Invasive Species:

Good morning guys, and how are you all today? We’d like to thank you for droppin’ in this morning, and we hope everyone is doing fine.
This morning I’d like to talk some on invasive species. If you look at our comment section, you can see Kunoichi and Bonnie were having a discussion on this topic.

I have no idea how they inspired me to look into such a topic, as both have more knowledge in their “little toes” than I do in my entire body. But, so life goes! Plus Dub usually has to throw his “two-cents” in the pot, mainly just to say I have! LOL!!

Actually they both “tweaked my interest,” so I just had to look into it a little. A little being a very good description of my capacity to absorb knowledge.

Deb puts this into a very simple perspective that I believe all will find easy to grasp. She tells me, quite often really, “Dub…if they sat your brain on top of the thin edge of a razor blade, it’d look like a BB rolling down a four-lane highway!”

I’m sure glad she loves me, and you guys too? She’d be one tough cookie if she didn’t like you, huh? Oh well, I knew what she was like before I married her.

Invasive Species:

Worldwide, I’m sure there are literally thousands of invasive species that originated in one part of the globe, but migrated, or were brought in and introduced by man to areas not native to them.

If you’d read our article on hydrilla, and water hyacinths, you see these were imported into Florida. The water hyacinth originated in Brazil.

There is only one species of hydrilla. Hydrilla that originated in India is the Hydrilla verticillata’s dioecious type, meaning it has only female flowers only. Hydrilla’s monoecious type, or plants having male and female flowers on the same plant is probably from Korea.

Hydrilla is in Europe, Asia, Australia and the Pacific, Africa, South America and North America. In Russia the plant grows to 50 degrees North latitude, or equivalent to the U.S.-Canadian border.

The water hyacinth reproduces at an incredible rate! Would you believe that one single plant can grow to cover 1 acre…in one growing season?? This one acre of water hyacinth can weigh over 200 tons as well! Is this invasive enough for you?

Both these plant species have the ability to choke off Florida’s waterways if left unattended, so there is a constant struggle to keep these two plant species under control, costing millions of dollars.

Staying in Florida, I saw Bonnie and Kunoichi were discussing the Melaleuca Tree. This in fact is another very invasive plant, or tree introduced in Florida to help drain low lying swampy areas, down in the Everglades.

They are very, very aggressive growing, so they literally crowd out native trees and plants. They also are very flammable plants as well, and this in itself causes problems.

There are over 200 different species of this tree, and almost all are native to Australia.

I gotta say “G’day,” now. I don’t know why, but after watching the Crocodile Dundee series years ago, I just have to say G’day ever once in a while!

Anyway the Melaleuca Tree population here in Florida has quadrupled in the last 10 years. There are now over 391,000 acres of wet pine flatwoods, sawgrass marshes, and cypress swamps in the southern part of the state that have been displaced.

This from Kunoichi: I am familiar with the Melaleuca tree, as it became really popular as a medicinal, and lots of people got involved with a Melaleuca direct sales business.  Quite a few products boast it as an ingredient.  I’d never heard of them being an invasive plant before!

See, you learn something every day. Kunoichi points out that the dern Melaleuca Tree is used as a medicinal ingredient in quite a few products. I’d have never guessed it, because most conversations I’ve heard in regards to these trees, they were being cussed pretty heavily! LOL!!

It seems though that this tree produces an oil that is both anti-fungal, and antibiotic. It’s produced and marketed as “Tea Tree Oil.”
The Aborigines used the leaves to chew on to relieve headaches.

Here are two pictures of the Melaleuca Tree.

Scientists from Australia, have released a biological control here in Florida in the form of insects that feed on the Melaleuca. They are natural predators of the tree.

But, you see once again, we are bringing in something else to combat what we brought in originally. It goes on and on, doesn’t it?
Another example of an invasive species, but this time using fish is the armor plated catfish.

These “little scoundrels have already infested our pond here at the house. We dug the pond for our house pad and we intended on stocking it.

After allowing time for the pond to settle, or the sediment stirred up in the water to sink back to the bottom, we started stocking it. The main reason being Deb loves to fish, so in order to keep Mama happy, I figured by stocking it, this would be simply a win-win situation. Deb’s happy, and in return, I’m happy too!

First we went in with minnows, and allowed a three month wait for them to get established. We then came in with wild shiners, and allowed them the same wait period, thus allowing them to become established as well. So far, all going according to plan!

THEN Mother Nature played her card, and I think got herself a good laugh at Deb and my expense. We got a ton of rain, actually about 24 inches in a three-week period! Well, we have a dry creek bed, dry in drought and water flowing during wet periods.

This was the case, and even water standing all around our barn which sits fairly close to the pond. Deb and I were taking us a gator ride across the property, drive up behind the barn, and there is all kinds of these dern armor plated catfish, swimming AND walking around, and most headed to our dad-gum pond!

So, guess what our pond had become stocked, but a better term being infested with…armor plated catfish! There went my stocking next with small bass theory! Those dern fish would eat my bass fingerlins, so I said, “No way!”

We have put in some bigger bass from time to time, and Dale continues to bring us a few when he fishes on the creek, but as far as stocking with fingerlings, and keeping the pond full of good fish, that was shot down.

Deb does fish now, from time to time, and the bass are doing well, and she even catches bream too, though we had no idea there were any of these in the pond. Sometimes birds stock ponds by having eggs get attached to their legs, and I believe this must be what happened?

We even had a truck driver that hauled asphalt for us come out and cast net these catfish, and he claimed they were literally a delicacy in Guyana, where they were from. He caught and took two 5 gallon bucketfuls home with him!

