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Game fish identification guide
Albino Channel Catfish
Albino Channel Catfish has all the traits of the regular Channel catfish. They have the same well tasting meat, the same quality as a sport fish and they grow to the same size. In fact the record Channel catfish in some states has been albino Channel catfish. However the albino form of this catfish has some additional values. The Albino form of the catfish is an appreciated aquarium fish and can be sold in large quantities to aquarium stores. Albino channel catfish are also preferred by some to stock fishing lakes with since the Albino catfish are more easily spotted and allows the fishermen to see that there are fish in the lake even if they are unsuccessful in catching any.
One of the most colorful freshwater aquarium fish is the African cichlid. This beautifully patterned fish comes in an array of colors that are not typical to most freshwater fish. The African cichlid is an aggressive fish which should not be kept with other species of fish. The book entitled "Tropical Fish - A Complete Pet Owner's Manual", published in 1982 by Grafe and Unzer gmbH, says mature cichlids guard their territory and can even behave hostilely towards other cichlids. The largest cichlid in the aquarium is usually the dominate one and will behave aggressively towards all of the other fish. The same book says the smallest cichlid in the aquarium is sometimes attacked and killed by the larger, more dominate fish. Newly introduced fish will often become victims of attack because no open territories are available. "Tropical Fish - A Complete Pet Owner's Manual" suggests providing places to hide such as rock formations and sturdy plants. Large shells also make great hiding places for smaller cichlids.
American bullfrogs will ambush and eat just about anything they can fit in their ample mouths.
Bullfrogs are typically green or gray-brown with brown spots and have easily identifiable circular eardrums, or tympanum, on either side of their heads. Nocturnal predators, they will ambush and eat just about anything they can fit in their ample mouths, including insects, mice, fish, birds, and snakes. They sit quietly and wait for prey to pass by, and then lunge with their powerful hind legs, mouths open wide. Males are highly territorial and will aggressively guard their land. Females are slightly larger than males. The largest of all North American frogs, this giant can grow to a length of 8 inches (20 centimeters) or more and weigh up to 1.5 pounds (750 grams). Even the tadpoles of this species can reach 6.75 inches (17.2 centimeters) in length.
This is a very popular sport and food fish, especially in the southern part of its range. It is generally less abundant than the White Crappie and less tolerant of silty and turbid waters. It feeds throughout the day and night, but is most active in the evening. Description to 16" (41 cm); 5 lbs (2.3 kg). Deep, strongly compressed, dorsal profile rounded; back greenish, sides silvery green with dark green to black scattered mottlings not forming bars, belly silvery, median fins yellowish green with dusky, wavy lines and white spots. Head long, concave near eye; mouth oblique, extends past middle of eye. Dorsal fins connected without notch, 7-8 spines; anal fin large, 6 spines. Lateral line complete, 36-44 scales.
Bluegill sunfish are very well adapted to most pond and lake environments. Bluegill serves not only as the primary food source for largemouth bass but provide a lot of fishing opportunities and eating pleasures. Bluegill rarely exceed 1 pound with 1/4 - 1/2 pound (7" - 9") the normal size range. The average bluegill's life span is about 5 years but 13 year-olds have been recorded. Bluegills are sight feeders. Food for young bluegill includes microscopic plants (phytoplankton) and microscopic animals (zooplankton). As they increase in size their food preferences change to aquatic insects, insect larva, an occasional small fish and when available, terrestrial insects. Bluegill may also eat commercial fish food. Bluegill usually reaches sexual maturity in their second year of life or when they are about 3” long. Males construct at saucer-shaped nest in water about a foot or two deep. Almost any type of bottom is used for nesting, but sand or gravel is preferred. Bluegills construct their nests close together, forming “colonies”. Spawning takes place when water temperatures reach 70 to 75 degrees F, usually from May through August, with the spawning peak in June. Newly hatched bluegill fry may also be observed in late Spring, presenting the possibility that bluegill spawn more than once. What is actually happening are late spawns from female bluegill that didn't reach sexual maturity until later in the growing season. Males spawn with several females in a single nest and the male fish vigorously guards the nest. The eggs normally hatch in 2 to 5 days, depending on water temperature.
The male remains with the newly hatched fry until they disperse from the nest. Bluegills are very prolific. Depending upon size, a female may deposit 2,000 to 67,000 eggs with an average of about 18,000. Because nearly all carnivorous fishes prey upon bluegill, the high productivity is probably Mother Nature's way of perpetuating the species.
Blue tilapia (Oreochromis aureus) is also known as Israeli tilapia. It is an appreciate food fish and a common species in aquacultures worldwide. Blue tilapia is also sold as bait and aquarists keep it as a pet. Since Oreochromis aureus is such a popular food fish, it has been introduced by man to many other parts of the word through aquaponics, such as South East Asia and the Americas. The largest scientifically measured Blue tilapia was 45.7 cm in length. The maximal published weight is 2,010 grams. The caudal fin of the Blue tilapia has broad bright red or pink distal margin. During the breeding period, the head of the male fish will change into a bright metallic blue shade and he will also display a vermilion coloration on the edge of his dorsal fin and an intense pink coloration on the margin of his caudal fin. A breeding female fish will develop a pale orange color on the edges of her dorsal and caudal fins.
The Channel Catfish (ictalurus punctatus) are one of the easiest fish to manage in your pond. They can feed on live forage or you can supplement with a commercial feed. Supplemental feeding will often allow the catfish to achieve growth rates sometimes exceeding 1 1/2 pounds per season. When feeding a commercial feed on a regular basis, their meat will be as clean, white, and as well marbled as any fish in the pond. Many people consider a commercial fed catfish to have a table quality second to none! Another advantage to commercial feeding a Channel Catfish is that they will feed on top of the water allowing people of all ages to enjoy the fish even more.
These fish can be stocked independently or as part of a combination stocking with Largemouth Bass, Hybrid Bluegill, and Black Crappie. When stocked properly the Channel Catfish will not have any negative effects on reproduction or growth rates of the other fish in your pond.
Crayfish, often referred to as crawfish or crawdads are very popular as bait for a variety of game fish including Largemouth , Smallmouth , Walleye , and Perch. For example, Rusty crayfish are native to the Ohio River Basin in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana and Illinois. Currently the rusty crayfish has expanded its range to include Michigan, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and most of the New England States as well as Ontario, Canada. Indiana: The rusty crayfish is native to the Ohio River Basin of Indiana which covers the majority of the state. Its distribution has expanded, and the species now has now invaded the northern tier of the state.
The coppernose bluegill is a subspecies of the common bluegill. It is not a hybrid. Native to Florida and southeast Georgia, it has a range similar to that of the Florida largemouth bass. The coloration of the coppernose bluegill differs from that of the common bluegill. Its name comes from the copper band that runs across the head of the fish, which is more pronounced in the colorful males of the species. These fish also have vertical bars, fins that have a yellowish tint and a pencil white line on the margins of the fins. The coppernose bluegill grows faster and eats pelleted feed more readily than the common bluegill. With proper management and stocking, it is possible for them to reach sizes in excess of 2 pounds.
Pimephales and promelas are both Greek words, meaning "fathead" and "before black", respectively. The fathead minnow has a rounded snout and short rounded fins. There is a dark spot at the base of the tail fin, and sometimes a blotch on the anterior portion of the dorsal fin. As with many other minnows, there is a darkening along the midline of the back. The anal fin has 7 rays. Fatheads school either in mud water or near the bottom, and feed primarily on plant material. The fathead minnow is a stream fish, able to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions including high temperatures, low oxygen levels, and high turbidity. The species seems to be most abundant in small streams where competition with other species is limited. The fathead minnow may be found throughout much of North America east of the Rocky Mountains from Mexico into the Great Slave Lake drainage of northern Canada, with the notable exception of southern portions of the Atlantic coastal plain. The species is found nearly statewide in Texas, presumably as a result of bait releases.
The green sunfish, like warmouth, has a large mouth and a heavy, black bass body shape. The body is dark green, almost blue, dorsally, fading to lighter green on the sides, and yellow to white ventrally. Faint vertical bars are apparent on the sides. Some scales have turquoise spots. Lepomis, the generic name, is Greek and means "scaled gill cover." The species epithet cyanellus is also Greek and means "blue. he green sunfish is a very versatile species, able to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, and tends to do very well when competition with other sunfish is minimal. Its ability to tolerate environmental extremes makes it ideal for survival in prairie streams where conditions are not stable, and it is often the first sunfish species to repopulate depleted areas. Green sunfish nest in shallow water colonies where nests are often closely packed. Gravel or rocky bottom sites are usually preferred for nest building. Spawning occurs in late spring, when water temperatures rise above 70°F, and may continue throughout the summer. Hybridization with other sunfish species is very common. Males aggressively defend their nests for 6-7 days after eggs are deposited, at which time fry are usually free-swimming. Because of their enormous reproductive potential, green sunfish often overpopulate small lakes and ponds. Adults feed on insects and small fish. Due to introductions the species has become nearly ubiquitous in the United States with the exception of Florida and parts of the northwest. Green sunfish are found throughout Texas.
The Mosquitofish or Gambusia affinis can eat its body weight in mosquito larve in a single day! For this reason they are one of the most important fish in the world. Also known as Gambusia this fish's ability to keep mosquito populations in check helps prevent nasty diseases like the West Nile Virus, Yellow Fever and Malaria. Mosquitofish are often used in small ponds to keep Mosquitos and other insect larvae at bay and with the recently rise in foreclosures places have even been using these fish in abandoned pools. There are two types of Mosquitofish, the Western Mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) and the Eastern Mosquito fish (Gambusia holbrooki). They are both quite small the females reaching only 2-1/2" and the males 1-/2". These fish are grey with a mouth that is permanently pointed upwards to feed off the water's surface.
HYBRID STRIPED BASS
Hybrid striped bass generally refers to a cross between striped bass (Morone saxatilis) and white bass (M. chrysops). This cross, sometimes called the “original cross,” was first produced in South Carolina in the mid-1960s using eggs from striped bass and sperm from white bass. The accepted common name of this cross is the Palmetto Bass. More recently the “reciprocal” cross using white bass females and striped bass males was also produced. The accepted common name of this cross is the Sunshine Bass. Hybrid striped bass have gained widespread acceptance as a sport fish, particularly in the large reservoirs of the southeast U.S., where it was stocked because of the large forage base provided by gizzard shad and threadfin shad.
This fish is the number one stocked sport fish today. The Hybrid Bluegill is crossed between a male bluegill and female green sunfish. This particular cross produces a fish with the large mouth of the sunfish and the aggressiveness of the bluegill, which enables the fish to grow faster and larger than common bream. This unique combination is ideally suited for children learning to fish, all the way up to the fly fisherman looking for a new challenge. This fish will reproduce twice per year which makes it ideally suited for feeding a new or existing bass population. However, this fish will reproduce at 90% male so it won't take over your pond like most bream. It will feed on a commercial feed with annual growth rates of up to 1/2 to 3/4 pound per season. With a good management program in place these fish can reach weights of 2 to 2 1/2 pounds and exceptional fish will reach the weight of 3 pounds or greater! Make the Hybrid Bluegill a part of your management program and reap the rewards for years to come.
The longear sunfish (Lepomis megalotis) is a species of freshwater fish in the sunfish family (family Centrarchidae) of order Perciformes. It is native to the an area of eastern North America stretching from the Great Lakes down to northeastern Mexico. The longear sunfish reaches a maximum recorded length of about 24 cm (9.5 in), with a maximum recorded weight of 790 g (1.7 lb). The species prefers densely vegetated, shallow waters in lakes, ponds, and sluggish streams. Its diet can include insects, aquatic invertebrates, and small fish. While L. megalotis is readily caught by anglers, the fish are typically too small to be useful as food, and most anglers release them.
