carolinensis - I might have to go back and snag a few more runners to share with the club when I go home. It's a pretty neat plant, would make a great carpet in a large setup, or even a good background plant in an iwagumi...

Also found a puddle of Gambusia affinis (skeeterfish!) and collected 3 males to send home as boyfriends for my 5 females. They're currently sitting in a styrofoam cooler on the hotel deck. The same ditch also had some funky things with tails that flashed blue when they caught the light - I'm thinking they might be mollies - but we couldn't catch them so we're going to go back with the seine later in the week and figure out what they are.

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Old 04-19-2011, 12:10 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Field trip!!!!!

Thanks for sharing your trip stories and pictures. Would love to check out the L. carolinensis.
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Old 04-19-2011, 12:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Field trip!!!!!

Oh man! This sounds awesome! That anole would be cool to keep too. I saw some in Alabama a few years ago, they are really lively creatures.

Hopefully we should have some interesting plants and critters to report this weekend after our Saturday meeting.
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Old 04-19-2011, 07:05 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Field trip!!!!!

TODAY WAS AWESOME!!!!! We walked along the beaches of Okaloosa Island and came across a slightly brackish drainage pond not far from shore. It housed, among other things, those sailfin mollies I mentioned - unfortunately we didn't catch them, but we're going back later with our seine to trap some (Or Else). We did, however, obtain some other cool stuff, including:

-Another type of Hydrocotyle (this place is full of pennyworts...)

-6 diamond killifish (Adenia zenica), which are a brackish, but very neat-looking, fish. We caught 2M/4F, so hopefully they'll survive the trip home and I can breed them.

-about 10 olive nerite snails.

You heard me correctly guys, I found me some wild nerites that were already acclimated to low-salinity conditions (I tasted the water - the salt was barely detectable). Definitely didn't expect those to turn up; I didn't even know they were native to the Gulf. Go figure.

Anyway, I'll be sure to snag a few extra runners of the L. carolinensis for you, Tonny. The spot I found it in certainly won't miss it, it has big mats of it all along the edges of the pond - or, rather, the glorified mudhole.

While I'm at it, anyone want to try out Ludwigia peploides? I have a few stems at home, mostly likes to grow floating but I've seen it submersed in the wild. It's common all over the south, and I wasn't planning on bringing any home, but I can always throw a few cuttings in a box if anyone else wants them.

Also, Cavan says my funky wannabe-Hydrocotyle-looking thing might be Ranunculus scleratus. I'm inclined to believe him, the photos I can find seem pretty similar.
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Old 04-20-2011, 01:45 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Field trip!!!!!

More photos to share from yesterday's collecting:


Dorky family members exploring the pond. Observe that Mimi's the one doing all the doing all the fishing, not His Manliness (whether he scares the fish in her direction or holds them after she lands them is irrelevant, apparently). Since she's below the age where one needs to buy a fishing license, His Manliness avoids spending moo-lah if she does the work. His Manliness is cheap like that - I just caved and am waiting for the weekend to buy the $17, 3-day fish license so I can go in with my seine and take whatever the heck I want. No creel limit on non-game fish, w00t. By the time I'm done I guarantee I'll have more than $17 worth of scaly things, so it's a bargain in my mind.

Still, I wish Florida would work out some kind of reciprocity thing with CT to honor each others' licenses. Would make my life far more affordable, and it's not like CT isn't a popular fishing state (3 words: Long Island Sound)


Hydrocotyle-riddled shoreline where we found the killies.


The (mostly) freshwater mud-puddle on the beach (go figure). Home to sailfin mollies, diamond killies, and olive nerite snails


Specimen cooler with battery-op air pump to keep 'em happy. Observe the snails and feeeeeeesh.


Olive Nerite


Nerite underside


Bigger Nerite


We also spotted a blue-tailed skink on the wall of our hotel this morning. Very cool little lizard, if I'd been able to catch him I might have considered bringing him home. Might have obtained a pic of him to share, not sure how it came out but I haven't bothered to empty my photo memory card yet today so we'll see.

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Old 04-21-2011, 05:47 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Field trip!!!!!

Today we took a trip to the local aquarium, called the "Gulfarium." It's an older aquarium facility (open since 1955) but had some pretty neat stuff. The coolest thing, IMO, is that they have a pet shop called the AquaFarm as part of the aquarium. They sell marine livestock only, but the cool part was that every animal for sale was born on-premises. The whole concept was that doing so protected reef environments from harmful collecting of wild specimens. Pretty neat concept, and decent prices, too (green Chromis were $5, yellow tangs at $45, etc.).

Their enclosures all had those coveted sailfin mollies I've been after, so I asked if the AquaFarm was selling them, too (mollies being adaptable in terms of salinity and all). $5 and a backstage tour of the facilities later, I netted myself 3 pairs of mollies out of the alligator snapping turtle enclosure (there was only one turtle and we all kept a close eye on it, of course). Also I got 50 extra fish bags off of them while I was there, just in case.

So, I now have 3 gorgeous "wild" male sailfin mollies. I'm guessing at some point somebody threw a couple of black or dalmatian mollies in the mix, since the females were all speckled hybrids, but hey, most CT stores would charge $5 apiece for mollies of any kind - 6 for $5 is a steal, even after I add the cost of shipping them home. And the males are gorgeous.

I also have 1 mystery fish of unknown species. It was in with the mollies and they gave it to me for free, so I'll figure out what it is later. Not gonna argue free, neat-looking fish.

Anyway, some more photos to share:

The blue-tailed skink I mentioned in my last post


Coral frag growout tank at the AquaFarm.


Princess and Zack, the stars of the dolphin show.


African black-footed penguins (or something like that). I think I need one of these for my fishroom... if only they didn't eat fish... I could have a real-life Mr. Popper's Penguins gig going on.
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Old 04-22-2011, 12:35 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Field trip!!!!!

I found Eriocaulons this morning.
I win the internet. Bask in my awesomeness.

I suppose they could be Syngonanthus, actually. I have no idea. But there's no mistaking the flowers of a pipewort Still, at a guess they're possibly Erio. decangulare... I'm not an Erio expert.

And yes, I snagged a few extras that I'd be happy to swap when I get home

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Old 04-22-2011, 05:33 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Field trip!!!!!

Got my wild female mollies, finally. And a couple more males, to boot. Also snagged a few more nerites while I was at it.

I talked to Kristina today, apparently the 1st box I sent out (the skeeterfish and diamond killies and plants) got home in nice shape, everybody alive and swimmin' - hoping things go just as well with this next box.

The creek I was at this morning, where I snagged those Erios, also housed a ton of nice jungle vals... some with leaves pushing a whopping 5-6 feet in length. I grabbed a smaller one for myself, since the bigger ones wouldn't fit in my tanks.

We also ran into some stunning little sailfin shiners (Pteronotropis hypselopterus / Notropis hypselopterus), neat little river/stream fish that were every bit as stunning as shoaling aquarium fish (comparable in color to white clouds, IMO). Unfortunately, being fast-water fish that need a lot of oxygen, they don't ship nearly as well as the various topminnows I've collected so far, so we left the shiners where we found them. If we'd have been driving home I might have considered it (could keep them in a larger cooler with an air pump on them) but they wouldn't have made it in a shipping bag... Probably the reason you don't see them in stores, actually - as I said, they're stunning little critters. Bright orange and black stripes.
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