G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

The fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) online

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closely related species (E. Goodei) abounds in Florida.


The common "Brook Sucker" is the most familiar and generally abundant of the group. It

inhabits all bodies of water, large and small, from New England to Colorado, In the Great Lakes


it readies a length of two feet or more. In small brooks it is mature at eight or ten inches. It is
a soft, poor fish. It varies much in size, color, and form in the different streams. It bites at a
small hook baited with a \\cum. and is one of the numerous tribe of boy's fish which may be found
on every urchin's string.

All tin- lakes and rivers of the Rocky Mountain region and the Pacific slope are inhabited
liy one or more species of this genus, or of the allied genera Chaamistes and Pantosteus. In Utah
Lake, said to be the "greatest Sucker-pond in the world," are found Catostomus fecundun and
ardent, Chasmintes liorus and Pantosteus platyrhynchus, all in abundance. In Lake Tahoe, Cato-
utonius tahtHJntut; in the Sacramento C. occidental; in the Columbia C. macrochilus; in Klamath
Lake, Chanmistfx I it.ru tun and Ch. brevirostris, abound, while in the Great Lakes and all waters
thence to Alaska and the Arctic Ocean C. longirostri* is an important food fish. The Stone-
roller or Hammer head Sucker, Catostomvs nigricang, abounds in most waters from the Great Lakes
southward. The Stone-roller is extremely abundant in every running stream in the North and
West, where its singular, almost comical form is familiar to every school-boy. It delights in rapids
and shoals, preferring cold and clear water. Its powerful pectorals render it a swifter swimmer
than any other of its family. Its habit is to rest motionless on the bottom, where its mottled
colors render it difficult to distinguish from the stones among which it lies. When disturbed it
darts away very quickly, after the manner of the etheostomoids. They often go in small schools.
I have never found this fish in really muddy water, and when placed in the aquarium it is the first
fish to die as the water becomes foul. Although called the "Mud Sucker" in the books, it is most
characteristically a fish of the running streams. This species reaches a length of about two feet,
and is often caught in its spawning season by means of a spear or snare. It is, like C. Commersoni,
a "boy's fish," and not worth the eating.


The "Black Horse," "Gourd-seed Sucker," "Missouri Sucker," or "Suckerel" is found chiefly
in the river channels of the Ohio and Mississippi. It reaches a considerable size, weighing five to
twelve pounds, and is said to be a much finer fish in flesh than any other of its family. The writer
has had no opportunity of testing this.


The different species (Ictiolnis cyprinus, carpio, etc.) known as "Carp," "Carp Suckers,"
" Spear-fish," " Sail-fish," " Quill-back," etc., abound in all the larger bodies of water south and
west of New York as far as the Rio Grande. The species are probably but two in number, very
similar. They reach a weight of four or five pounds, and form an abundant but not excellent food.


The three species known as " Buffalo-fishes" (Ictiobus bubalus, urus, and cyprinella) are found
mainly in the river channels of the Mississippi and its tributaries. They are the largest of the
Suckers, reaching a weight of fifteen pounds or more. In the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys they
form a largo percentage of the food-fish consumed. They usually bring a better price than the
smaller Suckers, excepting the Black Horse, but at the best they are coarse, poor fishes, the flesh
being full of small bones and scarcely worth the trouble of picking. The Buffalo- fishes are found
by Professor Forbes to feed on small crustaceans more than do the other Suckers, and less on
moll asks.



The species of this family known as "Minnows," "Chubs," "Shiners," and "Dace" literally
swarm in all of the fresh waters of the United States, as in those of Europe and Africa. Most of
them reach a length of less than six inches. Such have of course no value as food. They are,
however, important as furnishing the greater part of Ihe food of all our carnivorous fresh-water
fishes the bass, perch, trout, pike, etc. A few of our species reach a considerable size, especially
in the Sierra Nevada region. Some of these become food-fish of importance. The flesh in all is,
however, deficient in flavor and full of small bones. Not one of our native species has any high
money value, and only the Carp (Cyprinus carpio), of all the family, can be compared as a food- fish
with the percoids and salinonoids.

Most of the Cyprinidce are carnivorous, the smaller species feeding, upon insects, fish-spawn,
etc. Many large individuals are quite voracious, some of them being very destructive to young
trout. All of them spawn in spring, some of them running up small brooks for that purpose.

Some of the more important of our Cyprinidce are the following:


This fish, the American representative of the European Bream, abounds in most rivers east of
the Great Plains. It is a sluggish fish, frequenting ponds, bayous, and cut-offs, preferring those
in which the bottom is covered with aquatic plants. It reaches a length of nearly a foot, and is
sometimes brought to market.


This species is excessively abundant in Utah Lake, and as it ascends the streams to spawn
almost simultaneously with the trout (Salmo purpuratus), it is extremely destructive to the young
of the latter. It is taken in considerable numbers in seines, and is sold in the markets of Salt
Lake City and other towns. It reaches a length of nearly a foot.

Numerous other species, belonging to the same genus and similar in size and habits, abound
in the region between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada, and are used as food by the
Indians and by the white settlers. Among these are 8. niger, 8. purpureus, 8. obesus, 8. pan-
dora, etc. Species very similar abound in Europe and Asia.


The "Chub" of the San Francisco markets abounds in the Sacramento River, and is taken
in great numbers. It reaches a length of about a foot, and is eaten chiefly by the Chinese.


The various species of Oila abound in the basin of the Rio Colorado and Rio Gila, and are
used as food in New Mexico and Arizona. They reach a length of about eighteen inches. Oila
elegam, robusta, and Grahami are the principal species.


This species abounds in the Columbia and Sacramento Rivers and their tributaries, where it
is usually known as the "Pike." It reaches a length of three or four feet at least, a size much
greater than that of any other of our representatives of this family. A great many are brought
into the markets of San Francisco in the winter. Its flesh is of course not much esteemed. A


second species (Ftychochilux llarfonli) acr<>mp:mics /'. ureijonengis in. the Sacramento, and is brought
with it to the markets. A third species (Itychochilus luciun) occurs in the lower course of the Rio
Colorado, and is said to reach a still larger size a length of five or six feet.


This species occurs with Ptychochilun oreyonenxis in the Sacramento, and is brought with it
into the markets. It reaches a size scarcely less thau that of P. oregonensis, but is less plentiful.


This species abounds from California to Puget Sound in all the streams of Oregon, Washing-
ton, and Idaho, and often enters the sea. It reaches a length of little more than a foot, and is
little used for food where trout and other better fishes abound. Its great numbers, however, give
it a special claim to notice.


The "Split-tail" is very common in the Sacramento, and is brought in considerable numbers to
the San Francisco market. It reaches a length of about eighteen inches.


The "Fall-fish," "Chub," "Roach," or "Dace" is abundant in the streams of the Eastern and
Middle States east of the Alleghauies. It reaches a length of eighteen inches, being the largest
of the Cyprinida east of the Rocky Mountains. It has no special importance as a food-fish,
although often taken with hook and line. According to Thoreau, the Chub is a soft fish and
tastes like brown paper salted.


This species abounds in all small streams and ponds from Western Massachusetts to Nebraska
and southward. It reaches a length of about a foot, and is par excellence a small-boy's fish. Large
specimens are often found in streams which the boy can step across, and a small hook baited with
an angle-worm will draw the fish from its lurking place. The "horns" in this and other Minnows
and Chubs are dermal excrescnces developed on the males in the breeding season.


The " Horny-head," " River Chub," or " Jerker " is one of the most widely-diffused of fresh-
water fishes, occurring from New York to Utah and Alabama. It reaches a length of ten or
twelve inches. It inhabits larger streams than the Horned Dace, which delights in little brooks.
It takes the hook readily, and throughout the Southwest forms a source of satisfaction to the
juvenile angler. The flesh of this and other small Cyprinidce is very palatable when fried crisp
soon after being taken from the water.


Toward the Northwest this Chub takes the place of the preceding, and reaches a somewhat
larger size.


The "Shiner," "Red-fin," or "Red Dace" abounds in all streams from New England to Kansas
and Alabama, being in most waters more numerous than any other species. In clear, cool
lakes it is often found in great schools. At the mouths of small rivers in Lake Michigan


hundreds of them can be taken in a short time on a small hook baited with worms or flies. This
species reaches a length of about ten inches. It assists to swell the urchin's string, but has no
tangible importance as a food-fish. Its flesh spoils very quickly after the fish is taken from the
water, hence the name " Rot-gut Minnow," applied to it in Alabama. A large part of the food of
the black bass, trout, and other predatory fish is contributed by the Shiner and by its numerous


The "Cut-lips," "Day Chub," or "Nigger Chub," has but a narrow distribution, being found in
abundance only in the basin of the Susquehanna. It reaches a length of six or eight inches, and
has no economic importance.


This species is found in some abundance in most streams of California, and comes occasionally
into the markets. It reaches a length of about fifteen inches.


This species occurs in most streams of California in considerable abundance. A good many
are sent to the market of San Francisco, where they are eaten by the Chinese. It reaches a length
of about eighteen inches.


The Hard-mouth Chub is found in the rivers of Washington and Oregon. It reaches a length
of about a foot but is only rarely eaten.


THE RACES OF CARP THEIR HISTORY AND HABITS. The Carp, Cyprinus carpio, of the
family Cyprinidte, has a toothless mouth, thick lips, and four barbels on the upper jaw. In place
of the usual teeth of the mouth there are a number of stout teeth on the pharyngeal bones, which
are arranged in three rows. It has one single dorsal, which is longer than the anal. Both these
fins have at their origin, on the anterior edge, a strong ray, which is serrated in a downward
direction. The caudal is of semicircular shape, and the natatory bladder is divided into two
sections, with connecting air-passage. The scales have an entire edge, and the body is compressed
on the sides. The general color of the back and sides is a dark olive-brown, the abdomen often
of a whitish-yellow or orange tint. The coloring depends, as with all fishes, partly upon the age
and season, partly upon the water, the soil, and also upon the food of the fish.

Be it remarked that the Carp, which has occasionally been compared to the buffalo-fish, has
no resemblance to it, with the exception of the similarity of their coat of scales ; neither does the
flesh of the buffalo-fish ever come up to the excellence of that of the Carp.

The Carp was, in all probability, originally introduced into Europe from Central Asia many
centuries ago, and is now common in most of the large rivers. In some parts of Europe, princi-
pally in Bohemia, Austria, Southern, Central, and Northern Germany, it has become domesti-

The Carp is alleged to have been imported into England in the year 1504. In Austria, which
possesses the most extensive carp fisheries in Europe, the culture of the Carp can be traced as
far back as the year 1227. The Emperor Charles IV of Germany, by granting sundry privileges,

1 Extract from Report of United States Fish Commission, part iv, 1875-76, pp. 865-876.


favored tlu> establishment of ponds in liis (loniinioiiH, and the monks were especially assiduous in
the culture of fish in ponds. As curly as the first half of the fourteenth century, Bohemia had its
first large carp poi-d. and the culture of this fish progressed in that country, as also in Poland,
ami that district \vliich now comprises German Austria; also in I pj.fi Lusutiu, Saxony, Silesia
and Havana. A celebrated c Mablishment for carp-culture, with large, extensive ponds, was
located, as early as the fourteenth century, near the town of Wittinguu, in Bohemia, Austria. The
first beginning of it may be traced back to the year 1367. At that time the lords of Rosenberg
called into existence and maintained for centuries these establishments on a scale so extensive
that to this day they are the admiration of the visitor, the main parts having survived, while the
race of the Uosenbergs has long been extinct.

The manor of Wittiugau suffered greatly from the calamities of the Thirty Years' War, and
with it, in consequence, its fish-culture. The latter only recovered the effects of it after passing,
together with the large estate of a rich monastery of the same name, in the year 1670, into pos-
session of the princes of Schwarzenberg, their present owners. The extent which carp culture
has reached on these princely domains will be seen from the circumstance that their artificial ponds
comprise an area of no less than twenty thousand acres. The proceeds amount to about five hundred
thousand pounds of Carp per annum. The ponds of the princes of Schwarzenberg are probably
i In- most extensive of the kind on the globe. They are usually situated in some undulating low-
laud country, where small valleys have been closed in by gigantic dams for the purpose of forming
reservoirs. Similar establishments, though not equally extensive, are found in the provinces of
Silesia and Brandenburg; as, for instance, near Breslau and Cottbus, in Peitz and Pleitz, which I
visited last year. In Hesse-Cassel, Hanover, Oldenburg, Mecklenburg, and Holstein there are also
many hundreds of ponds, none of them covering more than a few acres, but almost every large
farm possessing at least one of them.

It will be easily understood that after such an exclusive culture in ponds, continued through
centuries, as also an existence in open water, where the Cyprinidce were left more to themselves, a
number of varieties or rather genuine species Cyprinua carpio, showing striking differences from
the races, were developed : these races, though derived directly from the original type, just as with
our domestic animals. They are divided into three chief groups :

1. Cyprinus carpio communis, the "Scale Carp"; with regular, concentrically arranged scales,
being, in fact, the original species improved.

2. Cyprinus carpio specularis, the " Mirror Carp" ; thus named on account of the extraordinarily
large scales which run along the sides of the body in three or four rows, the rest of the body being

3. Cyprinus carpio coriaceus, sive nudtut, the " Leather Carp" ; which has on the back either
only a few scales or none at all, and possesses a thick, soft skin, which feels velvety to the touch.

The two last named are distinguished from the original form by a somewhat shorter and
stouter but more fleshy body. It is rather difficult to decide which of these three species is the
most suitable for culture. There are some districts where only Scale Carp are bred and Mirror
Carp are not valued, as there is no demand for any but the former in the market, as, for instance,
in Bohemia, in the above-mentioned domain of Wittingau. Again, in other districts, as in parts of
Bavaria and Saxony, etc., for the same reason, Mirror Carp or Leather Carp only are bred. There
is, in fact, no sufficient reason for making any distinction among these three varieties, for if they
are genuine types of their respective species, they are indeed excellent and desirable fish.

The assertion which has been made at times that the Scale Carp is better adapted for trans-
portation than either the Mirror or Leather Carp by reason of its coat of scales, which would pro-


tect it more efficiently from the accidents incidental to transfer, as also against inimical or hurtful
attacks in the ponds (the Mirror Carp having very few and the Leather Carp no scales), is not
correct. In transportation scales are not only inefficient for protection, but they frequently cause
the death of the fish, especially in transporting the so-called breeding fish ; for if a scale be torn off
iu part only ulceration will ensue, and the fish, of course, will die. Again, should any scale be lost,
the bare spot will very soon begin to fester, or develop a confervaceous growth, and the conse-
quences will be the same. On the contrary, the Leather Carp, which oddly enough, like the frog,
is destitute of covering, will bear a great deal more ill-usage and injury, whether young or old,
than the Scale Carp. The smooth, slippery skin of the Leather Carp suffers much less from fric-
tion during transportation than the Scale Carp, and any slight wound will heal up much more
easily, as the epithelium will cover it immediately and the formation of a new skin can progress
under its protection. I have often had the opportunity of seeing such scars upon the skin of the
Mirror Carp, and even more so on that of the Leather Carp. They are the effects of injury
from the sharp edges of the heron's bill, the bite of a pike, or some other hurt, and I never saw
anything of the kind on a Scale Carp, for if one of these be wounded it almost invariably dies.

The Carp will sometimes cross with some related species of the Cyprinidce, for instance, Caras-
siux vulgaris; and, in consequence, hybrids have been engendered which sometimes resemble the
genuine Carp so much that it is often difficult for the student as well as for the professed culturist
and experienced fisherman to immediately recognize them. Such fishes are valueless as food, on
account of their bad and very bony flesh. One of the hybrids mentioned is the Carpio Kollarii
Cyprinw striatus, which was formerly regarded as a separate species. It is a cross between the
Carp and Carassius vulgari* (crucian Carp), a very poor and bony fish, which, in Germany, is some-
times called "Poor man's Carp." Some varieties exist of this common fish. The latter has even
been dignified by a specific name of its own, Carassius gibelio.