This species is the best predator for stocking into ponds to maintain a healthy fish community. They have evolved to reproduce and prey effectively in warm, vegetated areas of lakes. When young, largemouth bass prey on microscopic animals but quickly switch to a diet of fish and crayfish. This fish is best recognized by its large mouth and dark stripe or blotches along its sides. Young bass feed on zooplankton (microscopic animals) and insects until they are 2 to 3 inches long, when they switch to a fish diet. Adult bass usually eat fish, but they will also eat insects, frogs, and crayfish. In Virginia, bass should be 12 inches long in 2 to 3 years. Bass spawn once each spring when water temperatures reach 60-65° F. Considered by many to be one of the most enjoyable fish to angle, Largemouth Bass are the most sought after fish on the market today. When stocked properly with an adequate supply of Hybrid Bluegill and Fathead Minnows, these fish may grow as much as 1 to 1 1/2 pounds per season.
ORANGE SPOTTED SUNFISH
Lepomis humilis a relatively small but attractive species, the orange spotted sunfish has 32 to 41 lateral line scales. The dorsal fin contains nine to 11 spines and 10 or 11 rays. The anal fin has three spines and nine rays. The pectoral fin has 15 rays and it is long, its total length going fewer than 3.5 times into standard length. The mouth is fairly large, extending almost to the eye. Teeth are lacking on the tongue, but they are present on the palatine bone in the roof of the mouth. This is the only Lepomis species known to have a pair of sensory pores located in depressions between the eyes. The back and sides are greenish silver with scattered reddish orange spots. The venter is yellowish orange. The sides and caudal rays of breeding males assume an iridescent, bluish green color, and the vertical fins become bright yellowish orange. The black ear flap has a distinct, milky white border. See Girard (1858b) for original description. ADULT SIZE: 3 to 4 in (75 to 102 mm)
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Lepomis microlophus CHARACTERISTICS: Locally known as shellcracker, redear sunfishes are one of Alabama’s least colorful but most sought after sunfishes. The back on this species is light green to brown with scattered darker spots. The light gray to silver sides has 34 to 43 lateral line scales. Lower surfaces of the head and Venter are light yellow to white. Sides of the head are mottled with brown to dark orange spots. The dorsal fin is light gray with nine to 11 spines and 10 to 12 rays. The light yellow to white anal fin has three spines and 12 to 14 rays. The pectoral fin has 13 or 14 rays and it is long and pointed, its end reaching past the nostril when bent forward. The common name of this species is derived from the characteristic red or orange spot at the rear of the opercular flap. ADULT SIZE: 8 to 11 in (203 to 279 mm). The state angling record (4 lb, 4 oz) was caught at Chattahoochee State Park in 1962. DISTRIBUTION: Redear sunfish occur across all of Alabama, but they are much more abundant in the southern half of the state. They can apparently withstand salinities of up to 15 to 20 parts per thousand, which may account for the fact that they far outnumber bluegills in the lower reaches of the Mobile Delta and at the head of Mobile Bay.
SOUTHERN FATHEAD MINNOWS
Pimephales promelas Maximum size: 101 mm TL (McCarrahar and Thomas 1968). Life colors: Caudal spot not separated from longitudinal streak by a clear space (Hubbs et al. 1991). Back and upper sides dark olive to dark gray, becoming white to yellow on undersides. The dusky or gray lateral band is best developed in juveniles. Fins clear to slightly milky, except for dorsal fin, which may have dark blotch on the midanterior of the fin. Thin black lines outline divisions of lateral muscle bands (myosepta) resulting in distinctive herring-bone pattern that is most obvious midlaterally (Ross 2001). Breeding males much darker overall, with black heads and fins, and two golden brown vertical bands on sides; one band just posterior to operculum and the other extends from dorsal fin base ventrally to pelvic fin base (Unger 1983). Intensity of the bands may appear or disappear in seconds in response to levels of aggression or sexual activity (McMillan 1972). Ripe females more silvery or olive.
