|Banner image is of a Spotfin Shiner (Cyprinella
spiloptera) Copyright ©
BTDarters . BTDarters' logo TM BTDarters . Small Spotfin Shiner picture Copyright ©
about Spotfin Shiners
This article below was originally written for the Milwaukee
Aquarium Society (MAS) Breeder's Award
Program (BAP.) Some things mentioned in the article may be obvious to the reader, but
were included in the article as it was intended for an audience that had/has limited
knowledge of my operations.
Spawning My Milwaukee River Spotfin Shiners (Cyprinella spiloptera), Legally!!!
By: Brian J. Torreano
For those of you that don’t know, I have a Letter of Permission (LOP) issued by the state of Wisconsin –
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to capture, keep, breed and sell native “minnows”
of Wisconsin. I put the word “minnows” in quotes because the state definition includes
some other fish that don’t normally fall under the definition of minnows. Such fish
are: suckers, mudminnows, madtoms, stonecats, killifish, topminnows, silversides,
sticklebacks, trout-perch, darters, sculpin, and all species in the minnow family,
except goldfish and carp. I have had this LOP for many years and enjoy using my
LOP to provide people and institutions with native fish though my business,
BTDarters. I see and catch a lot of fish that many people don’t know about. One of
the more beautiful fish that I catch in southeastern Wisconsin is the Spotfin Shiner
(Cyprinella spiloptera.) During the breeding season, May to September, males collected
in the river are an absolute stunning steel blue with scales edged in purple and fins of
orange with white tips! They rival most tropical fish any day! Now I do have to mention
that non-spawning males and females are simply silver in color, though they do possess the
specie’s interesting body shape. To me, Spotfin Shiners look like little salmon. Anyways,
I love these fish!
This year, in the month of June, I collected several breeding-condition male and female
Spotfins out of the Milwaukee River. Now, you may think that the Milwaukee River might be
a complete environmental “mess”, but it has actually improved dramatically in water quality
over the last 10 years. At one particular location where I collect the Spotfins, the water
has several-foot visibility, even after heavy rain events. And, this may sound bad, but
the river has no odor. I mention that because in years past, for example, the 1990s, I
remember the river having a distinct, rancid smell. Now, no odor and many fish! Good times!
After collecting the fish, I got them home, acclimated them, and got them on a heavy
Captain Bob’s flake food and live blackworm diet. After about a month in captivity, they
started laying eggs. Now, Spotfins are crevice spawners, so I had to make special egg
"traps" for them. What I did was I threaded some small clay pots through a piece of airline
tubing and put spacers between the nested pots. The spacers were made out of airline tubing,
too. That made a gap of about 3/16 of an inch between each pot. I placed the "pot array" in
the adult's tank and just waited for them to start laying eggs. I checked the pots every
few days until I found eggs. On July 26th, 2013, the fish laid eggs. I removed the spawning
apparatus with the eggs and put them in a seasoned 2.5-gallon tank with a sponge filter and
a heater. Now, I probably don't need a heater in there, but I wanted to get the fry to grow
as quickly as I could. I really wanted those BAP points! The adults spawned again three
days later, and after several days, I had 50 - 100 fry from the two spawnings. The fry
didn’t seem to have much of a yolk sac when they hatched and looked like tiny little slivers
of glass. I immediately started them on a microworm and vinegar eel diet and performed 50%
water changes once daily. The fry seemed to acclimate to the live foods and water change
schedule well. After about a week, I began adding live baby brine shrimp, Captain Bob’s Top
Secret Fry Food, and Captain Bob’s Nori “45” Fry Food to their diet. They did very well
on this and have been growing well.
At the time of writing this article, the fry are a couple of months old and are doing very
well. I estimate that I still have about 50 fry and the largest ones are 1 and ¼ inches long.
I am going to have a limited number of fry available for purchase. The DNR regulations
regarding my selling of captive-spawned fish are a little bit less strict than my selling
of wild-collected fish. For my wild-collected fish, the people who purchase them from me are
required to register with me, providing name, mailing address and phone number. This is
because the DNR wants me to have that information on file in the event that the fish disease
Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) is found at any of my collecting sites. If it is, the
owners of fish from that location(s) can be notified. This has not happened since VHS was
found in Wisconsin, and I only collect from VHS-free waters, but it is a precautionary measure.
For my captive-spawned fish, no registration is required, though I do provide a proof-of-purchase
to indicate that you legally purchased the fish from me. Simple stuff!
Well, if you like what you’ve read here, please head over to the Conservation Aquacultured™
Spotfin Shiner page on my site. If you're interested in purchasing some fish, click on the
"Request" button at the top of the Aquacultured Spotfin Shiner page. Otherwise, please contact me through
any of the means on my “Contact Us” page. Thanks
for reading my article!
Other Links of Interest:
Captain Bob’s Fish Food: www.captainbobsfishtales.com
California Blackworm Company: www.aquaticfoods.com
Additional Spotfin Shiner Links: