BTDarters Newsletter, July 29th, 2021



Two New Designs Available!! Sturgeon and Perch!!!! See How We Make Our Shirts!!!

The design above is called, “Acipenser by BTDarters.” It’s a new addition to our premium clothing and other merch line we’re offering for the discriminating hobbyist!

Fishes of the genus Acipenser are sturgeons. This includes the Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) (the design above), the Shovelnose Sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum), and more!

Show off your love of all things Acipenser with this line of premium and comfort apparel, and other merch!

Check Out Our Acipenser Merchandise!!!


Love You Some Yellow Perch???

There is only one species of fish in the genus Perca, but it’s a good one! Say hello to the Yellow Perch!

Many, many fishes in the U.S. are related to the Yellow Perch. In fact, all U.S. darter species are in the same family as perch. That family is called Percidae.

Show off some love of the beautiful Yellow Perch with this apparel and other merch!

Check Out Our Perca Merchandise!!!


Now What You’ve All Been Waiting For!!!

As promised, what follows is a brief tutorial of how we create our fish-design shirts! This is a very basic guide. The steps involved here may not seem like they would take a lot of time to perform, but all-in-all it takes about an hour to create a print-worthy design.

We wanted to show you our process because we think it’s unique, and we thought you might appreciate that! With regard to other people copying our process, we aren’t concerned about that. Many graphic designers could, and may even already do similar things. But our process is unique to us because we’ve been building up 20 years’ worth of native-fish and habitat photos!

Please do note that we may leave out some steps in the interest of protecting proprietary information. But we’ve included everything here that we can.

So, here we go! Let’s dive in!

Step 1.

First, we begin with a representative fish photo or photos, for the scientific genus that we want to make a design for. In this example, we are beginning with the photo of baby sturgeon, above.

That photo was taken by our founder and owner, Brian J. Torreano, in 2009. That summer, Brian volunteered on the ‘Return the Sturgeon’ project at Riveredge Nature Center in Newburg, WI. That project is a joint venture between Riveredge and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), to return a viable, spawning population of Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) to the Milwaukee River, and Lake Michigan.

Brian photographed the three sturgeon, before he released them into the Milwaukee River. Yes, they are small. That’s a one-gallon ice cream bucket they are in!


Step 2.

In the next step, we import the photo or photos into an image-editing software called, “The GIMP.” The GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. This is a free software that anyone can download from the internet. We’ve been using this software for 17 years. And because it’s free, we enjoy not paying a monthly arm-and-a-leg to the Adobe company!

The photo above shows the image as it appears in The GIMP.


Step 3.

The next step involves something called, “masking.” Basically what that means is that we cover the area of the photo that the fish is located in with a solid color. By covering the area with one color, we get a clear silhouette of the fish, which we can export to our illustration software later.

The photo above shows the image as it appears when the fish is “masked.”


Step 4.

After masking, we remove the background from the picture. Because we previously separated the silhouette from the rest of the image, all that now remains is the masked area and a transparent background. The fact that the background is transparent is indicated by the checkerboard pattern.

This is now our general shape of the fish. We export this silhouette to a format that can be read by an illustration software.

Step 5.

This is honestly the quickest step of the entire process. In a PC illustration software, we change the color of the fish silhouette to our signature blue, add the text of the genus name, and re-export the result back to The GIMP. This step takes about five minutes.


Step 6.

We bring the illustrated image back into GIMP. At this point, we have to remove the black background and export the result for printing. This is also a very quick step, as it is easy to remove a single color from an image in GIMP.

The exported image is now ready for prime time!


Step 7.

The design gets sent to the printer, shirts get printed and good-looking models show off our product! It’s at this point we also send our designs to our print-on-demand specialist, Teespring (now called Spring), so that you can order some of our merch!

And that’s it! Like I said, the process for each design takes about an hour! Thanks for reading our little tutorial, and if you have questions, please contact us. Again, we may not be able to answer all questions, in the interest of maintaining privacy on some of our proprietary steps. But we will answer all of the questions we can!


Check Out Our Acipenser Merchandise!!!

Contact Us


Don’t Forget About Our Live Fish Sales!!!

Again, as announced in our previous newsletter, until 11:59 PM Central Time on July 31st, 2021, we are offering two sales on our live native fishes. The Collector’s Choice sale, and 20% off of otherwise-purchased native fishes sale.

If you have questions about those, please contact us by clicking the green ‘Contact Us’ link below. If you’re not sure if you’ll be able to sneak in an order before the sales end, shoot us an email expressing your interest before the end time on the 31st. We’ll make sure that you can take advantage of the sales!