Tadpoles are young amphibians that live in the water. During the tadpole stage of the amphibian life cycle, most respire by means of autonomous external or internal gills. They do not usually have arms or legs until the transition to adulthood, and typically have dorsal or fin-like appendages and a tail with which they swim by lateral undulation, similar to most fishes. As a tadpole matures, it most commonly metamorphosizes by gradually growing limbs (usually the legs first, followed by the arms) and then (most commonly in the case of frogs) outwardly absorbing its tail by apoptosis. Lungs develop around the time of leg development, and tadpoles late in development will often be found near the surface of the water, where they breathe air. During the final stages of external metamorphosis, the tadpole's mouth changes from a small, enclosed mouth at the front of the head to a large mouth the same width as the head. The intestines shorten to make way for the new diet. Tadpoles are consumers. Most tadpoles are herbivorous, subsisting on algae and plants. Some species are omnivorous, eating detritus and, when available, smaller tadpoles.  However, other tadpoles are normally safe from cannibalistic predation because all tadpoles in a given body of water are the same age and, therefore, the same size. An exception to the rule of distinct differences between the tadpole (juvenile) and adult (frog, toad, salamander, etc.) stages is the axolotl. Axolotls exhibit a property called neoteny, meaning that they reach sexual maturity without undergoing metamorphosis.
WHITE AMUR CARP
The Grass Carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) is a herbivorous, freshwater fish species of family Cyprinidae, and the only species of the genus Ctenopharyngodon. It is cultivated in China for food but was introduced in Europe and the United States for aquatic weed control (see, e.g., Ponchatoula Creek). It is a large cyprind native to Eastern Asia, with a native range from Northern Vietnam to the Amur River on the Siberia-China border. It is a fish of large, turbid rivers and associated floodplain lakes, with a wide degree of temperature tolerance. Grass carp are usually thought to enter reproductive condition and spawn at temperatures of 20 to 30 °C (68 to 86 °F), but have been shown to sometimes spawn at temperatures as low as 15 °C (59 °F).  In the United States, the fish is also known as White Amur, a name developed to avoid use of the name "carp", which has derogatory connotations in North America. The name derives from the Amur River, where the species is probably native, but has never been abundant This is not to be confused with the White Amur Bream (Parabramis pekinensis) which is not a particularly close relative as Cyprinidae go.
The yellow perch (Perca flavescens) is a species of perch found in the United States and Canada, where it is often referred to by the short form perch. Yellow perch look similar to the European perch but are paler and more yellowish, with less red in the fins. They have 6-8 dark vertical bars on their sides. The yellow perch is in the same family as the walleye and sauger, but in a different family from the white perch. Yellow perch size can vary greatly between bodies of water, but adults are usually between 4-10 inches (10-25.5 cm) in length and weigh about 5.29 oz (150 g) on average. The perch can live for up to 11 years, and older perch are often much larger than average; the maximum recorded length is 21.0 inches (53.3 cm) and the largest recorded weight is 4.2 lb (1.91 kg). Large yellow perch are often called "jumbo perch". Yellow perch are often stocked in ponds where they are fished for. They are a popular panfish and are known to be a good eating fish. Most perches are eaten by bass. This is why most fishing lures look like perches.
Yellow Perch reach sexual maturity at one to three years of age for males and two to three years of age for females. Spawning occurs at the end of April or beginning of May, depositing 10,000 to 40,000 eggs upon weeds, or the branches of trees or shrubs that have become immersed in the water. After fertilization the eggs hatch in 11 to 27 days depending on temperature and other weather conditions.
JAPANESE TRAPDOOR SNAILS
The Japanese Trapdoor Snail is a great asset for controlling pond algae. It is one of the few varieties that can survive Northern winters. The Japanese Trapdoor Snail will keep your pond plants groomed with minimal damage to the plants. They also clean up the sides of ponds and water gardens, feeding on uneaten fish food and decaying debris on the pond floor. The Japanese Trapdoor Snail makes a great overall pond cleaner. The Japanese Trapdoor Snail originates from ponds and slow-moving streams with some vegetation and a muddy substrate. It is also known as the Chinese Mystery Snail and is a live bearing species. The shells of Japanese Trapdoor Snails can vary significantly in color and pattern, but are usually brown/gray coloration. Viviparus malleatus is an omnivore that will consume algae (managing it and providing crystal clear water and healthy fish), plant matter, vegetables, fish food, frozen foods, and live foods. The Japanese Trapdoor Snail is a very peaceful animal and should not be housed with any animals that would like to make a meal of them.
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