He said he’d have his wife send Deb and I some that she’d cooked up, but I told him thank you, but go ahead and knock yourself out eating them!

But regardless, let’s see what these armor plated catfish actually are.

COMMON NAME – Brown hoplo (armor-plated catfish), hassa.

DESCRIPTION – Brown hoplo is less than a foot long and belongs to family of fishes known as Callichthyidae; has bony armor consisting of two rows of large hard scales forming plate-like armor along each side; dark brown to black in color with two pairs of long barbells on chin.

RANGE – First documented in the Indian River Lagoon system in 1995; now found throughout central and south Florida from the St. John’s River to Lake Trafford. Native to eastern South America.

HABITAT – Occur in a variety of freshwater habitats including muddy bottom and slow moving rivers, streams, side channels, ponds, marshes, and man-made waterways such as ditches and borrow pits; larvae and juveniles inhabit shallow water areas with lots of vegetation; adults prefer foraging in deeper, open water areas; gulps air, and tolerant of both low oxygen and high hydrogen-sulfide levels.

SPAWNING HABITS – Males build floating nests in vegetation near shore that consist of bubbles covered with plant material. Eggs are released by the female below the nest. The male fertilizes them and then takes them into his mouth and blows them up into the floating nest. Breeding males develop enlarged, red pectoral spines with hooks at the tips that are used to defend territories against other males. The eggs hatch in about four days.

FEEDING HABITS – Primarily feeds on benthic invertebrates and detritus.

AGE AND GROWTH – Grows to about 2 inches in 2 months; however, rarely exceeds 10 inches.

SPORTING QUALITY – Little to none, but can be caught using live worms; normally fished for with cast nets.

EDIBILITY – Highly sought after as food by Floridians with cultural ties to Trinidad and parts of South America; raised as a food fish in native range; no bag or size limits.

Thank you all for coming back by to see us, and we hope you guys have a great day!

God Bless you and yours!

Dub and Deb

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6 Responses to Invasive Species:

  1. Bonnie Hollingsworth says:

    Yep! We’re never too old to learn something new! I didn’t know the name of it, but I knew there was a nuisance tree in or near the ‘Glades. Never heard of and armor-plated catfish, but did see a white “walking catfish” one time near Myakka River State Park in Florida. Now, I’ve learned a lot of new things from you today, also. That’s a good thing! Do either you or Kunoichi know the history of Cowhorn Okra? I’m getting ready to plant some because I’m told it’s an old, old variety that is open-field pollinated, and I want to save the seeds. Anybody know of a cucumber that is worthy of saving the seeds?

    Great column, Dub. Keep up the good work, pal, even though I know for a fact that Deb has you pegged pretty good!

  2. Kunoichi says:

    Oh my Goodness! Armour plated catfish?!?! What fascinating looking creatures! I just can’t imagine eating one. *L*

    I love it when something I read triggers memories. The first thing that popped into my mind when I read “armour plated catfish” – especially after you mentioned new species being introduced to combat previously introduced invaders – was my favourite invasive species, the pleco. We’ve got one of these in our aquarium. His name is Boris, and he’s about 10 inches long now. We had no idea how big these guys could grow, but the type we’ve got has plating on the sides that reminds me a lot of that armoured catfish you’ve got a picture of, though the pattern is completely different. I guess they’re one of those fish that can grow as big as their space allows. I saw one that topped 2 feet in length at a pet store last year.

    You reminded me of another another invader we “met” many years ago. We were living in Victoria, on Vancouver Island (in British Columbia) and went to an event featuring the local flora and fauna. They had aquariums with various plants and swimmers, and in one they a Goliath tadpole. The African Goliath frogs get sold as pets. Unfortunately, some people decide to get rid of their pets by dumping them, and thats what people think happened in Elk Lake on Vancouver Island – that enough people dumped their pet Goliath frogs that they could start mating. Because of the colder climate the tadpoles, which normally take 2 years to mature, take 3 years to mature in chilly Elk Lake. The guy at the display was telling us about some of the problems these giant tadpoles were causing. He was saying how, sometimes you’d see a mother duck with her ducklings swimming along behind her when suddenly *bloop* one of the ducklings would disappear. Yes, these tadpoles are big enough to grab ducklings from underneath and eat them! They were decimating the waterfowl populations.

    Bonnie, I’m afraid I live too far north to know much about okra of any kind! That’s one of those “exotic” foods that shows up once in a rare while in our grocery stores, but we don’t have the climate for. *L*

    Oh, after reading this post, I just wanted to say how much I love the way you guys turn a phrase. I love the BB on a razor blade comment. Your writing is an absolute delight to read! I feel like I’m sitting next to you, hearing you talk. :-D

  3. John Ru says:

    My Father-in-law was from Guyana, and every Good Friday Curried Hassa was on the Menu. I love almost curried anything, but this was not a favorite.
    I believe it needed more time living in clean water before using for dinner. Similar to catfish and carp.
    Tasted like muck.

    • admin says:

      I agree totally. Fish living in muddied waters, to me, taste pretty strong. Sounds pretty crazy, but if FISH, taste real FISHY…I tend to back off! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Robert Goldberg says:

    Thank you for solving a mystery of several years’ standing. I found one of these, partly eaten, under an osprey’s nest and it looked like a prehistoric fish.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for the comment. These fish have become a problem here in Florida and are very, very abundant. I’ve had several people tell me they’re really good eating, but as of now, I still let those people, and as you say, the osprey enjoy them with no pressure from me at all! Lol

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