Again, sales of native fishes are limited to state of Wisconsin, USA residents or businesses located in Wisconsin. Thanks!

Check Out Our Live Native Fishes Catalog!!!

Contact Us

Didn’t Have a Chance to Browse Through Some Of Our Recent Emails?

All designs we currently offer are listed in our Merch store. Click the Merch Store link below to check it out!

Also, don’t forget that you can shoot us an email to submit a request for merch!!!

Check Out BTDarters’ Merch Store!!!

Contact Us About Other Designs, or to Submit a Request!!!

20 years in 2021!

Well, we hope you’re enjoying our 20th year celebration! Thanks for your support for the last 20, and here’s to 20 more!


Brian J. Torreano – Owner of BTDarters

American-Native Fishes for Your Aquarium!

– & –

Conserving Nature Indoors to Learn to Better Conserve It Outdoors™

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Original Acipenser by BTDarters image Copyright Mentatdgt 2021. Used with permission.

Original Perca by BTDarters image Copyright Angela Roma 2021. Used with permission.

All designs and other content Copyright © Brian J. Torreano / BTDarters 2021. All rights reserved.

The Secret to Enjoying Summer in Wisconsin (…and the following winter!)

If you’ve lived in Wisconsin, or the general vicinity, for any number of years, you may have wondered, “When I was a kid, why didn’t summer seem so hot?” Or, “why didn’t it seem so humid when I was younger?” These were questions that plagued me for many of the last several years. In an effort to find an answer, I performed an experiment in my apartment last summer. The results were nothing short of astounding!!!

Disclaimer: Before attempting to do something like I have done, it may be best to consult with your doctor. Not everyone will be able to do the things I did. Be sure that you are in good health, and your body is able handle the stresses of following this routine. Again, not everyone will be able to do it. If unsure, consult with your doctor.

I’ve lived in the same apartment in Port Washington, Wisconsin (metro Milwaukee) for the past 17 years. Throughout that time, I’ve always run the A.C., beginning in about May and running through about September. I have a number of fish tanks in my apartment, which generate heat. I also suffer from sleep apnea, so having a cool environment to live and sleep in was very important to me. Or so I thought.

In the summer of 2020 my experiment began. I decided to run the A.C. only when it was absolutely necessary. And when I say, “only,” I mean only! I did not run the A.C. in the apartment or in my car unless I literally got a headache or laid in bed for over 45 minutes and could not sleep, due to the temperature. Most of the year, the temperature in my apartment is in the high 70’s degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 25.5 degrees Celsius), and the relative humidity is about 30%. In the summer, without the A.C., the temperature climbs into the low to mid-80’s (27 to 29 degrees C.) This may not seem like a great change, but the relative humidity also climbed to 50% and above!

In addition to the initial uncomfortability of living without the A.C., I did a lot of sweating. And a lot of laundry! But, after a few weeks, my body acclimated to the higher temperatures and humidity. As time went on, I was able to effectively deal with the changes. I also started to notice when I spent time outdoors with other people, that I was able to easily take temperatures and humidities that made them sweat and complain. I would be sitting out on the patio with my friends and they would be complaining about how hot it was. And I sat there, totally fine!

As the summer progressed, I continued to live mostly without A.C. I do have to mention that the pets and plants I had at the time were Ok with these higher temps and humidities. With regard to my fishes, I just had to keep an eye on their water temperatures and the amount of water circulation in their aquariums. This was easily accomplished with strong aeration. I did have to make sure that water changes were kept up with, too, but that was not difficult.

My treefrogs, salamander and lizard had no problem, either. Just had to keep them properly fed and hydrated.

At the time, I also had a 13-Lined Ground Squirrel (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus), which was a rescue. He didn’t have too much trouble, but I had a fan circulating air in his enclosure at all times, and made sure he was properly fed and hydrated, as well.

My plants, too, had no problem at all, I just had to keep on top of keeping them watered.


All-in-all, my animals, plants and I made it through the summer just fine! In fact if it hadn’t been the summer of COVID, it might have been the best summer of my life! And who knows, maybe it was! My electric bills barely increased at all, and I was able to spend a lot of time outside. I enjoyed the weather, warm breezes and grass between my toes! Was it easy? Not at first, but I got used to it. Again, I did run the A.C. when I needed to, but at no other time. And as the summer eased into fall, I didn’t feel like I had missed out on the summer. I felt as if I had lived it!

I believe this routine worked because the human body is meant to experience variances in temperature and humidity throughout the year. Living in air-conditioned comfort for all of the summer months is not natural, and for most of human history has not been a possibility. I understand that there are people nowadays that have to live in air conditioning during the warm months. But what if you don’t have to?

Also, remembering back to when I was a child, we didn’t have central air. I and my family endured the warm months because we had to. I believe that this was why I remembered the summers not being so hot and humid when I was a child. Because, through no fault of our own, we had to experience the heat.


You may remember that I mentioned that this system allowed me to enjoy the following winter, too. Well, being that I have two degrees in biology, and based on the things that I experienced physiologically during the summer, I believe that experiencing the summer heat prepared me for the cold of winter. The winter of 2020 / 2021 was much easier to deal with than any winter in the last 20 years of my life. The colds didn’t feel as cold. The biting frost didn’t feel as strong. And the winds didn’t seem as, “windy.”

So, it seems I may have discovered the, “secret,” to enjoying weather in Wisconsin again! Live without the A.C. Enjoy!

Again, consult with your doctor before undertaking any health routine that has the potential to negatively effect your health.

New Fishes Available for a Limited Time! Shippable!

Have a look at the images and text below. Until March 26th, 2021 we are going to be taking orders for five species of southern-U.S. fishes! These are species that are not commonly available in the hobby, and they are beautiful! The species we are offering are:

1. Lined Topminnows (males and females) (Fundulus lineolatus)

2. Everglades Pygmy Sunfishes (Elassoma evergladei)

3. Greenfin Shiners (Cyprinella chloristia)

4. Yellowfin Shiners (Notropis lutipinnis)

5. Speckled Madtoms (Noturus leptacanthus)

Lined Topminnow male.


Lined Topminnow female.

Lined Topminnows can be a little delicate, but have really great color and striping!  Their appearance is similar, but not identical, to Wisconsin’s gorgeous, but endangered, Northern Starhead Topminnow. This species tops out at about 3.5 inches in length (8.89 cm). Foods readily taken are: flake, live or frozen.


Everglades Pygmy Sunfish male.

Everglades Pygmy Sunfishes make great nano-aquarium inhabitants! Breeding males get a very dark background color, with iridescent blue spangling, as in the picture! These fishes eat live foods, like daphnia, almost exclusively and top out at about an inch in length. You definitely want to put these guys in a mature tank. In a species-only setup they are not particularly difficult to breed, but they don’t lay many eggs at once.


Greenfin Shiner

Greenfin Shiners are similar in size and body shape to our Wisconsin-native Spotfin Shiners (Cyprinella spiloptera), though they possess a greenish dorsal fin. These fishes will most likely need a bit of water movement in the aquarium as they are frequently found over sandy and rocky pools of small creeks to medium-sized rivers. These guys should take flake, live or frozen foods.


Yellowfin Shiner

This picture doesn’t really do Yellowfin Shiners justice! In the aquarium they are really beautiful fishes! They like to school with other minnows and are very active. Both males and females have a reddish-brown color on the back, a white belly and a dark stripe down the side. Breeding males develop a bright pink-red color on the body and a lemon-yellow to red color on the fins! These fishes will readily accept flake, live or frozen foods.

Speckled Madtom (unpictured) link

Speckled Madtoms are a member of the bullhead catfishes family, and top out at six inches in length. Their background color is a brownish tone, with darker spots on the body. Hence the name, “Speckled.” They prefer a habitat containing leaf debris or lush vegetation. As with most other madtoms, their diet is most likely going to consist of live or frozen foods.

Southern U.S. Fishes Pricing

All of the five species offered above are going to be $10.00 per fish, plus shipping to our location. Please note that alternately, we may be able to arrange shipping to your location! Contact us for more details about that.

Shipping for a small order will most likely be between $20.00 and $40.00, whether shipped to us or you. Contact us for a shipping quote.

We will require a non-refundable 50% down on your order when finalized. We will require that just in case you order the fishes and something comes up that you can’t take them. In the event that the order gets cancelled on our end, you will get your money back.

The order will be placed with our supplier on March 26th, 2021. After we receive the fishes, we will contact you to arrange pickup, meetup, or delivery in southeastern Wisconsin, and payment of the balance due, unless otherwise specified.

If you have any questions at all, or would like to place an order, please contact us. This is a limited opportunity to receive these great fishes!


Welcome to our new website!  We encourage you to browse around the links, and especially click on the pictures of the fishes in the shop.  You will find a wealth of information on the fishes we offer.  Thanks so much for your patronage, and if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line!


Brian J. Torreano Signature Image

Brian J. Torreano – Founder & Owner of BTDarters End Glyph