Floridian Nature

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Florida Fish: Miscellaneous Fish
This is a group of miscellaneous  freshwater fish found in Florida. The group contains the American Eel, American Shad, Atlantic Sturgeon, Bowfin, Golden Shiner, Mosquito Fish,  Shortnose Sturgeon, Skipjack Herring, Kuhli, Mozambique Tilapia, and Pacu. These freshwater fish do not fit into any of our other categories so we have grouped them together in these two pages.

Eels primarily reside in rivers but sometimes access ponds and lakes. American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) The body of the American eel, or the common eel as it is also called, is extremely elongated (snakelike), with a very long dorsal fin that is confluent with the anal fin.  Pelvic fins are absent and tiny scales are embedded in the skin giving eels a smooth feel.  The adult color is a yellow-brown with a pale underbelly. Eels primarily reside in rivers but sometimes access ponds and lakes.  They orient to structure and flow. Common eels are predators that feed on insects, crustaceans, mollusks and some fish.  Although often associated with decaying food, they prefer live food. American eels are known to live as long as 43 years, but generally migrate to spawn and die long before then. This is a gourmet fish in the Asian markets and is often used in Sushi.  It tends to be bony by American standards but is good smoked.

In Florida, the American shad occurs only in the northeast, mostly in the St. Johns River and Nassau River.American Shad (Alosa sapidissima) Green or greenish blue with metallic luster on back, the American shad has silvery sides. The body is compressed and the lower jaw does not protrude  beyond upper jaw Teeth  are often missing in American shad that are greater than 8 inches. Sometimes  the American shad will have a few spots on  it's sides behind shoulder spot. In Florida, the American shad occurs only in the northeast, mostly in the St. Johns River and Nassau River. Most spawning occurs between late December and early April in the stretch of the St. Johns River from Sanford to Melbourne. Eggs are spawned directly into the river where they drift freely for 2-3 days. Juveniles leave the river when it cools in late fall or early winter. Juveniles mature into adults in the Atlantic Ocean and do not return to the St. Johns River until they are ready to spawn, two to five years later. In the St. Johns River and all other rivers below Cape Fear, North Carolina, shad die after they spawn. American shad are plankton feeders, but strikes small bright spoons and flies



Atlantic sturgeon have been known to reach 14 feet in length, weigh over 800 pounds and live for at least 60 years.Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) Sturgeon in general are easily recognizable by the bony plates on their bodies and barbels (whiskers) on their chin.  Sturgeon are among the oldest living species of fish and retain many primitive characteristics typical of fish during the age of the dinosaurs. Almost two dozen species of sturgeon can be found in the Northern Hemisphere, of which seven occur in North America. The Gulf sturgeon (a subspecies of Atlantic sturgeon) have a V-shaped snout with two pairs of barbels and two rows of plates in front of the vent.  The back is typically blue black with a white or cream colored belly. Atlantic sturgeon are found primarily in shallow offshore waters but come in to the rivers to spawn. Bottom feeders, the Atlantic stugeon consumes primarily mollusks and other sedentary bottom dwelling organisms. Atlantic sturgeon have been known to reach 14 feet in length, weigh over 800 pounds and live for at least 60 years.

The bowfin is the only living representative of an ancient family of fishes.Bowfin (Amia calva) The bowfin is the only living representative of an ancient family of fishes. It has an air-bladder which functions somewhat like a lung, and they are often seen near the surface of the water gulping mouthfuls of air. They are easily recognized by its flattened head; long, stout body; large mouth full of small, sharp teeth; long dorsal fin that extends along most of the back; and rounded tail. The pelvic fins are set far back on the belly near the middle of the body and the pectoral fins are low on the sides so that the overall appearance is one of three sets of fins in a row; the pectorals behind the head, the pelvics near the midbody, and the anal fin near the tail. Also, two short tube-like barbels are located near the nostrils. The body is olive-green above, shading to pale yellow or cream on the belly. Several dark brown, horizontal bars are often evident on the cheeks. Males have a dark spot with a bright orange halo, on the upper part of the tail fin. The spot is absent or inconspicuous on females. Found throughout Florida, the bowfin prefers swamps, and the backwaters of lowland streams. Usually found near vegetation, the bowfin live in warm, poorly oxygenated waters that are uninhabitable to most fishes. About 80 percent of their diet consists of fish, with crayfish being the second most dominant food item. They stalk their prey using their senses of smell and sight. Growth is very rapid. Bowfin may grow to over three feet long and weigh over 15 pounds.

The golden shiner is often found in vegetated ponds and lakes, and sometimes found in slack waters of rivers.Golden Shiner (Fundulus jenkinsi) A golden hue with reddish fins is typical of the golden shiner, it has a small soft-rayed dorsal fin and like other shiners has a lateral line (the series of sensory holes along the side of a fish) that dips downward. Widely distributed along the east coast of North America from Canada south and throughout Florida and as far west as the Dakotas, the golden shiner is often found in vegetated ponds and lakes, and sometimes found in slack waters of rivers. Shiners consume small insects, tiny mollusks, small fishes and perhaps algae. They live up to about 5 years and reach a maximum size of nearly one foot.
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