Not all fishkeepers keep tropical fish, in fact some keep brackish water fish, and even cold water fish. Fish from North America that are often kept are cold water fish. Some are drab in color while others can look like a tropical fish. In honor of the 4th of July, we present to you a list of five North American fish that can be found in the hobby, but not necessarily your local fish store.
Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) are considered game fish in many locales so keeping them in an aquarium may be subject to local laws. If you can keep bluegill, a large tank is a must. I’ve kept two bluegill at varying times in my 80 gallon tall tank and I would consider that to be a minimum size tank for it. One lived five years and the other lived seven years.
Bluegill are named as such because of the blue coloration on their gills, which can be very striking. Have adequate filtration as bluegill are voracious eaters. Because they are cooler water fish, no heater is necessary. Feed them quality cichlid pellets supplemented with earthworms and cut nightcrawlers.
Orange Throat Darter
The orange throat darter (Etheostoma spectabile) is a beautiful fish that can be found in shallow, gravel bottom streams. These fish can be found in many areas of the Central United States. Not found in fish stores, you will have to find them in streams in your area if they are native to your area, or you can check online for breeders of this beautiful little fish.
Check your local regulations before collecting them though. These fish are small, no more than two inches in length and can live in 10- 15 gallon aquariums. They thrive in water temperatures of less than 75 degrees and feed on frozen bloodworms, small worms and brine shrimp.
No North American Fish list would be legit without the Catalina goby (Lythrypnus dalli). This little marine fish is found in the Pacific Ocean off California. While it may look like a tropical reef fish, it is in fact a temperate, cold water fish.
It thrives in water temperatures ranging from 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit and can live in a nano tank as small as five gallons, provided it is the only fish in the tank. Feed them dry or frozen foods and add some copepods every once in a while for an added treat. Add some live rock and a small algae eating crab and you can have a nice little species tank.
The red shiner (Cyprinella lutrensis) grows to about three inches in length and can be found from Minnesota down to the Gulf Coast. It lives in creeks, small rivers and other moving bodies of water that feature rock sand and gravel. These little guys can live in aquariums as small as 10 gallons with a maximum of six shiners.
The red shiner is a beautiful silver fish with red fins. They feed on small invertebrates and algae so a varied diet is a must. These fish are commonly used as baitfish by fishermen and so their range has been extended by virtue of fishermen dumping live fish into bodies of water.
I know Louisiana crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) are not fish, but they are some of the most popular species kept in cool water aquariums and they are a joy to watch. I kept several crayfish in 55 gallon tank when I lived in Hawaii and they are interesting to watch and feed. They breed very easily so watch out or you will have a tank full of little lobsters running around the substrate!
These guys can grow to 6 inches in length so house them in as large a tank as possible. Feed them any good quality sinking pellet or wafer food as well as occasional chopped shrimp or fish. If you can get the food to sink to the bottom, the crayfish will find it. You can also set up your tank with a land mass as crayfish are known to crawl out of water. These guys live to around three years or so and molt, so be prepared to watch that too!
John B. Virata has been keeping fish since he was 10 years old. He currently keeps an 80 gallon cichlid tank, a 20 gallon freshwater community tank and a 29 gallon BioCube with a Percula clown, a huge blue green chromis, and a firefish all in his kitchen, and a 55 gallon FOWLR tank with a pair of Ocellaris clowns, two blue green chromis, a six line wrasse, a peppermint shrimp, assorted algae and a few aiptasia anemones in his living room. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata