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FAQs about the Not-So Tropical Eastern Pacific

Related Articles: A Fishwatcher's Guide to the Fishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific, Clarion Angelfish, TEP Angels, 

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Questions on setting up and collecting for a California Biotope  6/20/07 Hi WWM Crew! <Howdy... gasp, choke... from smoky S. Cal. (we had a fire in the cyn. back yesterday/ayer> I have a whole list of questions on a subject that I sadly cannot find any literature on. I am a Southern California resident, and just like every other aquarist who frequents the tide pools and the coast, I've always dreamed of setting up a costal biotope of my home waters. <Are many interesting organisms...> I have observed several small colorful fishes that I have been un-able to identify using online tools, <Look for Bulletin 157, Miller and Lea... can be had on the Net... the std.> I was hoping you could recommend a book or two geared towards identifying the local fauna <And the name Sam Hinton... And Calvin and Hedgpeth (Between Pacific Tides), Dan Gotshalls' works... In fact, whereabouts are you geographically? All the public aquariums along our coast (we're in San Diego) have good bookstores with these offerings> with an eye towards keeping them, I'm looking for something that details growth and sizes, diet, temperament, and good photos to help identify the fish I have seen, I want to make certain I identify the fish correctly and can provide proper care for it before I take anything from the wild. <Heee! You (and I) may have to make such. As far as I'm aware there are no comprehensive works with these features on the topic...> There are two fish in particular that I just observed for the first time last weekend that I am really curious about and would like to get your take on them. There were five of the first fish in a small mixed school with about 10 small juvenile Opaleyes hanging out along the rocks in about 1-2 feet of water in a small lagoon, they were about 3-4 inches in total length, and their size, shape, and finnage reminded me a bit of the Anthiinae family, <Mmm, no members of this subfamily of the bass family... here> although I couldn't get a real good look at any of them, they were a blue-green color with a lighter belly that reminded me a lot of the coloration of Chromis viridis. I am really curious about this one, because I have been to most of the local aquariums and I don't recall seeing any little bright turquoise/blue fish in any of the local biotopes, I am wondering if they were just the juvenile form of something bigger and plainer. <Mmmm, intertidally...> The second fish I observed in groups of 2-4, they were only about 2 inches overall, and I had been staring at the water for about 10 minutes before I even spotted them. their fin arrangement reminded me a bit of a shark or possibly family Apogonidae especially genus apogon, the pectorals were set low and were long and 'pointy' for lack of a better word, the dorsal was set back near the center of the body and was also quite long and 'pointy' it had a very slender body, with the front end being just a bit bulkier than the back, it's coloration was white/pale overall, but the fins had some red near the tips, and there was a little black present on the body. I observed both groups of fish just inside the inlet of the lagoon near sunset. Any thoughts on what they might be and where I can find more info on them? <Again... need photos really... or better communication re fin placement, relative measures of body parts... collected specimens> I am also wondering about the legalities of the collection process, can I collect certain species with only a saltwater fishing permit (if so which species), or do I need a specific collection permit (this will be for use in my home aquaria only) if there is special requirements could you please point me towards the agency I need to submit an application to? <Mmm, I do believe (I don't know exactly) that you'd need a "scientific collecting permit" to collect legally in most all intertidal areas... and some of these are excluded preserves. The place to go here is the California Fish and Game (.com)... http://www.dfg.ca.gov/ with this question... Not to be too Spartan here, but I suspect that with a regular fishing license, not collecting too much, not removing hard-scape, you'd likely be okay to gather a few fish specimens> Thanks for all the help, it's a shame that such a wonderful ecosystem is largely ignored in our hobby, hopefully that will change as more information is made available about the topic. <There should and will be...> ~Bryan in San Diego <Oh! We live in Mira Mesa... Do consider a trip on down to the S.I.O Library (Scripps Inst. of Oceanography)... you may run into me there... Upstairs in the QL sections... the ichthyology end... and a cursory review of the bibliographic tools there (have a reference librarian help familiarize you)... the computers, use of the facility is free/open to the public (who largely pay for)... And... we'll be chatting. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

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