The spawning seasons of the crucian and the true Carp coincide, and, where kept together,
hybrid races may readily be formed; that period including the time from the month of May until

In order to determine this question, I myself managed to bring about such crosses by placing
(1) female common Carp with male crucian Carp, and (2) female crucian Carp with male common
Carp, iu small tanks, constructed with this end in view; (3) I also put together female Carpio Kol-
larii with male common Carp; this for the sole purpose of testing the capability of propagation of
the C. Kollarii, which had been doubted. In the two former cases I obtained forms analogous to
the Carpio Kollarii sometimes approaching in appearance the true Carp, at others the crucian
Carp. In the third case, however, having placed ripe Carpio Kollarii together with Cyprinus
carpio, 1 obtained a product with difficulty to be distinguished from the genuine Carp. 1 took
the trouble to feed tuem for three years, in order to try their fitness for the table, but their flesh
was exceedingly poor and very bony, and could not be compared by any means to that of the
common Carp.

Considering, then, the whole extensive tract of country devoted ta fish-culture in Central
Europe, where crucian Carp are to be found from Italy to Sweden and Norway, from France to the
boundary of Eastern Siberia, considering the many who cultivate on a small scale and the owners
of badly stocked pomls, with their different doubtful productions, how often do we find in the
markets or ponds very nice crosses which have been propagated through from three to ten gen-
erations and which are sold for Carp! There arc many small .sheets of water in Germany, France,
Austria, Italy, Holland, and Belgium, and probably also in England, the proprietors of which
imagine, in good faith, that they have stocked their ponds with good, genuine Carp, which in


reality, through careless selection or ignorance, are hybrids which may even have been cultivated
for two or three generations. In some ponds in Swit/.i rlaiul, near the lake of Constance, some
crosses nl' .\lii-tniiis hi-iiniii urn- !'mm<l a-~ lulc as Iwriitv \i-:ir> :i^n.

HABITS. The Carp is partial to stagnant waters, or such as have a not too swift current, with
a loamy, muddy bottom and deep places covered with vegetation. It inhabits now most of the
larger and smaller rivers of Europe, particularly the Elbe, Weser, Rhine, Danube, Po, Rhone,
Garonne, Loire, then the Bavarian and Swiss lakes, the lake of Constance, etc.; even salt water
seems to agree with it very well. I have taken it in the Black Sea, where its weight often amounts
to from fifteen to twenty pounds. It is also found in the Caspian Sea in great numbers, and is
known there by the name of Sassan.

It is an advantage that the Carp is able to live in water where other fishes could not possibly
exist; for instance, in the pools of bog meadows or sloughs. However, it is not by any means to
be inferred from this that the best locality for carp ponds of a superior kind could be in such sit-
uations. The presence of too much hnmic acid is unfavorable to the well-being of the Carp, as we
shall see presently in the chapter upon the establishing of fish-ponds. 1

The Carp lives upon vegetable food as well as upon worms and larva of aquatic insects, which
it turns up from the mud with the head. It is very easily satisfied, and will not refuse the oft'al of
the kitchen, slaughter-houses, and breweries, or even the excrement of cattle and pigs. I propose
to enter further upon the subject of feeding it when I speak of its culture in ponds.

In the moderate zone, that is to say in Central Europe, the Carp will, at the beginning of the
cold season, seek deeper water to pass that period in a kind of sleep. This will sometimes occur
as early as the beginning of November, if the winter shonld set in early ; and it is to be remarked
that they will retire at an earlier period in ponds than in rivers. They do so always in groups of
from fifty to one hundred and more. They make a cavity in the muddy ground, called a il kettle";
in this they pass the time until spring, huddled together in concentric circles with their heads
together, the posterior part of the body raised and held immovably, scarcely lifting the gills for
the process of breathing, and without taking a particle of food. They do not take any food from
the beginning of October, and continue to abstain from it, in some countries, until the end of
March, and in colder districts even somewhat later. It will not answer, however, to depend on
this habit when transporting them for propagation in the spring or winter time, more especially

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 104 of 146)