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DoorGunner

Eyes bigger than their stomachs.

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10 hours ago, Eric_S said:

I'm pretty dead set on starting a local species tank this year. It would be my first foray into saltwater aquariums. I figure start cheap and easy with stuff I catch so if the tank crashes, at least my livestock was free. I've had freshwater tanks for years. Currently have a 210g, 125g, and 40g up and running. I ran the idea of the local species tank by my wife and she asked which tank I was converting to saltwater lol. I thought she was joking, but not so. She's fighting me pretty hard about another tank but I think I can win her over especially with my 5yr old son on my side. We live on the water and he loves pulling the killie traps and drop net and viewing the critters we catch in a small 1 gallon tank before letting them go. I think he would really dig watching them longer term in a bigger tank. I have a spot in mind in the house where I can probably squeeze a 75g tank but nothing bigger than that.

 

DoorGunner, are you just pumping river water into your tank at the dock like a livewell? Or were they closed systems? If closed, what kind of filtration did you use? I'm going to avoid using dirty river water and treat it like a legit reef tank. I'm a stickler about having pristine clear tanks, even if it's just killies :D. I would like to get away with just canister filters, but I know that's frowned upon in the saltwater world in favor of sumps.

 

We pumped water right into the tanks from off the dock with a sump pump. It was a closed system because the bottom got stirred up with the big boats and we didn't need muddy water. Waited for the dead high tide and filled the tanks then when the water was the cleanest. Ran two large filter systems on the 210 and one on the 55 and both worked great. The 55 had an undergravel filter but the 210 had two canister jobs. We overstocked the 210 because we kept finding so many cool fish so about every two weeks we would take a hose and siphon almost all the water out and pump in new. One thing we had to have was a UV filter that hooked right in line with one of the systems. Got a lot of direct sunlight into the shop and the water would turn green in a day or two. Cleared right up but prevented us from having many filter feeder critters in the tank. 

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Posted (edited) · Report post

DG when you say minnows have teeth, which ones are you talking about?  

There are a lot of types?  Some they say have no teeth? 

Mummichogs/ killies ? 

Edited by ccb

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On 3/8/2019 at 8:33 AM, ChumSlickJon said:

Hey eric, if you start one I may be able to get you some baby puffers.  

Cool! Thanks. They are hard to come by up here. I'll probably start with small stuff the puffer would kill. But when the time is right, I'll give you a shout. 

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Eric, if you end up starting this process, keep us updated on how it goes. I've been keeping fish for years and keep a native freshwater tank. I've always wanted to do a native saltwater tank, so I'd love to see how you do!

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Just to let you guys know. Local backbay fish di great in aquariums with minimal care. Good filtration and a good food supply are all that needed. Don't worry about attention because the family will be watching constantly. Our shop had constant visitors always asking "when will you be feeding" because they all wanted to watch. Every species you can catch in the back will do well in the aquarium except for the bluefish and the rubbing off of scales. But that didn't happen until they grew to about eight inches long.

Because we had the best food supply and endless water supply we overcrowded the aquarium plus we held extra specimens for the Camden Aquarium. The overcrowding did make for extra work but it was worth it. 

When I lived in Philly I had a 100 gallon aquarium set up for saltwater that was made from the salt mixture sold at pet shops but all the specimens came from Saturday fishing trips to the shore in Wildwood about an hour and a half away from home. Never lost one critter on the ride home because I set up to do it right. While fishing I would drop two or three minnow traps at the mouth of shallow feeder creeks and baited them with a whole bunker that was ripped open to expose as much flesh as possible. As long as there was food the little critters were happy to stay. Food gone = critters gone. At the end of the trip the traps were pulled and the critters were sorted. Grass, shrimp, baby crabs, shiners (spearing) minnows and if you were lucky a baby blowfish, seabass or flounder. These were paced right away in the minnow bucket that had been emptied of bait. On the way to the dock I would stop and refresh the water every ten minutes or so. Kept the minnow bucket in the water while cleaning our catch and put one or two of the traps back down around the cleaning station along with the drop net till I was ready to leave. As long as the minnow bucket wasn't crammed with critters they did well. 

 

Now for the long ride home. I had a medium size lunchmate cooler and a big plastic bag that just fit. I had a battery operated air pump with an air stone and would place a layer of ice cubes on the bottom of the cooler and then the plastic bag filled with water on top of the ice. Critters went into the bag then the bag was tied with a twist tie with the air line going inside. A few more ice cubes around the sides of the bag then close the cooler. You know you are doing it right if you can get live shiners home without ever loosing any. The ice would cool the water and calm everything down for a quiet ride home. 

Fun times with the minnow traps and drop net because you never knew what you were going to pull in or up. Baby oyster crackers and baby searobins, seabss, kingfish, bluefish spot, croakers, and the list could go on and on. You can collect clams, mussels, oysters and snails but with the lack of plankton the clams, mussels and oysters would eventually die and become food unless you want to buy bottles of filter feeder food. I just let them go and replaced them. 

Get ready soon if you plan on setting a saltwater aquarium up because things are starting to move out here. 

bject 

A pick taken in about three feet of water at the dock. Notice the line in the mud and the grape size object at the end of that line. The mud snail has come out of hibernation and scrounging for food. One of the first signs that life is returning. Mud snails aren't pretty but they are cool in the aquarium and prolific feeders and egg layers.

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16 hours ago, ccb said:

DG when you say minnows have teeth, which ones are you talking about?  

There are a lot of types?  Some they say have no teeth? 

Mummichogs/ killies ? 

They go by many names but down here we just call them minnows. Here is a pic of a big female but they get even bigger. Have netted and trapped them close to eight inches although that size is rare. 

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Broad head and large wide mouth full of teeth that just chew off chunks of flesh. Not the easiest shot to get using but you can see some of the teeth and they run from one end of the mouth to the other.

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When I put my arm in our bait tank they show no fear and will attack and you can feel them pulling the hairs right off your arm. Mother Nature made them bad ass but thank god she made them small. 

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One of the cool things about keeping a saltwater aquarium is catching your own critters. Docks and marinas are perfect nurseries for just about all of our local species. Plenty of protection and food and you will be amazed at what a minnow trap or drop net can produce in a short amount of time. Two baby seabass from a minnow trap in less than two feet of water. 

DSCF4614.JPG.e2500cda5f74c213990afa78c0d4137e.JPG 

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12 mins ago, ccb said:

They all look the same to me ?  Must have taken some time to tell the difference   

Some fish when young aren't real easy to identify because they look so different except for the flounder. Had baby stripers so small we could see right through them. Then they looked like croakers and finally they got their stripes. Have about ten books here for fish ID that help a lot.

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I kept eels in one of my tanks when we used to use them. Everyone but kids find them gross. I thought they were cool. Last time I used them for bait, I kept them in a plastic kiddie pool with a fountain pump.  

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On 3/7/2019 at 10:34 PM, DoorGunner said:

Minnows have the teeth but if the shiners (spearing) do I have never seen them. Plus I believe that no matter how big or bad your teeth are when you are going down into a stomach head first you are in a tight sleve and not able to bite or anything else. We all hear and I have witnessed how strong and nasty Mantis Shimp are with their strikes but I find a lot of them in flounder and stripers stomachs. Once they go in they just can't cock their front legs to strike. Take the strongest person you know and wrap them in some plastic so they can't move their arms. totally helpless. Probably same thing when a fish, crab or mantis shrimp is going down. 

The further down that shiner went the more the weakie became bloated and finally he just sat on the bottom with it's gills going like crazy then it just rolled over and died. So much pressure I guess it could have effected some vital organ. Sad to see it happen because baby weakies were so cool looking and fun to watch but very very delicate.

the very first weakies I caught were in a cast net. Just them and a few shiners so they weren't burried under a pile of fish. When I threw the net looking for aquarium fish I always had a bucket of water right next to me to get them in the water as fast as I could. On one throw of the net I hit like six or seven of these three inch weakies and right into the bucket then right into the aquarium. They looked so beat with scales missing and dorsal fin membrane between bones split and only one made it. Made me very aware of the damage any net can cause a fish. 

A few days later I started catching the baby weakies on a hook and line using a very small hook around a size 12 with a tiny live minnow for bait. Every one I hooked was dropped into the bucket and then into the aquarium where they were in perfect condition and were feeding by the end of the day. Made me wonder just how many fish actually survive commercial nets when they are tossed back plus how many were basically crushed under all that weight. Sure they swim away but do they survive. Seen careless recreational fisherman rip a hook out of a flounders gut and all the organs came out with it then toss the fish back and watch it swim away. Dead by the time it hit the bottom. So just how many commercially caught and released fish make it?

Sorry I babbled on again but I doubt the shiner could do any damage to the baby weakie with it's teeth.  

When you say "minnow" do you mean that as a generic term for baby fish or in reference to the family Cyprinidae,ie,true minnows? Cyprinids (carp,chubs,dace,suckers,shiners) have only pharyngeal teeth,none in their mouth.Something besides a minnow?

Silversides do have teeth but they're not minnows,more closely related to smelt.

Good story,just trying to register the facts as presented...

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